After being shot down by judges on “The X Factor” last year for being too “cabaret,” San Francisco singer and songwriter Jason Brock is back on track doing what he loves best: performing his very own lounge act.
Starting Saturday at Martuni’s, his show includes all-new material about life after his experience on the hit reality show, and after moving on from exes.
“I hope none of my ex-boyfriends will show up,” Brock says. “That would be really awkward if that happened,” he adds with a laugh.
“X in the City,” Brock’s first show in three years, boasts comedy, R&B, jazz and pop tunes, including some originals. Dee Spencer, a noted jazz performer and music professor at San Francisco State University, is the accompanist.
As an openly gay contestant on “The X Factor,” Brock charmed millions of viewers and was mentored by L.A. Reid, who has fostered the careers of Mariah Carey, Paula Abdul, Kanye West, TLC, Usher and many others.
Dubbed “Mr. Entertainment” by Reid, Brock reached 13th place and was eliminated after performing “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” A quote from his leaving speech, “I did it for the gays, and Japan” (his boyfriend is Japanese), was widely circulated in the media.
“The very hardest thing about ‘X Factor’ was taking criticism from Simon Cowell,” Brock says. “He gives the harshest criticism. He’ll cut you down and say unusually blunt things. The weird thing is, I still like him. That’s his personality on the show, and that is what he has to do to be successful.”
Cowell also disparaged Brock’s wardrobe, particularly his glitzy blazers.
“Simon told me, ‘Jason, you’re too cabaret,’” Brock says. “But in my opinion, what’s wrong with that? He wants pop, and I’m not exactly pop.”
While Brock may perform in Liberace tuxedos and love the intimacy of low-lit lounges like Martuni’s, he also has a penchant for pop. Lady Gaga and Joni Mitchell covers make it into the show, along with the premiere of his new Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey mashup.
Mr. Entertainment may not have won “The X Factor,” but he gets recognized on the street and is pursuing a full-time career in music. He has come a long way from his first solo performance in his parents’ living room, with his back turned, too nervous to face the crowd.