It was my first gig with my first band. I was 15 years old, as well as the two others in my band, guitarist and bassist; I was the drummer.
I met the guitarist when he tripped and fell on me in gradeschool, a rather portly fellow. I met the bassist some years later when I was 15. I called him one day, having gotten his phone number from a friend (who told me he rides around on a painted van halen-splatter-style womans bike), to buy a fifteen chunk of pot. I used change from a tootsie roll piggy bank, went to the store with the whole bank taped up in my backpack and exchanged it for dollar bills. We met, not even knowing what each other looked like up until meeting. We smoked in the park and he asked me if I play music, to which I responded, no. He said that I looked like a drummer and asked me if I wanted to come back to his house and jam. I was very reluctant and refused on multiple occasions. After more smoking, I said that I WOULD in fact come back to his house to play drums, having never played before.
I didn't know much about him, but we walked to his house, just a few blocks away. We walked through the driveway and into the detached garage in the back. We walked in and the jamming space was small: A horde. It was then that I discovered he was a speed user, which made his funk bass even quicker. I sat behind the drums a bit overwhelmed and somehow learned to play right then and right there.
Fast forward about a month, and we have compiled about 15 or 16 originals, no covers. The bass playing is crazy and all over the place, it's complicated and it is noodly, and funk-style, and punk style, all the while shrouded in a forced 'poppiness', with flat crackly teen vocals over it. The guitar playing was more of an apathetic accentuation of the bass playing, due to the fact that the guitarist didn't really want to play, or even be there, most of the time.
We have an older homosexual, stoner, rear neighbor who always hears us play and thinks that we are really good, most of the time. This neighbor is a several-times-a-day customer of a large coffee chain conglomerate located just 30 feet from his house, just across the street. He said that he had talked to the shop and they both wanted us to do a set, on his driveway, in mid-day, on a weekday, with the outdoor patio section facing towards us. A kind enough sentiment. We accepted.
The day of the show comes around and I get to skip school entirely to play this show. I get to the bassists house and we begin the somewhat arduous process of carrying all of our gear around most of the block in a big U-shape, or C-shape, ETC. We run everything through extension cords from the inside of this mans house. We have a big carpet set up, and everything is fine, despite the massive unevenness of his driveway. We start playing the first song and I was hoping some people would come over and stand on the driveway or the front lawn and make it feel like a real show. But no one did. Throughout the entire show. The experience felt very separated, especially since people were just coming and going.
After the first song was over some people clapped and cheered, I remember seeing a woman smiling. After the second song, less people clapped and/or cheered. After the third, no one. Fourth: stares like, "Okay, you guys can stop now... I'm trying to have my coffee and surf the web on my laptop and/or study, and listen to my MP3 player. Okaaaaay, please stop..."
After the fifth or sixth song or so, two drunk local homeless men show up on bikes, the only ones to actually watch us from a distance of 10 feet or so the entire time. They are friends of the bassist, who mind you is only 15. They wait for the break in the songs and one of them says that HE wants to play drums. I chuckle and hand the sticks over, as he had told me before that he was a jazz drummer of about 30 years or so. The bassist shoots into a little walk-around, bluesy number. The guitar improvises. And the drums kick in. Absolutely amazing. His style, his touch, his snare hand (traditional grip), bass emphasis, ride work (that really jazzy, fast, flowy, odd timing ETC.) and hi hat click all amazing. His timing: impeccable.
