Sunday, May 10, 2009

America's Got Talent

I spent yesterday afternoon peeling old wallpaper off the walls of my son Jake's room. I wore comfortable capris pants and a sleeveless top. I planned to shower after I finished because it was sweaty work, so my unwashed hair was up in a messy ponytail.

Get the picture? I looked like a slob. That's when the phone rang. My son, Jamie, was on the line.

"Mom? Uh, this is gonna sound weird but...I'm at the auditions for 'America's Got Talent. I wanted to surprise you tomorrow for Mother's Day. Thing is, I forgot my kapo for my guitar and I need it."

To say this was a shock is putting it mildly. I've always encouraged Jamie's guitar playing, but he's been extremely practical about it. Most 18 year olds with less talent would be dreaming of being a rock star. Jamie recognizes how good he is, but knows it would be difficult to make a living as a musician.

Jamie asked me if I could bring the kapo to him and told me I could stay for his audition. "Don't worry about what you look like, Mom. you need to leave right n0w"

That may sound like an odd thing for him to say, but since I'm the only female in the house, the family often has to wait for me to finish fussing before we can leave the house. I'm not one of those high maintenance women, but I am a woman. I need more than a shower and a change of clothes to be ready.

But yesterday I was so touched that he would do this for me and so worried about getting there on time that I left as is. I told my husband what was happening as I rushed around looking for keys and shoes and ...what was the other thing? The kapo! Better not forget that. (It's sort of a clamp for the strings, if you're curious.)

I didn't think it would matter what I looked like, anyway. I wasn't auditioning.

I don't know anything about this show. I've heard that it's like American Idol but that anyone of any age with any talent can audition. Jamie told me on the phone that he heard about it on the radio and that they were looking for guitar players in particular.

We met outside the George R Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston and went inside. Jamie already had his paperwork filled out and handed me a release form.

Wait. Release form? It said I could wind up on camera. Great. But I signed the thing anyway, knowing I had little chance of being on TV.

We each got a wristband. Jamie's was blue for 'talent', mine was red for 'friend or family of talent' (in other words, NO talent). We were checked out by security and then sent upstairs.

Another checkpoint. Jamie had to turn in his paperwork to one of the staff members sitting behind a long table. We were directed to room 370. As we looked for signs, we passed people sitting on the carpeted floor, reading, talking on cellphones or rehearsing.

We finally found our room and walked in to a mob scene. The room was large and filled with randomly scattered chairs. Way over to the left, a camera sat on a tripod in front of these big white screens. Bright lights illuminated a half circle of chairs. Obviously some interviews were going to be conducted over there.

We found a couple of empty seats and sat down to wait for Jamie's number to be called. We took in the scene. Posters for the show dotted every wall. Smaller signs declared,"No photography." Damn! That hurts a blogger, but I complied. Believe me, I don't want to be sued by a show this big.

It was probably around 6:00pm when we first took those seats. It was around 10:00 when we left them. (And we waited for another hour after that!) During the time in between, we listened to singers warm up their throats, watched dancers stretch and cheered every time another group was called to "follow me!"
They filmed one TV promo with a woman whose dog did tricks. He chomped down on a Frisbee while she spun him around and then she said, "We've got talent!!" The rest of us cheered.

Occasionally, some random person would be interviewed. Once, a group walked into the room and tried to squeeze behind my chair. They stopped and I looked up from my text message to see a director telling them to try it again. They went back to the open doorway, waited, nd then walked in, passing behind me and finally sitting down.

They simply chatted with one another. No idea what that was about. Maybe they had a good audition and the show wanted some footage of them waiting to be called. I'm hoping if that winds up on TV you won't be able to tell that I needed a shower!

Thankfully, there were vendors in the lobby selling food, so we didn't starve. There were also bathrooms available, though eveytime I went in there someone was taking advantage of the acoustics to practice singing.

We saw people who obviously dressed to insure their fifteen minutes: some Elvises(one was Asian), a young woman in a purple velvet, Gothic-y gown and some forest creatures with a thing that looked like a long skinny hollowed out log that created a booming sound when blown into.

Jamie was one of the last to be called. It was after 11:00. He tells me he choked. He said his whole group was called into the room where there were two unknown judges. Though he wasn't nervous before, he became nervous when he started to play. He says his mind went blank at one point but he tried to cover.

He didn't get an answer on the spot. he was told that those who will be called back will be notified within 48 hours. But he feels certain he won't get the call. He's very disappointed in himself but he says he learned something. He's never gotten nervous playing guitar for friends and family but when he had to play in that room with the judges and the other contestants watching, he felt the pressure. He says maybe this is proof that being a performer isn't for him.

Well...on May 16th he's playing a solo in some local show. He doesn't know much about it yet, but one of the his teachers asked him to participate. I'll record it. Hope he gets over his stage jitters.

I don't care if he gets the call back for AGT. It was a fun experience and I got to spend time with my college-bound son. What a perfect Mother's Day gift.



jerseyirish said...

Caryl, What a fun experience for you and Jamie to share together. It must have warmed your heart that he wanted to surprise you with this. You both will remember this time you spent together for years to come!!!


Lubiana said...

Wow really enjoyed reading about your experiences! I wish you and Jamie all the best! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I really think Jamie has talent and am so proud of him for stepping out......maybe that was way out but to hear he has the opportunity to get another experience to help build his confidence, may boost him to try again later! I am also proud of you....that you left home looking like you did to be there with him. What a mom!!!
your fan, Rebecca Popp
Happy Mothers Day!!

AH said...

Caryl, I'm half asleep after a full day of Grammy-duty but had to come read about your and Jamie's experience before crashing.
What a fun thing for you and your son to do together .. a unique and memorable Mother's Day for certain. Bit of serendipity in the forgotten kapo too, don't you think ?
And you told the tale beautifully as usual. . . thanks for ending the day with a warm smile.

America's Got Talent said...

"Jamie recognizes how good he is, but knows it would be difficult to make a living as a musician."

Rightly said.

jerseyirish said...

Caryl, Has Jamie heard anything yet?


caryl said...

No, nothing yet.

Sunny said...

Fantastic experience Caryl! I hope he gets cut some slack.

Darling Man has a gig this Thursday. He loves playing them but initially is nervous the first song or two. The band has scored a Grammy winning sound system and that makes him a little more nervous since anything will show up.

caryl said...

That's very cool, Sunny!

Isn't it weird that AGT left a comment?

jerseyirish said...

Caryl, Saw that AGT left a comment. Wasn't sure if it was someone quoting what you said in your write up or not. But if they did thats pretty cool!!!

Sunny, Lots of luck to your DM Thrusday night, how exciting for him!!


YKW said...

Caryl, I loved reading your tweets!! You always make your readers feel as if they are right there with you. JI commented how you and your son will remember this Mothers' Day in particular, and I have to agree. It's those moments that, even with no photography, become such unique family memories... something to tell and re-tell over again.

How cool. Kinda like the time I met Led Zeppelin. LOL!!!

havingfun said...

Oh Caryl !! This is my favorite part -
"I don't care if he gets the call back for AGT. It was a fun experience and I got to spend time with my college-bound son. What a perfect Mother's Day gift."

You two will talk about that evening from now till kingdom-come !!

I would love to see a video of his work !!