October 28, 1957
My very young father took my equally young mother, to see Elvis play at the Pan Pacific Center in LA, for Elvis's first LA show. My dad, who sang and aspired to be cool, watched Elvis blow the roof off the place and walked out looking for another goal. I mean, who could top that? Years later, I asked him, "Did he sing well?", my dad said, "I have no idea - could not hear a thing over the screaming girls." My mom jumped up on the table and the place went crazy. Elvis fed off that energy like gas on a wild fire, quite literally rock and rolling all over the floor - and the rest is history.
Since selling Jeremy's Department Store, I have been throwing around the idea of investing in a music venue. However, I also have this crazy passion for the underdog. Seeing someone who started from humble - sometimes very humble - beginnings and is working to build themselves up. Many of my current friends (shout out to you all in the USA on FB) are musicians, so I know the drill and have seen the very big ups and worn down, way down, downs. If I move forward with this project, I want to include a way to get talented voices from far away places, heard and enjoyed.
Almost every night for three years (no joke), I haul myself out to hear cover bands here in SE Asia. I hear them in cities like Bangkok, Phuket, and Cebu. I have heard some singers so bad and sometimes so drunk. They're way off key, off time, and equally off balance. Before that, I would go to the Alley, a cool old piano bar in Oakland USA, and hang out by the piano. Listening. People are drunk and blabber and then... someone walks in and kills it!
In South East Asia, I have heard unreal and truly amazing performers...
One tattooed Cebuan who, when she winds up into rock and roll, taps into some garage rage that Axle long ago forgot, then with a seamless transition, beautifully sings an Adele Ballad.
Another young Filipino woman, who is - IN - the song, tells the story, but with a note perfect, world class, velvet tone and infectious, adorable, and confident laugh. She's a Converse high top wearing singer - who you swear is singing over a track, but she's not. And she's doing it all in a cloud of cigarette smoke drifting upward from the bar dance floor.
The lead singer, who seems to run everything from security to customer service, sings "I will survive" - because she obviously, clearly did - and sings it for real. Leading, backing up, and always keeping the show moving. I have seen people do the same show with a stage crew of 20.
I was in Cebu and watched walk ons improvise words and change up songs, making the rhythm section smile from ear to ear. In Bangkok, a young Thai dude with an awesome look and intense, on point vocals - jumped out, counted off, lead the band, and owned it. The room was immediately alive as he nailed a very hard song to sing and then launched into a Thai pop favorite. I was like, "All this, for the price of a beer and a tip in the jar?"
Yes, I wish they played one of their own songs sometimes, but I understand that for now - they have a craft, and a show, and little ones to feed. So, they go where the money is... for now.
So, I have been building up to the idea of Jeremy’s Live, a music venue in Phuket, and the ideas are swirling in my head... very cool ideas. If I do this, it must be the very best or I am just not interested. Who knows? I may leave it at that - just a super fun idea. Still, I hope not, because the places I go, the beer is warm and I have almost been beat up about three times for nothing!! LOL seriously, not to mention getting drinks spilled on me.
But I keep getting asked even in Thailand, "Hey, so what are you doing there/here in Thailand?" - or the never ending, "Oh, you're THE Jeremy?! I was wondering what happened to you." Thanks.. I think.
So, as my friend CC sings with the passion of a superstar, "I will survive" ... I certainly am not suffering, but this would be one super fun gig.