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A Gig From Hell

billhudson 16 Sep 08 - 01:18 PM
katlaughing 15 Sep 08 - 03:01 PM
Leadbelly 15 Sep 08 - 02:45 PM
billhudson 15 Sep 08 - 12:00 PM
C-flat 20 Jun 05 - 06:42 PM
Sorcha 20 Jun 05 - 05:09 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 20 Jun 05 - 02:56 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 20 Jun 05 - 02:51 PM
wysiwyg 20 Jun 05 - 12:36 PM
Sorcha 20 Jun 05 - 12:15 PM
wysiwyg 20 Jun 05 - 11:36 AM
Peace 29 May 05 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,leeneia 29 May 05 - 02:09 PM
Rusty Dobro 29 May 05 - 01:56 PM
Big Al Whittle 29 May 05 - 05:11 AM
GUEST,Skivee 29 May 05 - 12:45 AM
Carly 06 Mar 03 - 11:13 AM
Beccy 05 Mar 03 - 01:32 PM
Willie-O 05 Mar 03 - 01:25 PM
Sarah the flute 05 Mar 03 - 10:06 AM
InOBU 04 Mar 03 - 07:36 PM
GUEST,Larry K 04 Mar 03 - 09:30 AM
Cluin 04 Mar 03 - 12:33 AM
GUEST,Pat Cooksey. 03 Mar 03 - 05:39 PM
Clinton Hammond 03 Mar 03 - 05:17 PM
denise:^) 03 Mar 03 - 05:03 PM
Kim C 03 Mar 03 - 04:22 PM
Willie-O 03 Mar 03 - 03:30 PM
Bert 16 Nov 99 - 09:51 AM
Amos 16 Nov 99 - 12:01 AM
WyoWoman 15 Nov 99 - 11:03 PM
WyoWoman 15 Nov 99 - 04:29 PM
Bill D 15 Nov 99 - 01:56 PM
Rex 15 Nov 99 - 12:32 PM
JedMarum 04 Nov 99 - 10:59 AM
Jeri 04 Nov 99 - 10:55 AM
Steve Latimer 04 Nov 99 - 10:15 AM
Rick Fielding 04 Nov 99 - 10:09 AM
Michael K. 04 Nov 99 - 10:02 AM
JedMarum 04 Nov 99 - 09:29 AM
Michael K. 04 Nov 99 - 09:14 AM
04 Nov 99 - 09:13 AM
Bill Cameron 04 Nov 99 - 08:55 AM
JedMarum 04 Nov 99 - 08:33 AM
Michael K. 04 Nov 99 - 12:20 AM
Michael K. 04 Nov 99 - 12:14 AM
Rick Fielding 03 Nov 99 - 11:00 PM
Jeri 03 Nov 99 - 10:37 PM
ToneDeafDave 03 Nov 99 - 09:58 PM
Shay Gillian Veno 03 Nov 99 - 09:40 PM
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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: billhudson
Date: 16 Sep 08 - 01:18 PM

Thanks! But god knows how many there have been and in a way I tend to forget about them until someone reminds me of a bad night. I have been enjoying reading the post (you can't make this stuff up).

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Sep 08 - 03:01 PM

That's quite a gig, Bill. Thanks for sharing and welcome to the Mudcat!

kat(born a "Hudson")

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Leadbelly
Date: 15 Sep 08 - 02:45 PM

What a great thread!!!!!
The most interesting I can remember!

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: billhudson
Date: 15 Sep 08 - 12:00 PM

New guy here..but here is one:

