…and then I get a text from Joe Retta

Last week’s Ultimate Jam Night was set to be all heavy metal, which leaves very little in the line of backing vocals, so I was takin the week easy, and all of a sudden I get a Facebook Message that says “Gimme a call, I wanna discuss some harmonies for this week’s show.” Honestly, time stood still for a few fleeting moments, as this message was from Joe Retta. For those that don’t know: Joe Retta probably has one of THE best, if not THE BEST, voices in rock; just callin it like I see it. My heart was starting to race and I was beginning to shoot myself down, before I ever even took the chance.

I called the number he sent and he answers. “Hey Joe! It’s Kevin” I say, not having any idea what to expect. He says “hey! I’m singing “Kill the King” by Rainbow this week and there’s a great harmony that I’d like you on, if you’re into it?!” First off: “Kill the who? I’d never heard that song before in my whole life, but I’m sure as hell not gonna tell Joe Retta “no” so I say “oh cool! He says “take a listen and see what you think, I can sing the high harmony, or the low, but I think I’d like to take the high.” I say “I’ll take a listen and learn both parts (which is what I always do whenever I’m asked to sing harmony, I learn every part, so I can pivot, if necessary), he says “awesome! I’ll check back with you tomorrow and see how ya feel.” Tomorrow is Tuesday, also known as “The day of the show.” No pressure. I proceed to start listening to the song and the high is REALLY high, and the low is a tasteful 3rd below. For all intents and purposes, the high is the harmony, and “the low” is the melody. So, in all reality, the “high” is a 3rd above the melody. Clear as mud?? Good! Anyway, I’m learning both parts, and the low is easy peasy, so I’m starting to add my “vocal nuances” to the low and really getting comfortable with it when I see my phone light up. I’m in the middle of dinner, and kinda watching a movie, and I see “too late to chat?” – it’s Joe Retta again. Apparently, I missed the first couple messages and then grab the phone and quickly text back “sorry, pal. I was in the middle of dinner and a movie. What’s up?!” He says “oh sorry. We can talk tomorrow.” I say, “no. I’m cool. I paused it. The show is WAY more important than a movie!” He says “call me.” I call him and he answers “How are ya?!” I say “I’m good. What’s up?!” He says “you know, would you rather sing the high?” I said “huh?” He said “well, I know you can sing both, and it may be a little weird for me to jump back and forth between the melody and the harmony, and I know you can kill the high too!” I’m momentarily frozen, and I say “well, usually, I’m down for lows and highs, but I’ve been havin a bit of an issue with my highs as of late, and I’d die if I attempted to hit the high, and sound like Bobby Brady.” He says “you’re an amazing singer. I know you can do this.” So I say “okay. I’ll do it!” He says “tell ya what, lets touch base in the morning and you tell me how you’re feeling with it?” I said “perfect!”

Well, Tuesday came, and my voice was really killin it! I was feeling so good and really ready to make Joe not regret his decision to ask me. I sang it literally, allllllllllll the way from Apple Valley to Hollywood – I literally had it on replay; 1 song on replay, from Apple Valley to Hollywood?! That’s a lot of plays.

when I arrived, I was so ready to nail this part, we were the 5th song, my nerves were up, but only enough to keep me alert…. Song 1, then 2, then 3, then 4 and I all of a sudden panicked “shit! What are the words??!??” However, I just exhaled and said “nope. Sorry, Satan. Not today!” And I literally put those worries outta my mind.

Our turn came and we hit the stage and I sang the high, and at times, when he would jump to the high, I dropped to the low. We KILLED it! No shit! KILLED IT! I was way proud and came off the stage and Chuck Wright was standing at the top of the stairs and he said something, and I went over to him and said “could you hear how we played off one another?” He said “huh?” I said “could you hear the high and how we harmonized??!?” He said “Nope.” Lol. All that stress and I was barely even in the mix. However, THAT wasn’t the point; the point was, I was asked to do something of which I was a little worried at first, but I plowed right through my nerves and KILLED it! Sean McNabb was playing bass and was standing right next to me, and he said “awesome job on the harmony, Kev!” “Thanks, bud” was my response.

So, long story short: the only people that heard my harmonies were Sean, and all the people right in front of me at the foot of the stage!” The funniest part was when I was talking with Joe later and said “way cool how we played off one another”, and he said “what do you mean?” I said “on ‘Kill the King’ – he said “oh man, I couldn’t even hear you. I shoulda asked them to include you in my “in ears” (monitors in his ears) – too funny, all that stress and HE couldn’t hear me either. LMAO! Lots of back and forth stress, but still SOOOOOO worth it!!!

 

 

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The Show(s) must go on….

