Gig Anecdotes is updated regularly, and is dedicated to preserving and sharing the experiences of today's working musician. Lots of music stories: wedding gigs, agents, life on the road, recording sessions, gig horror stories.. and all of these funny gig stories are submitted by our readers! Click ADD YOUR ANECDOTE! to add your story.
While singing in a honky-tonk in Tallahassee I watched an intoxicated middle-aged man and woman dancing intimately on the dance floor. They held each other close, dancing slowly, his right hand caressing her neck. As he withdrew his hand, her wig was entangled in his fingers and came off in his hand. He studied it briefly at arms length, and then seemed to determine the thing was a varmint and began shaking his hand wildly as he backed away attempting to free himself from the critter attacking his hand. When it hit the floor he jumped back, not sure it was dead, then immediately left the room. It took all of my will to keep from laughing aloud.
I entertain residents of retirement homes by playing popular standards on the piano. Some residents like to sing along so I hand out sets of lyrics. Not infrequently a resident won't want the lyrics, usually because of poor eyesight. On one particular occasion a male resident didn't want the lyrics, saying "I can't read it."
Detecting a Scottish accent, I asked him if he was Scottish.
He replied: "Just because I can't read it doesn't mean I'm Scottish!"
Although I almost fell down laughing, I never really knew whether he was kidding, given his unsmiling (dour?) expression. Now I'm wondering if Scotsmen have a thing about illiteracy. All I know is, if someone mentions illiteracy, "Scotsmen" is not the first thing that pops into my head.
I was a member of a 6-person rhythm & blues band playing in a restaurant/bar, which we later discovered was attached to a comedy club. During our last set, mid-song a door near the stage opens up and people come pouring in. We think "great, more patrons" - but there seemed to be a bottleneck.
Everyone is crowding around, and some guy is talking loudly without a mic. We finish the song and the sound guy comes up and tells us "you're done now." We have no clue what is going on.
It turns out that the Comedy Club is hosting a hypnotist, who convinces audience members (paid shills) that they are hypnotized, and gives commands like "when I drop this handkerchief you will experience an orgasm 10 times more powerful than any orgasm you've ever experienced."
We haven't bothered playing there again.
Many years ago in my prime I had a trio and we played the ski lodges and restaurant lounge type places in Vermont. I played acoustic guitar and had a female keyboardist and bassist. One night we were playing in this nice "woodsy" type restaurant which had a lot of barnboard, raw timber, probably peanut shells on the floor, etc. During one break the band headed over to the bar as usual and I ordered a drink. One of the restaurant clientele engaged me in a conversation and we were probably talking about the music or something and I was trying to ease myself on something to sit on after being on my feet for 45 minutes.
I spotted this pickle barrel with a lid on it, and with the drink in my hand kind of hopped on top of it. It must have been a real antique because when my full weight landed on top of it the lid broke and I folded up and went in the barrel. Luckily I didn't go all the way down as it turned out there was broken glass on the bottom. The amazing thing is I didn't spill a drop of my drink.
I was playing drums in a band from Pensacola at a blues bar in Mobile, AL. They had pets that roamed the bar at will: a goat, cat, chickens etc. The stage was made out of long neck beer bottle cases with plywood over them. One night a big old rooster sat on the rail two feet from my head all night long, and not far from him was a brown spider about the size of a silver dollar. Neither moved the entire night.
We were hired to provide jazz for a restaurant after auditioning for the owners and being told they loved it. We played on 2 separate occasions. The first was very well received.. one of the owners was there and really liked it. I was playing a steel pan -but not caribbean music- and I had an acoustic guitar player. The agent plugged in the guitar to the PA and mic'ed the steel drum. I also brought my lower pitched drum at their request, but only played a few tunes on it.
