My first show in LA was at the Redwood Bar, which is this pirate-themed kind of place that seemed to be a hangout for aging punks. I felt right at home. Brandon Lee Harris and I got to the same parking lot at the same time, it was good to see him. We’re doing a show here in SF on May 26. At a top-secret, underground venue on Valencia. Anyway, I helped him carry his stuff, then he helped me carry my much heavier stuff. We met Bob Cantu, the owner, not long after getting there. Really nice guy.
And finally, I got to meet my publicist, Ilka Pardiñas. I have loved working with her. I have to tell you the story of Ilka here. A music lawyer friend of mine gave me a list of PR places that were personally vetted by him. Many of them had submission forms that asked questions such as “How many Facebook likes do you have?” Yes, really. Needless to say, none of them got back to me. I have less than 200 “likes.” Then I realized that I should ask my journalist friend Tony DuShane who he likes to talk to. He gave me two names, one of which was Ilka at Fly PR. Rather than asking me how many Facebook likes I had, she actually LISTENED to my cd! And she liked it and took me on. Oh, another thing: my age was already public knowledge, since a Chronicle story on me had run with the headline, “Dawn Oberg is just getting started at 46.” This probably deterred more than one PR outfit as well. Obviously Fly PR kicked all manner of ass. They got me into a number of news outlets, and also got a review of the cd on NPR. I made a good record, but it takes so much more than a good record to do that. My last record went completely unheard. I had exhausted all my resources by the time I finished making the thing.
In my generation, it was never cool to seek attention. You were supposed to make tortured music, get accidentally famous, then complain about it until finally you just kill yourself. I never got famous and am not trying to. But I would like to establish myself as a songwriter so that I have options in life that include making money on publishing and licensing. If you have a problem with that, you know where you can kiss me. I’ve never written a word or note with a thought toward money. But working a full-time day job and playing music is hard, and it doesn’t get easier with age. A lot of people quit.
Anyway, it was great to meet Ilka and Joey at Fly, and also Ilka’s husband, Marcus. The show was live-reviewed, which made me nervous. I had never been live reviewed before, and still don’t know what was written about me. Actually it made me think I should be all funny between songs, but of course couldn’t think of anything funny to say. Met a couple interesting people from LA Record. I think it was LA Record…? The sound wasn’t too great. Sounded very tinny to me onstage. But the staff was nice and so was the audience. Bob gave me little army men as drink tickets. Oh, Ilka gave me a bottle of Jefferson’s Rye, as well as some cds by her other clients. Awesome for the road. The music, I mean.
Thank God I was treated for stage fright. EMDR, people. They use it on people with PTSD. It totally helped me.
The next night was the Mint in West LA. And yes, it was a pay-to-pay gig that I shouldn’t have taken but did. I’m not proud of it. But at the time, we had no other shows booked and this seemed like an otherwise good venue. I felt like I needed a good venue for LA (Redwood was booked later). I was supposed to meet Ilka and Marcus for dinner but completely missed it because I was looking for my car in the wrong garage across the street from the correct garage (I never said I was smart). Anyway, I finally found my car and made it to the venue at least half an hour after loading time. I took my keyboard with me the first trip since I was running late. Usually I first go in and scope things out. The door to the club was locked. I called Ilka, who was dining nearby and she said it had been locked when she’d gotten there too. We were at my car talking about it when she noticed the club doors opening. So I took my keyboard back across the street. We were let in and told that there would be no guest list, I would have to pre-pay for any listees. I paid for the one guy we knew would be there and went in. I was pleasantly surprised to see a good piano onstage. I tested it and liked it. It turned out I had taken my keyboard from the car to the club TWICE for no reason! Anyway, the sound guy was douchey and kind of mean to his stuttering assistant who was trying to help me with the mic stand on the stage. We couldn’t get the stands to work right and ending up trying like 3 of them. Then he dismissed the assistant guy and tried setting up a mic stand his own self. I finally snapped and said, “to my understanding I am paying a production fee. Wouldn’t a production fee include operable mic stands?” Never be a bitch to the sound man, it’s just a bad idea. You can blog later about what a douche he was. The sound completely sucked for the first two songs. I think he was being passive-aggressive and not just stupid. I couldn’t hear vocals from the monitors or in the room. Then after like two songs they blasted on really loud. All that aside, I have to say that I liked the venue. It was like a seedy jazz club from the ‘40s. With red lighting, bad art and the whole bit. And the sound was good after he got it together. I really liked the piano. And Ilka said it sounded better than the Redwood and that it was a better venue for me. I didn’t have the heart to tell her the arrangement, but now she knows if she’s reading this. I ended up paying $88 because not enough people showed. The good side of it was that I got to be live-reviewed in a more flattering environment. Well, I hope. We’ll see how it turns out.
The next day I drove home to SF without incident.