The perils of having a rock star for a father

Tennessee Kamanski on track to make music a full-time job.
  • Tennessee Kamanski on track to make music a full-time job.

“I wrote poetry at first,” says Tennessee Kamanski. The 16-year-old sits inside Cosmo’s in La Mesa and drinks something pink out of a soda bottle. “But I never shared it. Then, later, some of my friends encouraged me to make my poems into music after I let them read my stuff. So I one heard my songs, either.” Kamanski resembles a teenaged Meryl Streep, one that speaks in quick sentences that end like questions. She made demos of her songs at home, which presented certain difficulties. “Seeing as the recording studio is right next to my dad’s bedroom,” she says, “I’d have to sneak in there and record. And then he’d hear me and say he had an idea, and then I’d have to figure out a way to politely tell him to back off, that it was my record. We got into tons of fights.”

She talks about the perils of having a rock star for a father. That would be Paul Kamanski, who performed with Joey Harris in the band Fingers and who wrote hit songs back in the 1980s for the Beat Farmers and for Country Dick Montana. In the end, Tennessee Kamanski says she prevailed: Slept in My Windbreaker is all her songs, her arrangements, and her instrumental choices with one exception: her dad laid a bass part on one of her tracks in secret, which pissed her off, she says, but she kept it. “I had to admit it was perfect.”

Will music be a career choice? Yes. Kamanski is hoping she can test out of high school and get on with it full time. She’s posted Slept in My Windbreaker on Bandcamp, which had raked in just under $400 in sales at press time. “The way I see it is this: I’ve made actual money off of six of my feelings. I made money because I felt sad or because I felt happy or from not being able to see people I wanted to see.”

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