This is actually how the conversation starts. "What I love about Tomaca is that she's a fantastic vocalist. She has a commanding presence and great repertoire. You're just what people are looking for!" he says with a huge smile and great enthusiasm as he steps in front of me as soon as I finish a song. He asks me a few more questions and then starts talking excitedly about what he'd like to do for me - get me with a great band and put me at such and such casinos, and on and on. I give him my phone number so I can get back to work and on to the next song.
"Give me a call, please. I'd like it if we can talk a little later." I said.
I wasn't impressed; I wasn't enthused, but I was curious as to whether or not he was for real.
The next day, I get a call. "How soon can we meet?"
We set a date, time and location. But, before that date comes, I get a call:
"I'd like you to check out this band. Meet me at such and such a place, get a table in the front and I'll meet you there at 10:00."
Me - "Okay."
I arrived at the casino and even though it's rundown AF, there's people there playing the slots, hanging out, drinking and eating. The band wasn't to start for 15 more minutes. No sense in getting a table up in the front, the place is small. And I met "James Brown, Jr." At least that's what he said his name was. He said that he's won dance competitions all across the U.S. He said that if I danced with him, he wouldn't embarrass me. (Sigh.) No thanks to dancing, I'm just here to watch the band. Fortunately, there was a table of females and he left to harass them.
I went up to the bar to get a soda and there was one bartender and several people waiting to be served. People left tips in a glass that sat on the bar in front of them. The bartender, instead of waiting on the people who were waiting, decided he'd go around the bar and collect all of his tips. Then he started pulling money out of his tip bucket and proceeded to count all of his money. After taking his time to count it all, he put it in his pocket and then resumed serving customers. Totally classless!
I finally get my soda and return to the show room. The band is just about ready to get started because the musicians were on the stage tuning up. Obviously it was a show band because there were three mics set up on the front of the stage and the singers weren't out yet. So, then the band pumps up a funky dance beat and James Brown, Jr. immediately gets a woman to dance with him. He starts doing all this crazy stuff including somersaults as he's bouncing around looking wild and ridiculous. Yes, he was a little off... Anyway, finally the three front guys come out and they start doing the standard motown faire. They have about 5 basic steps that they do for every song. I have to give credit where credit is due, they were working very hard and the small crowd that was there was very excited and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I am certain that they will talk about what a good band they saw at the casino for a very long time to come.
Personally, the motown bands that I saw in Connecticut were far better from the singers to the musicians to the way the music was played. These guys seemed to just play pretty straight forward; there was no umph to what they were doing. The singers were good singers, but nothing exceptional. I know it seems like I'm downing this band; I'm not really. I am saying that they were average and they were doing their job. And it's interesting that they were a touring band. They were from another state and Vegas was one of their stops.
Meanwhile, I'm keeping an eye out for the promoter or agent, and after half an hour of listening to the band and him not showing up, I call for an uber and head home.
The next day there are apologies galore. He actually fell asleep and woke up the next morning. Okay...
"Well, what did you think about the band?"
"Ah, that's what I was thinking, but I wanted to know just what level you were on when it comes to live music and musicians."
"What!!!???" says my mind. "Are you kidding me?"
"So why don't we meet tomorrow and let me run some things by you?"
"I'm working Fremont Street tomorrow," I say. "I probably won't have a lot of time available," because now it's clear to me this guy is full of it.
"Okay, what about the day after?"
"Okay. Text me."
That day comes and I get a very long apology text for standing me up the other night. He adds that he's camped out at Starbucks working on some things, he'll be here for X amount of time and why don't I stop by and see him.
I don't respond to the text and continue on with my day. Late that afternoon, I get a call:
"Well, I'm about to leave Starbucks. I was hoping you'd stop by."
"I'm on Fremont Street. If you want to talk, how about you meet me there."
"Great. I'm on my way."
I'm on Fremont and I wait and wait and wait. Finally, I get a text - he's here, where should we meet? We hook up in front of the stage where there's a country band playing. It's a cover band that he enjoys and he thinks they're great, so he wanted to listen to a couple of tunes. So we stand there listening as I'm getting impatient, but that's okay, I'll just adjust and be patient so I can hear what he has to say.
Finally, he says "Let's go." and I'm thinking we're going to find a place to have a conversation, but no, he wants to check the other stages to see what's going on. There's the attempt to hold my hand as we move through the crowd. I pull my hand away and continue to follow him. Then there's an awkward moment where we run into a "Barbara," whom he introduces me to and then apologizes to her and says to her that we should talk about it, but this isn't a good time.
At this point, I'm just done. I'm really ready to just split, but he starts heading further up the street to the next stage. Finally, I ask him if he has things he wants to run by me. So he goes into his bag and pulls out magazine clippings of different shows that are happening in Vegas. He asks me what I'm looking for in terms of music opportunites.
"I want to be with a really good band."
"Awww, gee, if you were interested in being in a show, I could help you with that."
