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King Cheese * POB 8600 * Austin, TX 78713-8600
(512) 494-9226
-cheeseline * Email

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After three and a half years of fun, King Cheese has called it quits. The rest of the page appears below, only for historical interest. Thank you for your support! -- Michael Bluejay, 1-99

What is King Cheese?

King Cheese is a two-man band performing the hits of the 70s and early 80s -- everything from John Denver to Prince. We're a cross between a lounge act and a karaoke machine. Michael Bluejay plays keyboards, and Lightnin' Lee sings. Lee also plays drums live on half the songs, and on the other half we use a MIDI sequencer. Lee is more than just a vocalist, he's a vocalist impersonator -- he does dead-on copies of Michael Jackson, Elton John, Steve Perry, Michael McDonald, and more! And it's not just singing -- Lee can give Michael Jackson a run for his money with his dance moves (especially on "Billie Jean").

Michael Bluejay plays attack keyboards. He works hard to create a wall of sound all by himself. And he likes to keep things lively by thrashing around violently or playing two or three different instruments (guitar and two keyboards) during the same song.

Do we play dance music? You bet! Slow songs? Sure! Metal? Of course! We've got something for everybody!

One thing we're known for is trying to play requests that we've never attempted to play before. In fact, more than once when we've done this, we've discovered that a song worked so well the first time that we just added it to our song list right then and there. Another curious thing about us is that we've only practiced once since we first got together nearly two years ago. The closest we get is sometimes Michael will play something over the phone to Lee and he'll start singing it. :-)

As we hope you can tell by our name, we don't take ourselves too seriously. King Cheese is just about having a good time, and we got the cheese to please!

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Upcoming Shows

I don't get around to updating the website very often, so simply subscribe to our mailing list and never miss another show.

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Other News

3-99: King Cheese placed 3rd in the Cover Band category in the Austin Chronicle's 98-99 Music Poll. (The previous year we placed 6th, and the year before that we placed 10th.)

We played Hole in the Wall in March '98, following Bunny Stockhausen, who followed Peen Beats. The other bands were GREAT and it was a lot of fun playing wit them. At one point in our set, a woman got up on stage, pulled my pants down, and then pulled her shirt up. Okay, so that part's not unusual. But after that, some guy must have felt all inspired, so he got up on stage and took ALL his clothes off, and danced for quite a while that way. Considering that, I'm surprised that Hole in the Wall let us play there again...

I just spent $2000 on a new keyboard and a case, and I've spent several days reprogramming it to work with our 70+ songs. It sounds really good, and I think it represents a big step forward for King Cheese. And to create as much equipment debt as possible, I also just bought a really nice PA mixer, which should also improve the quality of our sound. (It may not arrive in time for our 6/6 show, but my fingers are crossed.)

We just added "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love" (Van Halen) and "Brandy" (Looking Glass) to our playlist.

We placed #6 in the "Best Cover Band" category in the Chronicle's Music Poll, same as we did last year. In the "Best Lounge Act" category, we placed #6 *AND* #8. I know, I know, I'm wondering about that too. I think one of those listings was supposed to be King Soul. In any event, whether we really got #6 or #8, we've moved up, because last year we only got #10 in that category. Last week I had a letter to the editor in the Chronicle about the #6/#8 mixup, and they ran my letter but they didn't bother to clarify which place we actually got.

I haven't quite finished adding all the sonic touches to "Thriller", but I've got enough of it down so we can at least play it at gigs. You all were merciless about demanding more Michael Jackson, so we rushed our time to market.

My big news is that I got to play onstage with my favorite band, Ben Folds Five, at their soldout show in Dallas in February. When I told Lee, his reply was, "You kicked its ass, didn't you? Tell me you kicked its ass!" (Yeah, I kicked its ass.)

King Cheese on CD

King Cheese has recorded our selection for "Wheatstock", a CD compilation featuring bands which have at least one member working at Wheatsville. (Lee works in the deli, and I'm waiting for a cashier sub position to open.) Our choice was "You Should Be Dancing" by the Bee Gees from Saturday Night Fever. Special thanks to Chris Smith of Sixteen Deluxe for recording us (and to Carrie Clarke of the same for letting me use her guitar.) The CD is scheduled for release in February 1999, and will be available at Wheatsville.