There are many gigs us musicians have to tell. When one tells folks outside the music world you can kind of tell people might think we are stretching the truth a bit to tell a better story. They say truth is stranger then fiction. And in that light I would like to tell one gig that was indeed a bit strange and on top of it all everyone was dressed for Halloween, perfect.
At the time I was with a duo, Tim and I playing the hits in the bars mostly. I think we were living in DC and we got a call from a guy we use to play for in VT. The pay was good so we headed up that way.
It was another small bar in a very small town, not much went on except this bar that was kind of like the hangout. I remember the bar owner telling us he would like to have us back except the people there would tear out the urinals every time we played there. Kind of like a complement is the way we looked at it, because here he was calling us to come back. We would be taking turns with a local rock band. They would do a set then we would do a set, back and forth, sounded good.
We got to the gig early did a sound check and then hung out with some friends to get ready for the gig. The sun was close to setting down and it was going a be a bit cool which for VT was not out of the ordinary. People were already getting dressed up walking up and down the main street. So this looked like it could be a good night or so we thought.
We were to start the night around 9PM. When we got to the bar we were impressed how good the costumes seemed to be. There was the green man, a guy as a tree trunk, a guy that was dressed like a beer can, a roman centurion, some very wild looking women. So it looked like we were going to have some fun that night.
What I can remember of that night is I was dancing with a girl while the rock band was playing. The dance floor was very crowded and things were getting wild. All of a sudden I felt a big push and I turned around to see there was a fight on the dance floor. Then there was another fight, and another one. So before you knew it there were 3 fights going on. And the band did the worse thing a band could do…they stopped playing. When the music stops it only get worse. Rule # 135 do not stop playing music no matter what. Keep in mind all this happened very fast. I stood on the dance floor watching a beer can fighting with the green man, a very strange, a very comical, a very absurd, and a very burlesque night. When this kind of thing happens I always put my ax in its case and try to find a safe place and protect it. So things were flying all over the place, maybe like a John Wayne bar brawl scene but dressed like a bad acid dream that you want to wake up from. Before I knew it this guy dressed like a roman centurion took over the mike and started to talk sex…I mean down and dirty sex. Funny thing when someone starts to talk about sex…no matter what, people seem like they want to hear more, male and female alike. This roman centurion really got into it and ya know what? Slow but sure people started to stop fighting here and there. I mean it was really working which did not slow this centurion down, he just keeps going and people wanted to stop and hear him. I never did find out who that guy was.
But of all the strangest gigs I have had that was one of the worse. There might be more but I have a tendency to remember the good ones not the bad ones. Other folks have to remind me,"Hey, Bill do you remember…..?"

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: C-flat
Date: 20 Jun 05 - 06:42 PM

My band was recently booked to play a golf club annual ball. On arrival we were shown to our alloted area, a four-foot square of carpet in the corner of the bar.
After explaining that we were a five-piece band with a lot of percussion and that we would be lucky to set up the drums in the space provided we were grudgingly offered a wall in the bar to set up against.
After spending 3/4 hour setting up and constantly fielding complaints from the "regulars" who were put out at having their bar disturbed and even more put out when we were sound-checking, I was about ready to pack up and leave.
We were pacified by the club captain who assured us that the guests were really looking forward to "shaking a leg" after the dinner and speeches and won over when he opened a "tab" for us at the bar.
What the captain failed to tell us was that we wouldn't get to strike the first chord until 11.30pm, some 5 hours after our arrival, and didn't finish until 2a.m.
Most of the band were pissed by the time we got on, courtesy of the captains' tab, but the guests did get up and dance, so it could have been worse.
Golf clubs are not the sort of venue we'd normally play but, once in a while someone offers a few quid over the going rate, promising a great night, and it's easier to say yes than no.
I'm saying "No" now!


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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Sorcha
Date: 20 Jun 05 - 05:09 PM

Had one once in a barn.....manure on the floor. FLIES!!!

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 20 Jun 05 - 02:56 PM

My "favourite" audience reaction is where they will listen politely - and quietly - to song introductions, and then proceed to talk all the way through the actual performance. I remember a Cambridge Folk Festival audience - or a least a large percentage of them - doing this at a Bert Jansch performance some years ago.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 20 Jun 05 - 02:51 PM

Smart 2002 in Stafford, UK. I'm booked for three gigs in one day.

Morning at the library, a childrens' concert starting with an audience of three children, to finish one hour later with about 30, singing their little hearts out and applauding wildly, Bless!


Lunchtime in a high street restaurant, PA doesn't work. Forty five minutes playing to the ten or so who could actually hear, to the accompaniment of massed knives and forks. Wild applause, and pats on the back. Even a couple of notes in my guitar bag.

Still good!

Mid afternoon in the local mall, just outside the music shop, whose owner had agreed to turn off his incidental music for thirty minutes.
Twenty or so listening to me as the music shop guy slowly cranked up his player, and I slowly cranked up my PA, until the feedback was stunning dogs in a half mile radius, and the audience evaporated.


But I'd still do it again for the morning with the kids, so overall I guess it doesn't qualify as gig from hell.

My ears still hurt when I think of the third set tho'.

Don T.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: wysiwyg
Date: 20 Jun 05 - 12:36 PM

This thread should be required reading for anyone who books anyone!


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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Sorcha
Date: 20 Jun 05 - 12:15 PM

Saturday, over 90 F, on a 4' stage inside a huge metal building. HUGE sound system that we are not used to (usually do all acoutsic), audience of about 6. Not a breath of air moving. The other fiddler and I were sharing a mic (she hates to play under sound), kept hitting the mic stand with our bow. At one point I poked her in the eye with my bow...hard!

