I frontman a trio that plays a mix of Texas Rock (think ZZ Top), Motown, Soul, and Blues. We are VERY upbeat and play alot of high energy stuff. A friend of mine who also fronts his own band called and asked if we wanted to play a "private party." The pay was very good and we had the date open so I called the number he gave me. The organizer on the other end remarked that she'd heard great things about our band and after a very brief and straightforward conversation I had the date, times, sets and pay confirmed, but had no other information. we arrived to play the gig at a country club in another smallish town. I met with the organizer of the "party" and she said she'd opened a tab for us at the bar that SHE would pay at the end of the night. Food and Drinks where on her. "NICE!", I thought. We sat up our PA and instruments and had an hour and a half before we were to start playing to go to the country club bar, have a few beers, and one of the best hamburgers I've ever had. When we reported back to the organizer we were all feeling good and ready to play our asses off. The thought occurred to me to ask the organizer while we were waiting "so what kind of party is this?" she replied "Oh, its not a party. Its CANCER SURVIVORS BANQUET AND FUNDRAISER." She walked off and the band stood there a little bewildered and thought "it's cool, we can do this."
We walked to the stage to start and were tuning our instruments and the organizer asked to use the mic. I asked her if she wanted us to sit down but she insisted we stay on the stage. She said, "before we begin we are going to watch a video that we've put together." The lights dropped and a large projection screen behind the stage began to play a 10 minute video of all the people that had died since the banquet the year before. by the time it ended the whole crowd was teary eyed, some where even sobbing, and one woman could be heard wailing from the hall, just outside the doors. the lights flipped back on and the organizer again asked to use the mic. she gave a short speech about fund raising for the local children's clinic and showed another video of kids that were being treated at the clinic. again, the lights flipped on and there were sobs and sniffs and tears all over the place. While the second video was playing the organizer left the stage, so when the lights flipped back on we stood there wide eyed and with no idea what to do. i looked to the organizer and she gave a signal that seemed to say "well, get on with it!"
i said a few short words about celebrating life and how we were here to honor those couldn't be here with us and tried to turn the momentum to the happy side. i guess it worked. we went into our set and by the 10th song people were dancing and laughing. Those that stuck around tipped us quite a bit and the organizer told me they'd raised more money that year than they ever had and even asked us to come back next year. We were happy to be involved and look back on it now with good memories, but the momentum swing was a heck of a thing to turn at a moment's notice.
moral of the story: get as much info as possible before taking a gig. 0_o.
In the mid-eighties, I was in a funky-jazzy-dance-y kinda thing. We were pretty tight and solid, and usually had no trouble keeping the floor bumping.
One night we were blowing the roof off a small-ish but packed club in Portland, when the bass player nudged me in the middle of a tune and gave me the universal "check that out over there" look.
There was a girl on the dance floor, not at all unattractive, dancing by herself in a slowly widening hole in the crowd. At first, I thought "okay, what's the big deal?" but as I watched, the deal became apparent. She was perhaps the worst dancer that has ever lived. I mean, we've all seen people who couldn't really dance, but this was something special. Limbs just sort of flailing away at completely random intervals. She seemed completely on the verge of falling over at every given moment, but eyes were clear and she was enjoying herself and didn't really seem drunk.
During the break after the song, the bass player and I laughed and said, "well, she's having fun - so there you go."
As the night progressed, she was out there for almost every single song just sort of thrashing away in her own little circle with other dancers just trying to stay out of the range of her wildly flailing limbs. Of course the whole band has been aware of her for some time, and we've all been laughing amongst ourselves all night.
After the gig, I'm sitting at the bar waiting for the house manager to pay us when out of the corner of my eye, I see someone approaching me. Sure enough, it's her, only now she has added some new accessories.
A pair of crutches and leg-braces.
She can barely walk at all.
Leaning her crutches against the bar, she struggles onto the bar stool next to me and takes my left hand in both of hers. She leans over and whispers in my ear:
"Thank you so much. I had so much fun. I haven't danced at all since I was diagnosed. If I had a million dollars and a record contract, I'd give them to you right now... but this is all I have."
Into my hand she presses one little butterscotch candy and closes my fingers over it. She kisses me on the cheek, struggles down from the bar stool, puts her crutches back on and slowly hobbles away into the darkness.
