When I have to fit three parties in on one day, it helps to start in the afternoon. At Mimi's Cafe one night for dinner, I overheard a waitress named Melissa talking about a CD release party the next afternoon. I was planning to go to another CD release party that night.
The next afternoon I headed to Blind Melon's in Pacific Beach, to hear the band Audio Antics perform at their CD release.
The band was supposed to start at 4 p.m., but they were over an hour late. It did give me a chance to talk to a few of the band members as they walked around the bar.
I went up to a guy named Brian, the guitarist. "I can't hear you; can you talk into my other ear?" I asked why. "I'm deaf in that ear." His deafness was recent, and I asked if it was from loud music. He told me, "A few months back, I woke up deaf in this ear. There's some scientific name for what it is. They gave me shots and injections into my ear, and some pills. I got some of the low frequencies back."
Doesn't that mess you up on stage?
"It's terrible. I can only hear the bass and drums. Everything else sort of turns to mush. I have to really know the songs and pay close attention. You'll see me fuck up tonight."
I hear two guys that are arguing about everything. I hear one say, "I hate this digital jukebox on the wall. They are supposed to be huge, with neon lights and bubbles all around." As a jukebox collector, I couldn't agree more. His buddy has a good point, though: "But with digital jukeboxes, it gives you access to more songs; not just some crappy country-western records the owner may have put in."
They later argue over the Filipina that's one of the lead singers in the band. One says she's cute. The other says, "How can someone with tattoos all over their arms be hot? And she's wearing a sleeveless shirt to show them off." His friend responds, "Well, if you spent that much money on your ink, you'd probably never wear sleeves again."
I talked to a woman named Crystal. Her brother Eddie plays bass in the band. I said, "Do you have to say you like the band because your brother is in it?" She laughed, "I wouldn't tell my friends to come see them if they weren't good."
I asked if she played an instrument. "No. My parents had me learn saxophone. That lasted about a month. I remember they rented it, and I wanted my own. It seemed weird to blow into a saxophone that belonged to someone else."
There were a few guys watching basketball on TV and debated whether Steve Nash deserved to win the MVP award (in my opinion, he didn't). One of them said, "The band is waiting on one person. I wish he'd show up already." I was nursing my drink, mesmerized at how this bartender with the funky nose ring (that went from inside one nostril to the other) was serving drinks all by herself. She would run to one end of the bar, take three drink orders, and as she's pouring them, ask a few others what they wanted to drink. She never stopped moving, and never gave a person the wrong drink.
The bass player came over and introduced himself. I asked him who his favorite bass player was, and he surprised me by saying Wayman Tisdale. He's a former NBA player that now plays smooth jazz. Another bass player I know also mentioned Tisdale as his favorite jazz bassist.
The bass player ordered a Guinness. I asked if he's ever gotten drunk before a gig. "It's been known to happen. Sometimes a few guys give you shots. They aren't the ones that have to go onstage."
I talked to one of the singers, a Filipino guy named Emcee Intangible. He also calls himself MCI, and in a rap later that night he says he "gives the girls free long distance." He tells me, "The band has only been together a few years. They used to be called 619 West. The rap world in San Diego is so big, yet there are only so many outlets for rappers. Even Z-90 doesn't play local rap stuff."
When Audio Antics finally hit the stage, there was a huge crowd. I hear one song that sounds like Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust."
The songs have a blend of reggae, rap, and funk. One song is called "Kiss the Sky," and MCI raps, "With a little bit of fame/they catch a lotta bit of ego."
It was fun watching the crowd get into it. There were a few older people at the show, with white or graying hair, that were obviously family of the band members. I assume they don't care for rap, but they smile. They scan the crowd and beam with pride that their kids can energize more than a hundred people, who are throwing their hands in the air and dancing.
I hear another line in a rap that makes me laugh. It was something about "taking fat chicks to Souplantation."
MCI, the youngest of the bunch (he's in his early 20s, the rest in their late 20s), really knows how to work the crowd. At one point he says "Buy a CD now, bitch!"
I asked him after the show how he thought the afternoon went. He says, "Some girls wanted their breasts signed. It was a fun day."
I asked him about Curtis, the other guitarist. "He's a P.E. teacher. He had a soccer scholarship and got his degree in Chicago. He almost became a pro skater."
When Crystal came by, she was toasted. She told me they were having a party that night at Cody's (drummer) house. I gave her my number so I could get directions, but she didn't call (the story of my life). MCI told me in an e-mail that at that party, Cody was skating on a ramp in his backyard and fell. He hurt his hip really bad. I guess he's not the skater that Curtis is.
