I had a little rock band in the mid-90's. Through a friend in another band, we were asked to play the "Newport Fair" in Newport, Vermont. We were led to believe that it'd be a fun, outdoor, state fair sort of thing, so we agreed. When we get to Newport, VT (might as well be in Canada), we discover that we're actually playing in the giant, mostly empty parking lot of a big box retail store.
No rides, no food except for one lady selling fried chicken, and no people. We set up and played anyway, only to be constantly interrupted by a voice on those little speakers by the door, advertising that "Today only, bags of top-soil are $3.49/lb". People doing their shopping on this Saturday afternoon were clearly confused by the rock band in the parking lot. The only people who were interested (and I swear this is true) were two people dressed up like crash-test dummies from the old TV commercials. At least we got the dummies dancing....
We had a gig at a roller rink. Our singer decided to don some skates and sing on her wireless mic as she skated around the rink. She could only hear the reflected sound of the band off the back wall, so she would get two to three beats behind, until she skated around to us again and caught up. That took some fancy timing on her part. Very Funny to all.....
I had a headline at this fairly large pub, doing a solo acoustic show one Friday evening. I get in there for a sound check, and the place is already packed, to my delight. As I look around the bar and tables, I notice a lot of hand gestures but not a lot of talking...I walk up to the bar (as I am known to do) and see the bartender mixing orders based on handwritten notes from patrons, and he tells me some local convention had let out and there were about 300 deaf people enjoying a drink or two at the venue. I then commenced to play guitar for approximately 300 people that couldn't hear a note I was playing! It was like a Twilight Zone episode.
The good news was the venue sold a lot of drinks. They made money, and I got paid well, even though my efforts were moot unless you count my spastic movements on stage as interpretive dance.
Union band was performing for a world famous San Francisco burlesque dancer for a trade show. I was in back, on drums. We were performing the finale, "The Stripper," and the lights were down. I'm pounding away on the drums, and all of a sudden she appeared right in front of the band, facing us, totally nude.
The tenor player put down his horn, picked up a Polaroid and snapped a shot of her, 5 feet away, flash and all. We were all laughing so hard we barely made it through the tune. Yes, a highlight!
We were in the middle of an East Coast tour leaving Jacksonville, FL after a great show. We leave the venue around midnight heading up to Savannah, GA for our gig the next day. Somewhere in Northern Florida we decide to stop and get a motel room. We see a man made road sign for one and get off the exit. Five miles off the exit we finally arrive. We go to sign in and to our surprise, we didn't have to give any identification. Just $32.00 and a promise we would be out of the room by 2pm.
We walk in and this was beyond roach motel. The sink in the bathroom was held up by a walking cane!! The inside of the microwave looked like someone blew up a moon pie in it, the sheets smelled like turpentine. The place was HAUNTED!! The bassist and I heard distant screams from within the room and the next morning we all shared the fact that we had the strangest dreams. The whole experience was the weirdest hotel stay any of us had ever had, and this is coming from 4 guys who live in hotels.
A local gas station was having a customer appreciation day with free hot dogs and soda. The station manager thought it would be cool to hire my classic rock trio. They had us set up outside between two gas pumps. No kidding! Cars were pulling in to buy gas right in front of us. We got the strangest looks as we tried to play. After the first set, the fumes got so bad we couldn't breathe, let alone sing anymore. We told the manager this, and she had us move in front of the rack of oil cans. We finished the gig, then we all agreed to never do anything like this again.
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.
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 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'd been a regular at the local weekly honkytonk jam session. One of the fellows got a gig - and recruited 3 of us to be his support. We were to play a bunch of country standards at some wedding reception SE of San Antonio. OK, can do.
The buddies and I loaded up in the drummer's panel truck and trundled down the road to meet up with the leader of this exercise, who lived maybe 40 miles south of us (in Texas, this is right around the corner). Eventually, we found his house, hook up with him, and start following him to the gig.
He lead us this way and that. Off the highway, off of paved roads, through the trees on red dirt roads, maybe 15 miles from his house.
We get there, and can't believe it. It's a Junkyard. Seriously. Junker cars everywhere. Maybe 10 or 15 acres worth. There's a shop out in the middle of this mess, apparently where vehicles were worked on and recovered parts are stored. This is where we'll be playing. We're already in hysterics - we're all pros who have played all over the country, and this takes the cake.
They've cleaned out a spot in the middle of the "garage" for a serving line, but the wedding itself is to be held right outside the doors. There are maybe 100 people running around, most in casual western wear, some in full-on cowboy gear, and a cute Mexican-American family with a couple little girls in yellow and pink taffeta dresses. Surreal.
So, the preacher shows up. Dead ringer for Little Jimmy Dickens, riding on a horse. Got a sixgun strapped to his side, boots, chaps, a big Stetson. The groom is in the same sort of outfit, including the hogleg. On horseback. Then the bride arrives - wedding dress, gunbelt, boots, hat, on horseback. We're really losing it now.
The ceremony proceeds as expected and without any unnecessary gunplay. It's time for the reception. Everybody gets the expected barbecue buffet (standard fare at Central Texas weddings, no matter the socioeconomic strata) - and it was good - and then the bands began to play.
Apparently two bands were booked - us to do country, and another band to do blues. We could have done both, but weren't asked. The blues band brought the PA. Their drummer had an interesting kit - no throne (he used a wooden chair), no high hat stand (he used a chair), and he had a Kevlar kick drum head. We figured that when the gunfire started we could all hide behind his kick drum.
They weren't horrible, but they weren't good, either. We alternated sets. This went on for 3 or 4 hours while the guests got plastered off of keg beer and wired from wedding cake.
Every once in a while, we'd notice a couple would go wandering off into the junkyard and come back a while later a bit disheveled. We figured with that many backseats available, some people had to take advantage.
Anyway, the gig ended without further ado, and we all got paid as promised. We loaded up the panel truck and headed out...
and laughed until we hurt all the way home.