Two Days. 26 Hours total. That's how long I spent in some form of motion or another Sunday and Monday. While I put on my best game face and sucked it up for the good cause at HotHouse Sunday (thanks to those who did come out. We raised $15,000 and had close to 600 people walk through the doors from 2 p.m. through midnight), yesterday was spent running errands, doing laundry, and holding down the fort at HotHouse last night for another round of Yoko Noge's Jazz Me Blues.
I've worked Monday nights at HotHouse for over five years now. And in that time I've memorized every word Yoko sings in English and Japanese; the on-stage banter between her and John Watson; what each band member drinks and when; and when the final set of the evening will consist of two or four songs. I've come to appreciate that kind of stability in the workplace.
Which is probably what made last night even more of a shock to my system.
It actually started three weeks ago when Avreeyal Ra, Yoko's ace drummer, stopped wearing his rainbow -colored knit hat. I have a few theories as to why he did this. Regardless, he looks good without it- he wears his hair in a nice squared off flattop with slightly graying temples that I envy- and as the "band mother" I have to mention that to him in a positive way. But last night yoko had a special guest- a popular comedian from Tokyo who is also a good guitar player and singer.
He walked into HotHouse and immediately commanded attention: clad head-to-toe in black; shades; hair in a crewcut; a small entourage flanking him videotaping his every move and hanging on his every word. Yoko invited him onstage during her second set and he blew up the stage. His first song was all grunts and hard chords. His second song was a monologue apparently inspired by Frank Zappa's "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow." He kept singing in Japanese all night, occasionally throwing a reference to Chicago:
"Ah, bonsainagasakiyoshimibeatsthepinkrobotsCHICAGOPIZZA!!! AHHHHHH!!!!!"
It went on like that the rest of the night. I was dumbstruck; completely in awe. Just when the evening couldn't get more surreal yoko added the cherry to the sundae. She's always been good about reading her audiences, which made her decision to play a chorus of "Sweet Home Chicago" even more daring. A chorus was all she needed, since that's what every other blues musician in the city plays of it, anyway. And the audience was satisfied. I thought I would go to my grave never hearing her play that song, but she made the correct decision and the crowd was cauht up in the rush.
As I hailed a cab last night I felt warm. It felt good to know that after five years Yoko Noge can still surprise me.