I’ll get the whole thing started, but I’m really looking for your stories. Send us your most memorable outing, we’ll publish the best and brightest, the most harrowing and embarrassing- and we’re not interested in the “perfect gig” (ha), rather the more unusual encounters…..for example:
It must have been about 1976, a cold night on the Iowa plains just before Christmas. This was my sensitive-singer/songwriter period, with a stunning afro, a wispy beard, an old vest and an older guitar (I wish I still had that one, a ’29 Gibson Nick Lucas). I was on my way to my fiancé’s home in Spencer, with a stop at a so-called “club” in Mason City (coincidentally the hometown of Meredith Wilson’s, composer of the great “Music Man”).
I’d never been to the place before, it was booked by my agent at the time, and I should have smelled a rat before I walked in the door. I don’t know what my agent told them about me to convince them to hire me, but none of it was true. I think I was the first live entertainment they’d had, and as inexperienced as they were, there was no lack of preparation. The owners had built a one-man stage in the corner, about 10 feet from the pool table. As befitting the season, the stage was ringed with Christmas lights, with a nice sign; unfortunately the sign announced me as “Kris Kringle” (arrgh….) like I was supposed to in a red fat suit.
Everybody seemed friendly, though, so I set up my PA and tuned up the ol’ sixer. My repertoire at the time consisted of some original songs, a few instrumentals, and a fair amount of swing and old jazz tunes, and I headed straight for my best stuff, my sure-fire crowd-pleasers, not exactly pandering, but starting to suspect that it might be a tough night.
What crowd there was had moved to the front of the bar, as far away from me as they could get. One brave couple continued with their pool game, he with a lovely cowboy outfit including a nice belt with a hand-tooled “Leonard” in big letters, she with a medium-height beehive. After about two numbers the brave cowpoke came to the stage and asked me if I played any country. I knew that what I called “country” wasn’t the kind that was on their juke box, and wouldn’t be recognized as such, but I launched into “Miss the Mississisppi and Me”. It didn’t seem to be working.
Luckily this is a short story. The owner came up to me, said that I didn’t need to play any more, gave me the promised $75 and shuffled away, no argument, no discussion.
It was only a few degrees colder outside as I loaded up the gear. I could hear the jukebox blasting away- the patrons forgot about me pretty quickly, probably had a pretty good time. Hey, they didn’t throw anything at me!!!!