My Experience Singing “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Lakers Game

For those of you who have been asking me how it went, THANK YOU. 🙂 For those of you who didn’t know, I sang the National Anthem at The Lakers Vs. The Bulls game at the Staples Center on Sunday last week. The whole thing was amazing, and let me tell you about how it all went down.

I was driving home from San Jose a few months ago when I received an e-mail from the Lakers organization. It read, “We are interested in having you sing The National Anthem. Please contact us at your earliest convenience.” I was shocked… and a little nervous about calling, but went ahead and called. I thought, “Am I calling too quickly? Should I give it a day or two so I don’t sound desperate??? Ahhhh… whatever….” and I called. 

I talked to the representative who said she had received my audition .mp3, but didn’t tell me who sent it. (I later found out that it was from Monina Castillo, a friend of mine/publicist who runs  @FanDeMode on twitter that e-mailed it to her.) She was amazed that I called her back so quickly. (And I think she was impressed…. jussayin… take that, thoughts in my head!!!) She told me the date I would be singing was March 10th, and that The Lakers would be playing The Bulls. I was planning on playing at SXSW, and wasn’t sure if I would be booked, so I went ahead and took the gig, and immediately called my best friend, Mike, to play with me. The reason I asked him to play wasn’t because I couldn’t play it on guitar, but because Mike is from Chicago, and I thought, “If I had the opportunity to see my best friend sing the National Anthem at a Red Sox game, that’d be cool… but if he asked me to PLAY GUITAR for him, that would be a life changing experience!!!” and I wanted to give that to him. There’s not many perks to being my best friend… UNTIL NOW…. MAY THAT BE A LESSON TO ALL YOU WHO AREN’T MY FRIEND ANYMORE… ;-P

We practiced a few times, and I wasn’t nervous at all…. until March 9th…

That day, Mike and I were hanging out, and we decided to go over the song one more time. For some reason, we played it differently than we had practiced and I started to freak out. The rest of the day, I had problems concentrating, started worrying about messing it up… getting on Sportscenter as the “NOT TOP 10 PLAYS OF THE WEEK” etc….

So that night, to try to get over my fear, I made everyone at Lestat’s stand up and practiced singing it to them. (I then proceeded to tell them all of my deepest darkest secrets, fears, and fantasies… minus the secrets and fantasies….) Long and short, that was a great show, that really boosted my confidence! (LOVE YOU GUYS!!!)

I didn’t sleep at all the night before. I kept thinking, “Don’t mess it up… Don’t mess it up…” and at 4am, I finally slept… till 7am… Then Jeff, Mike, Sean, and myself loaded up our cars and headed to the Staples Center. 

The whole way up, I didn’t talk too much to Jeff. He tried to keep the conversation going, but I wasn’t really having it. Far too much on my mind to be goofy and silly. I’d liken it to when I played sports and we’d drive a few hours to an away game. I would sit away from all my friends on the bus and focus on the game… Tiger Vision… bayyyybee….

We got FREE PARKING (but didn’t collect 1,000 dollars… like in Monopoly… maybe that’s just a Damigo rule…) and Mike and I decided to practice one more time. Jeff video taped it. Here it is!  I thought wearing the Celtics shirt underneath my button up was hilarious… 

We got into the game and immediately did our soundcheck. I realized I wouldn’t be able to hear Mike’s guitar… and that I didn’t like my shirt being tucked in…. Image

After we checked, we were given breakfast at the upstairs dining club… This is me, Sean, Mike, and Jeff getting our grub on!!! Image

After a GREAT breakfast, we went down to our seats which were COURTSIDE and right behind Ellen Pompeo from Grey’s Anatomy! Here’s Jeff and my actual seats! Image

Then, it was time to perform. Here are the photos that Jeff took. (Don’t mess with him…. I already teased him once today about the pictures… and yes… these are all the ones we have…) Image

ImageYup… that’s my ghostly figure between Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant…

So here’s where it goes HORRIBLY WRONG… Mike and I walk into the dressing room, talked to the assistant who was escorting us and the Lakers Girl who does all of the announcements before the game and at half time. I got to give Daye Salani of SoundDiego a big hug and take an Instagram photo with him right before I walked from the green room to the center court! I’m all jazzed and pumped and Mike and I joked with Ken Mauer, the referee for the game about joining the group and starting a boy band! (He was DOWN… but chickened out….:-) They announced us, I grabbed my mic and walked out to center court to start singing.

