I haven't written much about my days as a musician on the road. Mostly because this time was either too boring to write about, or it was too "not boring enough" for this blog.
One story I can write about involves a winter/spring we spent in Florida in 1985. We were booked throughout the entire state from the panhandle to Key West for 6 solid months, and life was one big happy party... that is until two nightclubs canceled our engagements back-to-back, leaving an unexpected two-week hole right smack in the middle of our tour.
Except for our lead singer (who had relatives in Florida), the band had nowhere to go. So our only option was to extend the reservations to our motel on Ft. Lauderdale Beach and try to tough it out.
I know... boo-hoo you say. Except that we're talking about musicians here - people who typically have their paychecks spent 5 days before they receive them. So when we were suddenly laid off for 2 weeks, things got pretty tight pretty quickly.
Our little "vacation" went something like this:
Day 1: Everyone heads down to the cabana on the pier for Cornonas and ribs. We gonna par-tay!
Day 3: Most band members down to their last 20 bucks. Need to conserve. Still have 11 days to go without pay. Head out to the bar and try to keep spending down to $10.
Day 5: Working down last loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter between 4 guys. Only 2 sandwiches per person available for entire day. Band decides to send out SOS pleas to friends and family for help. Unfortunately there was only enough loose change found for one pay-phone call. Band determines that the drummer's parents are most likely to feel sympathetic.
- 10:00 a.m: Drummer receives $100 from parents via Western Union. Immediately spends $20 on cigarettes. Passes out remaining 20s to other bandmates.
- 11:00 a.m: Everyone heads down to the cabana on the pier for Cornonas and burgers. We gonna par-tay!
- 11:30 a.m: Everyone down to $5. Still have 8 days to go without pay.
Day 8: Band lives on Ramen noodles for last 2 days. Spend nearly entire time sleeping on the beach during the day and attempting to meet wealthy women during the night. Remarkably no one is successful.
- Morning: Must. Have. Food. New plea goes out to family and friends, this time with no success. After our ribs start to look appetizing to each other, guitar player magically produces a $100 bill he scammed from a
naivesympathetic woman the previous evening. Bandmates can't decide whether to kill him or hug him. Decision is to take his money first, then kill him.
- Evening: Everyone heads down to the cabana on the pier for Cornonas and steaks. We gonna par-tay!... but not before enough macaroni & cheese to last for 4 more days are purchased first. Bandmates congratulate themselves for their ability to plan responsibly.
Day 11: Everyone down to $5. No one is concerned this time because next gig is coming up in only 3 days. Bandmates high-five each other and shout out "WE DID IT!"
Day 14: Band drives to next gig and sets up equipment for the week-long engagement. Band leader attempts to secure an advance on the band's salary from the club owner. Club owner only coughs up $100.
Day 1: Band heads to grocery store to stock up on bread, peanut butter, macaroni & cheese and Ramen noodles. Only 6 more days to go...