Sweat pouring off all of us to where we could hardly hold the instruments. Tune selection was limited by speed of tune...couldn't do fast one. Last song, I did my usualy 'bow flourish' thing (you have to see it) and hit an unused mic stand.....dropped the bow, thank god it didn't break! All this for free. We didn't even get free food. Was a Cancer fundraiser. Told them, never again. IF we agree to do it, we'll be outside and NO sound.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: wysiwyg
Date: 20 Jun 05 - 11:36 AM

Called on short notice to fill a gap in an ecumenical worship service held on the Green, which closes a big festival here, we whizzed up 3 songs for a singalong medley. I confirmed ALL the arrangements TWICE with the sound man... plans included an indoor alternative in case of weather. Well, tourists strolling the craft fair in weekend-long rain made the Green a sea of chair-sinking mud; it was about 50 degrees; their tarp "stage" failed to include room for the tabletop autoharp from which I lead our band-- which I had described when we accepted the booking to bail them out!

Did they move it inside? No..... so we were to be the first group singing.... He had forgotten the two boom vocal mics we'd requested and that he had refused to let us supply.... it was clear during sound check that the guy's sound system was overwhelmed and so was he, in running it-- too many inputs, didn't label any channels, power problems with no one on hand from the power co. to help... finally got all the bands straightened out, with plans to swap mics around during the event (so tacky)... even though we did finally add two mics and booms from our church, standing right behind us on the Green...

So the service opens with the first of 3 pastors making some welcoming remarks, and as the first one comes forward I note my mic is not live and neither is my autoharp. Soundman nowhere near sound controls finally appears. I'm gesturing tactfully that there is a problem... behind me my husband HAS a live mic that's going to boost up his fiddle, and should I switch it real quick? No..... (silly me let Mr. Soundman decide).... I'm looking out seeing Mr. Soundman frantically swapping channels, pulling the XLR plug out, trying other slots, panicked face looking back at me to see if I am live yet. I'm unearthly calm. I turn to my husband and tell him he's singing the first number with about 2 seconds to go till we come in.... OK, I'm thinking, we're just going to sing anyhow!

Well, my finger pick breaks off in the first number, where my vocal cuts in and out under my husband's. I use it like a thumbpick, hoping not to lose my grip, and carry on. Second number comes-- I know my husband doesn't know the tune, so I go for it, again cutting in and out. People sing along..... as we come to the end I realize the bluesy rocker we have planned for our third and final song absolutely cannot be put across at all, without the autoharp keeping the band together, and without my pick intact there is NO WAY. So we smile and depart to clear the way for the next group-- no sense eating the clock any further with what the people cannot hear and Mr. Sound cannot handle!

The service has been held for about 30 years, but this was the first time the people clapped after each song. I think they liked our pluck!

Irony-- final song, "It's all right to go ahead and have a goodtime.... in the Lord!"

What's YOUR story?

The Good News-Goodtime Band

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Peace
Date: 29 May 05 - 03:16 PM

Had a gig once in Philadelphia. Problem was I took a plane to Chicago. Spent over an hour looking for the club. Arrived in Philadelphia a day late. Other than that, great gig.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 May 05 - 02:09 PM

There was the nursing-home gig where the social director decided to disappear. Two patients got in an angry argument. Then somebody started vacuuming the rug near us.

From now on, an employee has to stay with us.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Rusty Dobro
Date: 29 May 05 - 01:56 PM

I got a 'phone call offering a gig at the local fire station. Turned out it was a hoax call......

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 May 05 - 05:11 AM

Did I ever tell you about the Irish music gig I did on the day of Princess Diana's funeral. There was a large screen tv showing the funeral just above my head, with the sound turned up in case they missed the commentary.

So there I was losing the will to live and singing the Wild Rover as funeral cortege reached the Abbey, and thing were getting intense.

Suddenly a large tinker family burst through the door - by the look of them they'd been drinking for about a week in preparation for the gig. One of them shouts, Don't worry son, I'll get 'em going for ya! and grabs the microphone....

And he knows all the words to The Old Bog Road, The Streets of New York and much else........somehow the audience weren't in the mood

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: GUEST,Skivee
Date: 29 May 05 - 12:45 AM

Has two more years yielded any more wisdom of the road?

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Carly
Date: 06 Mar 03 - 11:13 AM

Oh my Lord, some of these gigs sound so familiar...