Everything was going great. The atmosphere was amazing, I was making smooth hand movements, looking at the guitar, Mike, the Flag back at Mike, at the guitar… and suddenly, I couldn’t remember where I was in the song… I was somewhere near “Ramparts” when I started wondering, “What’s a Rampart??? Is the word ‘Rampart’ or is it ‘Rampont’? What’s after ‘Rampart’?? is it ‘Ramparts red glare???’ or is it ‘Ramparts we watched’???? OH NO… I’M GONNA MESS UP!!!!!!!”

I remember blacking out for a split second, and someone in the audience barking really loud…. and then it was done. I had finished the national anthem, and I hadn’t messed up! I tried to walk off the court as natural as possible, but all the players were coming up and giving hi-fives and congratulating me. I waved to the Lakers and Bulls fans, and shook hands with Mike D’Antoni, and looked at Kobe and said, “Good luck, Kobe!” Mike said that Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard both gave him daps. 

I got back to my seat COMPLETELY self conscious and scared to death to look or talk to anyone. ALL my insecurities felt like they were dripping out of me. I asked Jeff how I did and he said, “Well… it wasn’t Whitney Houston… but it was great! I’d give you a 7 out of 10!!!” (haha… I took it as a compliment…) 

Exhausted and wasted, I got through the game and slept most of the ride back to San Diego. 

I’d have to say that it was one of the most electrifying, humbling, and nerve wracking experiences of my life, and I hope I get to do it again! The Lakers staff was so kind and generous and apparently they’re even sending me a DVD of the performance! When I get it, I’ll figure out how to share it with you guys! 🙂

Well, not much going on for me now… Just hanging low till the show with Ernie Halter in San Diego on the 6th of April. It’s gonna be a good one! 

All my love and appreciation.

-j

 

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About Joshua Lodge

Josh will cheerfully admit that he averaged less than a dozen people a show when he first began playing San Diego coffee houses and clubs. But he garnered diehard fans in the process, sold a few thousand copies of his EP, Pocket Change, and picked up few awards along the way. After a traumatic family incident Josh retreated inward, and he ended up writing what would ultimately become his breakout debut, Raw. The album was true to its name and people noticed - Josh picked up two San Diego Music Awards for "Best Acoustic" and "Best Local Recording," opened for the likes of Zac Brown, Jason Mraz, and Matt Nathanson, and had enough money and momentum to tour the country a few times over. A few years after Raw, there was his third EP, Hope. Whereas Raw was a mostly acoustic, vulnerable affair, Hope was a celebration. Pleading and poignant, heartfelt and heavy hearted, it segued effortlessly from orchestral to alt-country, eventually landing him in the top 25 on the country charts. One of the hardest working indie singer/songwriters in Southern California, Josh spent much of the year with producer Mike Butler, gathering up some of the finest musicians in town, shaping his songs and sound further still for his album I Will Be There out now on Randm Records. From the joyous encouragement of “Just Give Me a Call”, to the simple sincerity of the ballad “Tennessee”, Josh’s songwriting skills are clear, his voice rings true and his goals remain the same as when he started - to keep making the best music he can, and to share it with all. A few years after Raw, there was his third release, Hope. Whereas Raw was a mostly acoustic, vulnerable affair, Hope was a celebration. Pleading and poignant, heartfelt and heavy hearted, it segued effortlessly from orchestral to alt-country, eventually landing him in the top 25 on the country charts. One of the hardest working indie singer/songwriters in Southern California, Damigo spent much of year with producer Mike Butler, gathering up some of the finest musicians in town, shaping his songs and sound further still for his latest album, "Just Give Me a Call", available now, on Randm Records. From the up-tempo single, “Just Give Me a Call”, to the simple sincerity of the ballad “Tennessee”, Josh’s songwriting skills are clear, his voice rings true and his goals remain the same as when he started - to keep making the best music he can, and to share it with all.
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4 Responses to My Experience Singing “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Lakers Game

  1. Regan Rath says:

    Josh – you kill me! You have a very fun/funny style of writing that I really enjoy! I was chucking to myself the whole way through. And of COURSE you nailed it – give yourself a little more credit, dude! xo

  2. Kandee says:

    I’ve been looking on YouTube for a couple days hoping that someone would have video taped it. I set my dvr for the game but they did not include the anthem, thats ok because I’m sure you rocked it. My daughter was at Lestats when you practiced, she said you are a funny guy.

  3. Pingback: Josh Damigo sings The National Anthem at the Lakers game

  4. Miguel says:

    Great story! I felt like I was in your shoes as I read it.

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