Since this band isn't how they make a living, I asked about their day jobs. Mark is a paralegal. Frank sells stereos. I laughed when he said, "Actually, they sell themselves."
I loved Frank's enthusiasm toward music. I would ask him a question and he'd be talking a mile a minute. I told him, unlike singer/songwriters who play acoustic guitars, he would never be able to play his songs for his aunt or grandmother. He went into a long explanation about how supportive his friends and family are. But I couldn't picture his grandmother banging her head to one of these songs or being at a concert and -- instead of holding up a lighter during a favorite song -- holding up her cane.
As I was leaving the studio to go to the jazz party, my ears were buzzing. I heard a few people complaining in another studio. One guy said something like, "I can't believe those guys even have a record deal. They're horrible." I have no idea who they were talking about, but it couldn't have been anybody working in Signature Sounds that night.
Leslie Ebner, who works for Jazz 88.3 FM, invited me to the next party. It was for her Nth birthday. (That was my little present to her -- not printing her age.) I brought her flowers because when I was in the store I saw flowers wrapped with paper that had horns and saxophones and thought that was perfect for a jazz lover. It didn't occur to me that they were wrapped that way (and inexpensive) because they were probably left over from New Year's Eve.
Her house off of Murray Ridge wasn't far from the recording studio. My eardrums were just recovering from being kicked by Kate, and I walked in to find a band playing in her living room. It was Big Time Operator, a band I'd seen before at a few clubs, with a complete horn section.
In the kitchen, I was talking to Leslie and a girl she works with named Jennifer. I told Jennifer she looked like Hilary Swank and she thanked me. But she actually looked a lot prettier and more feminine than Swank.
I asked Leslie how she got such a good band to play a party. "Did you use your radio-station connections?" Jennifer said, "She's sleeping with the trumpet player." It turns out Leslie's husband plays trumpet in the band. He's also a children's music teacher in Carlsbad. I asked Leslie if she played an instrument. She said, "Oh, no. I'm just a groupie." They have been married for well over 20 years.
I was talking to Lisa for a while. She sings in a band called the Rhythmakers. A few people congratulated her on a screenplay she just sold to Lifetime. We talked a little about writing. She ended up joining the band to sing "Chain of Fools," which sounded great.
Her hairdresser Lynette showed up, with her husband Guy Gonzales. Lynette was cracking us all up. She was making fun of people and saying crazy things. At one point, she asked if I had any coke to snort. She got up and sang "I Will Survive," and I laughed when she kept singing, "I hope you die, die, die, die." She said later she usually says a lot more risqué stuff, but there were kids at this party.
One of the kids, Melody (Leslie's cute 13-year-old daughter), got up and also sang "I Will Survive." Nothing better than hearing a young teenager sing about heartbreak. When she finished, the crowd went nuts. The band asked her if she wanted to do another song. I didn't hear exactly what she said, but something along the lines of "I can sing 'Rainbow Connection.' I know all the words to that." And she sang it beautifully. I was munching on some cake at the table, and one woman sitting nearby said, "I bet you'll be seeing her on American Idol soon."
There was a lot of great food. Leslie said, "My cousin Ellen Ross is the catering manager for the Butcher Shop." I said, "Oh, so you got all this for free?" "Oh, no," she answered. "I still had to pay for it." Geez. Where are the perks people should be getting from people they know? At least she probably got the band to play for free.
I asked if her neighbors ever complained about these loud parties. She said, "No. I always thought someone would from down below the canyon. But my husband practices every night, and we've never had anyone complain."
When I went back into the kitchen to talk more with Lisa, I saw the invitation on the freezer. It said, "Help Leslie celebrate her waning hipness."
I told someone I felt bad for telling Jennifer she looked like Hilary Swank when she's so much prettier. The lady said, "She probably took it as a compliment. But let me ask you this. Do you think that guy over there looks like Sam Elliott?"
I laughed. The guy was talking to someone in a Hawaiian shirt who looked just like Jimmy Buffett. I've seen so many men over 40 wear Hawaiian shirts to parties and clubs. I'm not sure what that's about.
When Guy Gonzales got up with the new band, he sounded great on guitar. He sang "Jump Jive and Wail" and in the middle did a tribute to Louis Prima. The kids loved hearing him make sounds that they had to repeat. I found out he was in a group called the Screaming Primas that does a tribute to Prima.
I was looking at all the trumpet players and noticed that the trombone player looked pissed. He was just standing there while the others swayed back and forth in rhythm. There was one time when he had a solo, and even after that, with the applause, he was frowning.
One woman looked like Jennifer Lopez and was dancing all over. I told Lisa it was strange to see a woman in her late 40s wearing a half-shirt. Yes, she was attractive. But to me, she was trying way too hard.