The local coffee house owner extended me an offer to MC the open mic night. They have a PA head and one speaker, but not the rest. Well, I wasn't going to stand for that. As planned, I drove down the street to the local music store, where Rainbow’s “Stargazer” was playing. I bought an XLR cable, a speaker cable, donated my second mic stand, and brought (but didn't leave behind) one of my microphones. Though this night, a band was playing who had their own mics and all. Go figure!
What they didn’t have, at least not at the time they started, was their drummer. They did however have the coffee house’s drum set (or at least somebody else’s drum set whose owner leaves it there) half set up. “They need some drums. Bill?” I’ve played with enough drummers to get some idea of how to set up a drum set, so I set up the rest. And I’ve faked my way on drums at parties before when there was nobody else to do the job, so here was another one of those times. And like last time, with a band of baby boomers!
Gary is a regular who sings songs himself, a cappella. This includes 18th century folk songs from Scotland to 20th century pop. I know that not everybody would understand this in an open mic performance, but personally I admire his bravery, not to mention uniqueness. Even most musicians I know who have played on stage are afraid to sing karaoke, all up there in front of a roomful of strangers, with nobody sharing the stage with you. Now imagine you don’t even have the musical accompaniment. If anything, I think the only uncomfortable people are the audience, who feel they have to give him more of his attention. As they should. Gary did a few songs.
In between I managed to rattle off a few musician jokes. I’ve been wanting to develop a stand-up act for a long time. I’m sure this will prove to be the breeding grounds of that. Ya gotta start somewhere. And although I wasn’t planning on it, I brought the uke anyway, and tried a few songs I’d been working on: “People Are Strange” (which was in my head after catching it on seeing “The Lost Boys” for the first time in years, then seeing Robby Krieger perform it live a week later), and Elf’s “Good Time Music” (because I wanted to do SOMETHING from Dio that would work in this setting, and god dammit I did).
A guy named Dave with a beautiful longhorn electric-acoustic 6-string came by. He’s yet another regular I guess I hadn’t run into before. He did some stuff with the band.
The other fellow harmonica player (whose name I’m shamefully drawing a blank on) showed up, so I asked if he wanted to come up to do something. We crudely pulled off “Crossroads”.
The band’s drummer (who unlike me, was an actual drummer!) finally showed up. They closed the night with a few songs. I joined them on vocals and harp for “Roadhouse Blues” to close out the night. And hey, I got free coffee and a discount off an enormous cream-filled coffee roll, for my efforts.
Was the night over? No, because I knew karaoke was at the bar next door. Barely any people, as usual. I managed to buy the bar’s last bottle of water. My voice has been pretty crappy these last few weeks, but I pulled off Aerosmith’s “Last Child” and AC/DC’s “Have a Drink on Me”. I had to watch 3 guys cluelessly attempt “Don’t Stop Believing”, all of them singing it a full octave down and not getting their timing right. (Do these people even know the songs they do? Do they know that they can follow the highlighted words on the screen, in time with the music?) The karaoke hostess trusts me to touch her equipment, so I was able to search and select my own songs, and not to mention correct a problem another singer had with the speakers, all panned to one side for some reason.
2 or 3 drunk guys invaded the hostess’s space, and started fucking around with things. Why she let them do it, I don’t know. But it took some time to fix things back for me, up next. “Who do I have to make out with?” said one of the drunks, as an attempt at an apology. “I’ll pass”, I said. I managed to pull off “September”, after which a more sober attendee praised me and gave me a high five. I had another song up, but by that point I had enough, so I split.
So that was my night.
I left out the parts about the x-rated text message exchanges I was having.