One of my worst gigs started innocently enough with the usual phone call. Could I come sing in the sheep barn during the Maryland State Fair? This was not as crazy as it sounds; I am a weaver and spinner, and at the time I was a member of a sheep-to-shawl team, participating in shearing/spinning/weaving contests held at fairs and festivals. My team was well-known at the time for singing songs about sheep, wool, etc. while we worked. I was familiar with that sheep barn; there was a central show ring with a small platform. The acoustics, of course, were not ideal, but a decent sound system would fix that. Sound system? said the Voice on the phone,Of course! There will be three of us, I continued, so five mics, three vocal and two instruments, wuold be great, although we can play with three. Don't worry, said the Voice, we'll take care of it.

We arrived early that day. Sheep competitions were proceeding in the ring, and my contact was nowhere to be found. I did discover that we were to perform directly after Ladies Lead. I kid you not, this is a contest involving teenage girls who design and sew outfits for themselves out of wool, and matching outfis for their sheep.They promenade around the ring with their sheep on leashes.Leading a sheep, I might add, is NOT as easy as leading a dog or a horse! There were sheep and girls in matching hats, wooly scarves and garters. One enterprising couple sported matching handspun crocheted shawls. All these girls,and their relatives, took these proceedings seriously, so we hung out,trying to keep straight faces and wondering what had become of our promised sound system.

Finally, the Voice arrived in person. Smiling brightly, she announced a slight change. The weather was so good, (hot and sunny) that we were moving to the edge of the barn. That way, we could perform in the shade of the roof and we would have a much larger audience, since everyone and his cousin were gathering for the sheepdog trials, to be held directly after. There was only one slight problem, from our point of view. The dog trials were to be held in a flat field directly outside the barns, but our audience, and it was a large crowd, was seated on the hillside at the far side of the field. Even with a sound system, this was impossible, and there was not a microphone or a cable in sight. I tried to point this out as kindly as I could; The Voice smiled and said, of course you need your sound system, and handed me a bright yellow battery-operated bullhorn. The three of us looked at it in bewilderment. We were on!

After a moment of sheer panic, we ditched the bullhorn, walked across the field, and, standing at the bottom of the hill, urged our audience to move in closer and sing along. I did get my moment of revenge. I started the set with The Battle Cry of Freedom, and for one verse I had the Voice in a tizzy; she had paid us good money and we were singing Mary Had a Little Lamb!

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Beccy
Date: 05 Mar 03 - 01:32 PM

I'm sure everyone has had a gig like this one...
My husband and his band were taking a mighty low paying gig one night at a bar in the city. They dragged all their gear in (at the time he was in a Grateful Dead-type jam band) and set up. The manager gave them a pitcher and told them to get to it. The audience consisted of 2 bar flies who sat pouring back shot after shot and pint after pint. My dearie started getting mightily irritated. He called for the first set break after 3 songs and went up to get a cup of water from the bar. Bar fly number 1 turned to him and said, "Look guy, no offense or anything 'cause you sound great, but we just came here to drink- not to hear music."
At this point, my beloved and the drummer packed up their gear and left the other guy (who had scheduled the gig as a favor to a friend) to his own devices in the dive bar.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Willie-O
Date: 05 Mar 03 - 01:25 PM

Pat, that's a well-known musician's rule in Canada: NEVER take a gig in a bar during the Stanley Cup playoffs, if there's any chance a TV will be turned on.

In fact, I found that out on the very first bar gig I ever played, which after the Friday game fiasco got shortened from two nights to one, saving the sleazy manager twenty-five bucks which he never intended to pay me anyway.   

Live and learn. Try to do both anyway.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Sarah the flute
Date: 05 Mar 03 - 10:06 AM

My gig from hell was a wedding where things seemed unusually quiet and then we discovered that the entire crowd of guests were deaf and could only communicate through sign language. Luckily there was one hearing child aged about nine who I got running around tapping people in order to set up the dancing! I had such fun calling.... you had to be there to really appreciate 2 hours of circle dances that didn't involve anyone turning their back so everyone could see what was going on.

Now the really strange bit.... they had a disco to follow us..Hmm OK .....but a string quartet at the start of the evening????!!!! what was that all about!


