I went to a few different parties a while back that involved bands.
One was an afternoon affair near Viejas off the I-8. When I pulled up and saw three drum sets, I thought it would be a cool party. The set list near one of the drum sets looked promising: “Running Down a Dream,” “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” and “Red House.” Some Warren Zevon followed by Hendrix. Nice.
As one of the bands was tuning up with “Takin’ Care of Business,” I noticed that the house faced the mountains — no worries about noise complaints from neighbors.
There was a pool, spa, beer kegs, a big canopy, and plenty of food.
A blonde woman named Rhonda was playing bass. She sang the lead on a song called “Joey.” Joey Bishop had just died, and I asked her if that’s why she did that song. “No. I didn’t even know that.” That song was about her brother and his drug addiction. I asked if his name was Joey. “No. His name was Guido.” I wondered how people could name their kids Guido. I thought it was just a name used in mob movies.
I asked her if Carole Kaye was her favorite female bassist (it was the only one I could think of). She said, “No, it’s me.” As she laughed, her friend J.R. said, “Uh, she’s not joking.”
She told me she’s in her 40s and has been playing bass for 14 years.
After one band finished, I heard them disagreeing over why they did a certain song. One guy said, “We never sound good playing that.”
The next band was setting up, and I heard the drummer complaining about wanting his own cymbals. He was concerned about breaking someone else’s gear.
J.R. and his wife have been together four years. She’s a 911 operator. I asked her if she could tell me some crazy stories. “I could, but we’re not allowed to talk about other employees.” She did tell me about the crank calls they get.
I was sitting next to a few guys who were in another band. I asked one of them what songs they were going to do. “We’re going to do side one of Rush’s 2112,” he joked.
A guy named Dave was a guitarist missing a finger. I thought about the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia and Django Reinhardt, both players who had missing digits. I overheard two women talking, and one of them said, “Go ask him how he lost his finger. He won’t mind talking about it. I think it might have been a firecracker on Fourth of July, but I’m not sure.”
As Rhonda was putting her bass away, I heard her telling someone to try the chili she made.
As a sheriff was tuning his guitar, I noticed that he kept looking at the cell phone on his belt and heard him say, “It feels like it’s ringing.” I was tempted to go over and say, “Maybe because you’re standing five feet from an amplifier.”
As the singer checked the microphone, he said, “Testes...1, 2, 3. Am I too loud?” Someone in the back yelled, “There’s no such thing!”
I sat next to a guy wearing a shirt that said Robot Death Company and asked him about it. He said that they make robots and explained how they had their top robots on a show on Comedy Central. The robots fought each other. He said, “I got a hug from Carmen Electra after I won a match. I asked her for a kiss, but she said no.” For some reason he added, “My wife hugged Eddie Money once.”
* * *
I had a long drive to the next party in the North Park area.
The bass player and drummer from the band Transfer were there. They had a show later that night at the Belly Up Tavern and were trying to get me to go. I said, “I’ve already had my fill of music for the day. But I’ve seen you guys before. You’re great.”
I didn’t say that because they were standing right in front of me. I have no problem telling a band they suck. If a band is a bunch of nice guys that are young and don’t need the brutal truth, I can always find one thing I liked about the band. They may wonder later, The only compliment that guy gave us was the drummer’s use of the high hat....
Brandon, who was hosting this party, resembled Tom Cruise. He told me that he hears that a lot. When I heard that he had a motorcycle, I remembered that Cruise had one in Top Gun.
Brandon told me, “I was on a tram in Las Vegas. These old ladies insisted I was Tom Cruise. I had these aviator shades on. I was working it. But, I’m so much younger than Cruise. They were following me around everywhere. I’m not sure why they thought Tom Cruise would cruise around on a tram and not in a limo.”
I said, “You probably hated being short when you were young, but now it works because Cruise is short.”
Brandon said, “I think I’m actually taller than him.”
They were making some barbecue, and Brandon said, “This is my first attempt at jambalaya. It’s a nice comfort food. And, I don’t have to stand there cutting anything.”
I went back over to the guys in Transfer. They were wearing cowboy shirts and boots. Jack Black of Tenacious D says how important it is to dress the part when you’re in a band, even if that means waking up at noon and finding the perfect T-shirt. These guys looked hip.
I found out one of them is married to Hilary, a DJ at Star 94.1.
Brandon runs his business out of the front part of where he lives, and I asked him if the neighbors complain when he has parties. “Every time I have a party, the cops show up. It’s crazy because sometimes there will be homeless people out here doing crazy stuff...and the cops won’t show up if we call them. One person was going to the bathroom. It was disgusting. No cops, though. But if they hear any noise, they’ll show up.”