Tonight I loaded up in a Range Rover with three black dudes and drove to a ramshackle building at the corner of 12th and Oakgrove.
In the passenger’s seat of the Rover was one of the lead singers of Butta & Jam, a band that’s been performing at Dozen Street on Wednesday nights for six years now. He wore black wire rim glasses, a necklace with a wooden cut-out of the African continent and very white Adidas.
The drive from and back to Dozen Street, where I had been hanging out with DJ Rob, alerted me that I am very unaccustomed to hanging out with people who call each other “my nigga.” I felt whiter than dude’s Adidas. Is this what it feels like to be the token black friend?
White Adidas (I never got his name because he very much did NOT want to talk to me) had recently purchased the property at 12th & Oakgrove and had grand plans to turn it into the hottest new music venue on East 12th. He plans to call it the O2 Tabernacle.
If the O2 Tabernacle ever becomes a thing, remember that you heard about it here first.
White Adidas, DJ Rob and just about everyone DJ Rob knew at Dozen Street (and DJ Rob knew everyone at Dozen Street) have a dream to turn East 12th into the next Dirty Sixth, or at least how it was back in the old days before it became Dirty Sixth.
DJ Rob wants to contribute to that dream with a band he calls John Wayne and the Posse. It turns out that DJ Rob’s real name is actually John Wayne, so it works out.
That band was the reason I was here. DJ Rob, on a whim in the DJ booth last Wednesday night at the club, told me he was looking for back-up singers and asked me if I sang. I auditioned for him right then and there.
“What you want?” I asked him. “Soul? Hip-hop? Country?”
“Country,” DJ Rob said, which is funny in hindsight because the band’s sound is Kool and the Gang meets Nelly. It’s not country at all.
I sang him Reba Mac’s “That’s the Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” because I can really wail on that song. DJ Rob was sold.
I was skeptical at first because this was the same deejay who wanted me to join a club promotion company that turned out to be non-existent and went nowhere, but I’m keeping an open mind.
John Wayne and the Posse already have seven songs, a demo CD and a gig at Dozen Street the day before Thanksgiving, as well as a weekly gig at the Big Easy next door. I am mostly excited for that gig because gumbo. My first rehearsal is this Sunday because Lord knows I don’t need rest, she who regularly falls asleep in front of her day job coworkers said sarcastically.
(Which reminds me – all those of you who came out to my birthday party last Sunday to stuff dollar bills in my debt holes – thanks for all the Adderall!)
Maybe one of these days instead dancing for my supper I’ll be singing for it instead. As someone who has never really had any ambition at all in that category, it’s a weird feeling.
Just when I think this job can’t get any stranger, I’m always surprised when it does.