He and his buddy were obviously already drunk at 1 PM, and in hindsight, I think someone at the coffee shop may have called the cops on them, possibly thinking they were harassing us. After this little jam was finished, he insisted on still playing drums, so they play one more short one, where he drums a little more rock-like, definitely played in some rock bands of the 70s. After the short number, he still wants to play. But the bassist said not to be an asshole and let me play. So he did. Anyway we play another short number, and finish that off. Just then my mom and dad pull up across the street and watch us begin the next. They do not get out of the car, they just sit there, staring sideways at their second born and his band play for two homeless drunks and an annoyed coffee shop. Midway through this song, the police pull up right in front of the house, but we don't stop playing. They start talking to the two homeless gentlemen, one officer moving the bikes aside. Before we know it, the two are being searched and it doesn't take long until a bag of meth is produced from the jazz drummers friends' pocket, and he probably has some tallboys in his backpack. They pull out the handcuffs and he starts yelling at the cops and at his friend and at the people on the coffee shop patio. We don't stop playing. He is forcibly put into submission for attempting to resist the cuffing; he is horizontal, face down on the pavement, with a knee in his back and a hand pushing his head into the concrete while being cuffed. We don't stop playing. He is brought to his feet and they push him into the car. The cops close the door and get in, turning on the siren, driving off. We don't stop playing. They turn the corner at the end of the block just as we stop playing. Everyone has a laugh, the band, my mom and dad, the patio, the neighbor, and even the other homeless guy, at the thought that we just played an arrest.
The other homeless guy rides off on his bike shortly thereafter, and we play a few more. And when we are done, people clap, probably out of courtesy and anticipation of us stopping. I walk over to my mom and dad, and talk with them for one minute, then they drive away. We carry all the gear back in the U-shape, or C-shape to the bassists house, laughing still at the scenario, knowing we will always remember this.
I Played drums in a band at 17 years old, we were a great metal band and played tons of shows around Michigan. Our lead guitarist hooked up with a "bookie" who was going to help us get gigs. The first was this bar in St. Ignas just north of the Mackinaw Bridge. He informed our LG who told us, "its a small bar". He says just bring a small drum kit, practice amps only and your guitars. We packed up and hit the road... To our surprise, we roll up in a 77' flat black dodge van and the bar owner meets us in the parking lot and proceeds to throw an absolute public fit about the condition of our van. "Wheres the light show I was promised! Where are your rigs and busses?" We where like... "oh great..." We felt about a foot tall. This guy really let us have it for not being a huge pro band like he was promised. Shoot, we didn't even have the big guitar amps!!! We were told it was a small gig, and mind you this was 4.5 hours from where we lived. My Dad stepped up in this guys face (he was our manager at the time) and told him "Look, these guys can please your crowd and you'll make plenty enough tonight to cover it, LET THEM PLAY". Finally we got in to play, but that was only the beginning...
The bar owner was a complete jerk all night, even to the point that his wife was ripping on him for it. There was one point the bar maid told us "people buy shots for the band sometimes, with you guys being under age we'll give you shots of water and just go along with it". Well, they did that and it turned out to be shots of pepperment vodka. AHHH! Our singer was all freaked out and couldn't remember some of the chords (played rythm to) the gig seemed to last forever.
In the end, the owners wife paid us half of what was originaly negotiated and she snuck a case of beer out to our van for us to drink back at the motel.
What a trip that was...
