The strangest things happen to me.
The weekend after my 16th stint as co-anchor of the Chinese New Year Parade on KTVU, I’m at the Sunset Sessions, a three-day weekend retreat in San Diego for radio DJ’s and programmers and music supervisors; people from film, TV and video production companies seeking fresh musical talent and sounds.
There are about 55 bands and artists doing showcases day and night around the Rancho Bernardo Inn, and there are panels about radio and music trends. I’m there to interview Dennis Constantine, program director of KFOG in San Francisco. I’m also enjoying the wealth of talent, plus bonus big-name acts like Jimmy Cliff, Jason Mraz and Lucinda Williams.
So what happens? I wind up on stage at a big evening showcase, doing Elvis.
This is nutty on several levels. Mainly, I’m not a singer, and should not be sharing a stage with professionals. Second, it’d be a shock for the industry pros to see this former Rolling Stone writer busting out a song.
But that was the idea, I guess. Michele Clark, the workaholic, dynamo organizer of this musical marathon, heard from a radio buddy of mine that I sang Elvis Presley songs, and made a snap decision. I’d help do roll call Saturday evening (hours after my onstage Q&A), then launch into Elvis. She found willing accomplices in Glenn Alexander, a seasoned guitarist who was there with his daughter, Oria Aspen. They found a YouTube video of Presley performing my chosen song, learned it, and after a quick run-through, we were on stage, doing one of my favorite Elvis tunes, “Love Me.”
The music and radio pros were visibly shocked, but their applause (and even a few screams) told me I hadn’t embarrassed myself. Or did I? You be the judge. Here’s an audio clip.
Download: Love Me SSessions.mp3
Also, Rita Houston of WFUV in New York shot it – the first couple of minutes, anyway – on her phone, and that may be online somewhere. Afterwards, various people asked for autographs and photos. KHUM, from Humboldt, Calif., requested that I do a station liner, on the spot. I had to hire a bodyguard. Hey, it’s not easy being a dead yet beloved rock star.
HIT PARADE: Regarding the Chinese New Year Parade: Not much to say; it was spectacular, this being the Year of the Dragon. It was good to hail the first elected Chinese American mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee, and I was happy to be able to pay tribute to my sister Shirley, who loved being part of the Lunar New Year. The telecast went swimmingly, and the highlight, for me, was a marching band that performed “Dynamite,” the Taio Cruz hit. What next—Kate Perry? Yep. They do her songs, too. Teenage Dreams do come true…
LINSANITY: For a personal take on the Jeremy Lin phenomenon, I invite you to check out my column in Asian Connections.