Various Authors noon, Dec. 8
Final Edition of Too Cool for Karaoke Jan. 9 @Whistle Stop
Almost five years ago, when Adam Gimbel and Cover Me Badd launched a monthly trivia contest (Musical Pursuit) and anti-karaoke night (Too Cool For Karaoke), who knew both would still be running in 2012? Well, that's about to end.
"Cover Me Badd will host the final editions of both the Too Cool For Karaoke and Musical Pursuit trivia nights this month," says Gimbel. Too Cool for Karaoke wraps up Monday, January 9 at the Whistle Stop, while Musical Pursuit finishes its run at the same venue on January 30.
"In early 2007, as part of a short-lived Cover Me Monthly series at the San Diego Sports Club, music trivia debuted with over 120 of San Diego's most well-known musicians, writers & record store dorks competing," says Gimbel. "Needless to say, not even half that many people ever showed up at one time again."
Later that year, Too Cool For Karaoke debuted at the Kava Lounge, though only around eight people showed up. "It got better," says Gimbel. "In over forty Musical Pursuit quizzes, there have been countless memorable Name-That-Tune performances, and a thousand music snob cries of nitpickery. Too Cool For Karaoke was hailed in the local press as the greatest karaoke night ever and got nationwide attention for offering something so thoroughly unique. Over $3000 was raised for the San Diego Music Foundation by making people pay to sing bad songs and donating half of our tips."
After turning up around town at U31, the Ken Club, and the Ruby Room, both theme nights found a home at the Whistle Stop.
"It was fun, but there have been tumbleweeds lately," says Gimbel. "Last month's holiday editions of Karaoke and Trivia were heartwarming, but now it's time for the funerals."
If your pursuit of trivia remains unquenched, the Whistle Stop's regular bi-monthly trivia night will still be held on the first and third Monday of every month, usually containing some kind of musical section.
Too Cool For Karaoke's longtime guest host Pants now has his own weekly night at Eleven, Pants Karaoke, sometimes hosted by Gimbel.
Laura Jane hosts a karaoke night on Mondays at The Harp in Ocean Beach and on Tuesday at Gossip Grill in Hillcrest.
Cover Me Badd mocks various genres and bands with painfully faithful "tribute band" performances. Among CMB's many incarnations: the Fookin' Wankers (spoofing Oasis), Geezer (old men performing Weezer songs), Wookie Card (Rookie Card dressed as Star Wars characters), Rabbi Gimbel's Jews Explosion (Hebrew rock history), Lil Strummer Orchestra (street corner–style Clash sing-alongs), and Rookie Ricardo, El Vez's onetime wedding backing band (they played a song with El Vez at his wedding).
The band is headed by longtime Rookie Card frontman Adam Gimbel, whose first band PEN13 (“I refused to be in a band called PEN15”) included his co-workers at Tower Records.
Gimbel also happens to be an ordained minister, capable of performing weddings. “I'm not a real rabbi, but the city allows you to have a temporary license to be a deputy marriage commissioner and perform weddings.”
One CMB project, the Depeche Mode–inspired Blasphemous Guitars, has waged online war against a more straight-faced tribute. “Blasphemous Rumours is an L.A. Depeche Mode copycat band that proves yet again that most tribute bands have zero creativity,” says Gimbel. “Now, Blasphemous Guitars gets confused with their name all the time. Still, the feuding was worth it, just to hear their singer tell me that no one would confuse us with them because they were ‘much more grand.’”
After recording Blasphemous Guitars Live 2005, Gimbel says he met former Depeche Mode keyboardist Alan Wilder. “In getting asked to chauffeur him to and from M-Theory for an in-store signing, I thought about giving him a copy of this recording from when we first started and only did DM songs. Glad I didn’t. Though, it would’ve been funny to have it playing when he got in.”
Having dived into the tribute subculture with his rotating groups, Gimbel says the world of tribute acts is a strange but lucrative scene filled with musicians trying to get famous pretending to be other people. He gained some insight to the tribute mindset when Blasphemous Guitars shared a bill with a U2 tribute band named Joshua Tree.
“We were going to have a girl do this burlesque thing, and Joshua Tree’s manager told us, ‘I can’t have her near my Bono because his girlfriend gets really jealous.’ Just hearing the manager refer to the singer as my Bono was good enough for me! Then the band comes out and they’re so serious. You can’t even look for more than a minute because it’s so creepy how much they’re into it.”