I'll never forget my very first gigging / paying band. I was 15 and still in high school, and got the gig from another school chum who's parents yanked him out of the band, lol! The band was all older than me - the vocalist / keyboard player was about 28, and his wife (drums) was around that age , and though i was primarily a guitar player , we got a guy about 25 straight out of music school who was about 25 , and i switched over to bass and gave the guy my guitar. We were kinda a Top-40 band in the mid 1970's , so we played mostly 50's through 70's hits , ..thankfully we managed to eschew Disco and Country, lol! Other than that it was a weird experience. The keyboardist / vocalist / frontman was also a psycho "Tyrant". He liked to align himself with a certain band from Liverpool , so we did quite a few of THAT bands songs. But this guy was just a nut! It was strictly business - we wouldn't hang out on time off , and rehearsals were a mess. The guitarist and i were sociable and became friends , and we'd decipher all the drama of the whole thing. We found out one day that "Frontman"'s wife didn't want to play with the band ..or drums at all , and Frontman would beat her after practice and intimidate her to play on (!!). One time at practice , Frontman and the guitarist got in a fight over a song lyric (cover song!) resulting in a broken coffee table and clumps of hair yanked out , yikes! One particular "DIY" gig we did at a local community center stands out. On the stage was a table that housed some kinda bell like a school bell , that was hooked to a battery , and there was a footswitch that activated it. Maybe that was for bingo?? I dunno. All i know is i stepped on the switch and the bell started clanking , and next thing i know Frontman starts coming at me swinging his fists. His wife Yells "Step on it again!" which i did , and he stops. She then explains that Frontman is an ex-boxer , and when he hears the bell he starts swinging, lol! It takes the additional "Stomp the pedal" to get him to stop. I'm like "WTF??" , ..yet i did it a few times during the night ..just for fun, lol! Another gig at a local bar , my MOM decides to come out with a friend. She left after a about an hour , cause a fight broke out amongst some bikers - she would later tell me she feared for my life while i played with this band, lol! Last i heard was that sometime during the late 70's or early 80's , "Frontman" burned his house down (and all his gear) in an attempt to collect insurance money. I'd heard he was caught and was doing prison time...
As my son was growing up, I used to take him around town to play sax with local jazz and blues bands. We wound up in some pretty shabby places, where he probably learned more about being a musician and life in general than he did in school. So, one school night we're on the East side of town and we walked into a joint that was so smokey it made your eyes burn. The joint was packed and the band was doing their thing. The sax kid makes his way to the stage and he's blowing some soulful sounds.
From the other end of the bar I'm watching and listening. Further up the bar, two guys and a "lady" are pretty shit-faced, when the "lady" leans back to empty her drink and takes a back flip off of the bar stool. The two guys don't seem to notice her flat out on the floor. Eventually, they look around and scoop her up and sit her back on the bar stool and the scene repeats itself in about 5 minutes. This time the two guys, with help from two others each grab limbs and legs and drag her outside, leaving her in a car....and the band played on, never missing a beat.
Minutes passed and soon flashing lights and sirens surrounded a building across the street. About 20 patrons went out of the bar to watch the police action....and the band played on, never missing a beat. When we got ready to leave, the sax kid says,"Where's the men's room?" and I said, "You're standing in it. Let's get the hell out of here."
We left when the joint closed and the sax kid enjoyed every minute of the jam session, never even noticing the antics going on around him. When we got home about 2:30AM our clothes were stinking from smoke and stench of this joint, but we still laugh about it.
A few years back I was holding auditions for an oldies group I was trying to put together. One guy called and said he played keyboards and sang. I had him over on a Saturday afternoon. He brought his 12 year old son along with him. He explained that his son was autistic and that he didn't have a babysitter. I said no problem and set his son up in front of the TV.
This guy liked the Beach Boys as I did, and was making a big deal out of this live medley he had recorded while at a Beach Boys concert in Atlantic City. He said he wanted me to learn the medley exactly so he could sing the lead. I played the CD and it was a garbled mess with an occasional hint of Mike Love wailing into the mic. I eventually worked out the parts and prepared to play the song. I then noticed that his son had taken off his shoes and was walking around the house opening and closing cabinets and drawers. I ignored it and we started to play.
It was obvious from the start that he couldn't really play that well. He certainly didn't know the medley that I had just learned. Then he started to sing. Putting it kindly, he could not sing. By now his son had found and opened three bags of potato chips and pretzels. He proceeded to crush them and sprinkle them throughout the living room and on the couches and chairs. I stopped playing to address the situation, and the guy actually asked me why I stopped playing.
I figured the damage was done, and tried to introduce a different song since I felt the Beach Boys medley wasn't working to say the least. This guy insisted on picking up where we left off.
