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By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian
By HERB BENHAM, Californian columnist email@example.com
Buy tickets now. It's not too early. When people hear about this, the show will sell out with lines around the Bakersfield Heart Hospital.
I may be making my debut at the Crystal Palace 7 p.m. Saturday, June 28. We have things to work out. My people/their people, one or two bottles of DP on ice, stretch limo and a flyover from the Goodyear Blimp. I can be incredibly difficult given the depth of my talent.
Steve Flores called. Steve writes a column for the paper, but his real calling is as the bass guitarist for Thee Majestics, a local rock 'n' roll band that has been around 50 years.
Steve wanted to know if I would participate in the Media Music Jam with 22 other media personalities, all backed by Thee Majestics. This is a fundraiser for the Kern County Cancer Fund, which helps families with screening, diagnosis and treatment for cancer and associated diseases. Last year, the sold-out event raised $30,426.
"The Bakersfield Californian is not represented on that list," Steve said. "Jennifer" -- that would be my editor, Jennifer Self -- "said you would be the sacrificial lamb ... I mean ... you might be the willing TBC participant."
Sacrificial lamb? To whom do you think you're talking? You know that $30,426 you raised last year? If I commit, and I may have to move my performance at the Hollywood Bowl, you'd better call Brink's.
"We have a list of songs that we play," Steve said. "You pick two. Thee Majestics will fill in, harmonize or hit the high notes when you may not be able to."
I checked the calendar. No conflicts. My bravado, like adrenaline, had carried me through the length of the phone call, but now reality had set in: I had agreed to sing two songs in front of a packed house at the Crystal Palace.
For the last year, I've been singing in the Bakersfield Master Chorale. I have a Messiah and a Verdi's Requiem under my belt. That should mean something.
It should and would if my 99 other choir members joined me on stage and held my trembling hand, but they can't. They are otherwise disengaged.
"Mike Hart is one of the participants," Jennifer said. "He can really sing."
Thanks, Jennifer. That tells me what I need to know. I'm neither following him nor preceding him.
Steve sent the list of songs from which to choose. There were 135. Surely two would stand out and have my name on them.
A funny thing happens on the way to a possible debut at the Crystal Palace. The list of songs shrinks. Suddenly there are reasons not to sing any of them.
"All Day Music" by War. I don't think so. Same with any songs by The Temptations, KC and the Sunshine Band, James Brown, Rick James, Tower of Power, Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, Al Green, Chuck Berry or Bill Withers.
Unless you're Michael McDonald, you don't dare do Motown. You stick to Presbyterian hymns, folk music, and humming a few bars from "Chariots of Fire."
"When a Man Loves a Woman"? Are your kidding? "Let's Groove Tonight"? No, let's not.
"Chain of Fools" -- you'd have to be one to strap that song on.
Van Morrison -- too Irish. The Beatles -- too iconic. "The Streets of Bakersfield"? Buck might rise from his grave and smite me with his mighty sword.
I can bushwhack my way through "Peaceful Easy Feeling," "City of New Orleans," and "Hallelujah," before Jeff Buckley soars three octaves and makes me wonder what I was thinking when I opened my mouth.
As it happens, I will have 13 months to rehearse. If I join the 22 other performers, patrons may have to wear their pajamas because the Media Music Jam will be an all-night affair. I am putting Mike Hart on notice right now: You and me, big boy, on stage next year. You sing a bar and I'll raise you one.
This year's event promises to be another soldout affair (tickets are $25).