When we moved Prescott, the number of people we knew here was in the single digits. We were adrift without a band and without sufficient social contacts to find one. Our first few months in Prescott were marked by a profound quiet. Inevitably, a promoter we knew called and booked us a gig a few months out, which – true to form – we accepted despite the fact that we had no band. This was largely our modus operandi while we were in Phoenix: someone would call us, book us a show, and we’d cobble together a band from the musicians we knew, and rehearse them for the show.
It quickly became apparent to us that we were not going to cobble together a band in time for this gig. I had taken a job at Yavapai College that afforded me access to video production equipment, so one night, Jen and I began tossing around the idea of having a virtual band projected on a screen behind us. The more we talked about it, the more outlandish the idea became. We settled on the players:
The Yoda Show
Instead of rehearsing a band, we set about an intense two weeks with a camera, a green-screen and 500 watt stage lights set up in our living room. At one point, I was standing too close to a light and melted a set of headphones to my head. Amateur puppeteering became a full-time job. I barely did anything for another week after that but edit the video, stopping occasionally to cackle madly.
We arrived at what amounted to a concept set: Jen and I (and Yoda, Mr. Mondo, and Birthday Cake) were the Court Musicians of the Emirate of Khaang and we were double-booked for the night of the show. However, through the use of “Futuristic Technology” we were able to be in both places at once by beaming our band in from the Emirate of Khaang, where they were fulfilling the duties of the Emir’s Court Musicians while Jen and I appeared in person (and were presumably being beamed back to Khaang).
I edited the backing tracks (bass, keys, drums) to all the tunes using mostly the Fen’s drum tracks and Kevin’s bass tracks we recorded with The Lovelies, and I programmed drums and bass for a few of the tunes.
I realized that we didn’t have keyboards on every tune so we needed some reason for the Birthday Cake to leave “the stage” after the first few keyboard tunes, and then reappear for the final tune. So, we had our dear friend Serene Dominic play the evil super-villain, Dr. Volker Sontaag, who takes over our “paltry communication system to deliver the following edict: There shall be no more birthday cake for anyone, for it offends me! Mwahahahah!” and zaps our (and presumably all) birthday cake out of existence.
At that point, we play the non-keyboard tunes. Then, just before the last tune, Dr. Sontaag again takes over our paltry communication system to “issue the following apology.” He realizes that it was his own latent homosexuality that was preventing him from enjoying birthday cake. Turns out he’s not a mad scientist, he’s a gay dad scientist! So, having come to terms with this, he zaps our (and presumably all) birthday cake back into existence.
Sontaag’s got great timing as it turns out, because we were just about to play our final song (with keyboards) which just happens to be entitled Gay Dad.
The thing that is truly hilarious about this is the crowd reaction. We did this in a few places, but the gig we worked it up for was at the Spirit Room in the weird little ghost-town of Jerome, AZ. At the time, the place was a well-known biker bar along AZ route 89A. I’m pretty sure that no one in that place had ever seen anything like this before. But, as we came to find out, if there’s one thing that gains universal acceptance, it’s video of Yoda playing bass.
Over the next few months, we wound up doing this set more than a few times in our living room for friends and friends of friends who had heard about it. People would show up at odd hours in varying degrees of sobriety cajoling us to “do the Yoda show!” Not long after that, Chris and Stefan came along. We were amazed at how strongly The Force was with them.