On Sunday, October 18th, The California Writers Club celebrated its centennial anniversary at Book Passage in Corte Madera, California. The event was titled "We Know They Can Write But Can They Sing?" Published authors were given the choice of singing a song or two, or reading a passage from a book that they didn't themselves write. This was the centerpiece of an all afternoon event that started with an open buffet (with wine) at around 1:00 PM. The centennial celebration also featured the opportunity for wanna-be authors to make their book pitches to prospective agents as well as a raffle for the opportunity to win some very nice prizes.
Los Train Wreck was the band that supplied the music for this event. Red Room authors (and recently married) Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry were on stage to lend their musical talents (with Sam on the keyboards and, of course, the harmonica, and with Kathi on guitar and vocals.) I followed Sam and Kathi's blogs on Red Room, especially around the time of their wedding and thoroughly enjoyed both of them, so it was a trip to see both of them live. Kathi is quite good, and Sam's mastery of the harmonica is well known.
(I actually bought Sam's book, How to Play the Harmonica: and Other Life Lessons, but I am still trying to figure out how to focus my breathing into just one hole. I feel like a hamster trying to drink from the inverted water bottle hanging from my cage.)
The event was a great weave of wonderful singing and very good reading performances. As far as the singing goes, they were all quite good. Ivory began the author performances with two jazz standards: Duke Ellington's "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me", and Herb Ellis' "I Told You That I Love You, Now Get Out." Although the two songs put together sound like the anthem for passive aggresiveness, I really enjoyed her performance. This was the first time I ever heard her sing a complete song (I've heard her sing snippets here and there), so hearing the cover of these classics was amazing, and her performance set the bar for the rest of the afternoon.
Another Red Room author, Tanya Egan Gibson, began her performance by telling the audience that she was nervous and hopefully she did not forget the same five words that were repeated in the song, and then proceeded to tear up George Michael's "Faith." Based on all the foot pumping and body grooving that I witnessed, I should say Tanya did a great job on that song!
There were other great performances that afternoon, but the one that stands out to me was Wendy Nelson Tokunaga, author of the novel Midori by Moonlight. Her bio says that she is a jazz vocalist and a Japanese karaoke singer. Well, I gotta say she really belted out two great songs, Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good", and the classic "At Last." Wow. She is really good. After Ivory, Wendy was the other singer that afternoon who made me sit up straight.
As far as the reading performances go, the one that stood out the best came from two special unannounced guests. They are Carl and Karl. According to the bio on the Litquake.org site:
"... Carl and Karl (aka Geoff Bolt and Michael O’Brien) appear on the syndicated radio program West Coast Live, as co-hosts of “Tips on Travel.” They have compiled over 4,387 tips on travel, and over 50 useful ones ..."
Well, whoever they are, they were the funniest act I've seen in a really long time. Listening to them talk reminded me of two people who have spent way too much time around each other to the point where they can finish each other's sentences, but not necessarily in the way the other intended to finish them. Their act feels like two writers trying to type the same sentence while fighting for control over the mouse and keyboard. Carl and Karl were simply hilarious.
When the final song was sung, and the event came to a close, I was already to get up from my seat in the front row when someone from behind tapped my shoulder. That was when I learned that I had won one of the items in the raffle. Now, I need to tell you all that my history with raffles has been quite poor. In fact, whenever I buy a raffle ticket, I considered it as a donation to a worthy cause and pretty assume that's that. The only other prize I've ever one was from my old job, and that was several years ago. Otherwise, I get nothing from buying raffle tickets, and this goes all the way back to high school. Now, earlier that afternoon, I ran into Ivory, and we were chatting a bit about my job search when a one of the people selling raffle tickets walked up to us. I only had a few dollars in my wallet, so I figured I would pass. Ivory, on the other hand, proceeded to buy three tickets, and she gave two of them to me, which was a complete surprise. I told her that I never win these things, and she told that she always won them. I just shrugged my shoulders and threw both tickets into my shirt pocket, and forgot about them. So, imagine my surprise when I actually won the second best prize of the event (I think the top prize was a signed piece of artwork.)
The item I won was one of those prize baskets, and this one contained the following:
A bottle of Sebastiani 2003 Merlot
A bag of Eva's Bitch In A Bag coffee beans from Calistoga Roastery
A can of Ghiradelli Cocoa
A box of Stash Chai Tea
A bag of Chocolate covered cherries from Door county Wisconsin
The name of this basket was titled "Writer's Survival Kit." Hmmm. How come all these "survival kits" are usually filled with coffee, booze, and chocolates? For a real writer's survival kit, I expected a bottle of ibuprofen or something.
Well, I was quite pleased and surprised at having won this. A big thank you to Ivory for buying the tickets for me, and letting me win this cool prize. Truth be told, Ivory won this raffle prize, and I just happen to be person holding the ticket, so both our track records regarding raffles has remained intact.