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The Mudcat Cafesj

User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
dpara A Gig From Hell (82* d) RE: A Gig From Hell 02 Nov 99

Ah, the Garden of Earthly Delights! Hell is how you describe it, I guess, but I would guess gigs at which pain was inflicted have to rank the highest. I mean, there isn't enough money in this to endure pain. Anguish is something else. I remember the first-ever date we played in Europe. After years of having people talk about tours, one finally came together. Four weeks, mostly in Holland, with an eight-day trip to Bavaria with a contact of our own somewhere in the middle. That was when we first became aware of the European country music scene, because that's where we spent most of our time. So, after a day trying to get over jet-lag and a mild, though welcomed culture shock, we head to the first gig in a tiny Dutch town with an old restored post office. We're historical types, right? The post office had been restored to a bar/disco for teenagers, with some public funding for programming. Our Dutch agent admitted at the outset that he didn't know much about this place, but in 1985, the dollar was really high, and this place could pay better than the others. So, it's a disco for teens who drink. Now Cathy and I aren't really a bar act, even though it has happened, and the 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. regimen is not foreign to us. And furthermore, our repertoire is mostly in the early country music days, well before the U.S. occupation brought country music to Europe and created this scene. But people who thought about it could recognize a "roots' aspect of what we do. But we were faced with playing for a bunch of drinking teenagers who didn't want to hear our music at all. Our agent said, "Well, maybe we'll get lucky and a fight will break out and we can leave early." For such a group, though, they were really quite polite about it. Those who didn't want to hear the music at all could get far enough away from us, and during the breaks some of the kids spent some time trying out their English and trying to get us to say various things in Dutch, most of which we remained suspicious. They also requested we play some Z.Z. Top, which unfortunately we could not honor. But in the middle of perhaps the second set, during one of the few slow, pretty things we tried, in bursts the director of the club, who had hired us, dressed up in light colored buckskin with his face blackened and shooting cap pistols. A real show stopper. Now this was still in the Reagan years, and Europe often posed him as a cowboy, and perhaps the director was making a statement about the country music scene which we were soon to experience at length. But it seemed that he had hired us just to do that. You know, it doesn't sound very hellish as I write, but at the time, with 20 more dates and three and a half weeks to go, it seemed like a dream gone nasty and sour. Fortunately, the next night we had one of our best concerts in the tour. It seems that the worst situations are when your music is being wasted and there is no real way the stiuation allows you to just play for yourselves. dave para

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