ZAK & KAT PERFORMING R.E.M.'S "SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE (LISTEN NOW!)
In the going-on five years that I've been performing live music in Second Life, I thought I'd pretty much done it all. I've performed just about every genre of music at least once. I've done live jams with fellow musicians, both locally and remotely. I've played at every conceivable kind of SL venue, from beach bars to formal balls to strip clubs. But at last night's Triana's Music Trivia, I finally did something that I was pretty sure would never, ever happen: I performed a song along with my long-term ladyfriend, Kat Claxton!
Here's how it happened. As most of you know, Kat tries to be at every one of my shows, conflicts with work notwithstanding. When possible, she's actually right here in the room with me, and at other times is there "in the pixel", usually from her home-based office a few doors down from me. Having been together with Kat for over six years, I'd had plenty of opportunity to hear her pretty singing voice, most often while we listen to music at home or in the car, or occasionally while I casually play guitar when no one else is listening. But really, I'm the only one who's heard her; she, like most people, has a fear of performing in public. I certainly wasn't about to pressure her to cast off that fear, but I can say that if someone has stage fright, Second Life is a good place to shake it. The fact that your flesh-and-blood self isn't standing on a stage with people staring at and judging you makes it a lot easier to focus on the performance itself.
Anyway, if it had been any normal kind of SL show, I'd never have considered asking Kat if she wanted to do a song along with me, but this wasn't a normal show. Triana's Music Trivia, SL's longest-running trivia game, is an event where we spend each of our Sunday evenings among good friends. Every so often, maybe 2-3 times a year, Triana has me do a live music show in conjunction with the trivia game; we usually bump trivia up by an hour and then I do an hour of music in the 7PM slot that we usually use for the game. Last night, just for shits and giggles, we also moved the usual trivia location to Kat and my own parcel of land in SL, at our Club COYOTE.
The trivia portion of the event started off with some added excitement, courtesy of some griefers! Yes, they do still exist, though it had been a long, long time since I ran into any of them. Most people in SL, especially those who've been there as long as us and our trivia friends, know how to handle them, and sim owners like Kat and I have our places set up in ways that don't allow them to do anything that will be very destructive (i.e., running scripts, shoving, and so on). It didn't last long; we simply froze, ejected, and banned them as they acted out, and there was no more trouble after that.
Griefers don't bother oldbies like us. Besides, we had much more important things on our mind... like Kat's rocking debut! Photo by Kat.
After trivia wrapped up, I started the show. For my shows at TMT, I always play some special songs that I ordinarily wouldn't perform at usual gigs. Most of these are songs that have some special meaning to the Trivia regulars, or are tunes that I've written (or existing tunes I've modified) with personal references to our pals at Trivia, and over the last 4+ years, there have been a lot of them. Last night had a couple of good ones; I opened with a Dylanesque tune about Triana's infamous iPod, and (as I'll explain in a moment) the highlight of the night was an R.E.M. song I did along with Kat.
It's not like we planned this for a long time. In fact, it was just Saturday evening when I mentioned to Kat that she should consider doing a song with me at the TMT show the following night. I have no idea how we arrived at "Shiny Happy People". I do know that in May 2010, while we were doing a recording session at Sound Sanctuary, Kat and I (along with Phil) were messing around between takes, and sang the song's chorus a few times just for fun. But Saturday night after doing a show, I sat down with Kat and we listened to the tune to see exactly how Michael Stipe, Kate Pierson, and Mike Mills' voices meshed on that song. Sunday morning, we practiced it a couple of times. And then, when the time came, she stood next to me at my vocal mic, and she did just fine. If anything, her only fault was starting out a little tentative (as most new singers do) instead of belting it out from the beginning. Soon enough though, she was right there with me, sounding great. I'm sure this isn't the last you've heard of Ms. Kat.
Ladies and avatards... here's Kat! She was terrific in her live singing debut (though I don't think it's yet on her list of "Favorite Things To Do"). Photo by Triana.
Triana's Music Trivia Set List...
*Triana's iPod (Zak Claxton)
Come Around (Zak Claxton)
Learn to Fly (Foo Fighters)
*Welcome to the Machine (Pink Floyd)
Broken Day (Zak Claxton)
In My Life (Beatles)
Tribute (Tenacious D)
*Shiny Happy People (R.E.M.)
Shine (Zak Claxton)
Space Oddity (David Bowie)
Triana (Zak Claxton)
*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL.
Huge thanks to all of our wonderful friends at Triana's Music Trivia! We appreciate every one of you... Alchemy Epstein, Samantha Poindexter, Jordan Hazlitt, Nakira Tennen, Diana Renoir, Rey Tardis, MrNoCal Honey, Xerxes Ninetails, wendela Beckenbauer, Charriol Ansar, Juliette Venom, and all the other Trivia Fanatics (you're awesome), and most of all, our friend Triana Caldera!