Then he starts showing me clippings of the different shows and events coming to town. Gives me a contact number so I can supposedly get into these shows for free and says "I guess I can't help you."
"Ya think?" my mind says.
I just go, "Well I've got some music to work on, so I'm going to get on it." And we part ways.
The next day, here comes another big, long text that includes "I think you got spooked when we ran into Barbara..."
I replied, "I didn't get spooked. Barbara had nothing to do with anything. I met with you because you said you wanted to run some things by me. I am here to sing, nothing more, nothing less" (which would address his thoughts about dating since he tried to turn the meeting into a date).
So - my first exposure to Vegas bullshit! Ha ha! It didn't take long.
But, I did meet a very nice man who was very helpful. I had applied for a job with a company he managed. He asked me where I was from and what bought me to Vegas. I said I came here to sing. He said he didn't want to hire me for a job that I wasn't going to be happy in or stay in. He also said he was impressed with the way that I carried myself and the way I spoke. Then he said someone like me didn't belong out here performing on the street like all of these other people. He said I needed to be elevated and gave me phone numbers for agencies and had a number of suggestions. Even after all of that, he told me to stay in touch and let him know how I was doing. I met someone like me! This is how I treat people.
I gave him a hug and said thank you for being human!
I contacted the places he suggested. But, the limited Vegas entertainment that I've seen, puts emphasis on youth and white skin color - especially on each of the three Fremont Street stages. And - only minimal vocal talent is required. For females, being half dressed on the stage is also a requirement.
But, I let all of that go. I'm not even concerned anymore. I am having a great time just singing out there every day. I am singing better than I've ever sung in my entire life and my voice seems to be capable of newer things every single day. I used to struggle singing Aretha's stuff and Chaka's stuff. Now the struggle is gone and those sounds and those notes just come with great ease. My voice is so diverse and I finally believe that I can sing anything. I am so grateful to God that he put this in my heart to do.
God said sing, but the song is starting to change. I will elaborate more on this statement in time. But, I'll briefly state that my view of humanity is changing. I am learning, growing and doing differently and more deeply. I praise God for this change of view and for bringing me to Vegas.
This is what I see every day (note that the image is minus the people). I arrive early - just after 8:00 am - to make sure I can get my spot. By 10:00 and 11:00 am, other artists are arriving. To guarantee I can get that spot, I show up at 8:00. People do that. They will show up two hours before they want to start performing and hold their spot so no one else will take it. So, even though I get there around 8:00, I'll start around 9:00. This is good though because I'll spend half an hour doing vocal warmups to prepare.
There are tourists drifting about early in the morning, but not that many.
At night, Fremont Street is a hot spot. There are hundreds of people walking up and down the street, visiting all of the stores and bars. However, the competition and waiting time for for circles is excessive, especially on the weekends. Some folks wait four hours to be able to have two hours of performance time in a spot.
During the winter, it was really easy to get a spot because not a lot of people came out to perform. However, now that the weather is really nice, everybody and their mama shows up! Lol!
So, I stick to the mornings and it's okay. It's wonderful just to sing and let the energy flow through. Though I need money, if I don't make that much, it's okay because it's practice, it's training and it's a beautiful thing! My voice is able to do things that I never could do before. It's growing, expanding and blossoming. Before when I was singing, I had certain limits or inhibitions. These things have melted away as I have opened up to the Creator and the energy of the universe. It just flows through me and it's amazing.
GOD SAID SING!
This is a poem written by "Lady Brynne." She's an artist and was on Fremont Street offering to write a poem based on three words that you give her. My three words to her were "God Said Sing." What follows is what she wrote:
GOD SAID SING
The grace you receive is sufficient enough.
The life you've lived has made you touch
Strong enough to survive the rough spots.
Lots of love still coming your way.
Share your love everyday.
So let your joy out.
God said sing.
I love the line that says "let your joy out," because when I sing, that's exactly what I do. I let it out. I release energy, love, passion and that great "divinness" I feel when I sing. It's an amazing feeling.
I believe that we are all channels for the Creator. I don't sing. I am merely an instrument for the universe and I open myself to let its love pour through. I try not to think when I'm singing. If I am thinking about the notes, or thinking about the delivery and the precision, I am putting myself in the way of what the Universe or the All That Is wants to put out there for others. So I focus on letting it go so it can pass through me.
People ask me if I get high; if I smoke weed or drink alcohol. No, not ever. Singing in my high and for me there's no greater feeling.
I thank God for allowing me to be an instrument. I am so grateful to be obedient and to serve. God Said Sing. And, so I do.
Yep. I wear my name, my brand! I am happily walking around marketing myself with my new tshirts!
I also got a new sign to display while I'm performing. I added on it, please share @ #tomacag. I hope that people do. Many folks stop and video me while I'm singing. I hope to see some or even one of them at some point... Oh well, people are here on vacation. I'm sure they're recording everything everywhere in Vegas.
I am designing Team Tomaca shirts for my favorite fans which will be ready soon. Meanwhile, I'll just keep rockin' Tomaca!