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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: InOBU
Date: 04 Mar 03 - 07:36 PM

OK here is the gif from hell. The pub for which we were the house band, was closed the morning of St. Pat's day... so I run out and get a gig for our Irish band in a slavic pub in the east village of New York. We get stuck in a concrete back room with no windows, and a buch of Ukrainian Polish and Russian chain smoking kids getting drunk and pissing themselves. At least they were apreciative of the music, which was very hot... I must say... We got a small amount of pay, expecting to make our bucks on the tip can, ... which got stollen by one of our appreciative audience members, the smoke was so thick we were all sick for a week, our flute player dangerously sick... I get sick just remembering it... cheers all Larry

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: GUEST,Larry K
Date: 04 Mar 03 - 09:30 AM

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Cluin
Date: 04 Mar 03 - 12:33 AM

What are you talking about, Clint? Most of Northern Ontario IS laid off.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: GUEST,Pat Cooksey.
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 05:39 PM

One I heard from the late, great, Hamish Imlach. He arrived to play in a club in Canada and found the seats were facing the opposite way to the stage. Hamish did his sound check and the sound system was promptly turned off, at the other end of the hall was a big screen where they showed an ice hockey final. Hamish did his gig whilst a packed audience applauded the ice hockey wildly facing in the opposite direction.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 05:17 PM

I'd appreciate if you guys'd lay off Northern Ontario... I mean it is my home... or rather it was... The Soo... 127 Beer Stores north of Toronto...

O.k.. what I'd really apprecaite is an EXCUSE to lay off Northern Ontario... LOL But there just ain't one...

Carry on...


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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: denise:^)
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 05:03 PM

We've had a few of these--many of them were hellish due to being an outdoor venue on a day with crummy weather (we now have a rain/cold temp/snow clause in our contract--if it's too awful, they don't pay, and we don't play...), many were due to ignorance on the part of the event organizer ("You mean, you can't 'stroll' with 2 hammered dulcimers, an upright bass, and a digital piano?"), and many were just sheer nightmares to get to--parking nearly a mile away, and no way to transport heavy instruments and equipment to the venue; you'd wind up sweating and EXTREMELY grouchy before the thing ever started (so, now, *that's* a part of the contract, too!).

Our last potential-gig-from-hell was when a local park hired us for 'background music' through the afternoon.
"Are you sure you don't want any singing? We sing, too!" I asked, over the phone.
"Oh, no; people will just be milling around and things; just play some music that they can listen to."
"Well, we could include some sing-along songs, if you'd like..."
"No, that's okay; just the music will be fine."

So, that's what we practiced--a bunch of fiddle tunes to 'mill around by.'

Then, we get to the park and find out that they've sent out publicity flyers, advertising that one of the most popular local folk groups is going to be performing a three-hour concert--but it's US, instead, armed with only fiddle tunes!--and we see a substantial audience, complete with picnic baskets, lawn chairs, and coolers, assembling 'round the gazebo...

A moment of sheer panic, and then we start frantically organizing our first 'set.'
"You've got to tell them what happened!" I tell the organizer, when he walks up.
So, as he introduces us, he sheepishly tells the audience that he inadvertently sent out *last year's* flyer, and the other group won't be appearing today.
Surprisingly enough, we only lost 3 audience members--they left before we even started--and we managed to pull off a 3-hour impromptu concert! Thank heaven, the audience seemed to love us--but, if that NEVER happens again, it will be soon enough for me...

p.s.--The worst gigs *do* make the best stories, though! ;^)

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Kim C
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 04:22 PM

Nothing like that ever happens to me. Or if it does, I don't remember. Am I missing something?

The only gigs from hell we have really had are the ones we like to call Musical Wallpaper - where we're just background noise and no one's really listening. Those sort of get on my nerves.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Willie-O
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 03:30 PM

Thought I'd refresh this classic. It's so old I was posting with my real name back then...

never been back to Watsons Corners

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Bert
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 09:51 AM

Go for it Wyo & Kat. You will probably want to get individual permission from each contributor but that shouldn't be too difficult.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Amos
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 12:01 AM

Did a pseudo Irish restaurant in Connecticut for Saint Patrick's Day. The crowd was thick and jolly and wanted Danny Boy so many times I swore I'd never sing the effing thing again as long as I lived. In the last half of the evening the emphasis shiftred from strolling among diners to standing in front of a crowded room packed with drinkers, all asserting their Gaelic roots through a hundred generations, affecting a wonderful range of phony burrs and brogues, and swilling green beer that was just pisspoor Bud with food dye in it, yelling out various visions of what they figured Irish music should be, but sounding more like football fans. I think I did Danny Boy a hundred times, and a hundred other songs a few times each, and I staggered home with my hundred bucks or whatever but with no voice left in my head.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: WyoWoman
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 11:03 PM

Can Kat and I please turn this into a book? Or maybe an episodic movie...Maybe a series...


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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: WyoWoman
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 04:29 PM

Well, I haven't sung professionally that much, so my horror stories aren't as horrific, nor as hilarious, as some of the above. However:

Back in the early 1980s, I sang with a band in Albuquerque that was made up of four engineers from Sandia Labs, one of their wives and me. We did parties -- wedding receptions, Christmas party, company picnic -- that sort of thing, always for people associated with the labs in some way, meaning almost all of them were scientists and engineers.

