Vale That, A rock tribute band in Spain

Vale That Poster–Collector’s Item!

The Spanish word vale (pronounced VA-le) literally means “it’s worth it” but Spaniards use it for OK, agreed, good, whoo-hoo, and a bunch of other stuff.  Vale That, the name of our new rock-n-roll band, plays on this catch-all word–half Spanish, half American–as in “Roger that” or “10-4”.

Suzanne Rico and sister Stephanie Rico playing in band

Soul Sisters

The conception of Vale That, like many things in life, was accidental.  In mid-January, while having coffee with a friend at a neighborhood cafe/bar, the  owner mentioned that a live band would be playing that weekend.

“I think our band should play here,” I said in Spanish, a joke since at that moment “our band” consisted of Todd (my brother-in-law) teaching me an occasional song on the guitar.

Vale!” Juan responded and whipped out his calendar. “How about February 22nd?”  I stuttered in Spanish for a second, wondering how to explain that we didn’t really have a band, then thought, what the hell?  “No problemo!” I replied.

Suzanne Rico, Matt Gramkee, and Todd Peterson playing in band, Vale That

In Action (courtesy Sharon Minkoff)

With a month to come up with a musical miracle, Todd–an experienced guitarist–conscripted his buddies Mike (an awesome drummer) and Matt (a dentist at the nearby Naval Base and expert karaoke singer) and Stephanie started learning bass guitar. I practiced so much on Todd’s old acoustic guitar that thick callouses formed on my finger pads.  Pretty soon, we were covering tunes  from Born To Run to Boardwalk and making lots of noise.  “You should call yourselves We Suck,” said Ethan after a particularly awful practice session.

Vale That fan club

Ethan’s Fan Club

But we didn’t suck at show time–at least not too badly.   My voice was hoarse from overuse, Mike had blood blisters on his hands, and our instruments–all slightly rusted equipment that Todd has had for twenty years–didn’t exactly stay in tune.  But our friends showed up, one tossing her black bra up on stage and the others cheering as Steph and I harmonized the way my mom taught us.  Some of the kids (here in Spain, children are allowed in bars late night) sang backup to Taylor Swift’s Love Story, having at least as much fun as the adults.

Little Rock-n-Rollers

Little Rock-n-Rollers

The future of Vale That is murky.  With more pure enthusiasm than raw talent (and not a lot of time to practice) we’ll probably return to singing in the shower rather than head out on tour.  Still, the effort put into becoming one-night rock-n-rollers was worth it.  Trying something new–something I knew was going to be less than perfect–would have been off the table in my old life, but now this girl just wants to have fun. Vale that, my friends.  

To see a short video– including black-bra toss– click here!

Suzanne Rico with sister Stephanie Rico in their rock band

Rockin’ Out (courtesy Sharon Minkoff)