For those of you who may not be aware, I am in a local, community-based chorus called Sing Live.  There are no auditions to join, as its philosophy is that anyone who enjoys singing should have the opportunity to sing in a chorus, regardless of talent or ability.  The concept was started in England about 11 or 12 years ago, was brought to the United States in 2007 and I am a charter member of the American wing of the Sing Live organization. To our credit, most of the singers are on key most of the time, and if someone hits a sour note here or there, there are dozens of people to drown him/her out so it’s never even noticed. The system works out well and the members of Sing Live UK and Sing Live USA have done some kick-ass concerts in local venues as well as in really cool places like the Vatican, Royal Albert Hall in London, England, Ground Zero in NYC, EPCOT’S Candlelight Processional and on Cruise Ships. More info about Sing Live USA and Sing Live UK can be found here and here, respectively.

Anyway, instead of doing one big local concert this Spring, Sing Live Orlando is doing a bunch of mini concerts as a change of pace – singing for churches, fundraisers, local community festivals, etc. to give the community a taste of what Sing Live is about, in case anyone would like to become a member and join us. Such was the case this past Saturday, when we were scheduled to sing at an event in Central Florida called Pig in the Poke, Pig Walking on Water, Pig on the Pond. Personally, I had never heard of Pig on the Pond BBQ Festival, but apparently it’s a well-established, well-known, huge event in a town called Clermont, which is about 45 minutes northwest of me. I believe it was one of my fellow singers who did the legwork to get us to sing there – it was originally done too late to be involved in the event but then one entertainment group pulled out so we were invited to be on the roster, as the first performers of the day.

Anyway, a bunch of us singers were planning to meet in the parking lot of the church where we usually rehearse, so we could carpool. It usually only takes about 25 minutes for me to get to the church and we were meeting at 8:30am so I left at 8am, figuring it was early on a Saturday and I wouldn’t hit any traffic. And I didn’t. I did, however, proceed to hit every. Single. Traffic. Light. Between our house and the church. And we’re not talking quick-NY-traffic-lights, either. Oh nooooo, we’re talking sit-there-for-3-or-4-minutes-at-a-time traffic lights so that cars going in the cross-direction that are still 6 miles away from “this” traffic light will be able to make their left turn. GAH! So thanks to the traffic gods pissing on me, I arrived at the church at EXACTLY 8:30am…JUST as Sarai and her SUV full of singers was leaving. Since their car was all filled up, I figured I could just follow them but as we were getting ready to leave, one more car came, carrying Beth and Donna. We all went back into the church parking lot and I hitched a ride with B&D, since my car wasn’t passenger-ready (I keep all of my Therapy work stuff in the car, so unless I prepare for passengers by taking stuff out of my back seat, I can only take one other person, in the front seat). And away we went.

The trip went without major event and we got to our designated meeting place right around the time we were supposed to arrive. Most, but not all of the other singers had already gotten there, as had our Chorus Director, John, who had an electric organ, organ stand, portable table and Sing Live brochures in tow. He also had our rehearsal CDs for those of us who were going to be singing at the Royal Albert Hall (again) later this Spring. Well, for all of us except one…John couldn’t find Carol’s CD so he’s going to bring it to her on Tuesday. But she’s not panicking.

We went as a group to the designated spot for the shuttle bus (as per the PooP website) and waited. And waited. And then we waited some more. And let me tell you, it was a COLD wait – the daytime temps were scheduled to be perfect, in the low 70’s, but it was only in the 50’s then, and we were in the shade AND there was a breeze from the small lake that was near us. So it was VERY chilly, especially for those of us not wearing anything long-sleeved over or under our short-sleeved Sing Live polo shirts. The shuttle was supposed to start running every 15 minutes starting at at 9:00am, but here it was, nearly 9:45am, with not one shuttle bus yet. FINALLY one showed up and we were on our way.

Of course, silly us took it for granted that the shuttle bus driver would actually know where he was going. I mean, he was working for the event, right? Apparently that didn’t matter. First he brought us WAY too far west of where we were supposed to be (we could see carnival rides in the distance, looking eastward). Then the genius asked John, “Do you know where we’re supposed to be?” Good move, Mr. Dumb-ass Bus Driver…ask the immigrant who has *just* gotten his Green Card, who lives on the other side of town, who has little idea about the event, other than the fact that we were going to be singing at it at 10:15am. Finally, after taking “the scenic tour” of beautiful Downtown Clermont (There’s a Feed & Seed! There’s a dance studio! There’s the Moonlight Players Theater!), we arrived at Pig On The Pond. Our bus driver reminded us that we were on Bus #4 and, with that, off he went (undoubtedly to get lost again).

