WOW! I have a story today that is pretty much awesome!
Since I'm changing all of these things in my life, I decided I would check out TC's Lounge on the East side Monday night because I heard from some friends there was a really good blues band that plays there every Monday. I took my friend Jenny and I thought I would give it a shot to see if the band would let me sing "Stormy Monday" with them. As it turns out, I knew the guitarist from when I worked with him over 2 years ago, so that was exciting. I spoke to him about singing and he informed me that I should ask the drummer, but that he would most likely say no. I also talked to him about playing the song. He said they would play it for a certain singer who would occasionally drop by, so I thought maybe my odds were better. I spoke to the drummer man and he shot me down! He was nice about it. I asked if they could play that song and, yes, he lied to me and said they didn't. He was nice about the whole thing, but I couldn't help but feel like I had been played.
So that brings me to yesterday... My friend Courtney and I decided to go to Austin Java for lunch. You are supposed to park in the parking lot and either walk to the restaurant or take the free shuttle. We took the shuttle, and the driver guy was really cool. I decided he would be my friend the moment we got in the van. We started talking about blues music and I tell him how un-bluesy the band at TC's was to me the night before [Note: Even though they are a good blues band, that was so un-blues what they did.]. He said, "You're a blues singer? Let's hear it!" and he turns off the cd player (Stevie Ray!!!). I hesitated, laughed because I thought he was joking for a second, and then just started belting it out, right there in the van. He really liked it! He got my phone number for when he does a collaborative blues album (he's a blues singer/guitarist) and he told me about the Open Mic Night at Ruta Maya on Tuesdays. I immediately decided I would go, and Courtney said she would be there, too.
The way the Ruta Maya Open Mic Night works is that all the artists get there at 8:30 and put their names on a small piece of paper for a lottery. If someone played last week, they weren't allowed to play this week. There were a bunch of people up there, so I wasn't sure what was going to happen as they only had 16 slots. My heart was pounding the entire time! This guy Nikolai was going crazy over my eyes while we were all meeting, which I found hilarious. He kept shouting things like, "Ooooh, those are the most beautiful blue eyes I've ever seen!" and "They look like Heaven!" If you could hear this guy's voice, you would undoubtedly be laughing, too. I wish I could describe it. This guy was a character - and there's more to say about him later. I digress. The guy pulls out all of the names but 2 and the 16 slots were already filled. Then, he says, "SavannahRed?" I told him it was me. He said, "Ok, you're on!" WHOA! Talk about nervous. My heart briefly went to live with my stomach. It was a really great feeling just to know I was getting a guaranteed chance, even though I didn't know what time it would happen. Their system is quite interesting, but it worked, for the most part.
I had only been to one other open mic night in Austin, so I didn't know what to expect at Ruta Maya. There were some decent acts, some not as decent acts, and then some really great ones that I should have followed up on. A guy I met on the balcony sat with us the whole time, and he is a really sweet guy named Joe. I could tell Joe had been on the scene for a while. Everybody seemed to know him, even from way back, and he had a really chill vibe going on the whole night, even though he was tired and needed to get up early. We would talk between sets about the music scene or the artist, and I really liked hanging out with Joe. He knew Nikolai, too, and he told us that he would definitely put on a show.
Enter Nikolai on the stage. It takes him what seems like forever to get the house band set up, but it was worth it. This guy must be close to 60. He's pretty tall, has a big nose [read: schnoz], and a gray bowl cut. He was wearing a really long, white trench coat-looking thing over a white blazer over a red pleather vest and red pleather pants. I shit you not! Joe said, "Oh, this is going to be loud!" And he was not kidding. It. was. RIDICULOUS! This guy had the house band playing some kind of metal something and he was singing/screaming "FLY!" as he mainly knelt on the stage while the mic was in his hand. He tried to spin around and fell on the stage, then did a hand stand while singing. It was amazing! He kept trying to climb on the speakers and fell off a few times. He did backflips in front of the audience and did a backflip off a table where some people were sitting. It was nuts! I don't think anyone could turn their attention away from this crazy man on stage, and he was on there for a reaaaaally long time. It was pretty intense.
So, the night progressed and I got hit on literally 7 times throughout the night. I started laughing about it really hard at one point because it seemed so unbelievable. I mean, getting hit on at Ruta Maya? I never would have guessed that in a thousand years. Joe said, "You look good! That shouldn't be such a surprise!" Thank you, Joe! But seriously... hippies hit on me. Strange. (Favorite one of the night: "Hey, what's your name?" "Anslee" "Do you come here often?" "I come for yoga sometimes." "Oh, well you should come to the poetry open mic night! Do you write?" "Yeah, I do write, but I'm actually here for the music open mic." "I was about to leave, but if you're singing, I'm sticking around." Hiiilarious!)
Finally, they call my name, and I'm after 2 other people. The first person goes and the second is MIA, so then it was time for me! I tell the house band what to do, make a few jokes into the mic, and then we're set. I was so nervous that I felt like my legs wouldn't stop shaking and my feet couldn't really feel the stage below me. But singing on that stage felt so natural. I wasn't worried about whether or not I would start coughing or lose my voice or hit the wrong note. I was just up there. I felt so free. I felt so beautiful. I felt like I was the most important person in the world at that moment because people were there, listening to me, listening to my talent that I've hidden for a little while. It felt like home, despite my nerves. Courtney and another person I met recently, Cherie, were taking pictures of me and cheering me on at the base of the stage. It just felt so magical and real at the same time. I wish every moment of my life could be like that, and it's a lot like that when I sing because I just love it so much! And especially when I sing "Stormy Monday" because I feel like I own that song, I know it so well and I've made it my own. I felt complete on that stage.
Afterwards, I got so many compliments from everyone, especially Courtney and Heather, and I felt so supported and so loved that I couldn't help but beam the rest of the night. Joe was playing soon, so I stuck around to hear him, and he is phenomenal! We talked after he played about collaborating, and we both agreed that it seemed like something we should do because we truly enjoyed each other's talent. So, here's Joe and me!
I love where life is taking me right now. It's digging up my roots, and in a really great way. I wanted to call my parents after I sang but it was about 1 am, so I knew they wouldn't like it, even if it was good news. I am hopeful about this new/old venture for me. It's new because I put what I've done my entire life on hold until now. It's ok, though. I pursued other things that are working for me, too, but it's definitely the right time for me to get my knees deep in the music that rocks me to my core - the blues, jazz, anything. This feels so right. I am so fortunate. I hope it never, ever stops.