Punk Rock Mom


Many of you do not know much about my life before cancer. Of course many of you do. Most of you know why Jon named the blog punk rock mommy. I thought maybe I could give you a little history lesson though just for fun. It seemed more interesting than boo hooing through another 4 paragraphs of I have cancer.I grew up in Florida. At the age of 12, I discovered punk rock and new wave music. I fell in love with the Ramones, the Clash, and Blondie. Soon I discovered Iggy Pop and X. My love affair with music never really left. My ipod is filled with thousands of songs that transport me to a different time or moment in my life.

When I moved to Philadelphia I already had multiple hair colors and my ears were pierced a dozen times. Soon after I pierced my nose myself (in the shower!) I was a punk enthusiast. I went to all ages shows in my mom’s neighborhood. I saw the Pagan Babies and just about anything remotely cool. I danced in the pit. I guess just after I turned 18, I met the father of my first 5 kids. My ex husband. He was a musician. He rode a skateboard. And he knew every other band in the city. He took me to shows. We saw Scab Cadillac, the Serial Killers, More Fiends, Deadspot, Throttle, the She Males. Every other night he was sneaking me into see all these great Philly bands. Of course I also got to see Nirvana play Dobbs in 1989. Soundgarden and Pearl Jam too. Mudhoney played a basement show in West Philly. I listened to them play while I sat on a Maytag dryer.

This was my pre-mom life. But truth be told I went to shows even after I had kids. Sometimes they were outdoor shows at Clark Park. Sometimes we got a babysitter. I stayed friends with all my childless punk rock cohorts. It never occurred to me to exclusively seek out other mommies for companionship. I had mommy friends, but sometimes I felt just a bit on the weird side for them. What with the tattoos and piercings. I taught my kids all about music. I listened to everything with them. Johnny Cash, Nina Simone, and the Stooges. My kids too have a pretty diverse and eclectic taste in music. They went to Rock School and played their own shows for years. They played at CBGB’s in NYC. And just to make all my dreams come true in 2003 all 4 of my sons sang “I wanna be sedated” at CBGB’s with Marky Ramone on drums.

I worked at Tattooed Mom’s and Rock School and Zipperhead. My hair color ,tattoos and piercings never prevented me from getting a job. I met lots of interesting people and had a very good time. When I met my husband Kelly I found the perfect soul mate for my 34 year old inner punk adolescent. And Clay Smith our son is a lovely addition to my house full of little rockers. With his perfect sense of timing I think he is destined to be a drummer. I can dream right? Being outside the norm has never been a hindrance to me. I feel lucky to be part of such an amazing sub-culture group.

A few months ago my friend Keith called. He played in a band called Trained Attack Dogs in the 80’s. He told me he wanted to do a benefit for me and the kids. He had the lofty idea to get all those now defunct punk bands back together to do a show for me. I was giddy. How cool I thought? Well over the last 4 months Keith has put together quite a show. T.A.D,Throttle, and Deadspot,  are all playing at the North Star Bar this Saturday night. It is really a punk rock family reunion. People have come in from as far as away as Florida and California. I feel so fortunate. I feel blessed to be apart of such a wonderful community.

In truth this event may not be everyones cup of tea. But for those of you who are interested please come. I will be there for sure. In fact I am pretty excited. I am looking forward to seeing a lot of good friends. And not talking at all about my stupid cancer. Or the future. I think what drew me to this kind of music was the power behind it. The loud in your face side. I liked the political part. I liked the anti – establishment stuff. I would like to think I outgrew all the angry stuff. Maybe I did. I think what stuck is the need to be an individual and not be influenced by everyone else. I like to think that even with my disease I have forged my own path. I questioned everything and looked for the best situation for me. I think that is pretty punk rock.

“Joe Annaruma is a softie. Only because Philly’s hardcore father’s Big Fat Ugly brand puts on charity-mostly shows. And because his legendary Throttle‘s original lineup’ll reunite with Deadspot (first gig since ’92), Trained Attack Dogs and guys from Pagan Babies for a gargling-razorblade escapade to benefit cancer victim Andrea Collins-Smith, Philly’s Punk Rock mommy. It’s March 29 at North Star; there’s raffles from Crash Bang Boom, AKA, Bad Horse, etc., and no fucking guest list so don’t ask. Do this or die, punk.” (A.D. Amorosi – Philadelphia CityPaper)

14 Responses to “Punk Rock Mom”

  1. Julie says:

    Don’t forget, you worked at that cool punk place on Bustleton Avenue and got your middle finger caught in the shredder – you still went to the Comedy Club with me that night and got heckled because you had to sit with your hand elevated basically giving the entire place (and the comedians) the bird 🙂

    Hey – answer my last email love!

