In her second post, Gracie Finningan-Fox cover some important issues about her move to LA – Fleas, Scientologists, and Getting Down with the Bassist from The Stones!
Now then. Where did I leave off? Oh yes, my arrival in Los Angeles and subsequent multi-million dollar record deal, five star album review in The Rolling Stone, and passionate proposals of marriage from Ryan Reynolds, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and (insert hunky actor/musician here)…ahh yes. Things were truly looking up…what’s that? You’re skeptical, you say? You want the truth? Oh fine, have it your way. Although the Ryan Reynolds version is much more appealing, in my opinion…
Anthony and I arrived in LA on November 7th, 2010, somewhere in the ballpark of 5:30 pm. If you’ve ever been on a Los Angeles freeway at sunset, you know that it is a magical place. The low rumble of car motors, like a thousand angry bees (if bees vomited tons of toxins into the air), the gentle rocking of your car as the gentleman behind you taps your bumper for the umpteenth time (Dude, seriously…what part of NOBODY IS MOVING do you not understand?!), the not-so-occasional profanity traded generously between drivers…truly, a spectacle to behold.
A person near and dear to my heart had, quite kindly, offered to let us stay with him until we found a place of our own, and by the time we arrived at his apartment, we were exhausted. So exhausted, in fact, that it wasn’t until the following morning that we registered that a few things seemed somewhat…amiss. It can be hard to find a nice place in LA, and our benefactor seemed to have found one that was rather less-than. The shower didn’t turn on without a wrench. The toilet didn’t flush. And then, there was this:
Anthony: (scratching furiously) Oof. I think I’m allergic to that blanket we slept on.
Me: (also scratching) Yeah, me too…I don’t know why, I’ve never had problems with wool before, maybe it’s the brand…?
Anthony: Yeah, let me look…wait, is there something moving….?
(Horrified, itchy pause)
Not the best start to our new life.
Thankfully, lady luck decided to show us a bit of mercy, and within 48 hours, we had successfully landed our very own, flea-free apartment in Long Beach. It was spacious, it was inexpensive, and the only negative thing that could be said of it is that the owners were determined to believe we are, in fact, married (and not living in sin). So we settled in to our lives here. For me, that initially involved quite a bit of frustration. Practicing and writing, going to open mics that turned out to be mostly venues for musical theater enthusiasts, and almost getting a band, or a gig, or even just a coffee with someone in the industry, only to have it collapse like a sandcastle at the 11th hour. This is how I spent my first four months in LA. The only interval of interest between November and March was a holiday stint I did, singing in a small choir for none other than The Church of Scientology (I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say about this, since they a) paid me and b) have an extremely private reputation, but I will say this—it was a lot of fun, and quite surreal to look out in to the audience and see some blockbuster names air-guitar jamming to secular holiday songs).
However, things began slowly coming together. I started teaching voice to pay the bills, amassing a small collection of incredibly sweet and very diverse people to work with. I started putting an EP together. And finally, I got a call. Not THE call, mind you, but definitely A call. While at Berklee, a professor of mine had invited me to perform as a guest vocalist on a gig of his at the Iridium in NYC, and while there I had the good fortune of meeting several talented musicians, one of whom is the trumpet player Miles Evans. He had originally played a big part in me coming to LA—a working musician, with a strong reputation, willing to work with me!!—but plans to work together had initially fallen through. Until one evening in March, when he called, out of the blue, asking if I’d be willing to perform as a guest vocalist on a CD release he was throwing. When? Next week. How many songs? Oh, probably three (it skyrocketed to nine during rehearsal—mercifully, the performance only required four). Rehearsal? Just one, tomorrow, for five hours. Of course I was in.
The day of the gig proved a busy one—I had also signed on to sing back up for a friend later that evening—but it’s something I’ll never forget. The Catalina Club was beautiful and sophisticated, as were the people attending the event. I felt awkward and young, out of place among the glitz and the brilliant musicians I was about to play with. Once on stage, though, everything changed. Not to be cliché, but it’s amazing where good music can take you. When everyone is in sync with one another, the whole world just seems to fall into place. I was having a ball. One of the songs I was asked to sing, and the one I was most excited for, was “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones. It went over brilliantly, the instrumentalists and I spiraling into a free-for-all and trading solos. When I was leaving the stage, the bass player, who hadn’t been at the rehearsal but had flown in for the evening, winked and said something I couldn’t understand over the applause. Later, on the phone with my mom, recounting the story, she stopped me and said “Gracie…according to the bill, that was Darryl Jones. Do you realize you sang “Gimme Shelter” with the bassist for the Rolling Stones playing for you tonight?” You can bet that left me somewhat speechless.
And that, in my book, is a small step towards conquering this large city.