As I get closer to 50, I’m becoming more mindful of those things I really want to do or try before I get too old.
The top items are:
• Sing live in front of an audience,
• Play guitar/sing live in front of an audience (noticing a pattern?),
• See one of my favourite artists/bands at Wembley Stadium in London,
• Watch an NHL game in each city (so far I’ve covered Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Boston, Tampa and Arizona).
I mention this because one of my first interactions with someone in Castlegar will likely lead to item number one getting crossed off of the bucket list.
After reading the story introducing me to Castlegar readers, Grant — my upstairs neighbour — greeted me one evening as I arrived home after work. He said he read the intro story and he wanted to welcome me to the area. He said he noticed I like to sing and play music, and invited me to join his karaoke group that rolls over to Nelson on random Sundays.
That’s how you make someone feel welcome.
I got a sense of just how strong Grant’s voice is a few nights later as I heard him practicing What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield. Initially I thought it was just a stellar stereo system, but it became clear it was a live vocal.
“Holy ****, that is amazing,” I said out loud to myself.
I knew I was in for something special.
So, up we went on the long weekend to Finley’s in Nelson. I met the crew — a warm and colourful group who love music and socializing around song.
I’ve never sung beyond pitch-matching in Rock Band, and even then the guide vocal would come through the speakers, not my voice, so I was not comfortable singing live on my first visit. I was only an observer this night.
Grant got in three songs. He opened with my request for Buffalo Springfield, which was stellar. He also did a tight Tragically Hip, and a show-stopping The Weight by The Band.
He actually sang each individual part of the three-part harmony of the chorus to perfection. It was such a strong effort that two fans shook his hand as he left the stage in a spontaneous act of gratitude.
Wow. I had no idea there could be this kind of emotional response and connection at karaoke. I’m so late to this game.
On the drive back to Castlegar, Grant let me know that he was also late to the game. In fact, he didn’t start singing karaoke until after he was 60. I was stunned. I assumed he had been doing it for years.
“I got to a point where I decided I was just going to do it,” he said.
Indeed. What am I waiting for?
The next day, I downloaded a karaoke app on my phone and began practising. I came to realize very quickly that I have great pitch, but horrifying tone and note transitions. I sound like something between a drunk cat in heat and the teen server from The Simpsons.
So, I’ll be practicing my solo singing skills for the next couple of weeks to prepare for my big debut in Nelson. Don’t call the police if you overhear my warbling, it’s not someone being strangled.
Let the bucket list grow ever shorter until it is done.