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.
In the mid 1990's, I was playing a corporate country gig at a Scottsdale resort. I was on bass and vocals with a band that had two other vocalists. I was singing the Vince Gill song "I Still Believe In You" and was coming up to the dramatic last chorus, when the event planner, who could have whispered to one of the other singers, stood right in front of me and yelled "would you announce that the buffet will open in 5 minutes?"
The fiddle player almost dropped his bow!
Some years ago, my quartet was hired to play at the funeral of a local band director. As the casket was processed down the aisle, we were asked by the widow to play Duke Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore"
I was playing bass with a classic rock trio at a seedy dive located under the elevated subway tracks somewhere in Queens sometime in the Eighties. During the first break, I opened the door to the men's room. Suddenly a very scary looking, bearded, tattooed freak who was urinating turns toward me with a knife in one hand and his equipment in the other. I guess he wasn't sure which he wanted to use on me.
Needless to say, I left the room immediately. After the next set, he came up to me and apologized. He turned out to be a very nice guy who really loved music. I never did find out why he was so jumpy.
Sometimes mother nature will create choas with complete disregard for your important day. One very hot, very humid, and very rainy summer Sunday, we were playing at a wedding reception. The electricity went out at the banquet hall in the middle of our dinner music set, as salads were being served. After about 10 minutes, the banquet hall owner announced that the electrical transformers in the village blew out due to the weather, and would not be fixed for 24 hours.
The temperature in the hall quickly increased to around a 100 degrees, and tempers were beginning to flare. The bride (rightly so) was getting really angry and frustrated because her special day was be ruined. At that point, because unhealthy conditions were getting worse, the hall owner said that we'd have to evacuate the premises and that unfortunately, the party was over.
The bride and groom did not want to pay us, but eventually we settled on about two-thirds of the contract amount. From that day on, all my contracts stipulate that it is up to the client to provide adequate electrical power and that they should verify with the banquet facility if they have back-up generators should the electrical power go out.
I was asked to play 'Anniversary Song' on guitar for someone's dying father. I did the gig, and walked away from the hospital bed not knowing exactly why there was no reaction but feeling suspicious about the whole thing.. Later I was informed by staff that he had passed moments before I arrived, but they wanted to let his last wish be fulfilled in front of his family.
I got asked to play a classic rock gig right after I moved to LA for $50. After I said "OK" and learned the songs, the keyboardist (who brought me in) had to take another gig. Sent in his place was a keyboard player who drank so much alcohol that he wound up passing out face-first on the keyboard during the last song.
Naturally, I wanted to get paid and get home. I spoke to the door person, collected the $200, divided it up, left the money by the drunk keyboard players body and left. The next day, I got a call saying that someone took the keyboards money and that I was never allowed to return. I guess I should have taped the money to the inside of his keyboard case. Bottoms up!
In the early days (circa 1977) of my paying gigs a buddy of mine scored a wedding reception on which I was invited along to play guitar and sing. All was going well enough until I happened to touch my guitar strings to a mic stand. Who could have known that either the tube amp I was playing through or the PA was not grounded correctly. A shower of sparks ensued and my E and B string were melted right off the guitar. I was fortunate not to have my fingers on the strings at the time, for if I had I likely would not be here today to share the adventure.
We were booked by a nudist colony to play a Blues festival in 1998. We were very excited about playing there and joked about it all over the country. The day of the festival arrived and as we were driving there, my bass player said "why are you driving 35 mph on the interstate?" . Truth is I was scared and rightfully so.
We arrived backstage to the sound of our opening act (all nude except one guy wore a vest) playing "Gimme Three Steps". Their girlfriends were dancing naked in front of the stage. It was downhill from there. All the wrong people take off their clothes in public it seems. We performed fully clothed despite being encouraged to "take it off" by the nude audience. At the end of the concert, it got cold and we sold every t-shirt we had.
I was playing at a popular club in Tempe. The drummer, who had played with several big name acts, was just getting his life back together after a run of bad luck. He had a full drumset with the exception of hi-hat cymbals (he set up the stand so his left foot had something to do). When he would have normally hit the hi-hats, He hit his cowbell instead (think of the SNL sketch about "more cowbell"). At the end of the gig, I said to him "If I have rent, borrow, buy, or steal them, you will have hi-hat cymbals at the next gig! Thankfully, he brought a pair the next night!
About 30 yrs ago, I was playing at a wedding. After dinner, about 3 songs into our first dance set, the bride's uncle approached the bandstand to talk to us. He was a middle aged, heavy set man who adamantly requested a polka.. and it turned out to be the last dance of his life. He was really into the "Beer Barrel Polka," living it up, and then he collapsed in the middle of the dance floor. The paramedics came, and pretty much (not officially) pronounced him dead.
Needles to say, the reception was over. We were paid in full, and though memorable, it certainly was not a good gig.