For seven years now, I have been a jazz singer.
Really, not very long, when you think of it. Approximately one-fifth of my life.
I remember how nervous I used to get when I started. I think my first ever jazz gig was at Summerfest in downtown Prince George on the front steps of City Hall. The overcast August afternoon sat thick and heavy with one of those days that kept trying to drizzle. My pianist had to duct tape his music to keep the pages from blowing around. My shoes were too high and clunky. My throat was dry from nerves. The black dress pants I wore were, in retrospect, too snug on my tiny body, flattening out any curves that might have tried to make an appearance, and not quite long enough to accommodate the clunky heels. I had commandeered three twenty-something men I knew through my church. Drummer, pianist and bassist. They loved music and did this as a favor to me amidst their busy lives. The one short set at Summerfest was our first and last gig together.
When the opportunity to sing at a downtown restaurant presented itself the following spring, I called the only person I knew who could handle a volume of songs on the piano swiftly and skillfully, Mr. David Sproule. The man kind of drove me crazy with his obesessiveness, insecurity and the sense of humor of a 12 year old, but he was honest and he had a talent bordering on genius.
After a quick couple of weeks of rehearsing every chance we could find, David and I embarked upon our first performance at Foodteller. Foodteller was owned by a couple of men from Germany. The cuisine was out of the ordinary and would be interesting to the adventurous diner. Unfortunately, adventure in food is not something that is popular in Prince George. Generally, the citizens of Prince George seem to prefer their steak and salad bar.
The interior of Foodteller was one of the few places in Prince George that felt "big city". I took my friend Rastin there the first time we met. We sipped martinis at the gloss black curved bar, in the low light, and my new Persian friend was elated to have found a place to feel at home.
Rastin Mehr moved from Vancouver to attend UNBC's computer science program. He loved jazz and we hit it off immediately.
Being one of those rare and lovely beings who can master both math and art, Rastin asked if he could bring his camera to the performance. This was the start of a beautiful love affair between Rastin's camera and my performances.
Once again, my throat was dry, but my costuming was more befitting a jazz diva this time. By the end of the evening, I was able to enjoy the fact that I was on a stage singing jazz, and the result was a delightful complement of classy surroundings and classy music. After that first nerve wracking night, one of the owners invited us to put on another performance.
After our second performance, David stayed around visiting at Foodteller after I had gone home. There were a lot of people who worked at other restaurants and friends of the owners who would come by late at night and things would get loud. One of my friends, who shall remain nameless, was feeling pretty happy and apparently loose-lipped. She was chatting with David and said, "I hear you are a pain in the ass."
Of course, David had to dig deeper. "Where did you hear that?"
She slurred, "I'm not going to say it was Dawn, but somebody told me you are."
When David asked me about it a couple of days later, I confessed. "Look Dave, I'll make you a deal. If you drop the subject, the next time you are being a pain in the ass, I'll let you know."
We decided to laugh about the whole thing. David has forever more been the PITA. He is a shit magnet. If it's bad, it will happen to Dave, so we have been through a lot together. Sometimes I have wanted to choke him, and vice versa.
But Sprouly and I have made some terrific music and we are looking forward to releasing our first collaborative CD this fall.