[Update, in a 2009 Austin Chronicle article about Wheatsville: "In 1998, this affinity resulted in The Wheat Album, " a store-produced CD that featured such totally Nineties bands as Sixteen Deluxe, King Cheese, and Palaxy Tracks, all boasting members who worked there."  - 9/14/2009, p. 58]

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Songs We Play

1999 -- Prince
Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love
-- Van Halen
Another One Bites the Dust
-- Queen
Annie's Song
-- John Denver
Axel F -
- Beverly Hills Cop
-- Styx
Bad Girls
-- Donna Summer
Theme from Barney Miller
-- TV Show
Bennie & the Jets
-- Elton John
Billie Jean
-- Michael Jackson
-- Madonna
-- Looking Glass
Brick House
-- The Commodores
-- Kool & the Gang
Crocodile Rock
-- Elton John
Dancing Queen
-- Abba
-- Elton John
December '63
(Oh What a Night) -- The Four Seasons
-- Prince
Disco Inferno/Burn Baby Burn
-- Sat. Night Fever
Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?
-- Rod Stewart
Don't Stop Believing
-- Journey
Down Under
-- Men At Work
-- The Commodores
Escape (The Pina Colada Song)
-- Rupert Holmes
Feels So Good
-- Chuck Mangione
Funky Town
-- Lipps, Inc.
Have You Never Been Mellow?
-- Olivia Newton-John
Hot Blooded
-- Foreigner
How Deep is Your Love?
-- Bee Gees/Sat. Nite Fever
Hungry Like the Wolf
-- Duran Duran
I Can See Clearly Now the Rain is Gone
- Johnny Nash
I Love the Nightlife
-- Alicia Bridges
I Will Survive
-- Gloria Gaynor
-- John Lennon
-- Van Halen
Just the Way You Are
-- Billy Joel

Keep on Loving You -- REO Speedwagon
-- Prince
Let's Go Crazy -- Prince
Little Red Corvette
-- Prince
Looks that Kill
-- Motley Crue
Love Will Keep Us Together
-- Captain & Tenille
Love's Theme -- Barry White/
The Love Electric Orchestra
Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'
-- Journey
Low Rider
-- War
Magnet & Steel
-- Walter Egan
Manhattan Skyline
-- Sat. Nite Fever instrumental (dance)
Mission: Impossible
-- TV Show
Night Fever
-- Sat. Nite Fever
Open Arms
-- Journey
Play That Funky Music
-- Wild Cherry
Red Barchetta
-- Rush
Rocket Man
-- Elton John
Sad Eyes
-- Robert John
Sarah Smile
-- Hall & Oates
Separate Ways
-- Journey
Shake Your Body Down to the Ground
-- The Jacksons
Show Me the Way -- Peter Frampton
Stayin' Alive
-- Bee Gees/Sat. Nite Fever
Summer Breeze
-- Seals & Crofts
Take 5
-- jazz standard
(Theme from) A Summer Place -- Movie theme
Three Times a Lady
-- The Commodores
-- Michael Jackson
Total Eclipse of the Heart
-- Bonnie Tyler
Waiting for a Girl Like You
-- Foreigner
We Are Family
-- Sister Sledge
What a Fool Believes
-- The Doobie Brothers
Whip It -- Devo
Who's Crying Now?
-- Journey
Working for the Weekend
-- Loverboy
-- Village People
Your Song
-- Elton John
You're So Vain
-- Carly Simon

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King Cheese Trivia

* As amazing a singer as Lee is, in all the previous bands he's been in, he was just the drummer! It took him a while to realize that he should really pursue his singing.

* Michael Bluejay has been a vegan for many years, and actually doesn't eat cheese. (Well, soy cheese on rare occasions...) Michael is starting a punk band on the side called Ice Cream Headache -- he seems to have a thing about being in bands named after dairy products.

* For its first two years, King Cheese packed all its equipment and both its members into a single car. The keyboard & PA went into the trunk, the drums went in the back seat, and Michael & Lee were in the front seat, with the white stone pedestal between them! (Last summer, Lee's dad bought him a van, so at long last the duo is not so scrunched.)

* Michael played by ear at an early age, and annoyed his piano teacher by playing "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" during lessons at age 12 in 1979.

* Lee's bass drum was a Christmas gift from his father in 1995. Before he got it, his previous bass drum was so large it had to go in the front seat of Lee's car because it wouldn't fit in the back, requiring Michael to squeeze into the back seat with all the other drums on the way to each gig.

