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  1. #1

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    Saw this post here: Band in the Box for Gigs, thought I open a thread to hear your stories from the most crazy moments of your muso life.

    So here we go:

    I did this gig with a top 40 band in a German beer tent, think Oktoberfest, just a bit smaller. I was just starting our post midnight "Greatest Hits" set with "Smoke On The Water" when I saw some movement at the entrance area of the tent.

    Turns out a guy had entered the tent with a running chainsaw to take revenge for his advancements towards a girl not being appreciated.
    We just looked at each other to decide what to do, when the promoter storms the bandstand and yells: "Don't stop playing, don't stop the music!"

    So here I stand, playing the infamous riff while watching 5 to 6 men fighting with benches an attacker with a running chainsaw in a Bavarian beer tent...



    PS. No one was hurt, they had him down in a couple of (seemingly endless) minutes, police arrived etc...

    --- The ultimate answer to almost all guitar questions: "Practice more!" ---

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  3. #2

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    I think this might be a short thread. You’ve kinda peaked .

  4. #3

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    Not gonna beat that.

    I think my most surreal gig experience was playing a house party just off campus at Eastern Illinois University in mid-January. There was a smell of gas somewhere in the house, and some guy yelled "gas leak, everybody out!" and everyone (easily a hundred people) ran outside.

    I remember standing in the street in a t-shirt and jeans, guitar around my neck, sweaty, about 15 degrees outside, waiting for the fire department, who figured out it was just somebody lighting cigarettes off the stove burner and they hadn't completely turned it off.

    We came back in and played "Burning Down the House" by the Talking Heads.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  5. #4

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    A few decades back a couple of friends of mine called me to give them a hand playing "a benefit for jerry's kids" one Autumn weekend. Turned out to be a biker party, in the days when bikers were less likely to be dentists than to need dentists, if you know what I mean. This was out in the sticks at some guy's house. We were set up on the back porch, maybe 8'x8', drums, bass, & 2 guitars. A squeeze. The party had already been going on for two days, and would go on for a couple more. As we roll up in the other guitar player's battleship-size Mercury, a couple of burly bikers had a guest by the arms and were escorting him from the premises, if by "escorting" you mean pulling him along so that his knees and his Doc Martens were leaving trench-like trails in the lawn. His eyes were glazed over and there were cobwebs and twigs in his hair. "Who's that?" I queried.

    "Our bass player" said my friend (who I might add, did restorations/mods on Harleys, and knew many of the principals on a first-alias basis, hence the gig).

    So things went OK for while and eventually Wingnut (our bass player's name - an ex-commodities trader who had done some time inside and was now finding his feet outside) joined us and we went on serving up the blues and blooze, funkin' it up royally.

    Abruptly in the distance was heard the sound of gunfire. Immediately from the house behind us our host (presumably; if it wasn't then this story is weirder than I thought) burst a man with a high-powered rifle who proceeded to empty his clip (six rounds, IIRC) into the air, six inches from my right ear. There was no room to move, and nowhere to move to. My ears are still ringing. No, really.

    Well as I said, the party continued for a couple more days, but without Mark and I. Pat and Wingnut having elected to stay, Mark and I had our stuff packed up and in the back of the Marquis in thirty seconds flat.

    Alas, I'm the only left from that crew to tell the tale. God Rest their souls.

    Always travel light, Kids, and have an escape plan. No, really.
    Best regards, k

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I think this might be a short thread. You’ve kinda peaked .
    C'mon, Christian. Surely you have some crazy story from your many performances! Don't hold out on us, man!

  7. #6

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    My story about the playback Russian wedding gets better! Most (all?) players in the band have never done a playback gig before, so they were bored, changing instruments on stage, acting funny, etc.

    At some point the musical directors wife (one of the singers) takes offense, so finally asks the guy playing the drums (wasn't the drummer!) to stop, he refuses, before you know it they start fighting, the whole security team (VERY wrong looking guys to mess with) rushes onstage while some of the band is playing, some are rushing to help the guy, some are ducking. The brawl only lasts like a minute or so, behind the wall of 6 singers with the playback music playing. We continue afterwards. My telecaster survived!