I had to drive to Chula Vista for the next CD release party. It was for Mario "MJ" Racadio. It was at the Yokozuna Sushi Bar & Islander Grill.
Racadio's first single, "Burning Memory," had 10,000 Web hits in a two-week period and was number 1 on Freeworldradio.com.
I drove fast to get to this event on time, and Mario was an hour late. They had karaoke going on. I heard some Elvis, Billy Joel, and Elton John songs. While a woman sang Patsy Cline's "Crazy," I thought I'd go crazy waiting. Racadio's guitarist, Foreign Exchange, an older Filipino, sang "What a Wonderful World." He sounded just like Louise Armstrong.
A kid that looked to be about eight years old sang "Jailhouse Rock." That was cute.
Mario finally took the stage to the sounds of the Rocky theme blaring at about 150 decibels. He was a short, good looking guy. I had seen him walking around, talking to friends and family.
He wore a hat and dark suit, with a chain dangling from his pocket. His dance moves reminded me of Michael Jackson, and his voice of Enrique Iglesias. His singing style reminded me of Marc Anthony. I mentioned this to someone nearby who responded, "To bad he doesn't have J. Lo on his arm."
I finished my dinner and ordered the green tea ice cream. It tasted like frozen dirt. I tried dessert number two, a banana cake that was delicious.
Mario sang a Marc Anthony tune, as well as a song by Josh Grobin.
I was eavesdropping on a couple that said Mario would be performing at the New York International Music Festival this June. "He's going to be called the Millennium Artist."
They said he has a huge following among the Filipino community, so I mention that there weren't many people here to see him. "He's going to headline the 8th Annual Filipino Family Day at Soak City in Chula Vista. There will be thousands of fans there for that."
Yeah, but will they be there for him or for the water rides?
That event is July 30th.
The last party of the day was at the Westin Hotel in Horton Plaza. It started at 9 p.m., but I arrived about 45 minutes later. They were still setting up, however, and there weren't many people there.
A guy named Jay Brown was throwing this party. He has a company called Prolifik Productions. It was also his 26th birthday. I asked him what his company did. "We are involved in music publishing and licensing. There are a lot of different areas of the media that we try to hit. There are commercials, websites, and video games. We just did the score for a film. It's a 20-minute short that's going to be in a few film festivals."
I asked how many artists he represents. "We have two at the moment. It's hard to devote enough time and energy if you have too many different acts."
During the party, I find out Boyd has been around a while. Someone tells me he was in a TV show called Fame, with Debbie Allen. He made it to the finals.
I ask Jay if reality shows like American Idol would help his client. I say, "You can either get exposure, or... have an affair with Paula Abdul." He laughs and says, "We're actually going to fly Jasmine up to San Francisco to audition for Making the Band on MTV [the Puff Daddy show]."
I went downstairs to smoke a cigar and walked toward Horton Plaza. A few nicely dressed people left the mall, heading for clubs and restaurants. A few homeless people walked around talking to themselves. I heard one pair of homeless guys discussing whether Wendy's was going to be giving out free shakes (because of all the bad press they got regarding the finger in the chili).
When I headed back up to the party, I noticed I could hear the music from the lobby and in the elevator. I assumed the hotel didn't have their ballrooms near an area where guests would be bothered, so I asked Jay if the hotel had any restrictions. "We actually looked around and called a lot of places before settling on the Westin. Most of the hotels told us we had to be done by midnight. We have the Plaza Ballroom until 1 a.m. I have 150 guests here, but it's a private party. Mostly family and friends."
It was set up nicely, with artwork on display in the lobby, which also had a bartender serving drinks. They had Play Stations set up, and a golf game, in which you could putt and win a prize. When one guy in his 50s wanted to try it, there was nobody around to give him his prize. We both laughed. I told him I wasn't going to attempt it. I can only golf if there are windmills and a mini Eiffel Tower.
There was a DJ named "B Wild." I thought he had the volume up too high, but it may have seemed that way because it wasn't my type of music. I asked Jay about the DJ and he said, "The DJ got here late, and he had a fever. He was throwing up. It was a bit of a disaster."
When I was walking down the hall to get away from the loud music, I heard one woman talking on her cell phone. She was saying the cops accused her of stealing her boyfriend's car.
As I drove home, I wondered how many of those musicians would be able to make a career in music. Some might become famous, but the odds are against them. Some might become music teachers.
My ears were still ringing, and I wondered about the damage they might be doing to their ears while playing loud music. It's strange that the one person I met with an ear problem didn't get it from music.
Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.