‘My CAMMIES experience’
CN&R general manager becomes part of the night life, with mixed reviews
I’ve been with the News & Review for seven years and have attended some great events. I’ve even had the honor of being a judge in a stand-up comedy competition at the Sierra Nevada Big Room and a guest bartender at LaSalles. I enjoy all kinds of music, so the thought of seeing 44 bands in 12 nights was intriguing.
My history of attending live shows in a bar without a date is non-existent (I was under 21 when I wed). I saw more live entertainment in local bars in April of 2006 than I had in my lifetime. It’s not like I was reliving the past; I was living it for the first time as a guy in his mid-40s.
The first showcase kicked off with Jazz on April 3. Things started pretty quiet, largely due to the start time and the fact that it was taking place on a Monday night. The place filled up by 7 p.m. and was a great way to start the CAMMIES. I enjoyed all the acts that night.
The next show was World/Celtic/ Reggae. There was a much larger crowd in attendance at this showcase. I liked Cochino, and based on the audience participation on the dance floor, they appeared to be the crowd favorite.
Hard Rock/Metal was next up. I went with trepidation. The night was a bit much for me; not my type of music. I had trouble making out the lyrics to some songs. Whiplash came to mind as I watched people thrusting their heads up and down. I saw those young adults slamming into each other, and I didn’t see that as dancing. I even noticed a woman thrust her shoulder into the mix of men and then simply walked away.
The Folk/Acoustic show was much more my speed. I liked all the acts. Aubrey Debauchery did something no other band did during any showcase. She performed without using a microphone. The venue was just intimate enough for her to pull it off, and she did. My kids went to school with Aubrey, so I was a bit partial to her.
I worked the door at Funk night, and it was interesting. There must have been around 250 people passing through. Most people knew the drill: show ID, pay cover. Others had excuses: “I’m on the list,” “I need to use the ATM machine inside” and “I just want to see if my friend is inside.” The best one of the night was from a guy who said he was interviewing for a bouncer position. I wasn’t about to argue with him, and let him pass. Funk night was the only night that all five nominated bands played. There was electricity in the room. Each band had the crowd wanting more.
Punk night got off to a late start due to a change in the lineup. There was a good crowd on hand, and they seemed to enjoy each act. Again, this was not my type of music, but I did enjoy Gruk.
The Country/Bluegrass showcase left an indelible mark. While Crazygrass was playing, an older woman asked Chris Caraway, the event producer, to dance. Chris was unable to accommodate her request and offered my services. I quickly agreed. Little did I know “Annie” loved to dance. We got on the dance floor, and I managed to keep up with her. The music was too fast and I felt clumsy and awkward, but Annie asked to dance again and we entered into a marathon jig. It was probably the best cardio workout I’ve had in years. I had sweat dripping down my face. Annie just smiled and twirled; she even twirled me around. It took a good 30 minutes for me to cool down. I liked all of the bands—just couldn’t remember much of Crazygrass.
I was excited about Rock night since co-worker Mark Lore was playing with his band, but I was confused when they thrashed their equipment. Even more confusing was when audience members jumped on stage while the contents of their glasses ended up on the dance floor. Bouncers were getting anxious. It was quite a frenzy.
I noticed an audience member holding his hand up with blood around his fingers. I told him to go get cleaned up. He didn’t want to wash it off; he was proud of it.
He said, “It’s OK, I know Mark.”
The next day Mark asked me what I thought about the performance. I told him it wasn’t the best of the night, in my opinion, and that I was a bit surprised. He said they were going for audience reaction. They succeeded. I remember The Who used to break guitars back in the ’70s. My question to Mark and his band: “Who are you?”
The Rap/Hip-hop night was another evening that surprised me. The surprise came from the Hooliganz’ following. Seems there are a lot of women who know about these guys, and they showed up in great numbers. I clearly could see why guys would want to go see some live entertainment at a bar.
Next up was Blues. I’d heard of Big Mo and figured he was the big draw for the evening. I enjoyed all of the bands that night, including Big Mo, but was pleasantly surprised by The Blue Marvellz—they rocked.
I probably won’t continue to go out three nights a week. I will, however, seek out some of my favorites when I find out when and where they’ll be playing. I encourage anyone who enjoys music to see some of the great talent that’s right in your own back yard.
John McKinley from Brut Max said it best after I told him how impressed I was with seeing his band for the first time: “Lee, you need to get out more often.”