My Musical Journey…
I was a guy who was too afraid to sing in the shower for fear that my family would hear me and tell me to shut up. But, in August 2004, I found myself in front of a microphone for the first time in my life at Nye’s Piano Bar in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I had decided that if I didn’t try it at that time, I’d regret it for the rest of my life.
I heard my name called by the pianist at Nye’s. Lou Snider had been the pianist there for close to 40 years and knew how to make a new singer feel comfortable. As a matter of fact, my mother used to go down to Nye’s to sing with Lou. I grabbed the microphone and the lyrics book. As I fumbled to find the words for “Unforgettable,” Lou asked me what key I wanted to sing in. I didn’t have a clue. She had me sing a couple of the opening words and quickly found my key. I held the book up high enough to hide my face and my shaking hand held the mike up to my mouth. After I finished singing, I was surprised to hear very loud applause. Of course, their applause encouraged me to sing another song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” The applause after my second song sounded thunderous to me — I was hooked!
“The applause after my second song sounded thunderous to me — I was hooked!”
I returned to Nye’s every weekend for two months until I got up the courage to audition for “Amahl and The Night Visitors” — a mini-opera put on by the Woodbury Community Theatre in Woodbury, MN. I was not exactly looking to do an opera; I was just trying to find any musical that was currently looking for my talents. I won the part of a singing and dancing shepherd (singing very high tenor). The experience in Amahl gave me the courage to audition a second time, and I earned the part of one of four male lead singers in “The Original Broadway Swing.” It was in this show that I learned how to scat.
After Swing, I was in “The Music Man.” That summer, I was invited to sing in a “Singer’s Showcase” at the Times Cafe in Minneapolis, MN, and got to sing mainly Sinatra songs for an hour with the extremely talented Lori Dokken at the piano. My fourth play was “My Fair Lady,” and I was able to play the part that I had wanted to play all my life but had only fantasized about: ”Freddy,” the lovesick young man pining for Eliza Doolittle. The theatre sure has a lot of tricks to make a guy look younger! During the run of this play, I got to sing “On The Street Where You Live” more than 30 times and it never got old!
In January 2006, I decided to record my voice for my “someday” grandchildren. This unofficial first CD turned out so well that I gave it to my family and closest friends. Unbeknownst to me, a copy of my CD found its way into the hands of Joanne Grauer in Reno, Nevada, pianist to Andy Williams, Michael Feinstein, The Osmonds, The Lennon Sisters and many more superstars. Joanne even taught Barbra Streisand how to play piano. Joanne later asked me, “Do you know how long it took me to realize that you had a GREAT voice? One measure!” I thank my sister, MJ, and mother for introducing me to Joanne through my first CD.
“By the end of the first day, a couple people were calling me the “one take wonder.”
After a number of phone calls, Joanne and I met in Reno on October 18, 2006, to work on musical charts. After I sang my first song for her at 10 AM in her home studio, she asked me three questions: “You don’t normally sing this early in the morning, right?” —You don’t think your voice is warmed up yet, right?” and, “You think you could do a much better job with this song this afternoon, right?” I replied, “Yes.” “OH MY GOD!” she said, and encouraged me to continue. In the middle of the third song, she yelled, “STOP! We can’t do this anymore.” I asked a startled, “why?” She said, “We have to get you into a recording studio NOW!” I told her that she knew as well as I did that getting recording studio time takes 6-8 week’s advance notice. She said, “Let me make a call.”
Joanne got us 10 hours of studio time over the next two days so we could record an entire CD. She also got two other world-class musicians: Bill Heise on drums and Gary Douglas on bass. With the band in place, we arranged, rehearsed, and recorded ten songs in ten hours! This was a record for Tanglewood Productions in Reno. By the end of the first day, a couple people were calling me the “one take wonder.” My new “official” CD, The Shadow of Your Smile, came out in January 2007. You can order it through this website. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as we enjoyed recording it.
I completed a gig with The Minnesota Jazz Orchestra (March, 2007). We did the gig inside actual caves that have been turned into an old fashioned dance hall. It was fantastic! The dance floor was always crowded and the people were applauding, shouting and begging for more!
I traveled to Croatia in June, 2007 and did some singing over there at a club called the Blue Moon.
The Birth of The Blue Eyes Band
Until now, I’ve never been asked to recall this story; so, if I get the timeline a bit off, please forgive me. Basically, the birth of the Blue Eyes Band was fated to be. In 2007, I was invited to be a substitute vocalist for another big band in the Twin Cities area. I had sent them a copy of The Shadow of Your Smile and they liked what they heard. The gig was a success, but I was not real happy with my performance. Oh, the voice sounded great according to the crowd, but my on-stage persona needed a lot of work. Let’s just say that the band leader noticed it and never invited me back. But, before I left that gig, one of their best trumpet players, Todd Matheson, asked me if I’d be interested in joining him and a small combo on a wedding gig. I quickly agreed because I was eager to learn the business and start my musical career.
“Why this name? Well, obviously, Frank Sinatra was called Old Blue Eyes, and it did not hurt that my eyes are blue too.”
Because the wedding was coming up very soon and that there would be no time for the band to rehearse, Todd suggested that I rehearse with the pianist, Steve Hegman. (It was actually Steve’s gig and so it made sense to at least rehearse with him.) While the rehearsal never happened, the wedding couple loved what we did. Nonetheless, I was not very impressed with myself. I felt so bad about my performance that I told Steve I’d do two gigs for free. He didn’t seem to think that was necessary, but he let me do the work anyway and was quite happy by the time we were done. Still, that first gig with Todd was embarrassing for me. I actually thought that I’d probably never hear from Todd again.
Well, fate had other plans for Todd and me. I got involved with a small combo, doing a few gigs. One day, I heard from a bride-to-be who wanted me and a big band for her February 2009 wedding. The combo I had been working with needed to expand quickly. The leader of the band had to line up a couple more horn players — and one of them was Todd. When I saw him walk in the door for our first and only rehearsal, I got very nervous and thought he might not want to work with such an amateur. I was wrong.
Todd came into that rehearsal ready to give it all he had, and I asked if he would mind running the band for the gig. He agreed, and although we didn’t know it then, that was the first glimmer of The Blue Eyes Band. After that gig, we both agreed that we should work together more. I started to find more gigs; Todd got musicians together that he’d been working with for years. The combo was born, although we still had not named it yet. We did many gigs before I finally found a name: The Blue Eyes Band. Why this name? Well, obviously, Frank Sinatra was called Old Blue Eyes, and it did not hurt that my eyes are blue too.
Todd and I have developed a relationship where I book almost every gig and he does the rest: makes sure that subs are found if needed, does the setups and tear-downs, and deals with all band issues. I pay everyone and deal with the paperwork. As the past three years have unfolded, The Blue Eyes Band has grown from a five-piece to six-piece to ten piece group.
Tim Patrick and His Blue Eyes Band are making a strong name for themselves in the Twin Cities area and beyond. Our original music from our CD, Layin’ It Down, is playing on jazz radio stations in 27 countries. As of this writing, we have performed for hundreds of venues and there seems to be no end in sight.