Friday, September 13, 2013

Elvis Presley --Baby What Do You Want Me To Do

It was the end of the year 2009.  The economy was in the shitter.  Times were tough at the company I worked for in San Diego.  They were taking heavy cost cutting measures and several of our co-workers had lost their jobs.  The company was failing to hit its financial goals.  Don’t get me wrong, the company was still making millions of dollars in profits.  It was just that we were not meeting our financial goals.  Therefore, the company decided to shaft us on the holiday party.

That was a tough one to swallow considering how stressful the whole year had been.

I was at some dive bar in San Diego called Pal Joey’s with some co-workers bitching about this very topic when I had to go to the men’s room.  I step up to the urinal and  there with my undivided attention was a flyer advertising Wednesday night Blues jams at the bar.  A vision rushed through me.  A jam session, that could make a pretty cool idea for a holiday party.

It had been over 20 years since I played in the Monday Blues jams back in the Twin Cities.  I had a pretty good Jones going on inside me to do it again one day.  This was my chance.  My good buddy Rob so happened to be an all-around musician.  He plays piano, guitar, writes music and sings at his church.  I figured I could count on him.  Our receptionist, Mitty, had a good set of Soul-stirring pipes.  She would sometimes sing the national anthem at company events.  I figured she and perhaps, Maria (who used to be a stage performer) would be interested to.  It could be like live music Karaoke.

I talked to the owner of the bar who had no problems so long as I could promise at least 20 people would show up.  He put me in touch with the host band and they were glad to do it for only a couple hundred bucks.

The show was on.

Our company had an almost maniacal aversion to potential lawsuits.  That was probably part of the reason why they canceled the holiday party.  They didn’t want any potential lawsuits over a drunk driving incident.  Therefore, when I handed out the fliers, I specifically noted “NOT A COMPANY EVENT.”

The night finally arrived.  Someone ordered a bunch of pizzas and we easily surpassed the minimum 20 people.

The band warmed things up with a tune. Then my buddy Rob and I took the stage.  I got behind the drum kit and Rob played guitar and sang.  We warmed up with simple one, “Sweet Home Chicago.”   Mitty came up and belted out an old Soul song.  Even the lovely Laora took the stage.  Now I’m sure Laora would admit that she’s not a great singer, but she wanted to sing “Sweet Home Alabama.”  The problem was she didn’t know all the lyrics.  Thinking swiftly, Laora thought to find the lyrics on her iPhone.  It was really great.

Then it was Gabe’s turn.  Now I knew that Gabe was a witty and creative guy, but I had no idea he could sing.  He took the stage, grabbed the mic off the stand, stepped out among the people and startled us all with an incredible Elvis Presley imitation singing Hound Dog or All Shook Up or some other classic Elvis number, I can’t remember.  Anyway, he blew the place away.  Even folks on the other side of the bar who were not part of our private party started hootin’ and hollerin’.

It turned out to be a great time for all.  I was revved up for the next week because of it.  We talked about it for weeks afterward.  We talked about how a jam session is something we should do every year.  Well, we never had the chance because a year later, the rest of us were out of a job too.

Instead of posting an Elvis song that we’ve all heard a zillion times to commemorate that night, I offer this post by Elvis from his 1968 comeback special.  His awesome version of “Baby What Do You Want Me To Do?”

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