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Chapter 42: Play
All of the bands had to play one song, no longer than five minutes and their performances would be judged on originality, showmanship, cohesiveness and groovability. There were five judges: Lamont Mercer, club owner and former session musician, Judith Revel, vocalist for hometown heroes, Destiny, Juanita Colon, A&R executive for Musicmax records, Norman Blaisdell, A&R for Columbia Records and Maurice Rigell, one of the hottest guitarist currently in music.
Billie’s Bliss played first. They did a smoldering jazzy version of Lalah Hathaway’s “Somethin’” and their lead vocalist, Denise Jefferies by name, was charismatic and competent. They were followed by Chameleon, who performed a bouncy, frenetic original called “Juice.”
No, it didn’t have anything to do with nectar from a fruit.
The Armada brought out an original called “Blue”. It was funky, stomping and thumping beneath Mikki’s breathy falsetto. They’re saving the best for last, Terry smiled to himself.
All of the bands performed admirably, but the Armada garnered the most applause so far. Avant Groove took the stage and they quickly set up a keyboard in the middle of the space with a microphone. The plan was to go with an original song Lisa wrote called “Love Groove”. Dom knew it, but Terry and Eric decided to change the song to “What’cha Gonna Do For Me” by Chaka Khan, since Dom had played it and did vocals a couple of times in rehearsal.
Once everyone was in position, Terry tossed a grin at Dom and she returned it with a wink. She wished she felt the confidence she injected into the gesture.
Terry nodded at Larry and counted off the beat. Larry played a quick drum roll and locked onto a solid four/four beat. After two measures, the rest of the band flowed into the song. The crowd responded favorably, clapping along to the beat. Larry broke the beat down to rimshots and Dom began to sing.
Butterflies danced a hard tango in Dom’s stomach, and she started off a little too soft, but she quickly focused past the nerves and sang louder and more confidently. Terry was a little worried at first, but soon he was impressed with how Dom didn’t try anything fancy, she just played the melody and left the tricky stuff to Lisa, who handled it easily.
When the chorus came, Larry brought the drums back up to full snare and when the bridge came, Dom let out a soulful wail that Terry answered on his guitar. His improvised solo flowed in, out and around the music as Dom vamped her way to the end of the song.
The crowd exploded with applause. Terry looked at Dom and mouthed, “Great Job.” She nodded and smiled. She noticed the rest of the band looked happy as well. They walked off stage, smiling widely, confident that they the contest and the recording contract all sewn up.
(c)2015 Courtney & W.L. Sherrod