Exiting Bus #4

ABOVE: Exiting Bus #4

LEFT: Setting up

BELOW: The cute pig decorations in front of the stage

We were scheduled to sing under “the big white tent” so the group of us went there. After quickly taking in the situation (mainly how the stage was set up), John called us all over and, in his “I  mean business” voice, he said that this is an outdoor venue so thing are a little different from an indoor stage but don’t worry, because he’s done them before. The #1 thing to worry about is safety, so we’re going to have to get up on the stage as safely as possible. He points to Stage Left and says, “We’re going to have 3 people help every person up because there are no steps. So we’ll all have to climb up on a chair to help us get up on the stage, using the 3 people to keep each person steady.” There was a nervous twitter amongst us because we ranged in age from our 20’s to our 60’s. I knew I could get up there, but what about our 60-something year old ladies wearing dress shoes? It sure wasn’t going to be easy. But like I said, John was using his “I mean business” voice, so we all just hunkered down and got ready to do what our fearless leader told us to do. And then Joan piped up, pointed to Stage Right and said, “But John, there are steps on that side of the stage.” And we all looked over there and then just laughed and laughed – including John, albeit with something of a sheepish grin on his face . He then said, “So as I said, we need to be very safe. So don’t just climb up on the stage like I did before…use the stairs over there!” (just for the record, I know that John has the good nature to laugh at himself without embarrassment or defensiveness or I never would have shared this story with everybody)

ABOVE: Oh look! Steps! (she said, with a very big evil grin)

After a quick warm-up, 10:15am arrived and Danny (one of our Tenors) made his debut as our conductor. He did a terrific job while John did double duty as keyboardist and announcer between songs. And did we pack the house or what?!?!?!*

<— John at Keyboard

John Announcing —>

When the show was over, we all went our separate ways. I hung out with Beth, Donna, Maggie, Marie and Kristin as we walked up and down “the pond” that “the pig” was on. The “pond” was actually the HUGE lake and the festival was being held on its shores. There were the typical “carnival” rides, and some “not so typical” ones (kids in giant-sized hamster balls that floated on water?), plus local arts & crafts places, newspapers, Kettle Korn stands, etc., all selling their wares, a chiropractor whose mascot was a guy dressed as vertebrae (SO wish I had taken a picture of that!), plus lots and lots of  award-winning BBQ and food related to BBQ (I never really thought of banana pudding to be the perfect dessert for BBQ, but thanks to Beth’s recommendation I’ve decided it DEFINITELY is!).

ABOVE and BELOW: Scenes from The Pig on the Pond BBQ Festival

Once we had seen and/or eaten it all, we decided it was time to head home. We went back to the place where Mr. Dumb-Ass Bus Driver had dropped us off and the guy at that entry gate said that although they had allowed the bus to drop us off there, it really wasn’t a set bus stop. In fact, the bus driver had kept trying to drop more people off there but they wouldn’t let him, since it wasn’t a designated bus stop. OK, so what are we supposed to do? We had to go to the far end of the parking lot “over that way” (pointing to the left), so off we went. When we finally got there, we saw that bus stop was for Buses #1, 2, 5 & 6. Ummm, but what about #4? The cop who was directing traffic said that was at the other end of the event. With all the walking we had done beforehand, we knew that was going to be a LONG walk. Kristin eventually found a spot where golf carts came to bring people from one end of the event to the other (the event was THAT big…very narrow but VERY long) so the 6 of us (one on the front with the driver, 2 in the next row and 3 of us squished in the back, going backwards) loaded into one and the driver (so there were 7 of us. On a golf cart) brought us all the way to the other side (it HAD to have been a good mile walk, if not more). We wait for our #4 bus, which finally come, driven by, of course, Dumb-Ass.

Fortunately, after a few hours of driving, he finally had learned the route…or at least the “Go down 6 blocks and drop them off” part of it. He dropped us off without an issues, where we parted ways with Marie and Kristen. Maggie hitched a ride with Beth, Donna and me, with plans to meet her husband at the church parking lot. Once we got there, I bid everyone goodbye, loaded into my own car and drove home. And NAPPED!

It had been a fun day, I got to sing with everyone, and the BBQ and banana pudding had been delicious. Who could ask for anything more?

* What?