So this one gig was for a Christmas party on the air base in a big "cafetorium," which was a cafeteria but had a stage with big, heavy black curtains so it could double for a theater. The band set up onstage and when the appointed time came, we began to play.

And nobody danced.

The entire first set, no one soul danced.

I was deeply bummed, and during our first break, I told the other band members I felt so awful that the folks didn't like us. They looked at me with great surprise. What made me think that?

Well, I said, no one's dancing. No one's doing anything except staring at us and drinking. They aren't even talking to each other much.

Not to worry, they said. The just need to loosen up a bit.

(Translation: Wait 'til the booze kicks in...)

Indeed, this was the case. By the second set a few had started dancing and by the third set, not one was still sitting at the table. They were drunk as hoot owls and having a smashing good time.

At the end of the third set, this one very mousey-looking fellow who had been staring at me a bit throughout the last couple of hours, walked unsteadily up to me and stood in front of the stage as I was winding up my mic cord. He started saying something to me, but he was so drunk I couldn't understand a word. So I just smiled nicely and nodded and kept winding.

This encouraged him, so in his best Joe Cool move, he leaned casually up against the "wall" and kept talking. Only, it wasn't the wall he was leaning on, it was this huge, heavy black curtain. He began slowly sliding down it, his arm stretched straight out beside him, going down, down. And he didn't even NOTICE...just kept laying this line of bullshit on me the entire way down to the floor.

I had tears in my eyes from trying so hard not to laugh in the poor guy's face. He was sort of rolling around in the curtain, beginning to notice that something wasn't quite right, when two of his buddies came up and hoisted him to his feet. Neither of them seemed too well able to pass the field sobriety test, but at least they hauled him out of there before the barfing that was sure to follow started.

I don't think he ever knew what had happened. Bless his heart.


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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 01:56 PM

ToneDeafDave!!...I was AT that gig on the Maryland Eastern Shore!..Weren't you the 'Georgetown Shanty Singers' then?..

and I had no idea that you weren't expecting those 'extra' voices..*big grin*...

And MY story is, that at that time I had JUST met Rita, and we wanted to go together to your gig, but she had already planned to go with her current boyfriend, whom she was just deciding to break up,,,since I had no transportation at that time, she called a girlfriend of hers and asked HER to bring me!..So there I was, with a woman I barely knew, standing behind my new girlfriend, and exchanging knowing winks now & then, listening to YOU guys struggle through a gig with several 'extra' members of ..."ahem"...'doubtful' vocal abilities....but great fun was sort of had by all....and I married the lass...and you guys went on to a shining career with recordings and all...and we are all still mostly perking along...and it was GREAT seeing you at the Getaway and meeting Barry Finn........

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Rex
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 12:32 PM

My one group has stumbled into the corporate world. Last week we played for an "event", I guess you would call it, up in Aspen. They offered us enough to drive all the way up there so we took it. If I am playing in any time period it usually falls within the Victorian time. But these folks had a Renaissance setting. So we rigged up outfits and dug through our Elizabethan material. (Close enough) This was for a pharmaceutical sales company. They brought in 350 of their favored employees and put them in a hotel in the town. This was set up in a very large lodge above Aspen and they bused the folks up. Quite a circus atmosphere with actors doing sword fights, juggling torches, and talking like the time period. Oh, and a raptor group with hawks. Very renfairish. We set up and played at the entrance as the folks would come in off the bus and later for the dinner. In between we would wend through the crowd single file and play as loud as possible in the hope of hearing each other. You learn to follow the bow strokes of your friends to keep in time. Though no one would hear anyway. Later there was some kind of time shift I guess as our actor friends were putting on Starwars costumes and were having a tough time of it with the crowd. Yoda kept getting his ears pulled off. A rock band started up that shook the floor. Our job was done so we got out of there.

Yesterday two of us played for a similar gig in Denver for a woodworkers convention. Must have been tool sales. There's no money in woodworking or I'm not trying hard enough. We didn't know the whole story as it was still being made up. We got there and found out it was for 4000 people with cowboys, indians, mountain men and Buffalo Bill. (my old friend Al) At least we had some friends among the group. There was gold panning and cattle roping and of course a rock band. Timothy P. and Rural Route Three. Well I guess we can say we started for them. We started outside entertaining as they got off the buses. Then we came inside to try to find a place to play over the rock group. Once again, follow the bow strokes. One refuge was a nice coach pulled by a plastic horse. We climbed in there and the fabric top seemed to deaden the din outside. We we could hear each other at least and the crowd thought we looked nice. A high point was later when we were strolling with banjo and fiddle and an older couple recognised the song "Grandfather's Clock" and joined in. Mostly folks couldn't here us. We were western type furniture fitting in with the saddles and plastic horses. Weird. After it was done they fed us nice and we got our money and got out of there. It could have been a miserable time but we had fun with it. So there's money for musicians in the corporate world if you can stand it.