I have never forgotten that night, and to this day, I keep that little candy in a cedar box on the monitor bridge of my mixing console in the studio to remind me of the single best compliment I ever received. And whenever I think I'm fed up with the entertainment biz, I open it and look, and remember why I started playing music in the first place.
I'm the singer and rhythm guitar of a 4 piece groove band. The stage of this particular venue was not raised, but it was a cleared floor area with lights and monitors mounted from the ceiling. Now, most singers that perform might occasionally dodge a microphone punch in the mouth when dancers forget their boundaries on floor level stages. But this time we were in the middle of the first tune and luckily I was facing forward because it was right in the middle of a verse when a one of the stage lights fell! To this day I'm not so sure it was a saving grace but the cord the light was attached to swung right in the direction of my head. The bar crowd, despite various levels of alcohol consumption managed a unanimous gasp. I did a very quick matrix like move and ducked back to avoid the possible face plant collision with the stage light. Fortunately, on its retraction, the stage hand caught it. I don't remember too much of the song, but I was told that I never stopped playing and my vocals didn't even skip a beat.
After the song ended the stage hand replaced the light. I didn't have a record of his handyman skills so as a personal safety precaution I moved my mic stand and rig and got to share some quality time with the bass player on the side of the stage.
Back in the 80's I had my first gig as the new bassist for an established metal cover band. I switched my strings earlier in the day. The first band had all their stuff off the stage and our guys were putting our stuff up there as I was doing a final tuning of my bass … when the E string decided to unravel (break) … WTF! My dumb-ass didn't bring extra strings (how often does a new E string just pop?).
I asked the bassist from the previous band but all his stuff was trailered and headed down the road already … but … he switched his strings earlier that night too ... and threw the old ones on the roof of the club (1 story dive bar). As the gear was being set up on stage I got hoisted onto the roof to search for a string, in the dark with a bic lighter. I found the old string, started late and I don't think I was in tune for the first song, but I recovered. Not a great first time out.
When I was in my late teens, I played guitar for the folk choir at our church, which led to many of the people at our church wanting me to play (and sing) at their weddings (and funerals) and such.
Well at one wedding the bride and groom had a particular song that I had never heard before. They supplied a cassette of the song and I became somewhat proficient at performing it in my bedroom. On the day of the wedding, I arrived about 30 minutes early to warm up and be ready for the service.
Now this was a catholic wedding and the bride would come in from the outside of the church. Outdoors! Well about ten minutes before the wedding, I realized that I had a mental block and just could not remember the melody line for the song (I had three or four songs to do at this wedding). And this was way before cell phones so I ran (yes ran, in my gray polyester leisure suit) to a grocery store about a block away and called my mom (on a pay phone) and had her play the cassette of the song (that was in my bedroom) to me over the phone! She did and I immediately remembered the song and ran back to the church where by this time the bride was outside sweating... waiting for the soloist (me!) to begin. I sheepishly smiled and said sorry and ran up to the balcony to sing the song while sweating like a race horse.
All was well, and the bride and groom seemed to forgive me!
I am thankful for that!
I was playing in a top forty band with a lead singer that, as lead singers are wont to do, had several girlfriends hanging at the same time. I guess that he figured the geographic size of Chicagoland was enough to keep them separate. Then Murphy came to visit with his law.
I don't remember the bar, but do recall it had a tiny dressing room for the band, looking like a 1-holer with the plumbing ripped out. No less than 3 of his girlfriends showed up at this gig, at the same time!
In the dressing room he was desperate. He said, "You've got to take at least one of them off my hands!" Not being one for sloppy seconds, I declined. He flung himself out of the room only when it was past time for our set & came flying onto the stage.
Well, he had to come to terms with the offended women at some point that night. The final outcome was: he took one home, one got miffed & walked out (I think he saw her again later), & the third said, "You're so cute I'll let you get away with it."
The moral? If you're going to be a snake, be prepared to crawl on your belly like one.
This was around 1989 and I played bass in a 5 piece (2 guitars, bass, drums and keyboard). Our keyboardist was also the band leader and a bit of a megalomaniac. Plus he was a true spotlight hog. And though we were a full on classic rock band, he came from a formally trained jazz background so he tended to overplay on everything as well.
