The next night was Philadelphia, the Spectrum, another place I’d played before. Not that it mattered. The stage setup was different; the green room layout was different, meaning the mens room looked familiar.
That was the show when I started making it a regular habit to find the backup singers and do a vocal warmup with them. Their warmup routine was similar to the one Ziggy and I used to do but was in a different style.
Their names were Clarice and Fran, and they were twice my age but didn’t look it. The two of them had similar backgrounds though Clarice was from the Midwest and Fran was from the South. They sang in black church gospel choirs when they were growing up, were teenagers when all the civil rights riots were going down, both left home to try to make it in the big city in the sixties. They’d been on tour together dozens of times and had sung with the Stones, Clapton, Elton John, Jackson Browne, you name it. They were each what Bart would have lovingly called “zaftig,” and what I called simply a lot of woman.
“You know, it’s Fran’s birthday on May second,” Clarice pointed out while Fran was spraying her throat with something.
“Hush now,” Fran said, when she was done spritzing. “No show that day, anyway.”
“So? We could do a song on the first instead,” I said. “We’ll be on the West Coast then, right? So it’ll be your birthday here by then.” Time zone magic.
“I like the way you think,” Fran said with a smile.
“You want to do a song? What song do you want?” I asked.
Fran started to say “I’ll have to think about it,” but Clarice cut her off to say, “Her favorite song is the Rolling Stones, ‘Shout Away.'”
“Hush!” Fran repeated. “That’s my favorite song to sing backup on, not lead.”
“Ahh. Well, give it some thought. That’s a month away.”
“Well, and I don’t know what you know.”
“If we’re talking about me, I can learn anything, trust me. And I’m pretty sure the rest of the band can, too.” It’s all a matter of time, really. “Unless you pick something like ‘Carmina Burana.'”
She laughed. “You’re funny. I like you. I just got one question for you, though.”
“Why you doing a vocal warmup when you ain’t even got a microphone?”
“I’ve got a microphone!” I mock-argued.
“But you ain’t using it.”
“Well, I don’t have to since you fine ladies handle all the choruses.”
“I know. Which brings me back to the original question.”
“I just needed an excuse to hang out with you gals.”
Clarice grinned. “You are cute. You come do warmup with us every night, all right?”
They pretty much adopted me from that point on. I suppose that was one way to keep me from getting too bossy on them–being bossy on me in a nurturing way instead–but I didn’t mind.
Anyone want to take a pool on how long it took me, warming up with them every night and living in a bus with them, to figure out that they were together? Anyone?
(Psst. It’s ctan’s birthday this week. She’s not much for flowers or gifts but she would love some more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads for the DGC ebooks and audiobooks? -d)