THE YAMAMOTO EXPERIENCE 2013

How to begin this post.

Wow.

So many thoughts. So many feelings. So many beers memories cascading through this mortal meatbag of a body I call home.

Let’s begin.

So a few weeks ago, I was sitting at The Rail, and in walks Lemon Drop who was excited to tell me that the Furniture Lounge 11-year anniversary was right around the corner. (It’s May 16th, for those of you with calendars that remind you of shit every year. Take note, calendar enthusiasts.)

Having been a huge fan of Lemon Drop and Everclear’s establishment since its inception, I had nothing but happy feelings for these two troupers. Seriously — if you know these two, you know what I’m talking about. Being a small business owner is no piece of cake, and Scott & Amanda deserve nothing better than the best for doing what they believe in with such dedication and perseverance. Eleven years! No easy feat, let me tell you.

Keith happened to be sitting nearby, and somehow the idea came up that Mr. Slim Jim himself should belt out a few tunes as part of the celebration. Now I was surprised to hear that many folks don’t know that Keith is quite the crooner. My first exposure was probably 12-14 years ago when I was finishing up the Tuesday meatloaf special at Sam’s Cafe. I’m sitting there doing the New York Times crossword puzzle, and, all of a sudden, I hear fucking Frank Sinatra out of my right ear.

“It had to be you ………..

….. it had to be you ……..”

Wah!? Sure enough; lo and behold, there’s Keith mopping up the floor and singing like nobody’s fucking business. Who knew! But yes, it’s true: Keith really likes to sing, and he’s surprisingly good at it.

Over the years, from time to time, we’ve managed to get him to sing a little bit here and there. Apparently, and Fu Dog has corroborated this, there was a short period during which Keith was the only one on his floor above The Rail, and he would stand out in the hallway and sing to his heart’s content. He loved this because he could sing without bothering anyone (his words), and there was “good reverb.” Hey — I believe it … acoustically speaking, there’s nothing like a good hallway all to yourself. Now with others living on the floor, he doesn’t like doing this anymore.

Long story long, it was decided that while it wouldn’t be the best idea to have Keith sing at Furniture Lounge, it was a good idea to have an “after-hours”, if you will, at The Rail post-anniversary gathering.

And that’s basically all of the planning that was done. Aside from it being on May 16th, that’s all that had been decided on logistically speaking.

I know … What is it the kids say? TL;DR? Don’t worry — pics are coming. In fact, here’s one right now.

Word spread fast. I mean, really fast. The whole point was that this was all to be on the down-low. First off, Keith wasn’t particularly excited about a bunch of people showing up. What’s particularly bizarre is that many folks seemed to think that this was all going to go down at a particular time, even though no such time was ever expressed or conveyed in any shape or form. It was only the day before that I had even worked out details with Amanda about the anniversary, and so I told River Rat, who was to be bartending that night, that The Yamamoto Experience probably wouldn’t start til 9pm. Even Keith didn’t know. Still, word is that he was practicing. Oh yes.

When I arrived at the bar on the fateful day, Keith seemed preoccupied.

“Keith, are you ready?”

“Pffft … I dunno.”

“Whadaya mean you don’t know?”

“What time are we going on?”

“Oh, I dunno … 9pm-ish?”

“I’ll be in bed by then. I’m never up that late.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

Obviously it was going to be one excuse after another, but fortunately Hoss stepped in and helped try and console poor Keith who just seemed like he was getting more and more flummoxed as the seconds ticked by.

While it’s true that this could’ve gone down sooner in the evening, I had agreed to tickle the keys next door at Furniture Lounge for a few hours. I promised Keith that I would be back and ready to play at 8pm sharp. This did not mitigate his — and I don’t want to call it “whining”, because it wasn’t — it was just this incessant, “this isn’t going to work” — “I’m going to be in bed” — “I don’t usually stay up this late” — i.e., non-stop Keith-isms that we have all grown to love, and at the same time, drives us fucking crazy.