  8. #7

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    I used to play lead guitar occasionally for a singer-songwriter who played amplified acoustic guitar. It was a quartet with bass and drums too. She wrote weird songs: In an attempt to be original, most of her chord progressions made little or no sense. But that was sort of an interesting challenge. Then she would call covers of songs I'd never played before: "These Boots Are Made For Walking," didn't pose much of a problem, however. Finally, we're playing live and she says, "We're gonna play, 'In The Day'." I said, "Do I know that one? Have we ever rehearsed it?" She said, "I just wrote it this afternoon." That wasn't the final straw, though. That came when she 'couldn't afford to pay me' for the last gig I did with her, even though she'd gotten the check from the venue. By the way, the group on before us was billed as a Jazz Trio. The promotional material said, "They play everything from standards to improvisation!"
    "Thanks, but you should have heard what I was trying to play!" - T. Monk
    http://network.online.berklee.edu/profile/1200078

  9. #8

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    ok, this may be a bit long.
    About 15 yrs ago I bought a jazz organ lp on ebay, the 2nd highest bidder emailed and asked if I could make a tape of it for him. No problem I said and we found out we were both jazz organ fanatics.
    He told me about a local Hammond B-3 player in his hometown and said it would be cool if we could work together.
    I didn't recognize his name but he sent me a half dozen VHS tape of the guy in action and I was seriously impressed, how I never heard of him before I didn't know and he had recently put out his 1st cd in his late 50's.
    The contact told me the organist and his drummer had a few gigs coming up and he wanted to add me to make it a trio.
    They lived about 9 hrs away but I accepted because this guy was just a monster player.
    So I set off on a 90 degree morning w/2 Twin Reverbs in the trunk and my L-5 in the back seat.
    Travelling on the highway at about 70 mph a couple hrs into the drive one of my rear tires blew out while I was sandwiched between 2 tractor trailors. It was a miracle I didn't swerve into one of them.
    Sitting there in the median in 100 degree temps I unloaded everything from the trunk including the Twins and put the donut tire on. By the time I finished I was completely soaked from sweat and had resigned myself to just turn around and go home. As I started driving the next crossroad was named "Hammond Ave", I mean how could I turn around at that point?? So I said "f it" I'm going on.
    When I finally hit town I got a new tire and drove into the mountains to the house of the guy I had been communicating with, he was providing the B-3 and Leslies for the gigs.
    When I got there his house was built into the mountainside w/ a 20' rickety wooden staircase from the front door to the ground. Turns out the organ was inside and we had to take it down the steps load it into his pickup and drive down the mountains back into to town. He had a friend to help and we managed to get it in the pickup.
    They sat in the front and I was in the bed w/the organ, hanging on for dear life through the twists and turns of the road. Not what I had in mind when I set out that morning.
    When we got to the club I met the organist, he was huge, well over 300 lbs and we seemed to hit it off pretty well.
    We played the gig and then the next one and hung out all weekend, he was full of stories and had me in stitches the whole time. I was having a great time, all the hassle seemed to be worth it.
    We had one gig left and 1/2 the town was there jammed in like sardines, he was a local celeb of sorts. He was friends w/the mayor and he came up on the bandstand for a few pics for the local paper. Right as we were going to start playing again he turned to me and called off the next tune and didn't move for a minute or two. I noticed his cigarette was burning close to his fingers so I flicked it away. He got up and went to the bathroom but didn't come out and they had to break down the door to get in, he was out cold. The whole place was in shock and you could hear a pin drop.
    He was having a stroke and they called an ambulance. I wanted to go to the hospital w/him but everyone said I had to stay, they had another organist coming to fill in for the rest of the night.
    When the gig was over I went to the hospital, everyone else had gone home by then.
    I sat next to his bed the rest of the night and watched the sun come up. He woke up and asked if he could have a cigarette!
    Some family started trickling back in and I said goodbye and headed for the 9 hr trip back home.
    He survived the stroke but his organ playing days were done.
    I got a few nice letters from some family and friends as well as some pics of the gigs, but they couldn't bear to watch the videos of the last night. Can't say I blame them....

