as i was running down 42nd st. to bb king's, ken roberson passed me moving fast in the other direction, in mid conversation on his cellphone, bespectacled and in lovely summerwear. i grabbed him by the arm and kept moving into the building without missing a beat, talking a steady stream to catch him up as he ended his cellphone call and stepped in stride with me: renee is downstairs, she's been there for about an hour, we're singing backups for edgar winter, no she doesn't know who edgar winter is -- laughlaughlaugh -- (please insert a spirited version of "frankenstein" here, as sung curbside by kenny.) i've just come from rehearsal with my band, i'm playing makor every thursday this month, after this i have to go to work, no rest for the weary, what are you up to, are you still choreographing "the color purple," what! you're doing "purlie" where? i can't believe you're going to miss all my shows this month! when are you coming back. maybe we should wait to throw a party then...
i am always running into kenny out of nowhere. it's our thing.
ken had to give the door guy his driver's license to get backstage for a few minutes, but it was worth it to surprise renee, who was in edgar's dressing room, standing in third position, nibbling from a snack tray of fresh fruit and cheeses. screams all around. he could only stay for two minutes and was gone as suddenly as he had appeared but it was a lovely way to start our rock and roll evening. by this time, i was drop dead exhausted but i was too amped up to realize it -- the evening would end around midnight and i would go to work until 5am. but i couldn't think about any of that right then or i'd pass out.
renee is my ace. she'd just come off the road with the first national tour of "thoroughly modern millie" as of a few weeks ago and is just starting to get back into the swing of things. she was gone for at least a year, i think. she's a wonderful dancer and she's got a great voice but she'd never done a rock show before, so she was a little antsy. she waited for me so we could eat together. God, i love to eat. i can't eat a lot because of the acid reflux, but i must eat well. if it's something that i want -- fresh cherries, a cobb salad from a particular restaurant, just squeezed wheatgrass -- i get it. life is too short to not eat what you really want at every meal. at rehearsal, bob told me that they always serve the same thing backstage there and he was right: salmon, wild rice, sauteed sliced vegetables, buffalo chicken wings, mixed field greens with balsamic vinagrette dressing. coffee and tea. really moist terrifically yummy (unfortunately nutless) brownies that made me go "wow" when i bit into them. and mini danishes that were kind of a letdown after noshing on those brownies.
we drifted around making conversation, sipping tea and goofing off backstage until all of a sudden we were up onstage and the band cranked into "frankstein" with a monstrous intensity that frightened us both so much, we both started to dance. everyone was really impressed because it looked planned and completely choreographed but i just did whatever renee did. after going offstage and then coming back to much fanfare and applause, we did "free ride" which made me really happy. renee was fine vocally but she felt so self conscious and she couldn't hear herself and then it was all over.
the next thing i knew, i was at work, working hard until a car took me home at 5am. i was sitting in a chair in staten island at 9am, all set to get my hair done. imagine my surprise when i got back to the city, checked my messages and found out that i'd gotten a callback for that degree commercial, later that afternoon. would it matter that i looked completely different than when i went in? i had a nice soft big afro the day before and now my hair was in bantu knots. i couldn't even begin to imagine how painful it would be to take them out but who cared if the price was right?
in the meantime, the commercial agent was pleased and eagerly scheduled me for an interview for early next week. i was looking pretty good in their eyes: the first job they send me out on, and i get a callback.