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.
I was playing in a 5-piece society band in the mid-1980s that also played some clubs on the side. So, although we knew how to rock, we didn't have much chance to with all of the weddings we played. The agent called and said that he found us a rocking job, the pay was pretty good, and that the women there were beautiful.
The job was for the school for the deaf. I kid you not. The agent said to crank the bass and drums and they'll love it.
So we get to the job and everyone there is very nice, and it's true, the women were very attractive. We play very loud. Extremely loud. It's a nice JBL PA, Crown and BGW amps, sub woofer. Nice setup.
We used to introduce a slow song "Just the Two of Us" saying that "it was written by a very good friend of the band: Mr Grover Washington Jr". We said that just to be cheesy - making fun of how people are always dropping names "in the business".
In this iteration of the band, we had a very obnoxious front man from New Jersey. Thinking that the crowd was deaf, he embellished on the song introduction. He said, "we're going to do a song from a very good friend of ours Mr Grover Washington Jr." Then he went on to say very graphically that he performed a particular sex act every night on each of the band members. We were howling with laughter. I probably threw up a little bit in my mouth from how outrageous the introduction was.
At the end of the set, one of the dance coordinators came up and both signed and spoke the words and said "you know, some of us have partial hearing".
Back in the late 70's I bought a nice sized PA rig. Because of this I was always in demand both as a band member (I play bass) and also as a sound man (yeah, I got "used" a lot but I got paid most of the time too. Not always money if you know what I mean, but I was ok with that). Plus I was good with the rig and everybody trusted me to make the band sound good.
About 1984, I think it was, I got a call from a buddy to do sound for a big biker party they and a few other bands would be playing. With-out really considering anything I said sure.
I showed up to find a rather surreal event as during the "run" the bikers had done during the day one of them crashed really badly and was in the hospital in intensive care (pre-helmet law days). His totally wasted bike was sitting on this big pedestal in the middle of a large metal shell barn and was the center of attention which served to retain the overall somber but edgy mood.
Of course this didn't stop the bikers from getting wasted and having their fun. But it also made for much sentimentality and testy nerves. No big violence but a few guys here and there would get into it a little over nothing. The fights didn't last long till they were hugging and pouring beer on each other and all that shit.
This wasn't the Hell's Angels or anything but they were still a rough and nasty biker gang so I was on edge from the start. But everyone was being pretty cool so I just hung back and did my job.
During a beer run I heard a guy playing harmonica. He was drunk but he could play and I told him he should grab a mic and jam. I didn't ask any of the band members because it was just kind of a spur of the moment thought and since it was just a party for these guys I thought it was a nice idea...you'll see what I get for thinking.
But the problem was he wasn't trying to fit in. He was just blowing away oblivious to the songs, key or whether it was "his turn" to take a lead. For instance the band would be doing something like "Hot for teacher" and this guy was blasting drunken blues bends all during the song, non-stop.
The band members were afraid to tell the guy to stop or get off the stage so they kept signaling to me to cut his mic. But I was afraid also and didn't want to just cut him off cold. So I slowly over a brief period brought him down till he was no longer in the mains and just left him in his monitor. But it was still disrupting the band and they wanted him cut out completely. Though he was really drunk he did notice. He walked over to me and yelled "HEY, WHY DID YOU CUT MY MIC?". I kinda panicked and didn't know what to say so I just tried to worm my way out by looking at the mixing board and replying "Uh...uh...I,I,I just got this thing and I, I, I, don't know what's going on". He then gave me this kind of evil wink and said "Hmm, that bad huh?" and walked off.
I thought I was off the hook and let it go. A little while later I went into the barn to get a beer and here is harmonica man ranting and raving to another guy about "THIS TALL BLOND HAIRED M*****F****R CUT MY MIC OFF. I SHOULD GO OUT THERE AND CUT THAT C***S*****S THROAT". This was all I actually heard but it was plenty. But before I could slip out he saw me. Oh shit! I froze in my tracks. "THAT'S HIM, THAT'S THE C***S****R RIGHT THERE. HEY YOU M****RF****R COME HERE". I wanted to run fast and far
but for some reason I stood my ground. He came stomping up to me still yelling at the top of his lungs why I cut his mic. Everyone in the barn is looking and wondering what the hell was going on. So now I feel like his whole gang is about to jump me.
By this time I realized (and hoped) the truth was the best thing to say, if I still got my ass kicked or throat slit, whatever. I told him the band members told me to cut his mic. I apologized to him profusely and told him that when he approached me I freaked out and didn't know what to say. I also reminded him that it was my idea to have him play and I liked his playing. But I also explained how he was stepping all over the band and not playing with them. After all this he stood back and thought for a second and said, "hmm, yeah maybe you're right".
