Crazy Gig Stories by and for Working Musicians

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No Peace I Find

Location: 
Richmond, VA, USA
Type of Gig: 
Jazz

I was playing bass in a new 5-piece jazz band with sax, woodwinds, drums, and a very talented piano player of Iranian descent. This was the first job we played after several months of rehearsal. We had a good set of late 50s to mid 1960's jazz standards.
The club had no piano, so the piano player brought a nice Kurzweil piano, speaker and amp. We did a quick sound check and were ready to play.
Although the sound check was cool, for the first note of the first song, the piano sounded very fuzzy and distorted. The sound was breaking up, it would spit, and cut out. So, we stopped the song to investigate. We thought we fixed it, started up the song again, and again, the piano started clipping and fuzzing out.
At that time, the somewhat drunk German wife of one of the friends of the band yelled out in a thick accent: "Aw, keep on playing. You don't need the piano anyway." At that time, the piano player began to freak out. He started throwing things, cursing everyone around him, and was saying things like "I'll kill you all. You're all just worthless a**holes", and other "nice things". He was inconsolable. The woodwind player was a medical doctor, had a even temperament, and after about 1/2 hour, was finally making some headway in calming him down.
I was pretty good with electronics, PA setup, etc. So while the doctor distracted him, I walked over to his amp and noticed the speaker cord was a little frayed and that a single hair-thin strand of wire from the + terminal was arcing over to the - terminal. I cut the strand, and piano is now working perfectly.
I explained to the hot-head that the issue was HIS frayed speaker cable. He basically said "nevermind" and sat down and played the rest of the set.
By now, the crowd had backed up about 20 feet from the band.
The piano player came up to me at the break and said "now you know why there is so much conflict in the Middle East".
I never played with him again.

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