  2. Renee Khan says:

    Andrea, you have just described the you I thought you were.

    And Andrea, you have just described the you I have had the good fortune to stumble upon in these posts.

    I am teary-eyed from the be an individual part. I believe that too. Although, I don’t think there is anything wrong with the anger. Sometimes when we are children we can see what is really wrong with the establishment, before we start to see all the shades of gray.

    I think this benefit concert is a real tribute to you and what you have meant to the people you have met along the way.

    Peace Andrea. Have the best time you are able too.

  3. Mary Beth says:

    Hearing your story made me smile 🙂 My husband is a grownup punk and used to be a member of Thorazine and Boink (don’t know if you ever heard them play). I’m definitely going to tell him about the event tomorrow! Thank you for continuing to show us so many facets of you and your life. You have definitely had an impact on me.

  4. Ed says:

    We asked our friends to move their son’s wedding to another day, but no go. Some people have no sense of priorities. And since Gail and Linda have been friends since they were six, I guess I have to go….to the wedding. Have a great time Saturday…..Ed

  5. gina says:

    you forgot about meeting Kelly and having Clayton… haha

  6. Andrea says:

    OK Gina, I fixed that!

  7. gina says:


  8. Michelle Wienke says:

    Wow- I think we totally come from different backgrounds- I was more of an 80’s disco era chick, and only have two tatts and 2 double ear piercings, but I dont think it is what draws me to your blog each day.

    I think it is the fact that you are such a real person, a loving mom who just wants to get to live your life each day as most of us do-kissing your kids, taking care of them, and dreaming your best dreams for them.

    You are an inspiration and I continue to keep you close in my thoughts!!

    Have a blast this weekend!!

  9. debi says:

    I love it! I love all of it. I love learning more about you and who you are and why. I love that you have friends who care and show it. It’s just the way the world should be. Most of all I love the way that you are .

  10. leah says:

    i always knew you were a bad-ass punk rocker! that’s another reason why you are my hero!!!

  11. Dotty says:

    Hello Andrea
    I’m not sure we have ever met in person but I will be helping Joey at the show tonight and hope to meet you then.

    Joey has been working flat out with the club and bands to get this awesome show going and everyone is very excited. If Anyone could pull this off it would be Joey Throttle!

    and it’s awesome of Keith to offer to do the raffle which should be loads of fun as well!

    I hope you have a blast tonight and see you then.

  12. joshua says:

    great chronicle! the show sounds awesome, too.

  13. Donna Arnold says:

    Hi Andrea:
    Wishing you huge success at the benefit for you last night!!!! That is so cool…..
    Thanks for sharing more of yourself, whom you are, an insight into your heart, mind, and soul!!!! I love you anyways….
    Cathy’s scans were all good….the liver lesions are atrophying (which means shrinking) and that is what we want them to do. She has a “hot spot” on her thorarcic spine, which we got an xray done of, and doctor wnet out of town….but he seems to think it is probably residual from her lumbar and cervical mets. Anyway, she is her usual rock solid self, being as optimistic as possible…and we are maintaining at present. Just wanted to share with you right now its all good for her!!!! Continue to pray for her as we do you!!!! Big hugs from your SC chickas!!!! Donna & Cathy

  14. Abbie says:

    Last night was really fun, I was scared it was gonna be a way back machine nightmare, but it was cool! Very wonderful people who I haven’t seen in years. Okay, so we mutually knew almost everybody there last night , we were probably at every T.A.D., SheMales, Deadspot, Serial Killers (etc) show I’m sure, and there were only like 30 of us at that first Nirvana show at Dobbs, how did we not meet until 1996? Maybe I was destined not to meet you until after I became a mommy, hmmm… well, I am so blessed to know you now and for the past 11years. I love you very much!