This actually worked out ok for me on bass because I was a guitar player who was asked to switch because they couldn't find a bass player they liked and I had played bass off and on for years. We were all friends before the band formed so I was happy to do so. But his heavy bass hand left little room for traditional bass. But this allowed me to indulge my bass influences which were John Entwhistle, Geddy Lee and Les Claypool hence my basslines rarely followed the original. I was really a 3rd guitarist.
So anyway we are playing a local bar that always had a large crowd regardless of the band. We are all set up and the minutes are ticking down to showtime. No keyboardist. We have no idea where he is and have heard nothing. Then literally 10 minutes before we are scheduled to start we get word the keyboardist is in jail. The rest of us start freaking out, frantically trying to figure out what we are going to do.
As I mentioned the keyboardist was a spotlight hog so he sang almost every song. I sang one and each of the guitarist's sang one. So even if we could play the songs with out keyboards, none of us ever really bothered to learn the lyrics, at least not well enough to sing them. And we had only been together a few months and I think this was only like our 4th gig so we didn't have a long term rapport as a band that would allow to wing a bunch of tunes. And our setlist was stuff like Grateful Dead, Allman Bros, Steppenwolf, Lynard Skynard, The Tubes, ELP, Marshall Tucker etc etc. We needed the whole band.
So we are just standing there ready to suffer the wrath of the bar owner who was this huge lady that should have been a pro wrestler. Not that we were afraid she would beat us up, though she probably would have, but that we would never get hired again.
I'm not lying, literally as the clock struck 9 PM the side door crashes open and here comes the keyboardist rushing the stage, "Let's go". So with-out even a hello, what the hell, we are jamming. Of course nobody ever knew what had been going on all this time so it just looked like a dramatic entrance. But the rest of us were still sweating bullets from the ordeal. When we took our first break we finally learned what happened. I don't want to included details here but it turned out to be more of a misunderstanding rather than anything he actually did that landed him in jail. And luckily the police station was only a few blocks from the bar so he didn't have far to travel.
But we learned that night perhaps we should plan for emergencies.
I used to play a regular Saturday night jazz gig at a nice bistro in North Beach San Francisco. We would have to wait until the dinner crowd quieted down a bit to have the band start to set up, which sometimes meant that we'd wait for an hour for the one table to clear that was in the location set up for the band. Since we had such a tight space I would bring a four octave keyboard controller and connect it to an external midi piano module. Well on this particular night as we were setting up a bit later than the usual lateness it dawned on me that I had forgotten to bring my piano module. I had only bass sounds programmed on my main keyboard which would have been very strange to work with in this particular setting. Quietly and internally freaking out, my mind raced - who could I call for help? and I looked across the street and saw a Ben and Jerry's and thought ... "what are the chances", but right there in the window was a digital piano and I ran across the street and put $20 in the tip jar and asked if I could borrow the instrument and to my shock and surprise the guy at the counter let me borrow it! I ran across the street and got the bass player and we lugged that thing across two lanes of traffic to make the gig.
Ben and Jerry's had closed by the time we were done so I had to return it another day, which I did, but that in itself was a whole other story... I never saw the guy again who let me borrow the board, but whoever you are thank you!
Back in the late 90's I played drums for a working cover band. We played every weekend, and on the memorial day and labor day weekends we would play extended gigs down at the Jersey shore.
On one of those weekends, I showed up for the first of 12 sets - 3 on Friday night, 6 on Saturday (3 in the morning and 3 in the evening), and 3 on Sunday. About half way through the first set, my snare drum head ripped clear through.
Now any normal working drummer would have a backup snare - but I forgot to grab mine. A backup head? Forgot to grab that too! What's a drummer to do? It was a 4 piece kit, so I took the rack tom off the bass drum, put it on the snare stand, crancked the head up as tight as I could get it, and faked my way through the next two sets. It actually didn't sound that bad.
It was a holiday weekend, so I knew the only local music shop would be closed the next day, and I had to have a working snare by 1:00 the next afternoon. Even though we were put up in rooms for our stay down at the shore, as soon as we finished up the last set at 1:00am, I jumped in my car and drove the 3 hours back to Philly.... slept a little... grabbed another snare and a backup head, and got back down to the shore just in time for the early Saturday sets.
Funny thing - I liked the sound of the 12" rack tom tuned up as a snare so much, I ended up buying a little 7"x12" snare to use as a backup for future gigs! It could have been worse!