Monday, June 27, 2011

La Dama Jonathan Winters

After our television set broke in the summer of 1978, my parents made a decision that may very well have had more positive impact on me than any other they ever made. They decided not to get another. My sister and I would listen to old radio programs on cassette tapes that our parents would purchase, Lum and AbnerThe Lone RangerAmos and AndyThe Green HornetPalidin, etc... You name an old radio show and I have probably listened to it. We had a few new releases as well. I remember listening to (tapes my parents had recorded from the radio) the first Star Wars when it came out. And when I got a bit older I could pick out things that I thought looked good and my parents would order them. 

Jonathan Winters was 1 of the first old school stand-up comedians I ever heard. What I always remember about his style was that he seemed to be improvising. It never seemed to me that he had much of a plan. Some of his jokes/stories don't work. I love it. It's not like almost every other recording you hear of modern comedians, where every joke is funny. Jonathan Winters is simply a very funny man and if you let him just talk and tell a few stories he's going to be funny. I didn't realize at the time how those old cassette tapes filled with Mr. Winters funny stories would forever effect me and my performing.

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Mr. Winters

When I joined the Air Force Academy band in 2000, they required that most of the performers speak at least a little during each performance. Getting the performers to speak makes for a much more audience friendly show and the AF knows that. While I have always been comfortable playing my trumpet anywhere and for anyone, I was not comfortable speaking in front of anyone. Up until this point in my life, I had never needed to. The 1st few times I had only a mic in my hands it was not pretty. I wish I had recordings of those early days. I know they would be very funny to hear. Since there was no way to avoid public speaking, I decided that there was no reason I could not do this. I worked on it and in less than 3 years I was doing my own improvised stand-up routine in front of the entire Af band, on live TV in front of a crowd of over 3,000. 1 of the best feelings ever, hearing that many people laugh at something so simple as a few words.

I have always followed the Jonathan Winters approach when it comes to my performing. I have a plan but there is no script except for the 1 in my head. To me it feels more natural and honest as a performer, and it is much more exciting as well.

It felt wonderful on Saturday just before I began the 1st complete BUZZ show. The show begins with 5 minutes of a rubber hose trumpet clown bit followed by 10 minutes mas o menos of me yapping about BUZZing into a tube. The final section of the BUZZ show is 20 minutes mas o menos of music where I am joined by the BUZZ Brothers and a drummer. All 3 of my brains cells seemed to align and I was in the zone as they say.

For the 1st ever full performance of BUZZ, I am very pleased. The audience love it. The band sounded great. The theater in the library was a perfect spot (it got better once they turned on the lights so you could see me, that's Mexico.) Petite Francois Perinet was the crowd favorite, even though he forgot to play the French National Anthem (the 3 cells weren't always aligned). The BUZZ Brothers, Dan Norman on the tuba and John Swadley on the slide trombone provided some good grooves over the stick work of Ramon Hernandez. Everyone wanted more, so we gave it to them. Very fun start to the afternoon.

After returning and unloading all of the BUZZ gear Michelle, Pearl, Rose and I headed into centro to late night dance club La Dama to see old friend Matthew Stadler at his book signing party. It's fun to be able to take the girls inside of the most famous late night club in Guanajuato. I'm not sure what time La Dama opens but no 1 gets there until midnight at the earliest and closing time is whenever the sun comes up. 1 of my favorite things is hearing an author read from his or her own work. Very cool. 

Pearl and Rose on the balcony of La Dama.
Rose's "belt", doubles as her jump rope. 
Matthew's latest novel is, Chloe Jarren's La Cucaracha. It's set in Guanajuato. I'm looking forward to reading it. I know Matthew's voice will slip into my head when I am reading his words. Let me know if you want a good mystery for the summer. I've got Matthew's info.

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