Oh, the memories that flooded back yesterday, the first anniversary of the first — and only — public performance by my LA band The Romanovs. The St. Rocke club in Hermosa Beach, south of LAX, had finally agreed to let us play after I’d sent them (and every other club between Santa Barbara and the Mexican border) around a million emails eloquently imploring them to give us a shot. I drove down on the big day with our Russian-born singer, Lisa Motorina, as my passenger, though I’d gone off her for never being on time to rehearsal, and for regularly keeping me waiting 10 minutes, after I’d shown up right on time, in front of her squalid Hollywood apartment.
We arrived at the club approximately two minutes late (that is, two minutes after Pete, the exquisitely punctual guitarist), and then waited interminably for my roommate, who doubled as the band’s bassist, to materialise. I’d come in the preceding months to cease to be able to stand him, and to think ever less of his musicianship. He seemed to have reverted to his old ways (we’d been in a band together decades before, and then good friends) punctuality-wise, which is to say there was no sign of him even when the club’s sound guy gave up on the idea of our having a sound check. (I later learned that my roommate was upset because a member of his family had suffered a health crisis. I’d have been terribly upset myself, the difference being that I’d have found a way to inform others I knew to be waiting for me what had happened.)
It was the hottest day of the year in southern California, and I can’t imagine I was alone among the three male Romanovs in wishing we hadn’t agreed (mostly at my urging) to wear matching suits. I was soggy before we even reached the stage, on which my roommate promptly positioned all 260 pounds of himself right in front of me, making it impossible for me to glimpse the audience, or the audience me. By and by, I was able to persuade him to move over slightly. (In the little photo below, I am NOT preparing to try to bounce a drumstick off the back of his head.)
Not that there was much of audience. I’d induced five people to attend. An apparently deranged Russian woman had come to assess Motorina’s suitability as a bride for her son. Neither Pete nor my roommate had put a single butt on a single seat. Because I was the one who’d implored her so implacably for a chance, whom do you suppose the club booker phoned to howl at indignantly 36 hours later?
We didn’t play very well as a unit, I don’t think. Having had no sound check, we couldn’t hear each other properly. I was drenched with, and blinded by, sweat eight bars into our third number. Motorina forgot that during one extended guitar solo she was to take selfies of herself with her cell phone, and that during another, she was to read and send text messages. Wry commentaries on extended guitar solos, you see. On the long drive home to Hollywood, during which I was pretty well silent with disappointment and disgust, she got exasperated for my failure to tell her how terrific she’d been.
I didn’t sleep well that night. I woke up early the following morning and emailed the two SW London-based musicians with whom I’d discussed starting a band in their neck of the woods, where the missus continued to reside, that I’d be over soon. And damned if I wasn't.