Saturday, September 10, 2011

There's No Bidness Like Show Bidness

Today the group of ladies who sing barbershop harmony and I performed a SING OUT at the Evanston Farmer's Market. This is the SING OUTside portion of our performance schedule, which, thankfully, occurs when Chicago's egregious winter weather goes on hiatus for a few weeks. There was a brief concern about rain because we wear t-shirts on these occasions. And the prospect of mature women singing Get Me To The Church On Time with wet and wild chests raised more than a little concern. 
          Basically, we sing for about an hour in a couple of different locations around the marketplace, usually between the homegrown tomatoes and the canned peaches, but not too close to anybody smoking hot dogs or ears of corn. In fact, our show today in Evanston, IL, just down the street from one of Northwestern University's sorority quads, was the second of three stops on this year's worldwide tour of suburban parking lots converted into fresh air groceries on Saturdays. Our final moment in the sun will be at the Glenview Farmer's Market toward the end of the month. If you're around, just keep driving by.
          Since next year is the 60th anniversary of the founding of our group, a photographer came to our rehearsal last Thursday to take pictures, as we prepared for today's performance and learned a couple of new songs as well. Supposedly there will be an article to go with the pictures in a week or so. Everyone was advised in advance to look presentable for the newspaper photos, a warning I took to heart by not wearing the clothes I slept in. Meanwhile, the nude calendar is on hold. 
          Another photographer showed up for our performance this Saturday morning, shooting stills of our little group decked out in our Betty Boop make up, voluminous palazzo pants, red, white, and blue earrings, red-sequined black sun visors, and those t-shirts I mentioned.  Our group was small today because half of us couldn't be there, so we stood close together hoping that proximity would make us sound like a larger group. But mostly help us stay on key.
          It wasn't going to be easy. We started out singing "Consider Yourself," as our warm up, always a risky gambit. Using an opener to work out the kinks is like playing football to get into shape. It doesn't always go well. Usually we'll go up the scale singing the lyric "Open Pit Barbecue Sauce" for each note of the octave. It sounds funny to the people listening and we can do an entire warmup in public without too much effort. Not today. We jumped right in. Afterward, there was a smattering of applause from friends, family, and a group of moms with their kids. Plus a few people passing by carrying armloads of fruits and vegetables. There was mumbling in the group about staying on pitch. Personally, I thought it was enough of a miracle that we managed to end on the same chord, considering.
          After singing "Tomorrow" it was noted that someone [all fingers pointed at me] sang the wrong lyrics at the beginning. And loudly. Apparently I substituted "So you gotta hang on till tomorrow" for "Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow. . ." Mea Culpa. At least I was on key. Some people to my right weren't in the neighborhood. 
          Taking a Chance on Love started out harmlessly enough, but we had some stragglers toward the end there. And one notable missed chord which didn't bother some lady in the audience who came running up afterward and gushed about how wonderful we were. 
          Even though 9/11 is tomorrow, no one had the courage to attempt America the Beautiful without the full group. Yes it rocks when we've got everybody around. But, the lyrics to the second verse are so annoying, there was a real risk that we could forget them and [horrors] have to start over. Hey, we're volunteers. Nobody's getting paid for this. See if you could remember this bizarre collection of meaningless words, all of which should have been excised from this perfectly good patriotic song a long time ago:
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat 
Across the wilderness! 
America! America! God mend thine every flaw, 
Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law! 
I rest my case.
          So while we had the perfect opportunity to do a 9-11 tribute, we just flat chickened out. In my defense, I had actually reviewed the lyrics in the car on the way over, so I was prepared [for once]. But nobody else wanted to attempt it. 
          All of the show tunes we sang with choreography went over well. People love to watch ladies of an uncertain age women like we're standing in front of the bathroom mirror, alone. In the interest of full disclosure, choreography usually means moving our hands a lot, so I have, on occasion, referred to those songs as "handjobs." I know, there's no excuse. 
          At one point we were going to sing "In the Good Old Summertime", but the bass part is spent going "BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM. . ." until the last couple of measures, so I was glad we skipped it. Summer's almost over anyway. 
          We sang Sha-boom, which is always a crowd favorite, except, for some reason, we forgot to modulate in the middle, which left our director rolling her eyes. However, our yaddadadadadas and electric slide routine went over well. 
          Moonglow sounded good. I thought it might be a little too quiet for an outdoor event, but it worked for some reason. At least from where I was standing. I forget what else we sang. But I do know that we sang everything twice. And we finished with a song we always sing at the end of our reheasals called Good Night. Since it was daytime, we changed the lyrics to Good Bye, so everybody would know the show was over.
          My ears hurt from wearing clip-on earrings. My feet are tired from standing for so long. My hair looks weird, but that's nothing new. My stomach is growling because I spent the whole morning at a farmer's market and didn't buy anything. And I look like the world's oldest hooker with all this make up on. 
          Good times.

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