Friday, September 05, 2008

no need to feel down

Carbo-loading for tomorrow morning's Swim for Life is the excuse I'm using for eating fair food tonight. It was media night at the Tennessee Valley Fair. The organizers set up a buffet for all us media moochers. I sampled a few things including a corn dog and part of a funnel cake.

The featured attraction tonight was Village People. While we waited for the concert, my wife and I saw someone who looked exactly like David Keith going in the same stage door from which the singing group would eventually make their entrance. Maybe he wanted to say hi to them. I drew a red circle around him in the photo below:

This week's Metro Pulse has a couple of paragraphs by Jack Neely that perfectly explain what people like me thought when Village People hit the scene. I wasn't the only one who was too young or too naive to see the subtext at the time.
The Village People confused America more successfully than any other band in history. In 1977, some may recall, heterosexual men wore blow-dried hair styles, chartreuse pants suits, heels and jewelry. Old-fashioned institutions like the YMCA, the U.S. Navy, and machismo in general were withering, the rough equivalent of the Temperance League. Then, suddenly, all over TV, here came these guys dressed in unfashionably, boldly masculine costumes, as a cop, an Indian chief, a cowboy, a biker, an infantryman, a construction worker in a hard hat. And they sang, in commanding masculine tones over a driving disco beat, songs extolling the Y and the Navy, the old things our grandparents were always trying to talk us into. And even in the fruity '70s, these men boldly emphasized the necessity of being macho.

Good hippies cringed at what looked like a giant step backward into gender stereotypes. Conservatives rejoiced. Then America slowly realized that most of these guys were gay. What were we to think? We still haven't quite figured it out, even as we stand up to do the Y-M-C-A dance at baseball games.
At the end of tonight's concert, the Veepers (as they call themselves) taught us how to properly do the Y-M-C-A hand motions. To do the M, your hands should be in front of your sternum, pointing down, not atop your head. But I'm getting ahead of myself. "YMCA" was the obvious encore. The group sang their other well-known songs mixed in with a couple of cover songs and a part-medley, part-mashup thing called "Trash Disco." After pretending to end the show with "In the Navy," they came back on stage and said they would take a risk by letting the audience request their final song. Of course everyone screamed for "YMCA."

They had plenty of processing on their microphones but I was still left thinking that the members of Village People are very good singers whose voices blend well together. During their cover of "Iko Iko," it occurred to me that without their costumes and backing tracks, they would be indistinguishable from an experienced and talented a capella group. All they would need is a mouth percussionist.

When I was at Power 106, the station booked Village People to perform at a retro dance party for listeners. I was assigned the task of arranging for some celebrities to attend and appear on stage. The three stars I got were Susan Olsen, Hervé Villechaize and Norman Fell. It was the first time I met Susan. Who knew we would work together several years later?

The Veepers got to L.A. a couple of days before the concert. They came in for an interview on the morning show and had some free time on their hands. Meanwhile the station had a preview screening of a new movie that week. I will always remember that I saw "Jurassic Park" seated directly in front of the world famous Village People. The group will soon head back to California to perform at the L.A. County Fair and to receive their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Meanwhile back in Knoxville, my David Keith sighting was confirmed later tonight in the midway section of the fair. My wife and I were waiting in line for the Giant Wheel when I saw David getting into one of the cars. He gave a thumbs up for my camera:

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Blogger bean said...

"All they would need is a mouth percussionist."

well, frank, i'm sure the village people would be delighted with that!


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