Those of you who know me understand how important Tuesday Night Karaoke (the capitals are mine) at the Dukum Inn is to me . I have a core group of friends to drink and sing with - always a few standbys, with the rest in wonderful flux as people move into town, out of town and graduate. Despite the Cheers-like atmosphere due to the regulars like me, the crowd changes just enough so that each time promises to be a completely different experience. Therein lies the thrill.
That, and it's easy to learn to love PBR pints at a dollar apiece.
Anyway, l was looking forward to this particular Tuesday night because the previous week Shelby (my new favorite bartender) told me he would cover my tab for the night if I would sing a few Skid Row songs. I've earned a bit of a reputation for nailing that 80's hair band sound and I guess Shelby was jonesing for some Sebastian Bach. Yes, that really is the name of Skid Row's frontman.
The moment I stepped to the mic, a guy I'd never seen before jumped over and propped himself against the pool table right in front of me. All smiles and head bobs, wearing a backward-facing ball cap and baggy jeans, he had to be in his late-twenties. After a few minutes, he pulled out his phone and clearly began to take some video of me singing. I know this from the bright light shining in my eyes for half of the song.
Now I'm not too sensitive about being recorded, nor about having pics and vids of me posted online thereafter, as I tend to behave myself in public. Nor will I allow anyone to distract me from the important business of belting out "I Will Remember You" to a mostly drunk crowd. I am a rock, but I did take mental notes.
Afterwards, he gave me the high five and corralled me for some conversation.
"How long have you been singing?"
"It was my first song of the night, so about four minutes."
"No, I mean how long have you been SINGING?"
"Um, all my life, I guess. Why do you ask?"
"If I brought you to St. Louis to our recording studio, could you supply a band?"
"A band? Uh, I don't have a band."
"No? Well, I have a bass guitar and drummer if you could supply a lead guitar player. Actually, the drummer's not very good."
And so the conversation twisted into a confusing spiral of WTF. I could only make out a few things: 1) he's either in a band of some type or he is somehow associated with a recording studio, 2) he claimed to be scouting Kirksville for singers because 3) "there's no fucking musical talent in St. Louis anymore, the scene sucks," and 4) he was going to send the video of me to his boys back home because, according to him, "nobody else at this bar could belt it out" the way I do. Apparently this could somehow make me a lot of money in ways that I could not understand.
Now, some time ago the karaoke gods blessed the Dukum with an exceptionally rare group of talented regulars to listen to. I can rattle off at least five folks in that room at that very moment who easily exceeded my vocal talents on their worst day. And after our conversation, I couldn't help noticing that, when those folks were up and indeed belting it out much better than I, this guy hadn't the slightest interest.
Yet as soon as I kicked off "18 and Life" an hour later, there was that bright light again shining from the table next to me. Never since my days as mayor have I felt so strange getting attention from a random stranger.
This person (let's call him Steve - I don't remember his name) eventually sat down at our table and I took the opportunity to introduce him to my friend, Ben.
"Here's our lead guitar player. Ben, meet Steve."
"Hey Ben. So what kind of music do you listen to?"
"I'm into Guns and Roses, classic hard rock, that sort of thing."
And while Ben was distracting Steve, the rest of us were figuring out who would play what in the imaginary band we were now forming. Eric said he can play rhythm guitar and do backup vocals, and I believe Kristine claimed the spoons. I'm learning bass, so I'm gunning as a Geddy Lee wannabe. We would call ourselves "Stimulus Package."
After their small talk, I asked Ben how it went.
"He doesn't want me."
"He doesn't want you?"
"No, as soon as I told him I liked Tool, he told me my tastes were too mainstream."
So apparently Guns & Roses and Skid Row are esoteric enough, but Tool might as well be opening for Justin Bieber. Goodbye, hopes and dreams.
So I learned two new things last night:
1) St Louis folks, I'm terribly sorry that your music scene sucks so bad that producers have to travel to Kirksville for real talent, and
2) God bless My Favorite Bartender Shelby, who is truly a man of his word.