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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: JedMarum
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 10:59 AM

thanks Jeri - makes for a crooked smile, though!

;-) as opposed to the standard ;-)

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Jeri
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 10:55 AM

I kind of liked the italic smiley face. :-)

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 10:15 AM


And I thought only hockey players and hookers came from Elliot Lake.

How about "Worst Northern Ontario Town to play" thread? My brother used to play that circuit and has horror stories about every one of them.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 10:09 AM

Don't worry Liam, Mike had his sense of humour frozen off on one of his many trips to the north! JUST KIDDING MIKE!!

Many years ago (notice how most of these stories start with "many years ago" if we've all become too smart to repeat these disasters) I played in Elliot Lake Ontario, a wiped out uranium town in Northern Ontario. A hotshot softball team "The Harlem Magicians" came through on tour to do their "Globetrotters" comedy bit and wipe the local ball players off the map. The Magicians themselves got wiped, and as I hung around their bench, I could hear them muttering about not having been beaten in something like 4 years, and that these motherf*****g Canadian miners sure could play ball! Guess they hadn't realized that in Elliot lake, having babies and playing ball were the ONLY pastimes...and the locals were good at both!


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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Michael K.
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 10:02 AM

To liam_devlin:

No problem.....I just wasn't I responded with the ''safe'' answer. (But some are so politically correct they could have taken offence, so I'm never sure.)


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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: JedMarum
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 09:29 AM

Michael - my comments were in 'tongue-in-cheek' agreement! And my HTML obviously sucks, since I can't control my italics!

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Michael K.
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 09:14 AM

...sorry, the above response was from moi.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 09:13 AM

To liam_devlin:

No I am not in anyway shape or form suggesting that we caused these gigs from hell to happen. I just found a slight parallel, from the Sat. Nite Live sketch and it struck me as funny.....

...but every gig has the potential of being a positive adventure or potential disaster....Working musicians have risk-taker personalities and are adventurers, at least that's been my experience.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Bill Cameron
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 08:55 AM

That was me who anonymously attempted to summarize the results thus far above...guess i need to register again.

Northern Ontario's not a complete writeoff--any place that inspired "The Blackfly Song" can't be all bad. Vinyl padded bars are a great invention according to the philosophy of "harm reduction". Any of you non-Canadians out there seen the movie "Roadkill"--a bizarre tale of a renegade metal band carrying on a tour of North Ontario, after their agent has pulled the plug due to the disappearance of the lead singer and other unprofessional behaviour...actually its from the point of view of the agent's hapless but intrepid assistant, who takes the job of finding the band in the vast wilderness...only trouble is, as a good Torontonian she doesn't drive. (starts by taking a cab to Sudbury).

Places in the middle of nowhere can be great fun, _if_ the promoter knows what s/he's doing and has your best interests at heart. They are starved for good live music for starters. A lot of my friends who play something close to "country" have enjoyed playing in Iqualuit, now the capital of Nunavut, on Baffin Island.

So, Michael, I take it that wasn't your band in the Stan Rogers song "Canol Road" ("The Copper King is hot, even if the band is not, and it sure beats shooting whiskeyjacks and trees...")--or is that in Whitehorse?


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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: JedMarum
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 08:33 AM

I remember the skit, Michael; one says, "You know the other night I was stapling bologna to my tongue ya know, and I tied the bologna to an anvil and threw it off the roof ... ooo I hate when that happens!"

The guys in the skit were retelling tales of woe, but woe that was self-induced! Are you suggesting Michael, that our gigs from hell are our own fault? Are we all gluttons for punishment? We know the dangers of accepting gigs under odd circumstances, and yet the ever optimistic performer in us makes/i> us take the chance anyway .. and so we are responsible for our own gigs from hell? Hmmmm ... there may be something to that!


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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Michael K.
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 12:20 AM

This whole thread is starting to remind me a lot, of an old recurring sketch from Saturday Night Live, that Billy Crystal and Christopher Guest used to do, as security guards....where each one would have a worse ailment or experience to relate to the other....Anyone know what I'm talking about? (grin)

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Michael K.
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 12:14 AM

Try spending 6 weeks in Yellowknife (North West Territories, 60 miles inside the Arctic Circle) in the dead of winter, with daily average temperatures of 60 degrees below zero.

