Occasionally in a performer’s life, there comes a point when he realizes that he hasn’t put on a real live show in over eight years. When that performer happens to be me, that moment of clarity begins to bitch-slap his soul. How dare he withhold his nourishment from the parched throats of the public for so long? Oh sure, there have been songs sung here and there amid hosting duties at annual festivals and weekly gatherings, live lullabies crooned for a price to needy socialites in Rancho Santa Fe and La Jolla, and oh, yeah, in Point Loma (no, Rita, I wasn’t about to forget you!) and singing backup or fill-in for someone else’s band. Worthy projects all, but lacking the character, attitude, and affirmation of timeless monkey love that had always been the essence of a Hose show. Then a letter arrives that is so surprising and truthful, so effortlessly passionate and heartbreakingly honest that, as I said, it somehow makes one aware of one’s long absence from the vitality of the Live Musical Scene. Such a letter arrived last week and I share it with you now in its nearly unedited, quasi-original form:
“Hey you, dumb ass! There hasn’t been a live José Sinatra show in like seven or eight years and that sucks. You scared or something? I mean, it’s not the end of the world or anything like that, but me and my girlfriends always thought you were good for a laugh outside of that monthly column of yours and we liked your music a lot, especially that song about O.J. and the one you sang while sitting on a girl’s back. You probably don’t remember but you chose me to be the girl one time at Java Joe’s and I’ve really gotten into playing Horsey ever since. You better start performing live again soon ‘cause you ain’t getting any younger and if you die on us without doing it at least once more you’ll regret it, believe me! Love, hugs, and a chaste kiss, Hillary Clinton.” (Confession: I picked that name out of thin air to protect the identity of Linda Sterling.)
To be confronted with the fact that you once brought such incredible joy to another human being (especially a chick!) outside of a boudoir or jacuzzi is tremendously humbling. And when that “you” is me the urge to get back in the saddle again becomes something you can actually feel in your heart, your rump, and occasionally one of your elbows. And when you realize how screwed up the world’s become since you stopped performing, you begin to feel a bit responsible for the way things are and you feel it’s your duty to climb back up on that baby as soon as you can in order to possibly save the world. And when you truly think in that manner you oughta be locked up for a very long time but when you’re me you just go for it. The line between altruism and insanity is far too pretty not to cross. A live José Sinatra show is something more than just a necessity; it is a way for me to Give Back while Taking Away your time. Sorta like this column, but with me singing live while staring at your legs.
It was just weeks ago that Mariah Carey opened up her own new show in Las Vegas, “Mariah #1 To Infinity,” a one-woman extravaganza in which she sings only her greatest hits. So that really got me thinking: Hell, if she can do it, why shouldn’t I? How hard can it be? And I mean, after all, she’s only a woman…
So, the wheels kicked into gear and started turning and the journey from Idea to Reality commenced. Originally I was going to call the show “José Sinatra Presents a Tribute To Mariah Carey” in honor of her inspiration to me but someone pointed out that I’d have to sing a bunch of her songs. Well, she’s not singing any of mine in her show, so I’m not about to do her any favors unless it’s just the two of us in private. Yeah, dream on, Mimi.
So finally I got in touch with Linda Sterling, the one who actually wrote that Hillary Clinton letter, since she seemed to understand reality pretty well for a girl. The more we dug into events of the past, it became clear that that “Horsey” incident hadn’t taken place at Java Joe’s after all but at a very early show long ago when I had been the opening act for the Beat Farmers. Yes, time plays tricks much like Linda herself (who for a time operated a thriving business along El Cajon Boulevard). I confessed to her that the old “sing the Beatles’ ‘Something’ while riding on a girl’s back like she was some animal” was an act I wasn’t comfortable performing anymore; as the years have past, my own outlook on many issues has evolved and improved and I would positively not get in front of an audience and sit on some female’s back unless she was wearing a very elegant, comfortable saddle. Also with maturity comes the revelation that the old maxim of “giving it 110%” is an exaggeration, being mathematically impossible, so the next time you hear someone say that, tell him he’s retarded and if he tries to argue with you, just show him this column! Anyway, Linda and I tossed around ideas and reached an agreement that I would commit to giving at least 92% at any upcoming live cabaret-type show that came to pass. Now that’s a good 3% to 6% more than I ever really gave during the 25 years (1982-2007) I did live shows (first solo with a tape player, then with the Troy Dante Quintet, then with the San Diego Phil Harmonic, and finally with the Troy Dante Inferno) in San Diego.
What we had the hardest time agreeing on was what exactly to call this return to the stage. “The Passion of the Hose” was kicked around a bit. “Jose Sinatra: A Man and His Tool” was pushed and prodded until it nearly passed out. Eventually we both felt comfortable stealing an idea from the Who and Cher: to disingenuously utilize the word Farewell. Now there’s a word you can use day after day, year after year, until one day you’re right and it actually comes true.
So, dearest reader, here’s the story of the San Diego leg of the José Sinatra 2015 Farewell Tour.
This happens exactly one year after two big gigs with the Craig Ingraham Band (of which I was a member, but not really as the Hose) had to be cancelled last summer, when Craig took ill (he has since recovered, thank God). Yes, ladies and gents, there will be two shows near the end of this month – one at Java Joe’s, 3536 Adams Ave./619-274-9989, on Wednesday, June 24 (Liz and Kent, publishers of this fine newspaper, will be opening) and one on Saturday, June 27 at Ducky Waddle’s Emporium, 414 N. Coast Hwy. 101, Encinitas/760-632-0488. (Taylor Swift will be the opening act, if I can find her number and she says yes). I will be showcasing my own, patented genre of Lounge Metal through a frank, adult exhibition of Vocal Love. If I can truly move just one member of the audience at either show, then that audience member is very likely insane.
Get in line NOW!