Me and Mustang Sally
The linked video shows me pimped out for my once-in-a-lifetime-so-far public singing performance. I’m belting out “Mustang Sally” at the SOHO a music club on State Street, in Santa Barbara, California. I'm performing for family, friends and a couple of hundred strangers who paid to hear me.
I’ve got flashbulb memories of a few on-stage moments but I was somewhere else for most of it. Hours of practice got me--or autoMike-- through it.
So bear with me while I reminisce. Or scroll down and click the video first. Your choice.
Note: the 70 Years Old WTF Department of Internet Research, which (as usual) spent too much time trying to find the date my performance, says it was in 2006 or 2007. If anyone has a better fix, let me know. Because facts.
My journey started when friends of ours, Selden and Gaby Edwards, invited us to their own performance, the climax of their “Breakthrough Performances” course. Mick and Tess Pulver are Santa Barbara locals who have been running these courses since about 2000. They've made it a smooth ride. I endorse it. The course that Seldon and Gaby were finishing had been eight weeks long and ended with them and their classmates performing, backed by a live band, in front us and a couple of hundred people other people. Seldon and Gaby loved it. I loved their performance.
So I dipped my toe in. I tried Mick and Tess’s weekend course. A full day of loosening up exercises, and pick your song at the end of the day. That night and most of the next day rehearsing. And at the end, a bunch of real rock musicians showed and we performed for our classmates, backed by the band. Fun!
So I paid a grand and took the eight-week course. And at the end, there’s me, on stage, in front a screaming crowd of family, friends, and a lot of strangers.
I was ready. The course got me ready. Mick and Tess led us in exercises designed to loosen us up, teach us how to belt out a song and prepare for being on stage. One exercise was standing in front of the class--just standing--while everyone applauded and cheered and went crazy. People couldn’t take it at first. They’d look down, look away, blush, fidget, burst into uncontrollable nervous laughter. It took a while to stay present and until you did, the applause kept coming. I remember Selden and Gaby telling me how hard that exercise was for them. But not for me. I stood there, with a grin on my face, bathing in attention and applause. Someone asked me how come I didn't duck and cover like everyone else. Had I performed before. My answer: “No. I deserved this.”
Flashbulb memory. I'm walking along the beach with Gil and Dana the day before the performance talking about starting a business with cool people. Flashbulb memory. I'm trying to get my sister's husband to FedEx an urn with my Dad’s ashes so that Dad could be there. Flashbulb. My Mom and brother and his wife are there. Flashbulb. I'm walking around in the club like I own the place, smiling, nodding, shaking hands. I'm wearing my black suit pants and jacket and a silky fitted black crew neck shirt bought at Men’s Wearhouse for the performance. And shades. I'm dressed in black, wearing shades in a night club. I remember looking cool. I remember feeling beautiful.
My number was the first one after intermission.The performer just before the break sang something that was...err, ahem...not upbeat--so my number was designed to get the audience rocking again. Flashbulb. I'm in the green room. I took off my black suit jacket and put on the red one for my number. The whole gang troops on stage to back me up. And we did our job.
I would have loved a do-over because I learned a lot in those few minutes on stage. And it was interesting to compare my remembered experience with the one that the video camera captured. Too bad you can only see what the camera captured.
My version is way better.
Here's what the camera captured.