  10. #9

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    You're a stand-up guy, wintermoon! Well done!
    Best regards, k

  11. #10

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    I have blotted from my memory the fights, the drunks, the non-paying bar owners, leaving only the more enjoyable incidents. Such as the two supermodel-beautiful young women dancing together in front of the band, taking their mutual affection to the next level, and the next, while I and the rest of the stupefied band, jaws hitting the floor, fell apart.

  12. #11

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    Not a jazz gig tales - sorry

    I played in the army band... there were lots of storied...

    Once we had that marching drill while playing... I do not know how it is called in English... when you play and walks making different figures, so you have to count steps turn into the right direction and other 'dancing' stuff...
    By the way we were playing 'Washington Post' - I can't remeber why, I played trombone it was pretty challenging becasue in American marches trombone parts are usually very intensive and independent (in European ones they usually dub the bass baritones or just comp chords)...

    So at the end of all that the whole band should have advanced to the front line than all turn left just on the spot and march way way with music...

    During rehearsals all was fine... but during the parade at the very end when the band had to make - one!two! - turn!left! - the guy with a big drum turn right...
    Music kept playing people (including high rank officers) kept watching, the band mached away to the left, the drummer with a big drum kept going to the right while he kept playing... he decided that he could not just turaround and run to catch the band so he began to make strange marching figures keeping the step in time: turning left than a few stepst, then turning left again etc. When he understood that he would not catch the band like that he desperately made it double time, he definitely did not want to stay alone in the open space with a drum...
    Finally somebody gave a sign to the bandleader and he gave a command to march without going for a few moments so he could get to the back band.


    Another story was about our tenor sax player and clarinetists - he was already in hos 50s, a bit strange guy, nice but always a bit lost, also he drank a lot... they all drank quite a lot (I mean all except us who were on duty service there).. especially in winter because they gave us spirit to prevent instruments from froxing outside... many musicians supposed that having spirit inside themeselves is much more effective for it becasue then you have spirit in your breath.

    Well anyway ... we had one of this big events when all the regiments are there and so on... so the band is there too but we cannot see our sax player - not a big problem, the band is big... somebody just filled in his place...
    But right before the beginning we saw him running from behind... he got to the band, stood oh his place smiling... and grabbed his sax, or tried to grab it becasue there was no sax, only strap... he forgot it. The seargent (out 1st trumpet) whispered at him: go away! just go awya! we will mach right in front of the general! He will see you...
    But the guy said (absolutely sincerely): it is ok, I have a nice voice and can sing my part well!
    Go away!
    But then everything began... so we played the whole event inclyding marching in front of the generals with our sax player holding imaginary sax (he really held his hands as if he had a sax to pplay) and singing his part quite loudly!

  13. #12

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    I can't tell the story about what happened one Sunday at church during the choir's anthem.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thoughtfree View Post
    I have blotted from my memory the fights, the drunks, the non-paying bar owners, leaving only the more enjoyable incidents. Such as the two supermodel-beautiful young women dancing together in front of the band, taking their mutual affection to the next level, and the next, while I and the rest of the stupefied band, jaws hitting the floor, fell apart.
    That takes a lot of blotting! In a similar vein: We had been working on a project for quite some weeks when the opportunity arose to do a half-hour audition for a roadhouse. We figured it would be a nice opportunity for dinner with the wives/girlfriends and a bit of an evening out. Big mistake. As we're setting up, in walks an oddly dressed couple - matching Fedoras and trench coats, male and female. Well, it takes all kinds, so....So we're about three songs into our set (mid- "Proud Mary" IIRC) when the lady whips off her trench coat and starts shakin' it wearing an electric blue bikini complete with matching fringe. Turns out the management was auditioning go-go dancers. Needless to say, our built-in-cheering section took a dim view. The long, silent trip back home left no doubt that Federal Aid (our fledgling project's name) was a goner. That was The Year of No Gigs.
    Best regards, k

