Monday, May 4, 2009

Derby Adventures: Part 1, Brigid the Supreme

I took a break from blogging. Derby weekend was just too insane. I have many, many, many adventures to tell you about, including a fun show at the Monkey Wrench, then the famous Barnstable-Brown Party, and even my time on Millionaire's Row on Derby Day. That will take forever, so today I'm focusing on one story.


The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names. - The Great Gatsby

Friday afternoon, I went to load-in my accordion to the Barstable-Brown Gala. A large stucco home on a hillside near Cherokee Park (the park where Gatsby courted Daisy Fay), the Barnstable mansion is the site of the most famous Derby Party in the world. It's been a mystery to me since I was a kid, and I always loved to drive past the home as they were setting up the massive decorations, hot air balloons in the yard, and towering white tents in the backyard. One year they turned the uphill winding driveway into the yellow-brick road and hired a children's dance company to dress up like muchkins and scarecrows. I've wanted to go for years.

The Gala is held the Friday before Derby, and draws loads of celebrities (from A-list to F-list), all to benefit Diabetes reseaerch. It's a pretty exclusive party, and the tickets cost at least $1000 a piece.

But not if you're invited to sing a few tunes for the revelers.

When I arrived for soundcheck, I discovered that I already knew most of the guys (and the gal) in the house band. They'd learned my tunes and nailed both last-minute cover songs I threw at them.

My soundcheck was delayed about an hour, however, because Mary Wilson arrived early for her check. Being a former Supreme, she has a little more clout than I do. That's okay with me because she was super-nice and super-awesome. She hummed a few bars of "You Can't Hurry Love" (which is still stuck in my head) while the band was warming up, then decided to sing "Stop! In the Name of Love" with the band.

Just as she was about to start the song, she said, "Wait, where are my girl singers?" I was sitting near the stage, and she pointed at me. "You sing?" I grinned and nodded, and Mary pointed to the microphone next to her and said, "Get on up here then."

So I was a Supreme for the afternoon, and had even more to look forward to that evening. (Think it o-o-over .... think it o-o-over...)

To Be Continued ...

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