Thursday, October 30, 2008


James Brown and the Famous Flames

Legions of people in this little coastal village streamed out of the hills to fill the Mattole Valley Community Center for plates of homemade lasagne, salad, and bread, glasses of wine, conversation and sardine-packed dining a la firehall raffles. It was a full house for food and fun, quickly becoming so loud it was difficult to converse even with the person next door. There was some rumor about the Cabaret show happening earlier than usual, but as usual, it was 7:50 PM, and Doc had to ask the rowdy assembly "Are we going to put the tables away?" I'm not sure, but I think they ran out of dinner.

"Could we get the band up on the stage?" is usually the second question Doc is asking. Tonight's theme song was James Brown's "Funky President". The "band" is a rag tag assemblage of local talent, some regulars and some intermittent participants. All told, we had 13 bodies on stage, ready to butcher another great song: a drum kit, electric bass, piano, hand drum, three back-up singers (that's me), three trumpets, a saxophone, a trombone, and Doc with his guitar and vocal mic. Doc had penned his own funky new raps to go with the song, one of which went like this:

Hey People, it ain't heaven sent,
Gotta vote yourself a funky new president
Gotta be Obama, can't be McCain
Four more years, and the world'll be insane

Stock market going down,
Nobody knows how far to the ground,
Try to get a job? Try the doggie pound
Ain't no funky jobs to be found
You want some money? Try the Mob!
Don't try Wall Street, they just rob
People people it ain't heaven sent
Gotta vote yourself a funky new president!

Even with all the transitions of verse and bridge and refrain and such, we managed to pull off some decent funk! People ate it up, and I wasn't even that embarrased singing things like "Funk motor" and "Sexy sexy".

A lot of the first set was dedicated to political skits and songs, including an appearance of Katie Couric and Sarah Palin, and the Godfather of Soul himself, David Simpson playing James Brown. He came on stage dressed in a dashing white suit with his chest hair sticking out. After doing several rediculous dances, such as the "hostile homesteader" and the "stoned hippie" (imagine the head-nodding dancers at Grateful Dead shows), he introduced me and my ladies, the Famous Flames. We were dressed to the nines in hot dresses, fishnet stockings and heels, and we did a little stair dance for our entrance, and then took the stage, each of us dancing with James. At this point, James does a political rap, referring to McCain as a honky, though Obama's running mate is a honky too. Oh it was funny! At last, we transitioned into a rousing rendition of "Sex Machine" where the ladies and I did a silly dance routine. I had so much make up on, as well as a wig, that many people genuinely didn't recognize me! I'm trying to track down some photos, but so far, none have turned up.

Second set was, as is typical, a lot of men or women with guitars, the whole singer-songwriter thing. I tend to get a little bored here, but one highlight was that local professional musician Lila Nelson came on and sang us two of her little ditties, which was a treat to see her perform live. She is a DJ on our awesome local radio station, KHUM, but I'd never seen her in person. Yay Lila! You are COOL!

At 11:30, Ella and Drew and I had to go home, since Ella was too distracted to fall asleep in all the excitement, and we wanted to make sure we could all make it through the Rye and Tide (see next post) the following day, so we bid goodnight to our fellow revellers, who apparently didn't end the program until nearly 1 AM. Who says there's nothing to do in the country?

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