Thursday, March 27, 2008

Luck Be A Lady

So I hear it through the grapevine that the Moshannon Valley Super Bowl is having a Karaoke contest. Took me a while since the start of the thing, but last Friday, I finally made my way up the hill to the lanes and took the mic.

Talk about fun! The joint was damn near packed, which rocked, since that gave me my largest audience in quite a while. And as the title of this entry proclaims, my weapon of choice that night was none other than the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra.

It was a slightly chilly Monday night in Manhattan, but I still decided that a long sleeved shirt was enough to keep me from shivering. The lights of Times Square were bright, and even though it was nearly midnight, things were as busy as ever. It was my first time in the City that Never Sleeps, and having already done the two things I'd set out to do (see Ground Zero and get a picture of me flipping the bird to MTV Studios, when I find it I'll repost it), Justin and I spent some time wandering up and down Broadway.

After getting a beer at Tonic, served by the single hottest straight-off-the-boat Irish girl I've ever seen (another picture I'll repost when I find it), we walked up the legendary street and came to The Colony Record and Radio Center. I'd heard about the place before - to any music afficionado, it's pretty much the place to find hard-to-find recordings and related media. It's also the home of the single largest in-store Karaoke CD selection I'd ever seen in my life.

This was our goal, to freshen up the songbook at Electric Avenue with some new discs. The associate, Joe, was a true New Yorker if I'd ever seen one. He had it all: The golf cap, the south Brooklyn accent, and the lines of years spent honing his craft on one of the busiest streets in the world hewed onto his brow. He asked us what we were looking for, and I'd already had the answer in my head for some time.

I was looking for the definitive Frank Sinatra collection, and Joe knew right where to look. "If you want Sinatra," he said, "then this right here is the way to go." I got the impression that he'd made this suggestion to quite a few customers before us, because this man didn't even flinch. It didn't take him a moment or two to scan the shelf and find it, he was on top of it like Brad on Angelina.

"It's the original orchestrations," he explained, "basically a carbon copy of Sinatra's studio bands. You won't find anything better, period." He handed me the case: It was a four disc set, replete with pretty much every single major hit the Chairman ever released, and then some. I quickly skimmed over the track list, and found the song I'd been looking for.

I'd sang it before, Tag has it in his collection. But that version (I can't remember who the publisher was, but it wasn't this set or any Sound Choice disc) lacked the intro to the song, pretty much castrating it and starting cold when the music hits full swing. I wanted that intro, because it established the song as a whole, and it made for a right-sweet opening once the full band hit. That extra 45 seconds is the difference between singing the song and giving a performance of the song, at least in my twisted little brain.

Somehow, Justin managed to get that set, valued at $150 by itself, as well as another $150 worth of Sound Choice and Legends discs, all for... You guessed it, $150. I couldn't wait to get back to the Avenue and pop disc three into the CD+G box, but at the same time, I still had the concrete jungle of New York City to explore, and plenty of time to do it in...

Since most of the crowd was the older set, I thought that Frankie would sit well with them, and I was happy to discover that I wasn't wrong in the slightest. When the music started, I noticed several folks make "oh my goodness" faces and comments amongst themselves. Others took a bit more time to realize what the song was, but when they did, they got big smiles as well. With the right song chosen, all I had to do was nail it.

And since it'd been almost four years since Justin and I had found that Sinatra CD+G collection at The Colony, it came like second nature.

But even the best laid plans of Nerds and Men go awry, and my performance was marred by one of the more embarrassing things that can happen to a man such as myself: My top teeth, which are false, de-suctioned themselves from my gums and decided to freefall to my bottom teeth, which are my own, just as I was hitting the last word. That note is probably the highest in the song, and since it's one of those "big finish" situations, you have to go for broke.

In what proves that I have a big mouth, I opened a bit too wide, and my choppers got away from me. Awk-ward!

That aside, I still managed to tie with the other qualifier, and it wasn't an easy win, either. The other four people who entered were all very good in their own rights, and each deserved to join us in our trek to the finals. This contest is no joke, the competition is hot, and I'm going to have to find some even bigger guns to pull out for subsequent rounds...

(This is the first time I've ever told a story within a story, or at least I think it is. Didn't turn out too badly, IMHO. I don't think it'll be a regular thing, but it's always fun to try something new...)

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