After a little more smoothing things over and explaining stage etiquette to him he relented and was cool about the whole thing. But now he's "my best friend". He grabs me in one of those biker bro' headlocks and is yelling point blank in my face with his horrible breath and spitting all over me. "MAN I HAD YOU ALL WRONG, YOU ARE ONE RIGHTEOUS DUDE. IT WAS THOSE C***S****S IN THE BAND, THEY'RE THE A******S" etc etc.
This went on for a few minutes till something diverted his attention. I quickly grabbed a beer and got back to my mixer station.
I don't remember much of the rest of the night but that little incident has never faded from my memory. I honestly thought I was gonna die that night.
Back in 1972 I played in a 5-piece group that performed somewhat avant-garde, original, fast paced, highly syncopated, strange time signature instrumental music. I played the guitar, sax and banged on any percussive instrument that was available. My other bandmates were a good buddy on guitar, his brother-in-law on drums, a third guitarist and a bassist.
We got this gig for a private party from a guy (Mark) and his girlfriend who had heard us at a local club. It turns out that these guys had done business with my father and knew him fairly well. After talking to my dad I learned that Mark was a “trust fund kid” from Chicago who came from a very well-to-do family and that his blond girlfriend had been some kind of model (she was gorgeous).
Anyway, we are driving to the gig with me riding shotgun navigating us to our destination. We begin driving up this rather steep driveway, to a two story split-level swanky house in the foothills, when out the passenger side window I see this large pool area filled with 20 to 30 naked people. Some of them are performing the ”dance of the two-headed beast” (you know what I mean) around and in the pool. I immediately alert my band mates, as a civic duty, who responded with everything from “what do you get us into” to “very cool.” After all we had just ended the 60’s and there was still the air of Peace, Love, Dove.
Upon arrival, our host and hostess were very gracious and offered us many types of beer from around the world, fine wine, champagne or mixed drinks. Seafood (smoked swordfish, lobster, clams, etc.), or the meat du jour -- barbecued filet mignon. There were also other foreign substances available for consumption that I will not delve into at this point in time (but you get the picture). We ate and drank until we were stuffed and then proceeded to go and play the first set. We had set-up on the large second floor balcony, just off the spacious living room, that over-looked the pool area and the surrounding beautiful countryside. Mark told us that the only rule in the house that had to be followed was that no clothing of any kind was allowed outside in the pool area (we had already figured that out).
During the first set some women clad in bathrobes had come up from the pool area and sat behind us on some benches next to our drummer Chris. One lady was full-figured and very well-endowed by the hand of our maker if you know what I mean (I’ll call her Lotta). It appears that this woman had her mind set on Chris since she was eying him like a cat ready to pounce on an unsuspecting mouse. Anyway, Chris had a full complement of drums including the double bass kicks, and a high drum throne with a quart bottle of beer between his legs. He never played or traveled without a quart bottle. We finished the set and after mingling I noticed that Lotta was about 3 sheets to the wind and Chris was close behind at about 2.5.
We begin the second set and about half way through this rather long improvisational section of a song we were performing my buddy and I realize that there are no drum beats, nothing at all. We turn around and see what appears to be Chris who had fallen over backwards into the living room still on his drum stool, the beer between his legs, his back on top of Lotta who was showing all her well endowed self to the shocked host, hostess and guests in the living room. Drums and cymbals with stands were laid out all over and there was beer flowing out of the bottle onto Chris, Lotta and the carpet. We went to his aid, helped clean up the mess, had a good laugh, finished the gig, got paid and got out of Dodge.
Later we found out from Chris that during that song Lotta couldn’t wait any longer and made her move on him. She apparently came from behind and placed a breast on each of his shoulders and started shaking and a shimmying. Of course Chris freaked, lost his balance and fell over backwards screaming as he fell right on top of ole Lotta. This display of buffoonery and pandemonium was later deemed by me The Well Endowed Incident.
Chris did later link up with Lotta (for good or bad) and none of us went out to the pool area during the gig. I later learned through my dad that Mark eventually blew all his money and had to get a real job. His beautiful girlfriend started selling pantyhose for some well known company.
Well, a five piece blues and classic rock band I played guitar in was booked to play the debut of the The Little Mermaid in a local movie theater. Getting ready, we learned some "nautical" theme songs, including the Beatles song, I'd like to be Under the Sea in an Octopus Garden..." We were set up in this movie lobby and about 20 seconds into the song, people came out of the movie and said they couldn't hear the movie.
