Greetings, readers. This is the write up by Mr. Chris Rosenblum of the Centre Daily Times newspaper concerning my memorial show for my late friend Erin Beish. It was an incredibly enjoyable experience and most rewarding. I’m certain that she would have been pleased. Erin always wanted to see KISS but it just wasn’t to be.
This was the first time ever in my lip syncing air guitar “career” that I went all the way by including make-up and black fingernail polish. What follows is the reporter’s actual article from the on-line late Saturday night CDT. What is included is the two-minute video promo of me talking. The photos did not transfer to this blog entry, so you will have to follow the links to see the work of Nabil K. Mark.
Update: 10/11/13 – We just discovered today that these links to the CDT pages do not go to the video or article. Update: 8/26/16 – We removed the links to the CDT pages since they did not go to the content anymore.
Chris Rosenblum | Tribute sealed with a little Kiss
Published: June 15, 2013/
By Chris Rosenblum —firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Kockelmans rocked out, his invisible guitar slung low on his hips.
Black and white makeup covered his face like the members of his favorite band, Kiss. His fingernails shone black, the same color of his Kiss T-shirt.
No longer was he a mild-mannered 48-year-old writer.
He was Ace Frehley, lead guitarist, slamming out the solo to “I Stole Your Love” in the community room of the Arnold Addison Court apartment building in State College.
He was a grieving friend remembering a lost soulmate.
He was the Mimic.
That’s his alter ego, his stage persona for the air guitar, lip-syncing performances he’s been doing since childhood. He loves rock, but mild cerebral palsy keeps him from playing real guitars and drums.
For his latest show, he wore a black M on his face, Kiss-style, not for himself.
He did it for Erin.
Erin Beish, an Arnold Addison Court neighbor of his, died in May from cancer at only 34. Also a diehard Kiss fan, she always wanted to see a concert but never had the chance.
Kockelmans, in her memory, filled in the best he could.
“I’m going to give her spirit a show that she would be proud of,” he said the day before his performance.
He chose 18 songs for two sets and downloaded them to his laptop. Studying Kiss concert videos, he picked up mannerisms of original members Frehley, bassist Gene Simmons, rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley and drummer Peter Criss, as well as musicians from later lineups.
In a backroom of Panera Bread downtown, his second home, he rehearsed for weeks. He shaved off his beard.
On the big day, a friend at a salon painted his face. About a dozen friends from the building gathered in the community room. Kockelmans arranged his laptop and two tiny speakers on a table in front.
Then it was showtime.
His audience wasn’t treated to spurting blood or pyrotechnics — just good, clean, rock ’n’ roll theatrics.
Singing sometimes, lip-syncing other tunes, the Mimic furiously strummed as he shifted from Frehley to Stanley in midsong. He shook his shoulders and head, strutted, nodded, grimaced and glared. One minute, he pointed skyward and then the next, he wagged a finger at his audience or, after slashing power chords, raised his fist.
During some numbers, he switched to drums, laying down a crunching back beat, rolling fills and riding a cymbal.
He even showed some tongue, a Kiss staple.
Of course, no concert would be complete without song introductions.
“Some people like to have a little wine. Some people like to have a little beer,” the Mimic said, playing to the arena. “Some people like a little something harder. And some people like a little …”
And he kicked into “Cold Gin.”
Before “Nothin’ to Lose,” he offered a dedication.
“Some of these songs I chose just because I like them. Some of them are just great Kiss songs,” he said before explaining his next selection.
“Because to me, it signified what Erin had to go through to fight her cancer. She had everything to gain, and she just put up one hell of a fight.”
To applause, he added: “She had everything to gain … and nothing to lose.”
Two more songs honored his friend directly.
Opening his second set, the Mimic sat and gently sung his only non-Kiss song, “Yesterday.” Six months before to the day, he had rehearsed it in front of her for a Beatles show he and friends were doing.
“Why she had to go, I don’t know,” he sang.
Then came the classic “Beth,” only with a twist.
“Sister, sweetheart, this is for you,” he said. “It’s called ‘Erin’ today. If they want to sue me, go ahead.”
Rock ’n’ roll is hard work, and the Mimic needed a few breathers. During one, a boy in the audience came up, curious about the middle-aged guy in makeup. Like a pro, the Mimic gave him a few minutes.
“I’m Joe — usually,” he said. “Today, I’m the Mimic. I know I can’t sing. I know I’m all over the place, but, hey, I’m trying.”
Toward the end, the tribute began taking its toll. His solos grew less frenetic. He stalked the stage more slowly.
But he rallied for the anthem “Rock ’n’ Roll All Night,” waving his arms and urging his audience, in true arena fashion, to sing the chorus.
After a rousing “I Love It Loud,” he closed the performance with the showstopper “Detroit Rock City.”
He pulled out all the stops: a hip-shaking, head-tilting, tongue-extending song from the heart to a fan dearly missed.
“We love you, Erin,” the Mimic sang.
He windmilled a chord.
“Thank you so much, Addison Court,” he said.
With a last resounding strum and the time-honored two-fingered rock salute, he said goodnight to State College.
Chris Rosenblum can be reached at 231-4620. Follow him on Twitter@CRosenblumNews.