Monday, March 16, 2009

Thank you for your suggestions - Part III

It occurred to me that I never finished answering all my "Thank you for your suggestions" questions.

VE was kind enough to ask me several questions (many of which I may actually answer some day), but for now I only have time to address his first question.

Tell us about your top 10 worst road trip gigs.

Even that question I can't answer completely, because after 10 years on the road I can't possibly remember every "worst gig" I ever had. There were just too many. However, here are 10 general "less-than-desirable" situations I've experienced in my career as a musician.

By definition, a "worst gig" constitutes any engagement where:

1... the band members and bar staff are the only people in the club the entire night.

2... you can't set up your gear until the strippers have finished their 7:00 set.

3... the band "housing" consists of rooms upstairs of the bar, and you have to bring your own sheets, pillows and blankets because the ones they provide have been used by the previous bands and haven't been changed in weeks.

4... the bar you're in doesn't have a stage so you have to set up on the dance floor - and you have to quit playing for the night because drunk people keep falling onto you and your equipment.

5... you routinely have to travel 600 - 800 miles on the Sunday between gigs because that's the best routing your booking agent can provide.

6... the inside club temperature approaches 100 degrees in July because it does't have air conditioning, and opening the windows only fills the room with mosquitoes because all the screens were ripped apart years ago.

7... the building only has one electrical circuit for the entire band so you have to bring your own fuses because if you blow one you're done for the night - and you won't get paid! (these were the days before breaker switches and you had to use this kind of fuse)

8... your booking agent mistakenly puts you in a heavy metal nightclub but your first three songs are from Rick Astley, Michael Jackson and Kool and the Gang. As soon as you finish Celebration the club owner threatens to fire you on the spot if you don't quit playing that "disco shit and start rockin it up immediately!"

9... a band member is sick but still plays because "the show must go on." Actual examples of this include nights where:
- I had pneumonia and went straight to the hospital after the last song
- our drummer had the stomach flu and had to step off the stage between songs to vomit into a pickle pail
- our bass player had to sit on a stool all night because he had foot surgery the day before
10...the bar owner can't pay you cash so he offers you a gig for burgers and a case of beer -



Anonymous said...

How about when Sleeper played up on the Iron Range, and at the end of the week your bar tab was more than your wages. Good gig.

Ed said...

Ha! I knew you had some doozies. I laughed out loud at the disco/heavy metal one. That's right up there with the Blues Brothers scene. You were livin' the dream!!!!

Ed said...

Oh, man. My brother used to tell me about driving 14-15 hours for a $5 cut on a gig. These stories are classic!

Anonymous said...

OMG--I'm sure glad I didn't know what my "precious" young son was going thru!!! I always thought being in a band was fun and games!!

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

rick - That's the same place that had the rooms with the used sheets. Good times.

ve - Dream... nightmare. Take your pick.

ed - Unfortunately for me, these are all true.

mom - What? Are you trying to say I didn't reveal everything in those days? No way.

Anonymous said...

As the wife of a former band musician who played for over 30 years, I've heard every single one of these problems except the very long road trips. They stayed fairly local. Sending this to Dave so he can relive the horror once again.

Michael from said...

My wife was in a band when she was younger, and her stories are similar to these. Glad I "rescued" her from such a life!

As for #2, I'd consider that a perk, not a drag.

Let me know if you ever come to Atlanta...I'll support ya!

Anonymous said...

Is #4 from a certain Halloween party at Pearl Lake Lodge????

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

kathy - Please tell him "you're welcome" for me. ;-)

father muskrat - Trust me... watching the "talent" related to #2 was not considered a perk.

PatKG - PLL definitely was part of that answer, but that wasn't the only time that happened believe it or not! In another band I was in we actually had to quit early. Ahh... good times indeed.

Michelle said...

Wow. Not that I ever wanted to be in a band, but I'm really glad that I never wanted to now. And umm how do you know WHEN you need your own sheets and towels, etc and when you don't? I'd have to travel with them permanently. All. Ways.

robkroese said...

Bring your own fuses! Wow, I never would have come up with that one.

Meg said...

As you might know I am a couch surfer (we are one million strong now). I often have artists asking to stay with me during the art festival season. Reading your list makes me think there is or should be a couch surfing network for bands.

Years ago my friend put up The Lengendary Pink Dots and his mom even made them Lebanese food.

Just an idea.

crk112 said...

I'm reading this list as an idea of what to expect and look forward to if I ever get good enough to play in a band!! LOL

Windyridge said...

I am immediately forwarding this to my family band members!

Anonymous said...

Man that was one hell of a list! I suppose you had to reeeallly love what you were doing to put up with all that.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

michelle - We knew because the bar owner told us he only changed out the laundry every few weeks. Plus, it was obvious. And no, I won't go into detail.

diesel - Yep. Bar owners are among the cheapest people on the planet.

prefers - Are you saying you would welcome a house full of traveling rock and roll musicians? Are you sure you've thought this through?

curtis - Be careful what you ask for my friend.

windyridge - The older ones will cringe and the younger ones will say, "cool!"

corrina - Like I said, these were just some of the "less than desirable" times. The good times far outweighed the bad times.

Anonymous said...

Remember the truck motor going, and the man refused to make good on his guarentee?

yellojkt said...

And you gave up that glamorous life?

Maureen said...

OMG... I had pneumonia a few years back. I can't imagine actually working through it. I couldn't get off the couch for weeks. Too bad I didn't have a blog back then.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

bill - Oh yeah, I remember it all too clearly. I actually have another post about just the horrible road trips we had to take that I'll share later.

yellojkt - I wouldn't have given it up if we had been able to score a record contract, but it wasn't in our cards.

maureen - It was the same for me. I couldn't sing for nearly a month after that. In fact, it was the single event that caused me to quit smoking - so there was a positive side to it.

cathouse teri said...

THAT was a cool list! I loved it. Anyone who is serious about being a musician needs to read this. Because the show really MUST go on.

JD at I Do Things said...

Hell, I'd play a gig for a free burger and some beer! Oh, wait, I don't drink. Did he offer any pharmaceuticals?