Making a Song at the Instant Album Party

A friend of mine invited me to an event called the "Instant Album Party", now in its second year. The gist is that they set up a practice space and a recording studio with their own and borrowed instruments and gear, and then spend a day record an album of songs, each created in 1 hour by randomly-selected people in heretofore new bands.

At first I thought I'd go to spectate, but I couldn't resist throwing my name in. I played trumpet when I was in grade school, have feebly attempted to teach myself slide guitar, and took a few months of singing lessons ten years ago. I've never been in a band or performed a whole song, save for some drunken karaoke nights. Basically no musical experience at all. So why not join a band?

I stopped in briefly at the very beginning of the party around 10:30 a.m. to drop off some audio equipment in case they needed it, and I put my name in the festive Christmas tin and tossed a couple fictional band names in the unfestive water jug. I returned at 3 p.m. and things were starting to really take off. The first band was drawn at 11:30 a.m. and at 1-hour intervals from there on. My caffeine buzz was starting to wear thin by the time my name got picked at 9:30 p.m.

So five of us guys (who for the most part had never met one another) are a band. We got four choices from the band-names bin and decided the best of them was "Brochures!". We headed to the basement Kenny played keyboards, Ben (or Ian) played drums with Justin backing up on both a tomtom and with vocals, and Ian (or Ben) played electric guitar.

While the other guys hashed out some melodies, I started scribbling furiously to try and come up with some lyrics. Earlier in the day, someone was telling a story that happened a short time after breaking up with his girlfriend, except he used the phrase "brokeing up" by accident. I commented that "brokeing up" really captures that initial feeling where present-tense and past-tense collide, and I decided to try and work that into the song. Aside from that, I just listened to the style of music and wrote down a bunch of lines. Within 10 minutes or so the words started to congeal into a simple 3-verse structure with a chorus.

I shared my ideas and did my best to match a melody to the music already created, singing my best on the microphone. We hashed through it a couple times and (owing largely to my lack of musical and band-performing skills) I had a hard time figuring out exactly when to sing. But it wasn't long before the hour was up and we headed to the recording studio.

Making it more difficult for recording was that I had to sing once for the band's sake, then again listening to the recording, and I just couldn't remember exactly how I did it the first time. Nonetheless, things sounded pretty good and Justin added a harmony to the chorus in a subsequent track. We finished at 11:29 p.m.

We got to name our song, and picking from the lyrics, we all agreed "There is no July" was the way to go. Presumably they'll put the new album on the same Shark Tank Shows BandCamp.com where the 2010 album is available for download.

Anyway, it had dawned on me earlier that day that I finally had an answer to a question from my own (and something similar from anyone's) past: "how do I meet women?" Of course, in my case, if I were asked "well, why don't you?", I'd say I was afraid of the unknowable. So one of the big things to do, I think, is to practice boldly entering the unknowable future. That is — along the lines of fear and excitement like I've talked about before — making a habit of seeing new opportunities as something to excitedly experience rather than something to fear failing at. If I had lived like that at age 25, I'd probably be a few years "ahead" of where I am now. But no matter because every time I remind myself to push myself, the more of a habit it forms, and the better things get.

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The Third Degree at Beale St., then Karaoke at The Boulevard

One of Ali's friends was having a combination birthday and engagement celebration. We met them at The Beale Street Cafe (689 South Ave.) as Ali's friend's neighbor's uncle [or something] was in the band, Third DegreeMySpace link. We had a few drinks there and a good time. The band did a fine job with the classics and standards … sometimes encroaching on exceptional, in fact.

Afterward, we all went out to ruin music in our own way: karaoke. The first suggestion on the table was The Boulevard Restaurant (412 Empire Blvd.) I looked to see if the much-closer Elixir (938 South Clinton Ave.) still had karaoke on Saturday nights but to no avail in the local papers present at the bar. So it was off Empire. I managed to sing The Turtles' "Happy Together" without much trouble but I also gave Jimmy Buffet's "Come Monday" a go as well. Alas, despite having self-administered the right amount of public singing fluid, the song still didn't sound good to me. I decided that it was in fact a difficult song to sing. Others fared better, including Ali, and particularly this guy who was in our group who broke karaoke: halfway through his song, the computer conked-out and had to be rebooted.

We were very happy to have a generous fiancée who played a staunch designated driver role. He brought us back to the city and we had planned to go to Mark's Texas Hots (487 Monroe Ave.) but Ali observed he wasn't excited about it so made some excuse about the person lying in the sidewalk with the paramedics around them being a reason to not go. Ali and I, however, walked from her house there.

We got in around 3 and double-dated with a couple guys we met in line to share a table as there was — of course — a line, and it was — of course — cold. I corrected my prior attempt at the perfect plate and came pretty close: macaroni salad and fries topped with meat sauce and over-easy eggs — this time skipping the onions. Much better than my last attempts.

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