  15. #14

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    I grew up in a very rural area, maybe 2500 people in the entire county, with the county seat being the only real town, fewer than 2000 residents, so everybody knew everybody. It always amazed me to see the potential adultery going on out on the dance floor, including dry humping. I don't know what made any of them think they weren't being seen, it was either the liquor or they wanted to be seen. I'm not talking about a roadhouse out of town, because there were none. We'd rent the American Legion or VFW hall and hope to make money on the gate, and most of the town would be there, with open liquor bottles everywhere, in a dry Texas county, including the mayor. The sheriff or the police chief (he was the chief because he was the entire force) would come by and see if anyone was being a public danger with a firearm, but never ever bothered anyone otherwise. He would have soon been out of a job if he had. But the raw sex drive of otherwise respectable people when they started drinking and dancing never ceased to amaze me.

  16. #15

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    Yes, the follies of youth. Hormones plus alcohol plus music can lead to some crazy antics.

    For some reason I don't see this type of behavior at the senior living facilities I mostly play now.

  17. #16

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    I'm not talking about youth. I'm talking middle-aged farmers and small-town merchants. We never got a lot of teen-agers at our dances. I did play years later in a group that went to different nursing homes weekly, and we would watch the residents dance in their wheelchairs, but otherwise pretty tame. The staff generally keeps nursing home residents pretty well medicated.

  18. #17
    These are great stories, and so varied.
    Once i played a rock gig with an ungrounded microphone -- we were stupid high school kids in someone's garage. First lyric of the first song (Light My Fire, naturally), my lip touched that mic and POW! Felt like I'd been struck by lightening and my left eyelid fluttered for a minute afterward. Years later, I felt proud to know the same thing happened to Bob Weir at Woodstock 1969.

  19. #18

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    Not too exciting but here it is.

    Short story #1

    I played bass if a party band back in the 80's. We were playing a Christmas party for the night shift nurses from the local hospital. After the gig was over 1 of the nurses remained while we packed up. She wanted to take the whole band home with her. 3 out of 4 didn't go home with her, the drummer did.

    Short story #2

    We were playing a wedding in the nearest big city. We were a non union band. The local union business agent came in and tried to collect a work tax. The brides father was a police officer. The union guy was escorted out and told if he bothered us again he would be arrested. We didn't see him again.

    There were many times the two families at a wedding would degenerate into booze inspired fist fights complete with whacking each other with folding chairs.

    Fun times.

  20. #19

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    I was on the road for 5 years with a popular band and got to fully participate in the pleasures of "Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll"
    Oh gosh, it was fun! That's all I'm gonna say about that!

    More recently:
    I played a wedding reception at an expensive country club venue. There was the bride and her family and friends, all dressed up, but kind of a weird vibe. It turns out the groom, a busy executive, was coming in from out of town but, without explanation, did not show up. Everything was booked, so they had the reception anyway, but it was not exactly a festive occasion.

    I found out a few days later that the groom did not exist, the bride was delusional and had constructed this elaborate fantasy and persuaded her family to fund it. She had to go away for a while to get some help.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilpy View Post
    I was on the road for 5 years with a popular band and got to fully participate in the pleasures of "Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll" Oh gosh, it was fun! That's all I'm gonna say about that!More recently: I played a wedding reception at an expensive country club venue. There was the bride and her family and friends, all dressed up, but kind of a weird vibe. It turns out the groom, a busy executive, was coming in from out of town but, without explanation, did not show up. Everything was booked, so they had the reception anyway, but it was not exactly a festive occasion.I found out a few days later that the groom did not exist, the bride was delusional and had constructed this elaborate fantasy and persuaded her family to fund it. She had to go away for a while to get some help.
    That's sad. We used to do a lot of weddings, many at upscale clubs and resorts. One in particular stands out. It was quite a lavish shindig with all the imaginable amenities.I was describing the largesse to my wise wife who explained that that was SOP in some circles when the groom was not considered worthy and was being shown the type of people he would be dealing with should he not be towing the line down the straight and narrow. Sure enough, six months in the divorce hits the papers. I always felt a little sad for them.
    Best regards, k

