Singing with the Beach Boys — sort of — was an exciting opportunity

There is no greater feeling than that of singing with a true icon of American culture at a live concert. I’m sure you’re just going to die of envy when you find out who.

That’s right: I got to perform with the legendary “boy band” N-Sync.

Of course, I’m just kidding.

It was actually the Beach Boys, and I didn’t exactly sing with them, per se. But it was close enough. Here’s how it all worked out.

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Minneapolis, Minn., and perform for the Lions Club International Convention.

This event is held annually in varying cities around the world, and is a great opportunity for Lions Club members to come together and accost each other for lapel pins.

It really is a very interesting week. I have been to two LCI Conventions in the past: Boston, Mass., in 2006 and Chicago, Ill., in 2007. (If you were wondering, the 2008 convention was in Bangkok.)

I participated as a “Leo” in the previous two conventions.

Leos is a community service organization partnered with Lions, only most Leo members have all of their original teeth.

Haha! That’s just a joke. Of course some of the Leos also have false teeth.

This year, however, I attended as a full-fledged Hillsboro Noon Lions Club member. (Roar.)

But I digress.

The actual topic of this column was the fact that I got to sing with the Beach Boys, which, as you may recall, was not 100 percent factual.

I was able to attend this convention because of series of events that took place over about a month and half, which I will sum up in one paragraph:

I was asked to sing at the Kansas Lions Convention in May. LCI President Al Brandel happened to be in attendance, and (I guess) liked my singing, and asked if I was planning to attend the Minneapolis convention. I said no. He said if I changed my mind, I should call him.

I took the hint and changed my mind. I e-mailed Al, and the next day I got a phone call from LCI to discuss my participation in the LCI Convention, and when it was all said and done, I performed “You Raise Me Up” for about 10,000 people two Wednesdays ago.

I must admit, I was very excited when I found out the Beach Boys would be performing at the same convention as me. I’ve always enjoyed their music, and have even performed some of their hits.

But, no, I didn’t sing with the Beach Boys. I actually was sitting about 50 yards away. But I did sing along to all of the songs I knew.

I did, however, get to sing on the same stage as them and I also got to use the same microphone as lead singer Mike Love. I know this because it was the only microphone marked with white electrical tape.

And it was quite the rush when these American icons—the actual Beach Boys!—stormed (or “shuffled onto”) the stage. I couldn’t help but stare in awe and think, “Gee, some of them are much younger than expected.”

OK, so not all of them are the originals. But nobody seemed to care as we all joined in the “Lion Shuffle”—a dance comprised of many moves but mostly scooting back and forth on one’s seat in some sort of syncopation.

And I couldn’t deny the magic, at the end of the concert, when all Lions—of every age, race, color and creed—stood up together and sang along to the immortal words of the Beach Boys classic, “Barbara Ann.”

That is, at least we tried to sing along. But “Barbara Ann” is comprised of a lot of incomprehensible lyrics that are tough to understand. So then we had to make up our own:

“Went to the dance,

“Did a little prance,

“Ran into the busboy

“And got red punch on my pants,

“Barbara Ann….”

Yes, it was a thrilling night. And even though I was sitting so far away that Brian Wilson looked about 3 inches tall, I felt many sorts of connections with the Beach Boys.

As a musician, it was the harmony.

As a guy about the same age as when they first formed the band, it was a longing for freedom, adventure and fun.

As an American, it was the cultural importance of an era in our history.

And as a performer, it was the microphone marked with the white electrical tape.

All I can say is the concert was “fun, fun, fun ‘til her daddy takes the T-bird away.”

Editor’s note: This is a slightly modified version of a column that was inadvertently not included in last week’s issue.

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