At this point I was giving it about a 50/50 that he would even show up.

Sidebar: I fucking love Keith. He is one of the most memorable characters I’ve ever met in this town. Downtown just wouldn’t be the same without him, but he can be exasperating if you don’t know how to deal with it. I’ll never forget when this one guy, who has an annoying habit of walking in and buying a round of drinks as if that’s what it takes to be liked and the center of attention, came in and started openly asking if anyone knew a mechanic that he could hire to fix trucks. Keith chimes in and says he knows a company who fixes trucks. Well the guy says he wants to actually hire a guy. Keith says that well, none of the guys who work for this particular “truck-fixing company” would want a job, but that he should hire the company.

“I don’t want to hire a company.”

“Why not? They fix trucks.”

“Because I want to hire a guy.”

“Why? I know this company.”

“But I want to hire a guy.”

“Why do you want to hire a guy when there’s this company I know ……”

And this goes on back and forth for at least twenty minutes until the guy is so fucking exasperated that he literally storms out of the bar. Meanwhile, all of us are practically busting out laughing because, well, we all know Keith, and clearly this guy doesn’t. It was fucking priceless.

KEEEEEEEEEEITH!!!!!

But I digress.

So I finish up at Furniture Lounge and haul my gear over to The Rail. River Rat says that I just missed Keith: that he went upstairs with a 12-pack, but oddly enough he left a full beer behind.

Talk about mixed signals: Typically when Keith walks upstairs with a 12-pack, that’s it. But on the other hand, he left a full beer at the bar. At this point, I’m still giving it 50/50, so I decide to leave my equipment where it is without setting it up. I order a DELICIOUS HAMM’S, and sit down waiting with bated breath as to what will happen next.

Your bartender, River Rat suited up for the occasion:

Next thing I know, I hear River Rat shout across the bar: Bryan! Keith just called. He’s coming down. This is in and of itself amusing in that Keith CALLED THE BAR to announce his imminent arrival, but there was no time for chuckling, it was time to get set up!

So Keith comes down, and he’s brought himself a giant pint-glass of orange juice which he’s pounding. I’m assuming he’s just nervous, but then get this:

“Hey Chris, I need a shot.”

Now I’ve NEVER seen Keith do a shot before, or if I have, I don’t remember because I was completely hammered at the time, but seriously — Keith is not a guy that normally does shots.

“What do you want?”

“Gimme a shot of Old Grand-Dad.”

Wah!?!? Yes — that really happened: Keith just ordered a shot of 100-proof fucking bourbon. And then he did another one about ten minutes later. I shit you not.

Ok — enough gabby-blabby. Here’s a taste.

I KNOW there’s more video out there, because there were a ton of folks with cell-phones cameras GPS Receivers walkie-talkies Ronco nose-pickers video-cameras, so if you have any video, please send it or links to steakhouse@gmail.com. I know there’s better shit out there than this snippet.

But it goes without saying: KEITH WAS A FUCKING HIT. Case in point:

Here’s a semi-complete list of tunes we knocked off:

It Had To Be You
Rawhide (which we did about eight or nine times)
King Of The Road
Sixty Minute Man (one of Keith’s personal favorites …)
Breakin’ Up Is Hard To Do
Love Me Tender
L-O-V-E
I Get A Kick Out Of You
Fly Me To The Moon

I swear to God we were doing tunes til almost 11pm. “Yeah — I’ll be in bed by then”, my ass … here’s the crooner himself after the fact like nothing ever happened. Meanwhile, everyone else is half in the bag. And when I say “half”, well, nevermind.

Lemon Drop & Keith, once again nonplussed.

Keith carrying an onion. (That’s another story …)

And of course the night wouldn’t have been complete had Hamm’s Hats not been won.

Okie!!

And Jenny! Nice penmanship.

Stay tuned — I’d say there’s a good chance this shit’s gonna happen again. Oh, and props to Hot Pockets for providing audio advice, a mike stand, and various other accessories. Yay, Hot Pockets!!

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