Monday, March 28, 2011

The Couple

Some of the best people watching I have ever done is from behind the mic stand. Yes, I'm focusing on playing and singing but I can also see more than you think. And sometimes I don't have to be looking. The people come to me, literally.

I have been hit in the mouth with my microphone more times than I can remember. My teeth have suffered and been cracked and broken, my lip has been bloodied, and I've lost consciousness for a split second. Seriously, I collapsed, popped back up, asked my guitarist Gary where we were and then realized I didn't even know what song we were playing. He told me and we continued as if nothing had happened. (It was “Margaritaville” if you can believe it.) All because some people lose all concept of where they are on the dance floor and fall into me. It actually happens all the time.  And I'm pretty sure that 10 times out of 10 alcohol is involved but whatever...

The ultimate night for me was what I like to refer to as “the couple”. You see, I had already noticed them from the moment they came in because I thought they were mother and son. I hope they were not but to this day I can neither confirm or deny. 

Anyway, I believe that some pre-partying partying had occurred because they were quite ready to get down. We begin playing “Lights” by Journey. They begin their kinda slow-dancing, kinda just moving, make out session. It was oddly mesmerizing so I had to close my eyes so as not to lose focus on the song. That is me nicely saying that I had to stop watching because I was laughing. As Metallica says, sad, but true. But as my eyes are closed I suddenly feel an enormous weight hit my feet and into my knees. Ow! My mic gets slammed into me and me and my bass get slammed into my bass amp which gets slammed into the wall. It was a good thing the wall was there. My eyes fly open to find that I am pinned and trapped by the couple who have fallen onto me. Oh, did I forget to mention that their combined weight was around 500 lbs?

And here's the best part, they are still making out...on my feet. Apparently they are so messed up that they don't realize they've fallen? Ew. What can I do? Yep, I keep singing. Cause that's what you have to do when things don't go right. It's like that fish Dory in Finding Nemo except I say to myself, “just keep singing, just keep singing.” Eventually things always work themselves out. 

Luckily, some friends on the dance floor have seen what has happened and pull the couple off of me. They had to stand guard in front of me until the end of the song because THEY KEPT MAKING OUT!

Thank you for joining me in this expanded definition of the famous colloquialism, “get a room”. Join me for next week's class as we cover “damn, it feels good to be a gangsta”!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Free Bird Is A Hundred Bucks!

I'm a musical prostitute. My mom loves it when I say that but seriously, isn't that what I do? You put Andrew Jackson in my tip jar and I attempt to play what you tell me you want to hear. My goal is to entertain...

And then I hear “Free Bird”. Usually it's someone yelling from somewhere in the back. Most likely tanked. Probably a guy. And Old Hickory is not his friend. I don't even know if he's familiar with Abe Lincoln or G-Dub, as I like to call our first president, cause he already paid his cover to get in the door.
Used to be my response was something to the effect of, “ahh, I remember my first beer” or “really” or “hmm, we don't know that one. How does it go?” But one night my response was, “20 bucks!” Holy 'what have I got myself into' Batman, a twenty is thrown in the tip jar! So, we proceed to butcher the classic but people seem to like it. Next performance, like clockwork, “Free Bird!” I up it to 40 bucks. And two twenties go in the tip jar. You've got to be kidding me. Do people even really want to hear the song or is it just funny at this point?
Next night, “Free Bird!” 60 bucks! Two people get together the money and throw it in. Okay, this is getting silly now. How high is this gonna go? 

A couple weeks go by with no one ponying up to the now $80 limit for the Lynyrd Skynyrd staple. And then, “Free Bird!” I almost didn't hear it because the guy wasn't really that obnoxious but I say, “80 bucks”. It is now a reflex that sometimes comes out of my mouth without me realizing it. Completely sober the guy walks up and drops in the cash. “You must really like this song.” By now, we've become much better on the song and it could take up to 10 minutes for us to play it. Sweet!

And that's where it stands. We've decided that to honor the memory of Ronnie Van Zant we will play it gratis only around October 20 to commemorate that fateful day. Otherwise, when someone yells it and you know someone will, I say “Free Bird is a hundred bucks!”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

John 3:16

So, I'm at a gig and when we take a break I head to the bathroom. While in the stall I hear some buzzed ladies talking loudly and having a good time. That's pretty usual but as I come out and start washing my hands one of the ladies says, “Ooh, who's John. Is that one of your boyfriends?”

Me: “I'm sorry?”
Lady: “John. You are wearing his name.”
Me: “Don't know what you're talking about. Are you enjoying the show?”
Lady: “Yeah, your bracelet. John. Bet he's pretty hot, eh?”

(I wear a bracelet that is army green and says in big, bold letters, JOHN 3:16, with a red cross in the middle of it. I show her the entire bracelet.)

Lady: “So, are you not dating somebody named John?”
Me: “No, it's a bible verse. You know, 'for God so loved the world...”
Lady: Complete silence.
Me: “It's a book in the Bible, John.”
Lady: Absolute silence while looking at me like I have three heads.
Me (deflated): “Yeah, I date a guy named John”
Lady: “Awesome! I thought so. Great show. Do you know anything by Sugarland?”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Seven Year Town

They say it's a seven year town. Nashville, Tennessee. Music City, USA. Aspiring musicians move here and think they are going to hit the ground running. In reality, you move here, struggle to make a living most likely as a bartender or waitress, play less music, and hear the same thing from everyone you meet. “Well, it's a seven year town, you know? You gotta stick around and pay your dues and then in about seven years everything will start clicking for you. You'll see. That's how it happened for my neighbor's brother-in-law. Yep, just keep at it.” I've been here for twelve. 
I've had a lot of little successes here and there and can make a living playing music. Growing up, that's all I ever wanted to be able to do. But, you never picture success as singing someone else's songs in a smoke-filled bar to people who may or may not care if you do it well. You see yourself playing to thousands of adoring fans, traveling on lavish tour buses across the country, living the dream! 
Well, I may be living the dream but in exchange I have traded any kind of normalcy for a perpetual state of living like a thirty-something college student. And most days, I wouldn't have it any other way. 
Hope you enjoy the ride as much as I have...