My first concert was Van Halen. My first poster was Bruce Springsteen. My first girlfriend would have ditched me for Jon Bon Jovi. So, needless to say, music has played a role in my life for many years.
And it’s no stretch to suggest – alongside champion boxer and prolific author – that being the front man of a rock band has been a prime fantasy of mine since the hair was long and the face was smooth.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Grammys… turns out I can’t sing a lick.
Oh, I can hang with “The Boss” from the comfort of my bathroom and I’ve been known to draw stares as I belt out “Margaritaville” at red lights, but when it comes to hitting the high notes more than an arm’s length from showerhead or steering wheel, I’m far better off staying on mute.
Given my role as TWI’s adventurer-in-chief, though, the right to remain silent is no longer an option.
So with that responsibility weighing heavy on a recent Wednesday night, I paid a visit to the 8:30 p.m. karaoke session at the Crow’s Nest Beach Bar & Grille with an intent to indulge my inner entertainer.
It’s a relatively new outlet for wannabes – having started as a regular weekly gig in early 2016 – but it’s an automatic attention-getter once the “stage” starts going up in the corner of the dining room.
The stage is a stage by only the most liberal definition, of course, but once the predictable procession of Buffetts, Beatles and Beastie Boys begins revving-up the enthusiastic, bottle-tipping vacation crowd, it might just as well be the big room at Madison Square Garden.
But if you think that might help with the nerves… think again.
More than a dozen people were there to perform and I got the number nine slot, nestled comfortably between a retired U.S. Army master sergeant (we all know what divas they are) and a guy who did the worst Ricky Martin impersonation this side of the actual Ricky Martin. Whoa.
The crowd was an eclectic mix of perhaps 30 people, ranging in age from early 20s to early 50s, most if not all dragged by a friend or loved one who was going to take the stage. I brought my better half and, having heard my act for 12 years, she compassionately began praying for a power outage.
From the mic you could look out and see traffic drive by, which provided the comfort of knowing the world didn’t care. But that was all the relief I got as I learned other wannabe stars, too, tend to cut their teeth on the “Wanted: Dead or Alive” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” ditties that I had planned.
You can totally get away with that stuff if you’re the first person up, but being No. 9 suddenly stunk. Best Buy employee “Chad” killed it in the No. 1 spot with all my material, leaving me scrambling through an internal CD catalog for old Bruce nuggets like “Glory Days” and “Pink Cadillac.”
Suddenly, teen nights spent with headphones while cool kids partied elsewhere were a boon.
Anyway, the sound of my thudding heartbeat essentially drowned out performers two through eight, and by the time my name was called an hour or so later, position nine turned out to be completely innocuous. People had lost steam after the first several songs and were busy refreshing their drinks by the time I grabbed the microphone – and within 10 minutes, my one-man show was over.
I ducked into the bathroom and came back prepped for an encore, but by that time the Ricky Martin guy had hit the second verse of “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and I was already old news.
So I headed to my Kia instead, and left the windows down while Bruce and I gave the residents along Captiva Drive an impromptu show for the ride home.
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days…