At the next gig, the agent wasn't there at first and the sound equipment wasn't there. We decided to go acoustic. Halfway through the gig, the hostess asked us to "turn it down" because a patron had complained. We tried our best, as we weren't amplified. We had a lot of tables in front of us full of people engaged in the music, smiling and giving compliments. The agent finally arrives at our break and tells us we need to play softer. We try to explain we're already acoustic, but will do our best. He then asked where my lower pitched drum was. I said I didn't bring it for this gig, because at the last one he and others had given such high praise for my higher pitched one. He insisted that I had brought some other, louder drum than I had the last time. I would think I would know since it is my rig! And, it wasn't even amplified this time like it was last time! And of course he was drunk, and very unprofessional.
The second set was worse, he kept telling us to play quieter until we were LITERALLY so soft, no one could hear us. The people listening were giving confused looks because they couldn't hear it! They even told us so! All this, and the two of us got paid $25 each for a 2 hour gig. Tough times.
A few years back our band played a gig at a club built out of a modified movie theater. The owner had removed all the seats and built different level tiers for dinner tables to enjoy the stage show while still leaving room for a dance floor and the stage area in back. All in all a nice conversion but apparently the owner had been a fan of "wedding cake" style platforms for drummers at professional concerts he'd attended and had built on stage a giant four tiered wedding cake carpeted platform for the drummer in the center of the stage with the remainder of the band standing on the level floor of the stage below the elevated drummer. We joked about "nose bleed" with our drummer while setting up but he became worried his drums might "slide off" while playing on such a precarious platform so decided on his own to rope all his cymbol stands and drum stands together in one big tie down and then anchor everything knotted to the base of his throne. Being a 3 footed throne was the downfall as after two sets the third foot had traveled closer and closer to the back edge of the narrow top platform.
In a particularly lively tune while drumming furiously the foot slipped off the back of the elevated platform and with a collective audience "GASP" he proceeded to slide off the back sloooooowly like a bad slow motion movie dragging the entire set one piece at a time completely off the back of the stage and out of sight. The silence afterwards was deafening until his head popped up over the edge of the platform laughing like a maniac!! The whole band and audience started laughing uncontrollably in mutual relief that he hadn't been killed or injured in the fall. Although we performed for six years together as a band we never had a more dramatic event than that occur and alway got a good laugh thinking back on that evening.
So, it was the end of the night, and the artist I was playing for and I were at the bar slamming a few back before we had to leave. My buddy (the artist) got quiet for a second, which got MY attention. As I looked over I saw him leaning up against the bar, putting his entire weight on it. The kind of drunken lean you see guys do on a urinal, lol. To my surprise, a steady stream of piss came out of him as the bartender and I both watched in amazement!
We both said, "now what the hell did you do that for?"
His reply, "I.... couldn’t find the bathroom."
It wasn't but 5 minutes later they were signing us up for another date at that very same club a month later; I guess we must have put on one hell of a show!
So this lady calls me up and says, "I'd like to hire a flute/harp thing." Ok, that's cool. She goes on. It's a wedding on horseback, arrival on horse, vows on horse, in a corral. I told her we needed some equipment especially for the harp to get in, and not get all dirty, and that most harpist's I know won't do such a gig in the heat and dirt. She goes on to explain her dream music, "I want it to bounce off the hills like the Sound of Music." Good Lord. This was going nowhere; she was dead set on her idea. I told her this wasn't going to really work out well and would be very costly to her, suggesting an alternative such as acoustic guitar with amp instead. She gets all huffy with me, so I get huffy back, "Lady, even Bill Graham would be hard-pressed to create that sound." "Why" she asks. "Because that soundtrack was made in a recording studio." I'm betting she never found a harpist.
There was a really fun jam session that happened every Thursday night at a jazz club in Kyoto, Japan. The musician who ran it was a little crazy, and would occasionally pick fights (especially if white foreigners talked too loud when the band was playing), but was a good piano player. Another pianist would come just about every week and imitate Thelonious Monk, at times pretty convincingly, but would often get overly intense and lose the form while soloing.
One time, we were playing and the Monk imitator lost the form yet again. The pianist who ran the session couldn't take it any more, so he came up behind him and put one arm around his neck in a choke hold and dragged him off the piano bench. They went down on the floor fighting while the whole club stopped and watched. My friend, another American, had been playing sax on the tune and was standing right next to them. He looked down at them and asked, "Hey guys, what key is this in?!"