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    I grew up in a very rural area, maybe 2500 people in the entire county, with the county seat being the only real town, fewer than 2000 residents, so everybody knew everybody. It always amazed me to see the potential adultery going on out on the dance floor, including dry humping. I don't know what made any of them think they weren't being seen, it was either the liquor or they wanted to be seen. I'm not talking about a roadhouse out of town, because there were none. We'd rent the American Legion or VFW hall and hope to make money on the gate, and most of the town would be there, with open liquor bottles everywhere, in a dry Texas county, including the mayor. The sheriff or the police chief (he was the chief because he was the entire force) would come by and see if anyone was being a public danger with a firearm, but never ever bothered anyone otherwise. He would have soon been out of a job if he had. But the raw sex drive of otherwise respectable people when they started drinking and dancing never ceased to amaze me.
    So - business as usual? This brings to mind a Christmas party we played for a Fortune 500 company - lots of high level execs and their entourages about. The revelry was quite uninhibited - the usual thing is for the lady to remove the gentleman's hand from her posterior and move it up to more genteel position. In this case, the ladies were reversing the procedure. And this was happening amongst multiple couples simultaneously. Age discrepancies were also pronounced. Office politics never do go away, do they? BTW, I'm descended from Puritans, who would surely look askance; I'm also in favor of continuing our species.
    Last edited by citizenk74; 10-10-2019 at 06:53 PM. Reason: tYp0
    Best regards, k

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thoughtfree View Post
    Yes, the follies of youth. Hormones plus alcohol plus music can lead to some crazy antics.For some reason I don't see this type of behavior at the senior living facilities I mostly play now.
    Grown-ups sometimes learn discretion.
    Best regards, k

  24. #23

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    I once played a free jazz/improvised music gig where , without telling the rest of the band , I got a couple of friends to dress up in a pantomime horse outfit and dance across the stage while we played terribly intense free improv . The irony was that the horse got mentioned in the following month's ' Wire ' magazine , the band didn't . O well that's showbusiness .

  25. #24

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    Back in the 70s, I played in a trio that had a fairly regular gig at a restaurant in N. Myrtle Beach, SC. The place was so popular that the owner decided to add another location in nearby Murrels Inlet. That restaurant opened in the late winter/early spring - kind of a shakedown run before the summer season began in earnest. It was a quiet night, a couple of waitresses, a customer or two, our trio playing our usual swing repertoire, when a couple showed up and sat at a table directly in front of us. I noticed that the guy was wearing a heavy coat - a little too much for the mild SC weather. When he took off the coat, it revealed a large revolver in a shoulder holster rig. Turns out he was drunk, and thought it would be a good idea for our mandolin player to sing "Dixie", while wearing his (the drunk's) KKK outfit. At this point, the revolver was on the table, and he sent his girlfriend out to retrieve the outfit from his pick up truck. It was the whole deal - robe, pointy hood, both fashioned with some kind of embroidery - now sitting on the table next to the gun. Things got a little tense before our mando player, who was a native North Carolinian, finally convinced the Klansman that a rendition of "The Dying Rebel Soldier" ("Will my soul pass thru the South Land?"), performed without the costume, would suffice.

    That ended the set, and was the last time we played in either restaurant...

  26. #25

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    Early 80s I played in a free-improv quartet around Hartford.

    We got booked into a straight-ahead club. As we were loading in the owner looked up, realized who he had hired and fired us before we started!







    He was right, too. We woulda cleared that bar in about four minutes.
    "Don't worry about that. Everybody talks about finding your voice. Do your homework and your voice will find you." - Branford Marsalis

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sherry View Post
    Early 80s I played in a free-improv quartet around Hartford. We got booked into a straight-ahead club. As we were loading in the owner looked up, realized who he had hired and fired us before we startedHe was right, too. We woulda cleared that bar in about four minutes.
    We got thrown out of one dive two weeks in a row (too loud). Now you tell me - when you book a band called "Guttersnipes," what, exactly, are you expecting?
    Best regards, k

  28. #27

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    Chainsaws, Klansmen, Outlaw Bikers....what a thread!

    My story involves Exxon Executives, perhaps not a different bunch than Klansmen, Outlaw Bikers or other groups where a moral compass might get in the way, but perhaps this is not the place to discuss that.