* Michael & Lee have only practiced once together since their first gig.They generally learn the songs independently and then try them for the first time on stage. In addition, they try to play songs out of the blue that they've never played before when the audience requests them, and sometimes those songs have turned out so well the first time that those songs are immediately added to their play list. Those songs include Jump, Looks that Kill, and Magnet & Steel.

* Michael fulfilled a dream by playing piano onstage with Ben Folds Five at their soldout show in Dallas in February 1998.

* Michael has a tattoo of a red grand piano on a black oval background on his right arm (the Ben Folds Five logo). (He would like to point out that he got the tattoo long before Ben Folds Five became popular.) He also has a tattoo of a band of piano keys around his left arm. Both were done by Karen of Incredible Ink, a fellow vegetarian bicyclist. Lee doesn't like Michael's tattoos, and doesn't have any of his own.

* Lee and Michael both own stock in Odwalla. Go buy some juice.

* Lee's day job is working in the deli at the Wheatsville Food Co-op. Michael is trying to start a bicycle rickshaw service. Both would rather earn their living through music.

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What our fans are saying

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KING COFFEY, drummer for the Butthole Surfers:

"King Cheese plays the best rock! Me gusto King Cheeso mucho!"

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BILL BUNCH, noted environmental attorney:

"Looking forward to hearing some of those songs I really hate again soon."

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JOAN JETT, 80's rock goddess:

"I loved the show! Thanks, and keep rockin'!"

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NICOLE HOLFORD, typical fan:

"King Cheese is my favorite band. They rock my world!"

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VEKQUIN, atypical fan:

"If i need a break from studying philosophy of art, your show may be the perfect excursion from the seriousness of the subject matter, into a strange, cheezy realm wherein art and anti-aesthetic and kitsch and pastiche and ludic post-modernism all become incestual, producing an in-bred outback offspring found only in the very middle of a territory famous for its incestual breeding."

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TIKTOK, a.k.a. Travis Hartnett, local musician

"Only one Styx song? You suck."

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KIRK WATSON, mayor of Austin:

"King who?"

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Press Clippings

(this section under construction)

Media Sluts. A full-page story/photo on us appeared in XLent on 7/31/97. We made the Recommended section (again) in the Chronicle on 7/31. The Chronicle quoted me (Michael) extensively about the band in the 7/24 article about 90's new wave. We were mentioned in the Austin Chronicle three out of four weeks in a row in June, twice in "Recommended".

DANCING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE (Austin, Chronicle, 6-27-97)

Sunday, there's a benefit for the Poor Man's Cinema Fund (who?), featuring Tallboy, El Insecto, Unhung Heroes, Stuntdriver, and Emo's adversaries King Cheese.

RECOMMENDED (Austin Chronicle, 6-13-97)

King Cheese (Ego's, Tuesday 17th). After seeing the cheeky synth-meisters in King Cheese strip down to their skivvies during the recent Prince birthday salute (they finally did "Kiss"!), I shall wash, but I shan't be clean. Think I'll stay dirty at least through Tuesday.

RECOMMENDED (Austin Chronicle, 6-6-97)

Prince Birthday Party (Electric Lounge, Sunday 8th). Surprise! This latest tribute to that Purple "Artist" guy, conveniently coinciding with his 39th birthday the day before, features another knockout lineup: the Adults, Brown Whornet, The Derailers, Drums & Tuba, Ana Egge, Hotwheels Jr., Kris McKay, SXIP, Ursa Major, Michele Solberg, King Cheese, Tiger Bomb, and Not Daniel Johnston. Somebody dedicate "Pussy Control" to AUstin's number one Prince fan -- you know who you are.

POSTMARKS (Letters to the Editor) (Austin Chronicle, 12-13-96)

Editor: While it has always been a goal of mine for my band to make the 'Recommended' section of the Chronicle, and while I appreciate your Recommending us [Vol. 16, No. 12], I must say I'm a little baffled.
Your reviewer said that fans could look forward to hearing us do Cyndi Lauper, Tom Jones, Risky Business, and Corey Hart (and specifically 'Sunglasses at Night'). This is all fine and good, except for the fact that we've never played any of that stuff.
And beyond listing stuff we DON'T play, there's absolutely no mention of any of the stuff we DO play. (This despite the fact that we have a huge list of nearly 60 songs we play from, plus probably another 60 or so that we've faked our way through when people requested them at shows. With well over 100 performed songs, it's not like there wasn't a lot to choose from to list in your article.)
I like to think that some of the things that make King Cheese shows special are Lightning Lee's dead-on (and hysterical) vocal impersonations, the costumes, the fact that we'll play stuff we don't really know when it's requested, our stage humor, audience members joining us onstage to sing songs, and unlikely song pairs like John Denver followed by Motley Crue, or Seals & Crofts followed by Michael Jackson. But your reviewer didn't mention any of these things, either.
So again, while I'm grateful for the plug, I have to wonder how we can make 'Recommended' without the reviewer ever actually seeing our show?"

