I'm in a rockabilly band, and we were booked to play an outdoor 4th of July gig in Sedona, Arizona, on the hottest day of the year. Temps hovered around 103F (really hot for Sedona) while we sweated our way through our set, decked out in typical rockabilly threads - bowling shirts, wingtips, pleated slacks, etc.
Gig over, I desperately wanted to change out of my hot duds, but the restrooms were quite a distance from our stage, and there was no one in the parking lot, so I decided to make a quick change in the car before loading out in the muggy heat. I put the sunshade over the window for privacy, making sure no one could see in, and changed into some jeans and a T shirt. Loaded the car, said my goodbyes to the guys and headed out.
They were waving and yelling something as I pulled away, but I didn't really catch it. Halfway home, stuck in a traffic jam, my phone buzzed. My singer had texted me a picture of my underwear, which had fallen out of the car when I was changing and were still in the parking lot, right by the exit where audience members filed out.
He was kind (or twisted) enough to seal them in a plastic bag and bring them back with him, which I thought was kind of odd, actually. I've left a lot of things behind on gigs in 30 years, but never actual underpants. Made for an interesting conversation with my wife later also.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
My first "big" show with my first "big" band...whatta (c)rush!
Being at the tender age of 21, I auditioned for a very popular local rock band and got the spot as their new guitarist. The band members lived fast, loose and hard, and had a following that was, to be kind, a bit rowdy.
I crammed hard to learn the 4 sets worth of songs and played my first gig one week after joining. It was a Halloween night, a large hall had been rented, alcohol concessions secured and the show was heavily promoted. It was a great recipe for a memorable night...HOW memorable was something I had no way of knowing!
The first odd thing that day was the "Pumpkin Family". Father, mother and child sitting alone at one of the tables in this huge, empty hall as we began to bring in a considerable amount of gear at around 3:00 in the afternoon. They just calmly watched during the whole load in, set up and sound check, wearing hollowed out Jack-o-Lanterns on their heads like demented large orange motorcycle helmets. We just figured "huh, must be getting a jump on the Halloween Costume Contest" that was a part of our promotions scheme. Still, very impressive.
After we R&R'ed and costumed up ourselves at a local motel, we hit the stage at 9:00. The place was packed, with around 600 people in attendance...most of them in costumes as well.
We're rockin' hard, all the while scoping out the crowd for candidates to be the three finalist for the Halloween Costume Contest. We had already decided that the "Pumpkin Family" would make the cut, simply based on their tenacity...I mean, REALLY, they had EARNED it! Imagine sitting there, hour after hour, with your head inside of a nasty old hollowed out pumpkin! Amazing!
Ok, so in the middle of the third set, we announce the three finalist for the contest. First was the Pumpkin Family, second was some character I cannot remember, and third was the Giant Tampon (we'll call him the SECOND odd thing of the day). OMG, this guy had built his costume by taking chicken wire, rolling it into a vertical tube that he could barely fit in, completely covering it with cotton gauze, spray painted the top of it red, and was dragging a section of rope from the bottom of this whole get-up....basically, an eight foot tall used tampon. The only part of him that was visible was his legs from the knees down and a small rectangular area cut in the wire to expose his eyes so he could see. Epic win!!
Well, there we all are, standing in the middle of the stage with our three finalist. Everybody's cheering and screaming as we announce the winner...(drum roll, please)...THE PUMPKIN FAMILY!!! (like i said, they had EARNED it).
So, our contestants left the stage with their prizes in tow, and we fire into our next song. The dance floor packs out immediately, and everybody's loose and having a great time...except for the Tampon. From my vantage at stage right, I am eying him on the dance floor (he was hard to miss, if you know what I mean), dancing his way closer and closer to where Mama and Papa Pumpkin are dancing. When he is finally beside the winning couple, I can see that Mr. Tampon is no longer dancing. He is right next to Papa Pumpkin, who is now also no longer dancing, and it is obvious that some form of communication is being exchanged.
Suddenly, Papa Pumpkin reaches back somewhere into the middle of the previous week and comes back with a John Wayne punch, which lands dead center of the small rectangle that framed Mr. Tampon's eyes. Like the mighty felled Oak, Mr. Tampon crashes to the floor, taking out several dance couples in the process...down, but not for the count. Mr. Tampon shimmies his way out of his costume and proceeds to retaliate by striking Papa Pumpkin square in his Jack-o-Lantern kisser, totally disintegrating his pumpkin helmet, which then falls in pieces on the dance floor.
Now, I know this could easily qualify as the third odd thing of the day, but it is totally trumped by what happens next. Within 30 seconds, the entire dance floor crowd is engaged in a full blown, Western Movie type bar room brawl. People are fighting one on one, two on two, girls are jumping onto guy's backs and using their victim's hair as reins...it was totally unbelievable. Our band had to stop playing as the melee threatened to overtake the 5' tall stage that we were standing on. I had pulled back my mic stand and was about 8' back from the front of the stage holding my guitar by it's neck over my shoulder, like Babe Ruth ready to launch one for the fences.
Yeah, things eventually mellowed out, and I don't remember there being any cops involved. Everyone just slowly chilled out and the party picked up right where it had left off.
It left me with the feeling of, "Who needs to get high on stage when you have this kinda sh*t goin' on????"
A few weeks before Christmas, a friend booked us as an old-timey duo at a petting zoo in the evening. Well, it was too close to Christmas, too far out in the country, and a miserable night. We played in the small room in the barn as the very few people who came exited. But we did have a captive audience for the entire gig.
Two turkeys, four kids (young goats), and a Vietnamese pot bellied pig. At least they weren't drunk.
I used to play with a jam band that was, well, a little out there to say the least. Because we played art music, it limited our choice of venues because we weren't really a phish/dead sounding band, but we weren't wooing the ladies either.
Anyway, we get asked to play a benefit for a Dia de Los Meurtos (Day of the Dead) parade in Tucson. We turned down a paying gig on a Friday night for it, thinking it would be worthwhile. At this show there were people on stilts, in costumes, fire dancers, and a sword swallower. It was being held in somebody's backyard.
However, we were told that we would have to be the opener. We were not so put off by that until we heard the band we opened for. They arrived in a school bus. They were all dressed as clowns, and between the bassist, guitarist, saxophonist, and drummer, the saxophonist was the only one who knew how to play the instrument decently. Oh yeah, there was a girl there playing a slide whistle! At one point, the guitarist was playing an "underwater solo" where the girl with the slide whistle began blowing bubbles around the guitarist who put on a scuba mask.
An entertaining gig and it got a lot of laughs, but damn if we didn't feel degraded. The woman asked us to play there next year as the only band, but we turned her down for a paying show.
I was booked by an agency to play sax on a jazz gig on Thanksgiving Day for a corporate client at a very nice resort. Thinking there would be good food, as I was used to working for bands rather than agencies, I didn't eat lunch in preparation for my Thanksgiving feast at the gig. Surely they wouldn't keep us from the buffet on Thanksgiving!
5:00 call time arrives. I set up, sound check, and listen in horror as all the other gentlemen on the gig are discussing the dinners they just had.. at home. As it turned out, the gig was for a Canadian company, who don't observe Thanksgiving on the same day as we do in the States, and it was plated. We wouldn't be fed.
By the time the gig was over (10 PM) and I packed up and headed home, I was starving. Naturally, not a single business was open on Thanksgiving Day at 10pm, not even a grocery store. I got home and had to call my roommate and beg him to bring me leftovers from his family dinner so I could have something to eat.
To add insult to injury, I didn't get my check from the agent until February of the following year. Worst Thanksgiving Ever.