Most of what follows may or may not have happened. It falls into my own personal writing category of non-fiction-fiction or stuff I like to make up and write because it sounds funny and goodness knows we all could use a good laugh every now and again.
It’s my Blog and I’ll lie if I want to, lie if I want to. You would lie too if you had a Blog too.
Thanks, Pete for the title inspiration.
Last night I was booked to play at a local retirement community to sing and play songs of the season for the residents. A one hour engagement, me and my guitar sitting on a stool in front of a fireplace (fake) warbling Christmas.
There is a whiteboard mounted on an easel in the area announcing the day’s events. It reads thusly: ( All Times EST, check your local listings)
9:10 – Devotions 9:30 – Flex n’ Stretch 10:30 – Men’s Carolers 2 pm – Christmas Chorus rehearsal 7pm – Phil and his Guitar
I sold the evening as ” Phil’s Acoustic Jazz Christmas ” just so there is no mistake in what I’m going to be doing. More on that obvious faux pas later. I’m closing the show. Does that make me the headliner? Move over Bruce, there’s a new kid in town.
I arrive early for the 7 pm start since in my world ” On Time Is Late” and by 6:30 a small crowd begins to arrive. Small as in two people but hey, an audience is an audience and I’m working for them so it’s ok.
I chat with the early arrivals and play a couple of tunes to warm up and get a handle on how I’m feeling vocally and musically. Vocally, I got nothing but since I’m not working with a mic or a sound system I can probably get away with what I got.
One resident tells me that she used to play the VibraHarp. I don’t know what that is. Is it like a xylophone or a marimba? No, it’s a Vibraharp I’m told in no uncertain terms. I’m sensing hostility but I brush it off. I still don’t know what it is and frankly after this exchange I don’t care and I press on.
Early arrival number two has fallen asleep in an overstuffed chair. Not surprising given that the room, the entire facility is warmed to around 85 degrees. It’s pretty cozy. Think Miami in July wearing sweaters.
A Girl Scout troop wanders the halls mumbling Christmas Carols and passing out candy canes. The kids look like they wish they were somewhere else. I’m about to know the feeling.
By 6:50 the joint is packed. Well, there are 5 more people which is enough to cause the area to now be standing room only. It’s an intimate setting and that’s fine with me. No flat screen tv’s to compete with or other distractions other than the nurses who circulate through the area on their appointed rounds.
I decide to start early but I’m nervous because I know that I don’t have enough material to last a full 60 minutes since I have already played a handful of songs. It’s Christmas – what could possibly go wrong? Oh Phil, ye of little faith.
I may have to repeat some tunes and judging from the snarkiness the guests are exhibiting towards each other I’m fearing a riot.
Think ” Mean Girls” only with walkers.
Throwing caution to the wind I open with ” We Need a Little Christmas” from the Broadway show ” Mame” and then launch into ” It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” I have seriously thought out the set and figure to build through the hour ending with ” White Christmas.”
The sleeper wake up and leaves. She gets a look of disgust from the Vibraharp lady. Then VH woman starts in on the tree decorations – ” It’s all same color – they could have at least added some red or blue.” I think the decor looks great. It’s tasteful and probably not cheap. Whatever.
With one eye on the clock and the other on my music I truck on the through the set list taking time to talk about Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Mel Torme, Gene Autry and Burl Ives all of whom I’m covering tonight. It’s the 1950’s all over again.
I get to 7:45 and the end of my list. I repeat a couple of tunes but I’m still short. I head for home with ” I Got Rhythm”, ” All of Me” and ” Lady Be Good.” It’s all good. I get nice feedback and the folks really like the old songs. So do I.
Finally, it’s almost over. One woman tells me that she has enjoyed herself and she hasn’t heard some of these songs sung live in years. She is sincere and I appreciate her compliment.
I play an encore or two and the room clears except for a woman who showed up halfway through the set. She apologizes for being late so I do a couple of tunes – just me and her and she really seems to appreciate my effort. She tells me the same story about her mother four times.
One fellow hangs around and says ” I thought you were going to sing Christmas songs?”
” Yeah, I was waiting for ” Joy the World” and those kinds of Christmas songs.” He is clearly disgusted with me and my choice of material. Oh well. At least I didn’t play ” Grandma got run over ” or “Dominck the Donkey”
Look those up at your own peril. You have been warned.
It’s the perfect ending to a perfect day.
The perfect ending to the perfect day gets better. The check which was supposed to waiting for me at the front desk is nowhere to be found. ” If it’s not here it probably got mailed.” “Probably” is not the word I want to hear since it really means maybe or maybe not or maybe it doesn’t even exist yet. I do know that I’m probably weeks away from getting paid.
The only way the day could end more perfectly is with a dead car battery but when I turn the key in the car with the dying radio the wagon starts like a champ.
I’m off into the cold mid-December night to watch Darlene Love sing for the last time on Letterman.
On the show Jay Thomas kills me with his Lone Ranger story ( you should watch it yourself on YT) and Darlene knocks ” Christmas, Baby Please Come Home” right out of the park.
Geez – I would love to be in that band just for one night.
And to all a Goodnight.