The manager said we could stop and gave us each 1 year unlimited passes to any Carmike Cinema in the nation. What a gig! We were dressed in nautical theme clothes, etc. While we were playing for 20 seconds, there was a hot chick dressed like a mermaid dancing in front of the band as she was also hired!
In 1988 I had a New Year's Eve gig cancel about a week before the date. I then got a last-minute call to play sax with a Jazz Quintet at a New Year's Party at a local resort. I also managed to book my pianist girlfriend on the gig.
When we got to the gig, we found out we were playing for 800 West Virginia football fans that were in town for the Fiesta Bowl a couple days later. As we setup I could see the huge crowd and wondered how a Jazz group was going to get over at this event. Let me tell you, it didn't go well.
Turns out this was the first gig the singer had ever done and she was petrified at the idea of talking to the crowd. She would turn around and face the band after evey tune and you could hear the crickets. So I started talking on the mic. After a couple tunes the crowd got a little antsy and I could tell they were really partying hard. Finally we started getting booed. A few people even came up and told us they hated us and started requesting all types of music we didn't play.
I decided that we had to play some country if we were to survive. So I called "Rocky Top" and let everyone know the changes. The crowd roared their approval. Then we went back to playing some Girl from Ipanema or something and the booing started getting really bad. So we again played Rocky Top and everyone went crazy again.
Well the whole crowd started getting so drunk they were throwing bottles and acting like it was a frat party. The staff finally refused to go into the crowd to serve and we were on our own.
To make a long story short, we ended playing Rocky Top six times, and each time the crowd got progressively drunker and their applause now a roar. I'm standing there thinking I'm in a scene from the Blues Brothers and I need chicken wire around the bandstand to keep the bottles from from hitting us.
We finally finished this gig from hell and with bottles flying, people fighting, and hotel security doing nothing, we grabbed our stuff and barely got out of there alive.
In 1969 I returned home to Honolulu to finish my upper division of college at the University of Hawaii. I arrived in time to be considered "out of state," though I had graduated high school there. It took my a year to be considered "local" again, so I played tenor sax in a jazz/rock group I met.
By the time I went to college full time again, this group was playing 6 nights a week at a gay club in Waikiki. I sat in a few times during the week ends. Once I brought some friends: a married couple and a female friend. He was German; they all liked their beer; they all brought plenty of it. After the second set, with bladders bursting, they finally went to their respective rest rooms.
The women came back, saying the Womens' was full of cross-dressers. They did stay long enough to empty their bladders, though.
I sit in with acoustic guitar player/singer occasionally. One day he called me about doing a "club" gig at a local bar. I accepted. I thought the job started a little late, but showed up around 10:30 to set up for an 11:30 start time. The place was deserted except for a couple of guys on a deck between two buildings (2 different clubs). One was the singer. The other was a security guy. I took my stuff in and started to set up on the deck. I asked the singer if he knew anything about the job and he said he didn't and it seemed as weird to me as it did to him. We finished setting up and sat around waiting. Around 11:15, 13 security guards came out of the still empty club on one side of us and had a meeting. As they were leaving to go back in the club, I asked one of them what was the deal? He said that around 12:00 midnight the club would be packed with 800 to 1200 guests. He wasn't lying. Most of them didn't speak English. Several of the security guards spoke Spanish.
Our job was to play for the overflow of people that came outside on the deck. They played loud Latin dance music (DJ) inside. Most of the time it bled out to our area.
The people were well dressed, friendly, and we got several tips playing the Americana stuff this singer did. I pretty much just "embellished" all night. Around 1:30 AM the large wooden deck that separated the two buildings split in half from one end to the other. Fortunately, it was only about 18 inches from the ground. No one was hurt. Security came out and moved all the people inside or to a lower deck area. We figured we could just get paid and split, since our now split deck was empty. We really didn't want to relocate to the other deck with our equipment. (Lazy)
We put the microphones away and were just about to take down the speakers when the head guy came up and said "You're contracted to play until 3:00"
We turned one speaker in the direction of the other deck and played instrumentals the rest of the night to an empty deck. We didn't bother hooking up the microphones again. I thing we played "Wipeout" twice (without a drummer).. They loved it. Some gigs are like being in the twilight zone. This was the weirdest one I've ever done.
This was in about 1975. We had dual guitars with double stacks, an oversized double set of clear blue drums, a big bass rig, and my seldom heard double cheese organ with a rotating speaker and an electric piano to boot. Our gigs always started the same way: Flash bombs, followed by the band tearing into a very hard Rock and Roll song. Only one problem, this gig was a SKI LODGE, in the SUMMER! All the hill people were looking at us like we were nuts.
