My biggest fan booed the judge channeling Simon Cowell, who questioned my song selection. You can hear her saying "Booo! Be nice!" on the video. She also smack-talked contestants to other contestants and won herself two tickets to a Twins Game and a hotel stay in Minneapolis. Ay-yi-yi. Big night out in Duluth for Ma Pista.
I was asked to sing in a live band celebrity karaoke competition, a fundraiser. I considered it for negative four seconds before agreeing. A week before go-time, the band said "Footloose soundtrack, meh. How about one of these boy-voice songs?" I said "Sure! I'll take 'Folsom Prison' by Johnny Cash!" And then spent my weekend listening to a version by Australian cowgirls while driving up and down the North Shore. On Sunday I did a two-on-one jam with some of the band, we found my range-ish, talked about speed. On Tuesday I actually went on a stage and learned a few things about microphones, feedback and what drummers do. Tonight I shook my fundraiser-maker for about 100-ish pizza fans.
This was going to require a costume, I realized on Sunday night when one of those super-hot, bet-she-kills-in-business-meetings women described the 1970s getup she had planned for her cover of Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious." Knee-high shiny white boots, white fishnets, hair out to here ... Then: "I'm going to wear a black cowboy hat," said another Johnny Cash-er. Another had a puppet prop.
I really thought my red cowboy boots would be enough. I didn't realize I was going to have to pair it with an orange jumpsuit and ankle chains or, like, make June Carter hair. (Note to self: Should have made June Carter hair). A friend lent me a black cowboy hat and so boots and hat, fine.
"Just do what you did during rehearsal on Tuesday," a woman told me. "You sounded like Reese Witherspoon."
I took comfort in this, despite "Reese Witherspoon" and "country sensation" not really clicking. I like Reese Witherspoon. She has enviable hair.
"Speaking of," my mom bit her lip and did that sneaky joke-tell with her eyes. "On the way up here we heard on the radio about this actress who --"
"Heard it," I said.
I was set to sing second and I eyed up No. 1 and hoped for an epic level of tone deafness and a robotic stage presence that I could easily top. He was quiet and didn't even blink when I needled him with "Piano Man, huh. That's a looong song. You're going to be up there soooo long. What's that going to feel like when you're up there that looong? All those eyes on you for, gah, the length of 'Piano Man.'" About four seconds before he went on stage I realized I was sunk. He wasn't going to suck. He was too collected. Hadn't even bothered to lube up with a beer.
I was right. Huge full professional voice, fan favorite song and ... he was active military. When I finally got on stage, I felt like everyone could sense the truth about me: I've littered at least once.
|Photo by my friend Teener Beaner, whose fiance agreed to go because he thought I was doing standup comedy.|
I think Ma Pista was pretty sure I should have won -- "I couldn't even hear the winner," she said, like she should notify someone and demand a recount. "I could hear you, though." (I could hear the winner. She was even more fantastic and fun than I'd warned myself she would be with her play on "Superstitious.")
Ma Pista only caught three of the four parts of the song with her video and she started recording again when the judges critiqued me. (I didn't include that). And, yes, she is loudly booing the guy who questioned my song selection in a fun, "American Idol" judge way.
When I first heard the boos I was like "Oh. Oh my." But the second and third times I watched I thought it was pretty nice to have someone so deep in your corner that they're willing to boo a judge who is just having fun with a character. Bear with her, Rochester, when she tells you I was robbed.
Folsom Prison from christa pista on Vimeo.