Jam Tales: The Incredible Flying Mic
Updated: May 16
This story is about singer Jim LaForte. He had one of the most authentic R&B voices of anyone I've heard. A whole book could be written about him; he was one of those characters who was surrounded by chaos and drama, most of it his own doing.
Nevertheless, his love for and commitment to performing the music survived massive amounts of alchohol and only God knows what other substances, a grandiose gesture suicide attempt, prison stints, multiple rehab stays, psycho women, reasonably healthy women (he was the psycho!), illness and all manner of trials and tribulations.
If ever it could be said about anyone that, "He lived the Blues" it could be said about Jim LaForte. He passed in 2010. I’d been expecting it for years. I’ve never heard an official cause-of-death but when I last saw him about six days before he died he was yellow. So yeah, liver. He drank himself to death most likely.
The fact that he survived to see 62 is proof that God exists as far as I'm concerned. It‘s a freakin’ miracle.
In spite of all that, it bears repeating; his love for and commitment to performing the music never wavered. The last time I saw him we were on stage together jamming away the afternoon, extreme jaundice notwithstanding.
To understand this particular incident, you have to get a picture of how the club (Harling's Upstairs) was laid out.
The crowd was in the round. There were tables in front of and behind the band, There was a row of tables set end-to-end starting from right in front of the band and running the length of the room. Here are some photos to help with the visual.
Get the idea?
So...LaForte had this move, very James Brown-esque, where he swings the mic around by the cable and at exactly the right moment, catches the mic and starts singing.
He's doing this move and, unbeknownst to him, the mic detaches from the cable and he catches the cable end with no mic on it, looking dumbfounded.
Meanwhile, the whole band sees the mic detach and start its arc across the room, and with true professionalism we never quit playing.
I'm seeing it in slow motion, thinking,
"O my God, it's going to hit somebody in the face, the club will be sued, it'll be another LaForte-caused shitstorm for sure!"
I kid you not, the mic sailed at least 25 feet down the center row of tables in a perfect arc and splashed right into the beer glass of the guy sitting at the end of the table row!
You couldn't recreate that again if you tried a million times!
Every guy on the stage except LaForte was frozen in wonder with mouths agape! Then our Hammond B3 player (Rich VanSant) almost fell off his organ bench he was laughing so hard! And still, we kept playing; the music never stopped.
LaForte never saw what happened; he was staring at his empty mic cable in consternation.
In the words of Woody to Buzz Lightyear, "That's not flying, that's falling with style!"
The mic was in the air, following its inexorable trajectory, for maybe 2 seconds, although, as I said, it was in slow motion for me; time slowed waaay down.
I was in awe and pondered on what cosmic forces were at work, lined up so that all the unquantifiable pieces were in place for that to happen the way it did, not the least of which was,
LaForte was standing in the exact spot he was.
LaForte was twirling the cable at the exact velocity needed.
The mic detached at the exact moment it did.
The guy at the end of the row decided to come to the Jam.
He sat in the exact spot he was in.
He ordered a beer at the exact time that he did.
The beer was placed at the exact spot on the table where the mic was going to land.
By the waitress who happened to be on the job that day.
And that's just in the few moments before the incident. How many other variables were in play, going back to infinity and beyond? Who knows? Not me.
Or maybe it was just a coincidental random series of events that appeared to be predestined...and then only in hindsight.
Synchronicity: the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.
Then again, that's the kind of stuff that swirled around LaForte.
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