This went on for about two hours, but no one left. We finally hit a southern rock tune, and the whole audience got up and were dancing and two stepping and partying. Everything went well thereafter.
I will do my best to accurately retell this story, but I must admit it has been over 20 years ago, so there will probably be some inaccuracies, but certainly not on purpose.
I had just finished high school and was playing in a "punk" band. A more accurate description would be a rock band that played songs inspired by punk, alternative, and new wave bands of the 70’s and 80’s. Our “power trio” was performing at a country club converted into a dive to our usual audience, the bartender. We were playing our usual collection of terrible songs (about the contents of Pepsi, seeing your grandmother naked, killer bees), which included a "punk" version of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" when the wide double doors of the club flew open and a handful of Harley Davidsons came roaring onto the dance floor, scaring the shit out of us! As the club filled up with smoke, we stood very still...shocked. This was a small town and the last thing we expected was any audience, especially not bikers. We were convinced that we were going to die.
The bikers exited the building. As the smoke was clearing, an older man in a leather jacket walking with a cane and a woman under each arm came in and approached us. He said his name was "Pops" and that we were going to play for his Biker Bash. He also informed us that they would be roasting a pig and that we would be paid, fed, and provided with drinks. Oh, and he said there would be a Wet T-shirt Contest. He made no mention of what was required from us except to be there. After writing down the date of the gig and confirming that we would be there, Pops and his girls disappeared into the night. The three of us looked at each other with the biggest WTF expressions you can imagine.
Now we will fast-forward to the day of the gig. We arrived at the shotgun style building. A tiny stage had been fashioned out of plywood and 2x4's. We set up our PA, lights, and instruments. While this was going on, we watched a Harley connect itself to some chains that appeared to be buried in a huge fire pit. As the bike began to spin tires, tugging away at the chains, what appeared to be two old bed springs sandwiching a roasted pig came lurching up out of the ground...on fire and smoking...smelling like barbeque. It was equally exciting and traumatizing, especially when you could see the head of the roast beast. Things were about to get interesting.
As night began to fall, we were informed that it was time for the Wet T-shirt Contest to begin. After that spectacle was complete, it was time to take the "stage." We had rehearsed some cover tunes in an effort to appease the crowd. Playing tunes by Led Zeppelin and similar went over well. It wasn't too long before we received our first request. A biker came up and introduced himself as Johnny B. Goode. He requested...you guessed it..."Johnny B. Goode." We played it and continued along with our first of two sets. We had probably played two or three songs when our new friend Johnny returned to the stage to request...that's right..."Johnny B. Goode" again. We agreed and did so. Bikers began to mount and ride circles around the fire pit, drowning out the music. We didn't mind since it was drawing attention away from us, allowing us a chance to play our own music for a moment or two. It was then that we first heard gunshots. They were racing around the fire, riding their bikes, and shooting guns. I was glad they were aiming into the air and not at the band. That's a different story for another day. Moments later, our friend Johnny returned...he had been getting progressively drunker as the night carried on. His request for his song was much more insistent than the previous two times. We honored his request, especially after hearing the guns; we thought it best to do so.
A friend of ours showed up at the bash. He was older, more experienced, and more talented than we were. We asked him to set in with the band on a few tunes. "Born To Be Wild" came roaring out of our shitty little PA system. He sang the opening line "Head out on the highway, looking for my dentures!" We knew things were going to get weird (er) at that point. In the middle of "Roadhouse Blues" (where Jim Morrison rambles on in a scat style) He began singing, "Who can turn the world on with her smile? Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?" It's amazing how well the "Mary Tyler Moore" theme "Love Is All Around" works with "Roadhouse Blues"...while bikers race around a huge fire, drinking, shooting guns, with semi-naked women hanging on behind them. It is moments like this when you stop and think...long and hard...about the direction your musical career is taking.
We finished our last song, put our gear away, and realized it was time to go see Pops in hopes of being paid. I was worried that there may be a possibility of being bilked, despite Pops being good on his word about everything else. I walked into the bar and down the long, narrow path to the table where Pops was setting, girls by his side. My band mates were behind me to back me up in case anything went wrong. …and by back me up, I mean we were more than willing to run away from any confrontation at that point. Pops complimented us on our work, paid us the agreed amount, and asked us to sign a receipt for double the amount "for tax reasons." He then told us he wanted us to come back for one more gig.
We said "Yes."
Thanks, Pops. Your word was golden and three teenage boys learned a little bit about life in the process and gained a story to tell our kids...some day.