Friday, March 9, 2012

BB King's

I heard that the 5th Orlando Lindy Exchange was having a free swing dance at BB King's. BB Kings is in Pointe Orlando on International Drive. Terry and I go to the movie theater in that complex sometimes, so I have seen the club but never been inside. Large primitive folk paintings of music legends decorate the exterior. When I got inside I asked about the swing dancing but was told that the dancing had happened the night before. Rather than leave, I decided to stay and sketch the evening's live entertainment. It was early, maybe 6pm so, only a few tables were occupied. The host seated me at a counter directly facing the stage, but I decided I wanted an off center angled view of the stage. I took the menu and utensils and moved to the Johnny Cash table in a corner. Each table had a primitive painting of a musical celebrity. Johnny's face was hidden by the ketchup, mustard and napkins.

Selwyn Birchwood was performing. He had a solid dome of hair and his white outfit stood out in the otherwise dark room. Stage lights illuminated the stage in yellow and magenta. Huss Rodham on bass was silhouetted against the bright blue curtains and I couldn't see Curtis George on drums. He was hidden behind a piano. Selwyn grew up in Orlando and he performed some original songs about the Florida heat and gators. Most of the music was covers of classic blues, and he shouted out for requests.

I ordered a dish of Pesto pasta and it came out fast. I stuffed fork fulls in my mouth as I worked and when the stage went dark between sets, I ate in earnest. Good food. The Coke buzzed through my veins as I sketched. When the second set started, I pulled out the paints and splashed color on the page. A little girl stood beside me watching my every move. She finally lost interest when her food arrived. Her mom commented on the sketch saying she liked it, then she stood by the stage to shoot a cell phone photo. A waitress expressed interest and asked if I do "faces". I have been known to draw a face or two.

Parking at Pointe Orlando cost $4. Some electronic ticketing machine barked metallic orders at me until it had my money. Getting out of the garage was a nightmare. As I got ready to back out of my spot, some woman stopped directly behind me waiting for my spot. I ended up doing a ten point turn in the tight quarters and she kept inching closer in her rush to get to the evening's entertainment. There were no signs for the exit. I drove in circles trying to find my way out with people and cars cutting me off at every turn. I finally decided to drive to the roof of the parking structure figuring I might spot a ramp down with no obstructions. It worked in theory but 15 minutes later, I drove past the parking spot I had struggled to exit. I was in the twilight zone, or a Seinfeld episode. The only signs were those that demanded money. I used my compass to try and steer only towards the north east corner of the parking structure and I sighed with relief when a ramp finally lead me down. As I drove onto Universal Boulevard, I vowed, "Never again, NEVER again."

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

No comments: