Happy new year to all our friends, family and followers.
Last year, I intentionally kept quieter than normal because I had a year of a lot of self reflection.
All bets are off.
We’ll be posting our “week in review” starting tomorrow and will update you all every Sunday.
It will start with our 2011 New Years letter.
HAPPY NEW YEAR PEEPS!
Anyone who knows me personally knows that I’m a huge fan of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and my hubby is a big fan too. In fact last August, I even posted about my love of the show HERE. When we went up home in December 2009, I was so hopeful we would get tickets for a taping of the show, but it was not in the cards for that time. So knowing we’d return up north for a visit with my family I literally called the LNJF show ticket line EVERY single day starting in March just waiting for the day they’d announce tickets were available for the week that the Jim and I would be in NYC. Finally on May 3rd, after calling early in the day and no new dates were announced, I decided to call right after lunch…just in case. BAM! The tickets for the week we were scheduled to be up north WERE available and I anxiously spoke with the nice gent at the NBC ticketing line who asked me what night that week I’d like tickets for. I had Wednesday in my mind since we were already planning to see a play in town on Tuesday. I scored two tickets for the hubby and me and let everyone I know, know that they should tune in on June 9th (show actually airs at 12:30 PM EST, so it really aired on June 10th), to see if they could catch a glimpse of us in the audience. Oh….what I didn’t know.
I prepped all week for the vacation and even purchased “Here I Come” by the Roots featured on the Superbad Soundtrack which I used in my dance class warm-ups this week in honor of my journey home and my big date with Late Night (that song is where the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’s theme song comes from…pure awesomeness). I was excited and just so stoked to see a show I love produced live in front of me. People were sick of me talking about it. I didn’t care. It was my dream and I was giddy.
So the big day came, and I was hyper-focused as usual the day of the show to make sure we were ready to check in for the show with our confirmation email to assure we’d be in the audience (there are no guarantees). In fact, we pretty much spent the day hanging out around Rockefeller Center so we could be in line for check in at 3 PM. I asked about 6 NBC people where to go, and when. We even ate downstairs in 30 Rock at PRET which is a sandwich shop. I got excited because I saw Owen Biddle (the Roots bass guitarist), in there. After much milling about, it was time and we cued up for check in.
As we stood in line, I overheard one of the producers asking people in front of us if anyone was a “musician”. I quickly turned to the Jim and said, “Hey, they’re asking for musicians…looks like they’re doing ‘Battle of the Instant Bands’ tonight!” I was excited but a bit of me immediately thought, “Oh well, Jim might be able to play a little something on keyboards – but they don’t use keyboards on this segment.” So, imagine my surprise when that producer reached us and the Jim said, “Yeah…I’m a drummer.”
I mean I knew he (self-proclaimed), dinks around on the drums but I couldn’t recall a time I’ve ever seen him rock out behind a set. I’ve seen him sit behind one and DINK. He did take lessons when he was younger, I knew this. His father was a drummer too. He seemed confident and I immediately felt worried. We were asked to come see the production assistant after we checked in and got our wrist bands we went over to talk about Jim and his drumming. So we were asked to come back in about 45 minutes to see if he’d even be in the running. There are two bands, 4 people a piece. What are the chances right?
So we quick went to use the restrooms and prepare for our return. The Jim had a calm I’ve never seen. Immediately, Anna the worry-wart started asking questions, “You know this is playing drums with a band. A BAND BAND. Not just dinking around at home. A real BAND…and you’re going to have to come up with a SONG. I mean, can you do this?” ”Yup.” he replied back. It was calming, and at some point I realized, this is on him. He will sink or swim, and I will support him no matter what. So, we returned at 3:45 and he went to stand in line with the 20 or so hopeful band mates. I quickly started chatting with a wife of one of the other hopeful band mates and the daughter of another. We chatted and I enjoyed meeting these great ladies; one from Oklahoma City, OK and from Oyster Bay nearby. When I talked with my Jim next, he kissed me, handed me the cheap umbrella we had purchased to get through the rainy day, and a quick comment was whispered in my ear, “I love you…and I’m in band 2.”
And now, for a once in a while treat, I will allow my Jim to take over and blog about the experience. See you back at the end!
Uhh..I don’t normally do this kind of thing but here goes. They put us into groups of drummers, guitarists, bassists, and vocals. A producer from the show came over and started asking each of us how long we had been playing drums. I told him on and off 20 years. Now, this is not a lie but it was definitely more off than on. My father is a drummer and I did take a few lessons back in high school. I have gotten used to playing drums on the keyboard. So…I was told to go over to the wall and stand there. Soon I met Danny, the guitar player then Tim the bassist. Soon we got Justin to be our vocalist. We were rushed upstairs to get our face pictures for the album cover. We saw that the picture was a group of women water skiing in formation. We were told we needed a band name in a few minutes. I blurted out J and the Aquanets. The rest of the guys seemed to like it. The producer said that it would work. It did go with the album cover we had. Justin goes by J most of the time (if I remember right) and it just worked for all of us in the very short time we had to make a name.
We were put into a small and HOT room with instruments and lights (down by the SNL set!!!). That’s where we had 20 minutes to make up a song and give it a title. We decided on a 12 bar blues song since it was quick to get going with a structure. Justin was flying on making up lyrics and Tim, Dan, and I were working on the arrangement. We were then told by the producer that the song had to be around 30 to 40 seconds. We timed what we had already and it was over by a few seconds. We told Justin that he didn’t need to go into a second verse and then we sped up the tempo. In hindsight the speed change made it sound more like 1950′s rock-a-billy tune. That was good for the energy put out for the crowd. The producer came in to listen to us and gave us some tips that he said worked for people in past shows. We took his advice and made a less complicated ending.
We were soon rushed into elevators down to the stage level and waited until we were told to go out on stage. Dan and I were given the task of saying the band name and song name to Jimmy. We go out on stage and there are The Roots banging it hard. I told myself I needed to hit harder on the drums to sound somewhat decent. We go through the bit of introductions and there seemed to be some Knoxville or Tennessee fans in the audience. So it’s time to get up on stage. I had an electronic drum set in the practice room and here was a completely different feeling acoustic set. I moved the hi-hat a bit and J started the count.
See PART ONE of the show segment HERE!
See PART TWO of the show segment and announcement of the winner HERE!
I loved how the kit felt and I was banging it hard. I did not look to my left because if I saw ?uestlove I know I would have messed up. I still can’t believe I was doing some drummer embellishments as I was playing. You know the big, goofy faces and stuff. A big jump at the end and we were done. The other band went on then we were picked to win by the audience. I won a drum set! Amazing! I also got a gift card to Guitar Center! We were then signing papers and going upstairs and meeting Jessica Biel on the way. We then sat in the back of the audience for the rest of the show.
I have to say that NBC is run like a well-oiled machine and everyone was very professional and nice to us. It was such a cool experience to see the people doing their jobs so well. It was amazing to see how fast they can do this show and yet keep it all together. BTW, We did not have to bring the drum set with us home. They told me it would be shipped in a few weeks.
SO…I’m back. When I was in the audience, they did a brief show of the bands practicing. I said to the girl sitting next to me, and daughter of the drummer Joe from “Kiss My Grits”, “He actually looks like he knows what he’s doing.” Then when the song began, I sat there. Mouth open. Surprised. I doubted him…I will never do so again. It was a sensational experience, the show is incredible, the talent and the crew just spot on. I must admit, I was jealous that my Jim got to shake Jimmy’s hand a few times and talk to him for a few seconds. For a man, my husband who’s been talking, off and on for the last 7 years about one day, one day when we pay off all our debt, or we have the extra money (HA), he’d really like to get a drum set for the house. Well, my love, you’ve earned it!
To Jimmy Fallon, The Legendary Roots Crew and the Production Staff at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon…thank you for making dreams come true. We LOVE New York!
The Jim and I just returned from vacation to Pennsylvania and NYC and had an amazing time. So amazing, that we’ll blog about one particular moment of AMAZINGNESS soon…because we have to keep the memory while we are still fresh.
In the meantime, I’m still going to lay about and be a loungehound.
Just letting you know.
I live in a smaller city by most conventional standards. Knoxville, Tennessee to be exact. While we’re famous for our University of Tennessee sports (Vols Football, Basketball and the Lady Vols), unfortunately our up-and-coming (culturally), college-town has made national headlines for reasons that are somewhat disheartening. We’re making the front page of CNN and the New York Times for gun violence.
I understand that gun violence happens every day; typically on an individual or lesser scale. However, over the past two years, Knoxville has made the headlines for the locations and intentions of its gun-violence: a church, a middle school, an elementary school, and now a hospital. While it may seem to anyone living in a mass-market that these things just “happen” because of random acts of violence and vitriol perpetrated by the random whackadoo, when you live in a smaller city the effects often reverberate. Sadly, they sometimes feel too close to home.
Before anyone gets on me about their constitutional rights, I want to make myself perfectly clear. I come from a long line of hunters and a longer line of marksmen (militarily speaking). I have always known about guns and gun safety. I feel that any citizen should be able to own a gun, if they can do so responsibly and with the understanding of the powerful weapon of destruction and potential protection they hold in their hands. So, I am not making a case here for doing away with guns. In fact, as Eddie Izzard pointed out “Guns don’t kill people…people do; but the guns help.” I am writing this mostly to get it out of my head, because now it is doing nothing but adding toxic waste in my psyche.
What truly affects me deeply is knowing that someone who’s not from Knoxville and has only called Knoxville home for 8 years…I am connected to 3 of the above incidents in a “six degree of separation” way. The church incident occurred when a man decided he was tired of liberals and their agenda and wanted to cause havoc in one of their sanctuaries; so in the summer of 2008 he entered into Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and opened fire during a children’s play. That day a good man died. His name was Greg. I attended TVUUC and I learned more about Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace from the course that Greg taught. More importantly, Greg filled a void where my husband and I could not. He and his lovely wife, who are sadly now both departed, fostered the same child that my husband and I tried to foster. They were connected to us through this youth and they tried to be the stability that we could not give. That stability was shattered by a man with a gun.
The middle-school incident is a farther degree but still potent. A young man decided to settle an issue with a classmate by taking a gun to school. He was a relative of one of the youth that myself and a program I was working with, was helping at the time. A program designed to help others make positive connections with adults. Was there anyone helping this youth? I don’t know. I do know the effect it had on his relative.
Now, yesterday a man went to Parkwest Hospital and shot three people. The motives are still unclear (UPDATE: reportedly he was paranoid and mentally ill and believed a physician there implanted a monitoring device in him years ago when he had his appendix removed). I have to admit with much disappointment in myself, that when I first heard about the shooting I dismissed it with a “Good Lord, here we go again.” I assumed I would not know anyone connected to this incident so it was easier to be desensitized and disconnected at the time. Until later that evening, the one victim who died on the spot turned out to be the best friend and roommate of one of my dear friends. A woman who I had the pleasure to meet once, and someone who’s holiday dish towel I had yet to return. Immediately I broke down realizing how deeply this incident affected someone I cared about deeply. My friend had to return to their apartment knowing that she was gone. Her name was Rachel and she was dearly loved by her family and friends. The gravity of these situations is so crushing.
What can we do other than be there for those left behind? Other than try very hard to stop the amount of negativity and scathing hatred that some people in the media seem to incite or encourage? I understand that everyone will not always agree with someone else’s point of view; but why do we have to kill people to make that known on an atomic level? Likewise, when do we stop stigmatizing mental illness and make mental health part of health care fully? I know there are many who will send positive energy, vibes, and prayers to those affected by senseless violence…and I encourage us all to be reverent when we hear about people lost to that violence. I also hope that people try to change things and help others more often. I hope that people don’t close their eyes and that sometimes we consider the realities of living in connection with one another as family, community, country and world. The degrees of separation are smaller than you think.