Last night I played my first show of the tour — I was one of the featured players at Sun Space for the their “Unusual Tuesday” showcase. It was indeed unusual — and a lot of fun.
Once we finally got off the ground from SFO (no mean feat) the flight to LA was pretty un-eventful. Getting from LAX to my AirBnB, no so much so. Getting in around quarter after 4 pm (a good four hours after I’d intended) so of course by the time bag was collected and all that, it was rush hour traffic (although it’s LA, so maybe it’s a distinction without difference). I took shared ride van, and in addition to the general general stop and go — or rather dead stop to suddenly we’re riding on a flume or something out of the mine cart chase in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (it’s now clear to me where Spielberg got his inspiration for this) — the first couple we dropped off is way the hell up in the hills and the driver is taking the hairpin curves with less caution than I might have taken when playing Pole Position on the old Atari back in the day. Plus which my water bottle had fallen out of the backpack in the back of the van and was clunking about with great ferocity — at this point it was not clear what it is that’s making all the racket, so I feared the worst for my laptop and guitar. Apparently my running commentary on the journey was a source of great amusement to the couple in front of me.
In the end though, I managed to hook up Susan (with my compatriot for Saturday's shows) and get over to Kulak’s Woodshed in time for the sign up at the open mic — since she was worried about memorizing lines to a play, it took a little exhortation to get her out, but I felt like I needed a contingency plan for getting signed up lest I end up going hither and yon on the shared ride van or run into issues with check in. Kulak’s was awesome, nice and laid back. And the video cameras they have filming and broadcasting the performances give the whole thing a wonderful vibe . Folks are attentive and with all the cameras monitors it feels like you're on MTV unplugged or something.
Sadly, my performance was not so awesome — I went with doing the Albatross Song instead of the LA Song because that seemed to fit the general milieu. But at some point I stumbled in the second verse and then started inverting the bridges haphazardly. It was not worth the 20 bucks I paid for the video of this particular performance. Sometimes playing in a new venue just throws you off — I had a similar problem with the Monkey House last week, but at least my set was long enough there I had time to settle in and get more comfortable. I am strongly considering going back to Kulak's next Monday, and maybe going early enough with leadsheets in hand so I can have the house band sit in
No such problems at Sun Space, for the most part. And it really was quite a different affair. It opened with a succession of characters in giant paper mache masks — one played the clarinet, which he subsequently “ate”, another had a television in its mouth which showed someone singing and a third was carved open on stage like some sort of piñata vivisection and succession of objects were pulled out — some clappers that were passed out to an audience, a bill — which I was asked to tear into little pieces as I sat in the front row as was an easy target — a dummy’s leg (there was a bit of slight of hand going on there). Later I was asked to come up onto the stage and told to throw the pieces of torn up bill at the wall, after which the Sun Space logo was displayed.
I enjoyed playing my set quite a bit — I went through all the “Song” songs —“The Albatross Song,” “The Fish Song” and of course, “the L.A. Song” — someone even bought my CD. All the performers in the showcase were great. Special mention to Coleman Moore, who I met last year at the ASCAP Expo and invited me to be part of the showcase. His stage presence was energetic, graceful and incredibly dynamic. There was elegance to just the way he tossed to the side a chair he had been writhing on as part of the act earlier. The show ended with a slideshow of brown couches at the side of the of the road and a game where the audience would look at photos of random people entering the 7-11 across the street and shout out what celebrity we were seeing (the more creative the suggestion, the better — Bono was off limits, though).
So, all in all, so far I’m having a blast.