Friday, January 02, 2009

party quirks

More often than not, my wife and I stay home on New Year's Eve. One year we went over to the next door neighbor's house. Another year we went to the home of some church friends. We had three memorable New Year's Eves in California.

We rang out 1999 at a spectacular black-tie party for the film "Fantasia 2000." So many people were afraid of Y2K, that we got invited to fill out a table that had been purchased by a corporate sponsor. After a screening of the movie, there was live music by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Chicago. Maybe you've heard of them.

Another year we got tickets to see the Brian Setzer Orchestra at the House of Blues. Because the tickets had come from Setzer's management, we found ourselves seated at the same table as Brian's wife. I've already written about the New Year's Eve we spent in Pasadena, getting within smelling distance of the Rose Parade floats.

I had a great time saying farewell to 2008 on Wednesday night. I got to play improv games with my Einstein Simplified pals as part of the First Night Knoxville festival. The evening started early with an appearance on "Live at Five at Four" to promote our performances. Then we had dinner at The Tomato Head, which was packed with people. Despite the huge crowd, the staff found a way to seat our party of 16. I amused myself by ordering the vegetarian chef salad and then having them add free-range chicken to it. The words bacon and salad on the menu got me wondering if there is such a thing as bacon salad. It would have mayo and celery like tuna salad but with bacon instead of fish.

I was a little anxious about whether or not we would draw an audience. Our performance space was in a conference room in an office building across the street from Market Square. I said that I hoped ventriloquist Gene Cordova could draw a crowd. He had shows at 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. in the same room we would use at 9:00. When we got to the TVA West Tower, Gene Cordova had a standing-room only crowd that spilled out into the lobby area. Another conference room across from ours had musical performances by Bantry and Tennessee Schmaltz. They had a decent sized audience too, not Gene Cordova numbers, but decent. Most of the audience who filled the room for our two shows had never seen us before. I was surprised when a former WAVA listener in the crowd re-introduced himself to me. It was Don Samples, cousin of the late Junior Samples. Our shows went very well and I think more than a few of the people will come see us at Patrick Sullivan's in the future.

We ended our second show around 11:30 p.m. and went outside to see the "ball" drop. It was more like a balloon on a tether and not that impressive. Next year they should drop an orange construction barrel, as suggested by reader Cassie. A live band on the Market Square stage made the event feel like Sundown in the City, except for the bitter cold. Like the popular summer event, there were way too many cigarette smokers blowing their exhaust on others. We found a spot that was relatively smoke-free and watched the countdown to midnight. It was 25 seconds slow but who's counting?

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Blogger LissaKay said...

We tried to get in there to see you, but we couldn't even get close, much less inside the room! We listend to the Celtic musicians for a while, but they about put us into the same coma they seemed to be in. While they were technically good musicians, they had no spark. Oh well. We then saw Todd Steed play and watched the ball drop, er flop and then the fireworks. Pert near froze to death too! It was good to see you all though, and we will try to get to a show again soon.

Oh, and it looks like our date may be March 28 ... mark your calendar!

Blogger Chris F. said...

I usually go to a church party on New Year's Eve, but mot much more. The New Year's Eve I remember the most was the run-up to Y2K.
I didn't sweat the whole "Dooms Day" talk that was going on at the time. It happens at the turn of every century.

Keep up the good work!

Blogger Leeann M. Samples said...

We are definitely going to try and catch your show at Patrick Sullivan's sometime in the next few weeks! We loved it! I just subscribed to your blog!

Hope you have a great start to 2009!


Anonymous Casey said...

This was my first year ever going anywhere for New Year's. I usually stay in and drink champagne where it is safe.
I was really excited that you guys were going to be at First Night, because I really wanted a chance to let my 13 year old sister see you. I think you spoke to her, actually. She was the kid with a lampshade on her head. She loved your show! Of course, me, my husband, and my friend did too. We try to come every Tuesday night. But now, my sister is bugging me to take her with us on Tuesdays because she wants to see E.S. again.


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