So we launch into Little Deuce Coupe, at least I think that's what it was. His chords were nothing like the song, and he was wailing so off key that I couldn't believe he could continue, but he did. Then I hear my washer start, then stop, then start, then stop, then start again. The guy doesn't notice the sound. I stopped playing and went to see what was going on. The guy then says that his son likes to do wash. I said okay, but it's an old machine and I don't want it to break. I go in just in time to see the kid pour a cup of bleach all over a load of jeans and dress shirts. Keep in mind the guy is still moaning into the mic while I'm assessing the damage, which was considerable.
Eventually the kid got completely out of control and was running all over the house, going up into bedrooms and closets, tearing things out, it was crazy. And the guy just wanted to sit and play. Maybe he was used to it. We ended the session with him asking when we could do it again. Needless to say we didn't.
The next week I get a call from a singer from South Philadelphia. The guy said he had played with all sorts of famous 50's and 60's vocal groups and sounded like he really knew his stuff. The only problem was that he had diabetes, and he couldn't see well at night and needed a ride. It was a considerable distance, especially in Philly rush hour traffic, but I figured it might be worth the trouble. It took me an hour to get there, on some godforsaken little street in the heart of South Philly. The guy jumped in the car with his duffel bag and a paper bag containing what had to be a 3 day old hoagie stinking of onions and provolone cheese. He explained that he had to have food available in case his blood sugar got low.
An hour later we got back to my town. He asked to stop at a store for lozenges for his throat. We stopped and he tried to strike up a conversation with a 15 year old cashier. As we leave he bragged that he could have had her if he really wanted her. Okay, man, I'm sure you could have.
Finally we get back to my house. He then opens his duffel bag and takes out two loaded syringes and puts them on the counter. "Come here", he says. "If I pass out from diabetic shock stick this in my left arm and inject me with my insulin." Okay, no problem. He then unwraps the stinking hoagie and eats it, spilling lettuce and oil all over and making a general mess. I begin testing the mics. He tells me that he has to have a very specific type of delay on his vocals. We then spend the next 20 minutes adjusting the delay settings in every conceivable way, none of which was to his satisfaction.
The rest of the band showed up and got ready to play. The singer told us that we must first hear him do his own special mixes of his songs and gave me a karaoke CD. We then spent the next 25 minutes listening to him do 6 karaoke versions of various Frankie Valli songs. Eventually we got to actually play. Despite the set list we provided him, this guy insisted on doing songs none of us had ever played, in keys that were not the original keys. In all fairness, he did have a good voice. We managed to get through a practice and I had the pleasure of driving him an hour back to South Philly.
Against my better judgment I had the guy back over again. Of course I had to drive him back and forth again. Come to find out, the only reason he wanted to play was so that he could steal my band members for another project he was involved with. The drummer actually left and joined his group. Funny thing is, our group did go on to become somewhat successful as an oldies cover band, playing a good four year run of shows. The singer's band never got out of the basement. The drummer came crawling back six months later, but by then the spot had been filled.
Back when I was about 15 years old, me and three other guys were set up on the guitarists front lawn practicing.
We were playing "Detroit Rock City" and a car came screaming down a hill, went up onto a lawn, and crashed into a tree.
If you're familiar with the tune, a car wrecks at the end of the song.
My daughters have a favorite funk band, and every day on the way to school I hear my kids singing a particular tune from this band. When I found out one of the members of this band was playing a solo piano jazz gig at the local art gallery, I thought it would make a great outing for the family.
My 4 year old listened patiently for 2 songs and then decided she'd had enough of the jazz gig. She then proceeded to march up to the pianist in front of 200 quiet art gallery jazz folks, hand on hip, and declare loudly "YOU GONNA PLAY (favorite song) OR WHAT??!!" The crowd went nuts! She stood back 3 paces, hand still on hip, and glared. He never did play the song, but later that night he recognized me at another gig, saying "You're the woman with that FRESH CHILD," in a lovely British accent. I've never been so flattered in all my life!!!