Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fire and Rain
by Simon

The sky is grey and creepy. Fires are consuming multiple corners of our state, and we Jews are hiding indoors. It's pretty terrifying to think that in these techno times we're still about as helpless as our primitive ancestors: only a change in the winds can stop the devasatation.

Needless to say, our hearts go out to everyone in the path of those flames.

Even if you don't cleave to magical thinking (and that includes "The End Times"), it's tough to resist the pull of apocalyptic narratives. I mean, Cali's burning, Nawlins is flooding, ice caps are melting, the Constitution is being eaten by political termites ... seems there's very little in the way of good news.

Which is why we take our joy where we can get it.

photos by Josh Pickering

I had a blast of communal pleasure so powerful this weekend that I'm still recovering. And since I was a co-producer as well as a presenter/performer, I'm now feeling a kind of bummerific post-partum low that isn't particularly helped by smoky air and particulate matter. But man, have I got some new memories to cherish.

I'm speaking of The Classic Rock Singalong, which had its club debut on Saturday night at M Bar in Hollywood. With the help of musical director and mensch supreme Josh Pickering and an array of wonderful guest players and singers, I translated what had once been a house party into a public gathering.

The band played hits from the past several decades (you name it: Beatles, Monkees, Neil Young, Carpenters, Journey, Bad Company, Cheap Trick, AC/DC, Blondie, Bon Jovi, Human League, etc.), and the audience sang along, with the assistance of lyric sheets.

I warbled a few lead vocals, as did wonderful guests like Mary Birdsong, Quinton Flynn, Maureen Mahon, Josh and others. But the most magical moments were when the person on the mic stopped singing and all you could hear was the crowd. I walked to the very back of the room a couple of times and saw nothing but ecstatic pleasure on people's faces as they wailed along. I'll never forget it.

There were several highlights, but "Total Eclipse of the Heart," that dazzling epic of pop sturm und drang, may have been the apex of the evening.

Accolades have been pouring in ever since, but this note was perhaps the most satisfying — and most relevant for the purposes of this blog: "Weird as this might sound, the whole thing reminded me of Chabadniks singing songs around the Shabbat table. Same sort of joyful, communal abandon. Or maybe we were just a bunch of drunk 40 year olds belting out songs that reminded us of being in junior high."

I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who helped put this unforgettable experience together, and to everyone who was there holding a candle aloft instead of cursing the darkness.

We're going to do another one in December; if you're in L.A., please join us. In the meantime, stay cool — and let's hope for a quick and decisive change in the winds.

You can pitch in to help victims of the Southern California wildfires by going here.


brazilian said...

I've been worried about you guys!

Glad you're taking the fire, the fire that you didn't start which has always been burning since the world's been turning, in stride.

I promise to hold my lighter aloft and out of hay and kindling's way, as you rock.

Sharon said...

Classic rock sing-along was the most fun I've had in a long time. I haven't sung that loud since ... well ... I was at a Chabad shabbat. (Or is it shabbos?)

And I have to concur with the Chabadnick vibe. I was practically raised by Chabaniks (Camp Gan Yisrael, CHAI!) and I second emotion. Hot Jews know how to rock it.