-- Michael Bluejay, King Cheese

RECOMMENDED (Austin Chronicle, 11-22-96)

King Cheese (Emo's, Sunday 24th). Got a favorite Cyndi Lauper tune the radio never seems to play anymore? Does Tom Jones' cover of "Kiss" get you gooey every time? Wear your best Risky Business shades down to Emo's for Martini Madness, where King Cheese will have you shouting out every last note of Corey Hart's "Sunglasses at Night," and the cheap drinks will have you wearing them Monday morning. [Note: We have no idea where the Chronicle got off saying this, because we've never played ANY of that stuff. They didn't list a single thing we DO play!]
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Who we've played with, and Where we've played

 We've played shows w/these acts

Brown Whornet*
Bunny Stockhausen
The Derailers*
Ed Hall
El Insecto
Flock uh Hillbillies
Goin' Along Feelin' Just Fines
Joy Dome
King Coffey (of Butthole Surfers) (well, he sat in w/us for one song at a party)
King of Sixth Street (Gerry van King)
Michelle Solberg*
Mr. Fabulous & Casino Royale (w/Dino Lee)
Napoleon Blownapart
the Naughty Ones (w/Ted Roddy)
Pam Mayo
Peen Beets
Sixteen Deluxe
Stunt Driver
Unhung Heroes
Ursa Major*
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Frenchy (featuring East Bay Ray of the Dead Kennedys)
Glenmont Pope (from Washington, DC)
Terminal Disgust (from Dallas, TX)
* Played w/them at the Prince Hoot Night
 Places We've Played

Another Cup Coffee Shop
Bates Motel
Blue Flamingo (now the Blue Flame)
Continental Club
Electric Lounge
Fat Tuesday's
Headliner's East
Hippie Hollow at the lake
Hole in the Wall
Holy 8 Ball Studio
Manor Road Coffeehouse
New Manor clothing-optional reunion
The Old School
Ruta Maya
Sister's Edge
UT West Mall
White Water Tavern (Little Rock, AR)
& parties too numerous to mention!

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Is there any end to this madness?

In our first year, when we made nearly $100 one night just in TIPS, I thought we'd really become successful.

Then we opened for Ed Hall at their request, and I thought, wow, now we've REALLY made it.

Then Emo's offered us a weekly gig, and King Coffey from the Butthole Surfers sat in with us at a party. I thought, Jesus, things just can't get any better than this.

Then our shows started getting Recommended by the Chronicle and XL, and we opened for Frenchy (featuring East Bay Ray of the Dead Kennedys). We also started making $200+ at parties. I thought, is there any end to this madness?

Then Joan Jett saw our show and loved it, we placed in two different categories in the Chronicle's music poll, and XL did a full-page story on us. I started worrying that something really bad was gonna happen to me to make up for the run of good luck I'd been having.

Then we started headlining our own shows on Sixth Street and at Hole in the Wall, managed to get up to $400 for shows, and bettered our standing in the Chron's music poll vs. what we scored the previous year. I decided that drugs and alcohol were unnecessary because there was no better high than being a rock star and being recognized when I go around town.

Lee and I started this band without any real expectation that people would actually like it, or that we'd still be doing it three years later. But you all have been so good to us, so we've worked hard to keep learning new songs and upgrade our equipment to give you the best show possible.

I don't know how long we can keep this up (or you can maintain your interest), but whatever happens, I guess we're riding the wave for the time being. Come ride it with us while it lasts. It can't last forever, you know. I wonder if we're gonna be doing this act in Vegas when we're 50...

Serve Cheese at your next party!

Make your next party unforgettable with King Cheese. Rates start at $250 (nudity extra). As we become more popular prices will skyrocket, so book us for your party now! If you're having a small party, or if you can convince us that it will be a LOT of fun, we may play for less. Call (512) 494-9226 or send us email.

Related Links

What's King Cheese? | Upcoming Shows | Mailing List | Songs We Play | KC Trivia
What our Fans Say | Press Clippings | Who We've Played With | Places We've Played | Parties!

Last updated: January 1999

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