Greetings True Believers... Beliebers... I'll come up with something to open with. Sorry, Stan Lee.
I posted out on Twitter and got a huge response to the idea of this blog series (thanks to both of my followers for responding) so I decided to go for it. The idea behind this series is to give you a peek into what it's really like being a local musician from a local musician's perspective. Sure, we had tons of hot babes (not), gobs of cash (not), loads of blow (not even meth) and admiring fans (ie: people who didn't throw beer bottles) but, beyond that, was the art.
Yeah, we were delusional.
First, some background;
My music passion began when I was in high school and decided I wanted to join a band. Hair Bands were big back then as it was around 1988/1989 and I was convinced it was my calling. In other words, I wanted to meet girls.
I started playing late in life, taking money I had saved from work (shocker kids, I was working at age 16 so I could have money) as well as some birthday money and bought a Stinger model bass. It was a Fender P Bass style oddball brand, but it stayed in tune, was playable and sounded OK. All in all, a perfect starter bass for me. With that in hand I had some buddies who offered to teach me how to play because they needed a bass player.
Rule 1: Bands always need a bass player because there are approximately 4 of us in the United States at any given time. You can't swing a dead hooker without hitting a drummer or guitar player and everyone is a "Singer" (I'm looking at you William Hung) but most of them really, really suck.
OK, so you have my "Beginning" as a bass player in a garage band. Let's get to today's story.
Today's story takes place at The Down Home in Johnson City, Tennessee. The band I was playing with t the time was named "The Creeps". We had kicked around some ideas on how to market ourselves and decided to embrace our weird side.
We consisted of Dustin Schrimpsher on electric guitar, Jackie Yeager on acoustic guitar, Michelle (I'll find her last name and add it later. cut me some slack, it's been over 20 years) on drums and Me on bass.
We had a tendency to laugh at weird things and write goofy songs. One of our classics was "Cannibal Romeo" which Dustin and I wrote in a fit of geek bliss.
I see you floating in the carrots and beets,
stoke up the fire girl 'cause I love boiled meat.
Something something something I feel like a fool,
I should have ate Tipper when she smoked that doob.
Yep, Rock n Roll Hall of Fame keep our seats warm.
We also had a dang fine song we had written about a trailer park queen who called herself Velveeta because she thought it sounded classy. It was obviously named "Hey Velveeta".
Do you sense something coming?
So, we get the gig booked. This was roughly late 1993, early 1994 and we packed up the vehicles to caravan up. We arrived and were pleasantly surprised, the place was fairly nice. They had tables, a good PA, a great stage and for the love of Pete, A GREEN ROOM!
Yes, it was a real room where we could tune up, chill out and not have to hide at the back of the bar freaking out over if people would actually show up where we could get paid.
My girlfriend and I (she is now known as THE WIFE) plopped down on a couch where we were met with another shocker. THEY WERE FEEDING US!!!
OMG, I can't explain how wonderful it is for a musician to get food. Normal gig meals involved Bean Burritos from Taco Hell or 59 cent hamburgers from McDonalds. A GREAT gig called for hash browns all the way at Awful House with black coffee.
We ordered our meal and it was... edible. With hindsight it was fine microwave fare but also with hindsight I did not suffer from food poisoning. #Score
Shortly after the meal I began to notice I was itchy. THE GIRLFRIEND was alo complaining and after a few moments we realized the couch we had crashed on was alive with frigging fleas.
Not, had some fleas on it, but was frigging crawling with these beasts from the gates of Hell.
Not much we could do but knock the tiny beasts off of us, scratch and get ready for the gig.
Time came and they called us out. The room was maybe half full, so not a horrible crowd. We put on our instruments and looked out.
Do you remember that scene from The Blues Brothers? You know, the one where they're at the redneck bar, behind chicken wire and the realize they're in deep doo doo. It was like that, only no cowboy hats and there wasn't any chicken wire.
Fortunately for us, the place really did have an "Eclectic" booking record, so we weren't pelted with beer bottles, but we were almost universally ignored except for a couple of polite bouts of applause.
The real pain came later when I stripped down after the gig and found I was covered all over...
... with flea bites. I hope they burned the couch.
Stay tuned. I believe the next gig we'll talk about the dangers of playing music in the mountains of Tennessee with another band, another set of musician, another location in The Great Gatlinburg Gig.