So, last week, The Ultimate Jam Night show, just happened to fall on Chuck Wright’s (Quiet Riot – aka “The Captain”) BIRTHDAY, and it was gearing up to be a HUGE show!!  As the excitement mounted, I learned that they had decided to do ALL 70’s MUSIC!! “This was gonna be one for the books” I thought! After all, the 70’s was just one of THE MOST bad-assed eras. Period! I was clearly excited, and got more excited by the day as the set list began to materialize! There was funk, rock, soul, and r&b, and the best part was that I was gonna get to sing  on a LOT of songs; backgrounds only, but I LOVE singing backgrounds and harmonies!!! (My thought “it’s like icing a cake, or twisting a lemon peel to add a hint of citrus to the perfect martini!” In my opinion, the backgrounds are just as important as the main lyrics!  The chorus and backgrounds are usually the parts EVERYONE knows!!) Anyway, I was excited to have to put together 3 and 4 part harmonies for certain songs! Needless to say, “my work was cut out for me!” I decided to bring in my team of saingin Fools (that’s how I affectionately refer to them)! I had Maureen Davis (Maureen and the Mercury 5) and Courtney  Meloche (National Kate Bush Tribute), but I needed more voices, so I called in Belinda Skinner (Luther Vandross) and Sandy Martin (Rod Stewart) – with this crew, ain’t no song we couldn’t kill!! I was soon lookin at over 10 songs, most of which we knew, but the harmonies are a bit of a different story! I sent out the text message and just said “learn all parts, and we’ll divvy up who does what on the night of the show.” See?! When you’re working with stone cold professionals; real singers, they can do this! These ladies literally showed up, and we begin to split parts. There is no “learning” at this point, it is all just crazy professionalism in the highest degree, and it is such a thrill of which to be a part as it all comes together! In other words,

Maureen Davis, Sandy Martin, Courtney Meloche and Belinda Skinner – “these bitches can SAING!!!!!!!!!!”

They have earned to be on their own line, trust and believe! Anyway, I got too excited, and wayyyyyyy ahead of myself, lemme back the bus up just a bit…. Yes, the show was coming together, and I am back to where I was still learning song selection:

my phone rings – “this is Kevin.” –

Caller: “Hello Kevin, this is Petrie from Safety Harbor Kids (a Charity for which I’d die) we are having our Beverly Hills Polo Match on Sat and I’d love if you could attend?!”

Me: I’d love to attend! However, is there anything I can do to help?

Petrie: “Well, in the past, you have offered to hook me up with Elie Tahari (maj designer) and I still don’t have a dress for the event – if you could assist with that? All white?”

Me: (head spinning as it is Friday, and her event is TOMORROW, and Ultimate Jam this week is a doosie) ummmmmmm, lemme see what I can do?! Are you all set with everything else? I have wineries with which I work too (wondering why I even said that??????).

Petrie: “OMG! that would be AMAZING!!!”

Me: (head toppling off my shoulders) “anything for you, my love. Lemme jump on this!?”

I immediately go online and Google “Elie Tahari Showroom New York” there’s a number, I quickly dial, give them my schpiel (thank you God for the gift of gab) and am immediately put through to their stylist – who says “okay, I’ll need her dress and gown size, and her shoe size, and by the way, we use European sizes” (WHAT??!?). I respond “Okay, lemme get all this for you, is it easier to text? If so, may I have your cell?” “Sure!” She says, and rattles off her number and I quickly jot it down in my cell phones “notes” section, which I’ve determined, without which I’d literally die!!! Song lyrics, phone numbers, directions, poems I write, EVERYTHING goes in my “notes” – if you’re not using this, I highly recommend it!! Anyway, I get her number and store it, and quickly call Petrie “hi this is Petrie, please leave a number bla bla bla” – UGH! I hate leaving messages, but I do. Have I even mentioned that this is Friday, Petries gig is Sat, (which is TOMORROW) and Ultimate Jam is that following Tuesday?!? Anyhoooo, I all of a sudden realize that I totally forgot about the winery – OMG! – I quickly go to my “notes” (see what I mean??!?) and find my list of wineries – and find “Pacific Coast Vineyards” – (sounds good to me!! My experience with wine goes something like this: they pour, I gulp, I grimace, they say “can you see those legs?” I say, “mines in a cup, no legs.” They quickly realize that I’m one of “them” (not a good them, but THEM – you know the deal) and we quickly move on!! Lol. I’ll never be a “them.” Sorry. My fav wine?! Stella Rosa with a twist off cap! Anyway, the guy from Pacific Coast Vineyards is way cool, wants to know “what else I’m working on”, and I rattle off 3 or 4 other upcoming events “so you need wine tasting for 300-400 people TOMORROW?” (I realize how ridiculous I’m being as I hear him repeat it) “OMG! You know what, I really appreciate you even speaking with me, let’s shoot for another event, where you have some time to breathe?!” “Life is short” he says. “An opportunity is only an opportunity” IF YOU CAPITALIZE ON IT!! (I finish his saying! Rude? Maybe, but an instant connection!) He says “text me the address and details and I’ll see you tomorrow.” –

Wine: Done.