    I was hired by an agent to provide a jazz quartet to play a private event for some of Exxon's top brass. The venue was a hilltop estate in Big Sur, California. We were met in Carmel, CA by some folks who took us and our gear on a very long drive in a van to the venue. This estate was on a hilltop and the dirt road that got us to the top took about 45 minutes. Once there we saw a huge mansion and a large outdoor tent. We were told that we would be performing outside as the Exxon execs were being helicoptered in (after a Day of playing golf in Pebble Beach) and then we would move into the tent where dinner would be served.Well as soon as the first Helicopter approached, I saw that the wind would blow away us (and our gear) and I instructed my crew to take cover and protect their gear. We all made it to safety. The tent was blown down. Apparently the folks planning this "grand entrance" failed to consider the wind generated by helicopters. It took awhile and the tent was rebuilt and the event happened, albeit a bit later than expected (our overtime was quite generous and none of us were hurt and our gear suffered no damage).

    At the time it seemed like a Twilight zone episode, but now it makes for a good story. Still it is hard to follow posts about Chainsaws, Klansmen and Outlaw Bikers....
    Last edited by Stringswinger; 10-12-2019 at 12:01 PM.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  29. #28

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    The only real story I can remember was I played with a very large jazz orchestra and after awhile the leader was getting pretty crazy. He just was pushy and completely nasty looking out for his own interest. I would always have my guitar case next to me to keep the guitar in it when not playing........no stands for me. Well the leader at this place decided he did not like that and it made things look bad. I said I need the case within a short distance did not want my guitar getting crunched. He then got nasty and said wonder why I was special the brass did not have any problems and ect....

    I told him my guitar goes in the case between breaks period and he said no........otherwise hit the road.......and I did left right there never to return. I told him the gig paid almost nothing considering time and hassel factor. I the end he caused so much friction the band broke up under him........I just stood up to him and no one really did.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark View Post
    The only real story I can remember was I played with a very large jazz orchestra and after awhile the leader was getting pretty crazy. He just was pushy and completely nasty looking out for his own interest. I would always have my guitar case next to me to keep the guitar in it when not playing........no stands for me. Well the leader at this place decided he did not like that and it made things look bad. I said I need the case within a short distance did not want my guitar getting crunched. He then got nasty and said wonder why I was special the brass did not have any problems and ect....

    I told him my guitar goes in the case between breaks period and he said no........otherwise hit the road.......and I did left right there never to return. I told him the gig paid almost nothing considering time and hassel factor. I the end he caused so much friction the band broke up under him........I just stood up to him and no one really did.
    I also keep my guitar in the case during breaks. Unless it is a solo or trio gig. Never had an issue.

  31. #30

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    this is a true story.....

    in 1971 I was eighteen and playing in a top 40 band traveling around the south eastern US; one of the clubs we frequented was a topless bar in Gainesville Fla, named Dub's Steer Room. It was a large venue holding 500-600 folks IIRC. Dub was an ex body builder who was about 5'2" and was almost as square as Sponge Bob. Every Thursday night he held an amateur strip contest that was extremely popular. The young women contestants got about $50 for participating and there was a regular cast of about a half a dozen supplemented by the occasional adventurous college girl. None of the girls got to the full monty as Dub had two rules for the contest that he announced weekly: "no skin no win and too much skin put Dub in the pen". The placed would be cram packed with people sitting on and under the tables. Every single time there would be a huge fight that resulted in Dub leading the bouncers though the place, throwing people over his shoulders. It was so bad our two roadies sat on the stage with us holding spare mic stands.

    We played five sets, around eighty tunes, every night. That particular Thursday we were playing Santana's "Black Magic Woman" and I was playing my gold top LP though a Bandmaster stack when one of the regulars came up, a large black lady named Betty. All the regulars had a gimmick or shtick; Betty's was humping. Sometimes the floor, sometimes another contestant but aways with the humping. That night she humped my Bandmaster. At the end of my solo, while she was humping, the amp burst into flame with a lot of grey smoke. All the band and most in the audience were completely amazed, as was Betty. The band limped on, but never stopped. I can't remember if there was a fight that night.

    Mitch