The World According to Keitho

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Brush with greatness

Posted by keithosaunders on March 10, 2011

One of the things I like most about being a musician is that your life rarely gets boring.  You never know who you will meet, or what you will play at any given gig.  In the old days, when I was first starting out, all I wanted to do was burn.  If I wasn’t playing straight ahead jazz with great players, I wasn’t happy.  Of course this is still the pinnacle for me, but my criteria for enjoyment on a gig has evolved throughout the years.  Part of this is due to the systematic beat-down perpetrated over the years by club owners, rude audience members, and shady band leaders, but it’s also due to my own ever-changing priorities.

Here’s what I need:  First of all I need a good parking spot, one fairly close to the gig, preferably on the side of the street that is facing in the direction of home.  I would like the club to have a TV tuned to whatever sporting event is in season, and I would like it to be facing the bandstand.  If it’s baseball season, I need the Mets game to be on.  Free beer goes a long way towards my gig enjoyment, and dinner is a plus as well.  I do not require filet mignon, just enough sustenance to get me through the evening without any light-headed dizzy spells. 

All these criteria were met at a gig I played in North Beach the other day.  The gig was with a quintet, led by a singer.  It was one of those gigs where everyone in the club was pleasantly half-drunk, extremely convivial and obliging.  A good time was had by all. 

The singer had a sore throat that night so she asked us to transpose everything to lower keys.  You would think that she would want the keys taken down a whole step, or at the most, a minor 3rd.  Nope.  She had us transpose a 4th, sometimes even a 5th lower!  It got to the point where she was approaching Barry White territory.

 Towards the end of the night this older lady sat in.  She said to me, “Play All of Me, but play it like Louis Prima would!”  So I did, and although she clearly was not a trained vocalist, we had a good time romping our way through the old standard in the swing-shuffle style of Prima. 

At the end of the night the bass player asked if I knew who that singer was.  I said I didn’t, so he informed me, “That’s Carol Doda, who is credited with being the world’s first topless dancer.”  Apparently she is also the first woman ever to have breast implants. 

There you have it.  A true brush with greatness, and according to Keitho’s Approved Standard of Gigs — ASOG ™ — a succesful evening.


3 Responses to “Brush with greatness”

  1. verdun2 said

    I’ve met politicians, musicians, actors, actresses, generals, and literary giants. But you have bested me. Way to go, Keith.

  2. bkivey said

    I’m impressed. My first year in San Francisco I lived on Broadway just down the street from the Condor Club. I never dropped in to watch Ms. Doda at work.

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