Once again, Coda Honor graced the Applewood Estates in Flint with our glorious presence this past Saturday and had a great time singing for their annual Fall Festival.
The Daves and I headed up about 10:30 and met Lou and his girlfriend Linda at Haloburger for a bite before the gig. We sat around and talked about convention, tunes, and such and did a couple of songs for the employees before we left. After arriving at Applewood, we started in with our usual stuff, strutting around the grounds and ringing chords for the folks.
The thing I love about singing for this organization is that it's almost always a strolling gig. There's no pressure or spotlight. We just wander around, enjoy the festivities, and sing what we want, when we want. The thing I like best about the low-pressure environment is that we can play around a bit.
I've always wanted to be in a group that can woodshed (lingo for "improvise") really well. We only have a solid repertoire of about 13 songs, and repeating them over and over can get awfully dull after a 3-hour gig. I usually bring my ukulele to fill out the song list a bit, and inevitably, the rest of the guys will join in whatever song I'm singing and flesh out the sound with harmony. It's great fun. Even better is when we get requests for songs we don't know and try them out. No music, no arrangement, just us doing our best and relying on our ears and instincts to come up with full harmonies and avoid doubling parts.
We headed to the barn on the estate where the livestock are featured, sang a song or two in the larger of the rooms, and were met by a request to venture into the stables to sing for a couple special ladies. This lovely girl in a wheelchair and her sister, who we sang for at this event last year, wanted to hear us again. We wander on back and greet them warmly, eager to brighten their day with a song. We figure the most chipper and uplifting song we knew was "Keep Your Sunny Side Up", so we start into that one, ringing very well against the hay on the floor and cement walls.
As we went through the song, and came up onto the end of the first verse, we realized the lyrics go, "Stand up on your legs, be like two fried eggs…". The gal is in a wheelchair. Singing this song almost on reflex, we caught the impropriety just ahead of the lyric and all somehow mumbled the words, getting through them quickly. Crisis (sorta) averted.
The second verse has the phrase, "Stand up on your feet, give the world a treat…". CRAP! Same tactic. Mumble the lyrics, get through the phrase quickly, and try to stick the hell outa the tag!
We regroup and quickly go into "Zippidy Doo-Dah" to cover. They then request "Sing A Song" from Sesame Street. Not in our musical arsenal. I look at Lou, who says he knows the words. A quick glance to the other guys and we start singing. We get through a verse or 2 fairly well, just to appease the lovely young ladies. They then request "You Are My Sunshine". Again, not something we have sheets to. Once again, we start singing anyway and sound pretty good! I love this stuff! Nothing cooler than saying, "We don't know that one, but for YOU…" and busting out someone's favorite song.
Later we're in the garden by what was once the chicken coup of the estate, and we sing through "Whiffenpoof", which has references to being "poor little lambs" and "little black sheep". We sounded great, but a volunteer pipes up with, "but you're in the chicken coup, not the sheep stables!" With a smirk, I huddle with the guys for a second. We then turn around and sing "Wild Irish Rose", clucking and bucking like chickens.
We had the audience laughing as we finished and I turn to the guys and say in a loud steady voice, "Sorry guys, but I think that one laid an egg". Not missing a beat, with equal syrupy sarcasm, one of the listeners counters with, "Yea, that was pretty FOUL". Not to be outdone, I retort with, "Well, we'll wipe the egg off our faces and sing something else". And so the next few minutes went with pun after pun being thrown back and forth. We take a bit of a break to compose ourselves, laughing the whole time.
Yea, dad. That's your influence all the way.
This is why I LOVE doing this gig. The patrons are friendly and appreciative, the volunteers are helpful and chipper, and it's just plain FUN! THAT'S what I got into barbershop for!