December 27, 2006

Soul Brother #1

I guess this is the appropriate time for my one James Brown story, from way back when mrs guy was still Miss Somebody Else.

So...back in the day, the fanciest hotel in town only booked big orchestras and "champagne music" for its swankiest room (let's call it The Firenze Room). By the end of the 20th century, however, they wanted to change their image and draw a new crowd, so they hired James Brown to be the first act of the new era. Boyfriend and I were big JB fans, so we made reservations for the first night of his engagement at the Firenze Room.

The night of the show, I got off early from my job at the diner. I ducked into the diner bathroom to change into my "fancy" clothes, Boyfriend and I got into my 1968 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 named Maceo (after Maceo Parker of JB's band) and we headed to the big city.

And we got to the hotel too early, because we were eager to get a good table. As they were about to seat us, a tiny man came up to the host and said "The man's READY." The host stammered "But he's not supposed to go on for 45 minutes!" and the little guy countered with "Well you better call Room 225" (or whatever it was).

It was clear what we'd just seen. James wanted to go on, but the venue wasn't ready for him and most of the audience hadn't arrived yet. Drama in real life! We'd already gotten our money's worth, as far as I was concerned.

We sipped a martini and waited for the intro:

"FIFTYtwo-years-old-and-the-hardest-working-man-in-showbusiness-Mr-Ja-a-a-a-a-a-mes Brown!" The show was awesome. The singing. The cape. The whole deal. There is nobody like James Brown. The only drag was that he waged a battle with the sound guy. He stopped the show several times and threatened to walk off the stage if the sound man didn't turn up the volume. It didn't seem like part of the act. Oh well. An artist of James Brown's caliber has exacting standards, right? Oh Honey, you don't know the half of it.

After the show, we loitered. We left messages with the front desk for our "close personal friend" Mr James Brown. We were total dorks, as only very young people fueled by expensive martinis can be.

And then when we thought he had enough time to get to his room, we used the power. We went up to room 225 and for a half hour, Boyfriend and I leaned against the wall on either side of the door and smoked cigarettes and listened to Soul Brother #1 chew out his band. They were so amazing that I was shocked that he found things to pick on. It's been quite some time, so I only recall one thing clearly: he took time for a little choreography. "...and when I do THIS" followed by a trademark JB gutteral !hooh! and some unknown gesture or movement "...I want you to come in real low."

That's it, really. Hate to wind you up for a story with no ending, but the man was ready yesterday, and wherever he went is scrambling to prepare, I'm sure.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails