There are many people who have known me for years who will never believe what I am about to tell you. But these events did unfold, on a quiet Superbowl Sunday, just as written . Amanda Chadwick put out an invitation to go to the Parliament House for Sunday morning Karaoke at the piano bar. Only the night before, actress, Lindsay Cohen had told me that she had once worked as a waitress at the Parliament House. I have never been, so I was curious. This sounded like a perfect sketching opportunity.
When I arrived maybe an hour late, I could hear the loud singing from the street. When I walked in it took a while for my eyes to adjust to the dark interior. The room was filled with men all sitting at the bar and in folding chairs facing the piano player. At the front table sat the only three women in the room and Amanda was one of them. She saw me and came over to say hello. The proprietor of the bar offered me a folding chair so I could sit with the 3 ladies, but I rather liked the view from my bar stool. I got out my sketchbook and started to sketch. The first person to take the stage after I started working was Dina Peterson who was one of Amanda's friends. She sang Elton John's "Your Song" and she bought down the house. All the men joined her singing the chorus and they all swayed to the music. I found myself singing along myself as I sketched, the lines flowing along with the words. To myself I sang , "I know its not much, but it's the best I can do... My gift is my sketch, and this ones for you...."
There was long break after Dina sang because the foot pedal to the piano was stuck causing too much reverberation. Leslie Lormann, another friend of Amanda's got on her hands and knees and worked on the pedal by wedging a book under it or something. One of the guys at the bar shouted out "Nice Ass, and that is some compliment coming from a gay guy!" She took it in stride and laughed it off. However it was done, the piano came back to life.
Mark Baratelli entered the bar and was greeted much like Norm from Cheers. He then got on the stage and sang "Somewhere over the Rainbow" everyone went wild. Mark added humor to the song by pushing the notes in new and unexpected ways. This was pure comic genius. By this time I had one white wine and when Mark gave the word, we all joined in the chorus. This was a side of Mark I had never seen before, and it was pure comic fun.
When his performance was over Amanda came over to see how my sketch was going. I was just about done. She asked, "Are you going to sing?" I said, "I haven't seen YOU sing yet." She said "No one wants to see me sing, trust me." Offhandedly, figuring I was safe, I said "OK if you sing, I will join you." She said, "OK, lets sing a duet." In my mind I was thinking, "What have I done?" She bought over the play list and we started pouring over all the choices. She suggested a song from "Beauty and the Beast but I said, "No Disney, I will not sing a Disney song, that might cause flashbacks." She finally chose the song, "Somewhere out There" from "An American Tail." She hesitated a second saying, "Isn't that a Disney movie?" I had to confirm that it wasn't, so I agreed.
When we got on stage, my heart was in my throat. Luckily the duet starts with the female lead singing alone. Amanda missed the first cue but then she began, her voice quavering just a bit. The good thing about this song is that it is sung by mice in the movie. Thus any tightness in the throat or nervousness might sound like we were trying to sing the song in a mouse like manner. When I started singing, I was surprised by the sound of my voice on the speakers, I moved the microphone towards and away from my mouth trying to find the sweet spot where I sounded human again. I thought we did a fine job leaning towards each other and glancing up when the moment seemed right. When we sang together we actually harmonized, in our own way. To my untrained ears, Amanda sounded great. When the chorus came around again everyone in the bar was singing along drowning out our humble efforts. It is impossible not to have your heart warmed by a room full of people singing this song. It was a glorious moment which apparently Mark Baratelli decided to record on his little video camera. Luckily his camera has the worst microphone ever made, so you will not be subjected to my singing efforts. What ever it sounded like, it felt great! Thank you Amanda for the experience!
This Sunday Karaoke Singing Session happens every Sunday from 1PM to 4PM at the Parliament House (410 North Orange Blossom Trail). This is a unique Orlando experience! Happy Valentines Day!