Sunday, October 10, 2010

And Now for Something Completely Different...

        So far all of my blog posts have had something to do with parenting. So it’s time to shake things up a little. I went out the other night. Moms can do that, you know. Not very often—my kids wake up really early. Getting the boys off to school is a little trickier when you’ve only gotten a few hours of sleep. Actually, it’s not so much the lack of sleep as the activity beforehand. There are plenty of nights I’m up late reading or writing (or slaying imaginary monsters in the boys’ bedroom). But if I’m in a bar, drinking and dancing the morning after is ugly. Plus, going out can be expensive and children have really expensive habits like eating and getting dressed.
       James Otto played an acoustic show at a local bar Thursday night. If you listen to country radio at all, you’ve heard his hit single “Just Got Started Loving You”. More recently his song “Groovy Little Summer Song” has been getting some airplay as well. The timing on that one was unfortunate. As the title suggests, it’s a catchy pop-country song about summer—driving with the top down, enjoying the sunshine, drinking, the usual. Although it was released in June, it didn’t get to the radio until late August. If it had gotten some play earlier in the year I suspect he would have had another hit on his hands. James, I have some friends who are really good publicists—maybe I can hook you up.
Anyway, the opening act had cancelled so he went on without one. He walked onto the stage and the first thing you notice is his size—he’s huge. I’m tiny myself so I rarely notice other people’s size because just about everyone is bigger than me. His two guitarists had their feet on the rung of their barstools. But he was so tall that when he sat down his feet were flat on the floor. You know how so many performers don’t sing particularly well without their studio magic? James Otto can really sing. He has a rich baritone that sounds more like a soul or gospel singer than a country singer. I didn’t know the first few songs but I was very impressed with his stage presence and talent.
       So I was getting into the music and really enjoying myself when I heard a conversation behind us.
       “That’s not him, is it?” a woman asked her friend.
       “I don’t know.” She taped me on the shoulder
       “Is that James Otto?” She asked me.
       “Um. Yes.”
       “It doesn’t look like him. Does it?”
       “I think so.” I told her and turned away to enjoy the music.
       “I’m so upset!” She told her friend.
       Upset? I thought. You’re upset because he isn’t as pretty as you thought he was? Sorry lady, some people are just talented not hot. I take that back. Real talent is hot. Some folks are just prettier than others.
       As the show progressed. Otto played a number of songs from his new CD as well as a couple of covers. He really got the crowd involved doing a sort of call and response thing with Bob Seger’s Night Moves. Irritatingly each time he started a new song the lady behind me would sigh like a twelve-year-old girl deprived of her cell phone and said, “He better play ‘Just Got Started Loving You’. I’m so upset!”
       Really? They guy has had one hit on the radio—he’s going to play it last so people will hear his new songs and possibly buy them. Haven’t you ever been to a concert before? I mean, I don’t get out much and even I know that. First the guy has the nerve to not be cute enough and then he has to play his new music first (which you didn’t get to appreciate how good it was because you’re too busy whining!).
       So I was there with my girls enjoying the music and trying not to get irritated by the woman behind me when I noticed something. Only about half the people in the bar were paying any attention to the band. I mean, we all paid ten bucks to get in. Don’t you want to listen? And watch? I’m beginning to believe there ought to be a class in public school called Being a Good Audience Member 101.
       This observation made me feel pretty good about myself. You see, I’ve taken the stage in this particular bar for karaoke contests now and then. I have been singing since I can remember—musicals, church choirs, bands, and so on. But I don’t have a whole lot of time to indulge that particular hobby these days—so karaoke contests are a sort of methadone for my performance addiction. The thing that I don’t like about singing karaoke in a bar is the fact that no one pays attention to the singer. I mean, there you are, in the spotlight, singing your heart out and everyone is having their own conversations or watching the game on TV. Well, apparently, they don’t just ignore soccer moms singing Martina McBride. They also ignore really big guys who have hit songs on the radio. That’s a piece of news will make me stand up a little straighter the next time I’m on that stage. That may be a while—who knows when I’ll recover enough for another girl’s night out.