Now back to gown: while all the while listening to Stevie Wonder, and Chaka Kahn and that song “For Your Love” and the BeeGees…. Hearing intricate harmonies and documenting in my mind “Belinda will kill on this part, Sandy slays the lows, Maureen can sing the damn phone book and Courtney’s ear belongs in a museum” – I’m plotting and planning to help Petrie’s event be one for the books too.

Rrrrrrrring, back to Petrie – “Hey hon!” She answers. I’m taken totally off guard by her actually answering “oh! Hey! …… I forgot why I called….. Oh wait, Elie! Elie is ‘in!!’ I need sizes! What shoe size in European sizes?” “Huh!?” She says. “Never mind” I’ll handle it.” Dress size? Gown size? I quip” “No gowns. This is a polo match” she says. “Something fun and summery.” “Okay!” I respond. (Fun and summery to me is shorts, flip flops and a tee shirt, clearly we are on two different planets) “Got it!!” I fire back! I’m jumping off the phone as my 2nd line is ringing, I can see that it’s Trish from Safe Passage (another charity for which I’d die) “Hello gorgeous!” I answer. “Hello handsome! How’s my favorite co-producer?!” (This tells me there is another red carpet event in my future)…..

Long story short: Saturday’s Polo Match went off without a hitch! It was comical as I was texting the winery, Petrie, and my great friend Joe Monaco, all at the same time. Joe was 100% responsible for lining up 5th row, floor tickets for Savannah at the Drake concert (which was happening Sat night, and I had to meet up with him to get the tickets to take to Savannah) Pacific Coast Vineyards came through like a champ, Petrie was queen of the ball and everyone ate, and chatted and helped children in need. I even ended up getting a case of Malbec as a thank you. “Not bad” I thought.

Tuesday’s show was next. I got there early and went up to the greenroom where my saingin crew arrived one by one, and song by song, the ladies just left my jaw on the floor. Natural talent! God given talent! The ladies even sailed right through last minute changes by various lead vocalists; they just rolled with it, and the show was magical, and amazing, and filled with love. Perfection for Chuck’s birthday!

We finished the night at The Rainbow with pizza and some of my very favorite people in this entire world, one being the incomparable Ms Debby Holiday. She just makes EVERYTHING better… Now for that two hour drive back home…

Apparently, my life doesn’t suck

I’ve been singing since, lord, I can’t even remember when. Lol. I live to sing. I love to sing!

A little about me: I have been in Southern California since I left Woodbridge, Va. in 1987 to try my hand in the music industry. I left Woodbridge 12/31/87 and came to LA to chase my dreams. Who knew things would have gone the way they did?!

Since leaving Va, I got married, divorced, had 5 amazing kids, was in a rock band that was discovered and later signed by Eddie Van Halen, quit that project and landed on a record (as the only unsigned artist) that I earned from a worldwide audition with folks like Tom Jones, Celine Dion, Cyndi Lauper, Kim Carnes, Ronnie Spector and Nina Hagen. It was like a who’s who, and a who’s HE?! I put out a demo, trying to further my career and Mariah’s people got ahold of it and thought I was a black girl and wanted to sign me, but retracted the offer once they found out I was a white man!! I was able to help my daughter Savannah get noticed and signed with eleveneleven records (Ellen DeGeneres record label on Interscope Records). Savannah was fortunate enough to be on Ellen about 4 or 5 times and was able to meet a ton of folks, and she even got to sing with the AMAZING Jennifer Hudson. I was ALSO fortunate enough to land the role of “Otev” The Rocking Roll on Big Brother season 17, and have recently started doing TV commercials.

I have only recently stepped back into the music industry again after having my dreams destroyed by working with the wrong people which cost me the opportunity of being included on “The Lion King” Soundtrack; this was a blessing in disguise, as I know I’d probably be dead had I landed that back in the day. I am a 100% different person now, than I was at that time. I was actually offered the part on the record by Sir Tim Rice, himself. He produced it. Unfortunately, it appeared things didn’t go as planned, so I literally dropped completely out of the music industry at that point in my life, and as I said: only recently have I gotten back in to it again.

I am now the main background singer for Ultimate Jam Night at The Whisky a Go Go. This is a show that takes place every Tuesday night, and has some of the biggest talents in the industry. The show is lead by Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot aka “The Captain”) and Matt Starr (Mr Big). The house band includes: Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot), Matt Starr (Mr Big), Mitch Perry (Lita Ford) and Walter Ino (Survivor) and is emceed by Paulie Zablidowski (Z02)

This is where my life picks up with you, cause “I know it’s only Rock-n-roll” – BUT I LIKE IT!