I did. Many years ago with a band. No one in the band wanted to go, except me. My rationale was, When will we ever get a chance again in our lives to go to Yellowknife - at someone else's expense? And the money was good and we needed the work. So we went. Took 3 separate planes to get us there, and we landed on a snow-covered runway. We literally got off the plane and stepped into snow. Several cabs met us, and took us to the hotel. We caught a break here, as the hotel was new and fairly nice, and it was built primarily for government people so that when they came to Yellowknife they'd have decent place to stay. We played mostly to Native Indians and the staff. I think they were so grateful just to have a decent band, they didn't care what we played....they just stayed and drank, and a while we became incidental to them.

In the winter in Yellowknife, the sun rises at about 7:00 am and sets around 3:00 pm. We were party animals back then and often didn't crash till 5 or 6 in the morning, awaking at around 4:00 in the afternoon (yes we were good in bed -often sleeping for 12 hours!!)....but the bizarre thing was, that for weeks we never saw daylight, and it was quite disorienting.. Apparently in the summer there, you can play golf at 2:00 in the morning.

Not exactly a horror story, but it was like being in the Twilight Zone.

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 11:00 PM

Wow, this gets better and better. OK here's some tongue in cheek thoughts along the lines of anon's.

Those people who said it were right: "Don't quit your day job. Even if it IS in a corporation.
Your success is measured by how long you can keep the patrons in the bar. The longer they stay, the drunker and stupider they get.
You can play brilliantly all night and be ignored but the moment a local gets on stage and sings Green Green Grass of home, off key, they'll cheer like crazy.
When asked to play a benefit, ask if the staff are being paid and suggest it would be exploitive not to at least pay you what the busboy's getting.
Ah what the hell, it beats carrying a hod of bricks!

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Jeri
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 10:37 PM

Very glad to see you here, ToneDeaf - Welcome!!!

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: ToneDeafDave
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 09:58 PM

Mine are pretty mild compared with you others, but for nostalgia's sake.... My first ever gig was a Gaelic festival. I had two half-hour shots. The first was to an audience of one, not counting the lady who was minding a stall selling Scottish Woolens nearby. Somewhat discuraged, I went to my second half hour where there was a large audience of men in kilts. As I opened my mouth to sing, someone said 'right' and they all ran off at top speed leaving a family of four having a picnic. (I found out later that I was singing at the starting post of the kilted race). A few months later, I was asked to get an act together by the organizers of a tall ships event in Washinton (DC). I found some volunteers and we practiced shanties for a while - obviously that was what a tall ships event needed. On the day, we discovered that the organizers had no such thoughts - we were between a judo demonstration and some 9-year old ballet dancers. To our delight, it all got rained off. As soon as the rain stopped, we went off to seranade the lines waiting to board the ships and had a good time after all.

The fact that we came back to sing after the rain so impressed the organizers that we were offered a highly paid gig at a major business convention (NAB I think). This became known in our little group as 'the bizzaro gig'. We ended up sharing a stage with an Irish band. The stage was decorated with nautical props and situated behind the oyster bar, and had no amplification. The room was huge, and contained at the other three corners (amplified) a western swing band, a mariachi band, and a traditional jazz band. In the middle of the wall opposite us was a sing-along pianist. Our Irish friends went home, and we spent the evening singing to guy who was shucking the oysters, who was extremely taken with our music. His customers were too far away to hear us. Not long after, we did another gig on the Maryland shore in a building with a leaky roof. Our group had never developed a good name, and had been using a generic name that had been used at other times by the folksong crowd in Washington (I can't remember what it was at this distance). We got on stage with our carefully arranged and rehearsed set list only to find we had been joined there by a number of members of the Folklore Soc. saying things like 'I didn't know we were singing tonight', 'what are we going to sing?', etc. A good time was had by all, but I can't speak for the audience.

It was shortly after that that our little group decided on the name 'The Boarding Party' and after that, things seemed to settle down a little...

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Subject: RE: A Gig From Hell
From: Shay Gillian Veno
Date: 03 Nov 99 - 09:40 PM

This thread is a Godsend. Due to some band problems we've had a few gigs from Hell in just the past 2 weeks. Now, granted, most of the time I am just happy to be there, feeling fortunate that I am playing in front of people willing to listen, never mind paying to hear us. But, there are times that not only try our souls, they tie them to a tree and play scratched recordings of Al Jolson singing Danny Boy, over and again. Thank you for the knowledge that I don't have it so bad after all. *G*

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