Next time you’re small talking with a musician – sitting on a plane, or standing in the exchange line at Wal Mart you might be inclined to ask:
“What was your favorite gig ever?”
(Opening for Rosanne Cash at the Birchmere.
She was great and gracious.
And the crowd was sold out and attentive as a fly in a spider web.
Or maybe the time I played a festival in Cincinnati on a gorgeous day overlooking the river and my set was between Alison Krauss and Willie Nelson.)
But favorite shows aren’t where the stories are though.
If you want the good stuff you gotta ask:
“What was your absolute worst, most terrible show ever?”
I was playing at a bar in Hollywood Florida for 2 people:
1. The bartender
2. a guy wearing a vest with no shirt underneath.
Vesty McChesthair, was the lone patron.
He was under dressed and over served but really into the music and wanted to chat with me between every song.
And sometimes during them.
I was playing Anymore when Vesty interrupted:
“Man, this is great!
I’m promoting a show next week at a new club in Miami.
I’ll put you on the bill.
It’s gonna be huge!”
I knew the club.
I had just seen Rufus Wainwright there a week or so before.
And I liked this guy’s enthusiasm.
So I commited.
Turns out that huge gig at an awesome club was actually a variety show promoting a new alcoholic energy drink.
I was literally performing on a go-go dancer platform.
There was a guy juggling fire on another platform and a hair metal band playing the main stage – at the same time.
I felt like an asparagus salesman on free-scoop day at Ben and Jerry’s.
I offered to play catch with the fire juggler but he was watching the band.
Afterwards, Vesty was thrilled and invited me to an after party that was going to be huge.
Drove home and watched Golden Girls.
There was one time when I was paid to NOT play:
I had a gig in Philly.
The night before I was in Saratoga Springs.
So I Drove all day stopping only for coffee and gas.
(I always stop for gas in Jersey whether I need it or not because the attendants still pump for you there. Makes me feel like Gatsby.)
I sweated in Philly traffic and made it to the club with seconds to spare.
The owner met me at the door with a wad of cash and said “the Flyers are in the Stanley Cup.
If I turn off these TVs the crowd is going to kill me.”
I Checked into the hotel and watched Golden Girls.
Then there’s the show in Atlanta when the headliner got sick.
So at the last minute they booked a rapping puppet.
I opened for a rapping puppet.
Whenever I find myself sleeping in my truck after opening for a puppet I try to remember what Rose said on Golden Girls:
“When I was a little girl, and got depressed Grandma could always cheer me up. She’d take out her dentures, take a healthy swig from the aquarium, and then she’d put a flashlight under a chin, and we could watch the goldfish swim from cheek to cheek.”
The next night’s show was awesome.
But the story will bore you.
This Is Pretty Cool:
1. Matt smith who runs Club Passim where I have had numerous wonderful shows – none of which involving a puppet, hosts a radio show and played my cover of Always On My Mind. Have you heard it? Listen/Download it here.
2. Here’s Paul Simon and Dave Letterman talking about their worst show intros ever.
3. Penn and Teller tell a funny story about meeting David Allan Coe again for the first time.
4. John Prine co-wrote David Allan Coe’s You Never Even Call Me By My Name with Steve Goodman but John wouldn’t put his name on it because he thought it sucked. Here he is talking about it and playing it better than anyone could.
5. I love Rufus Wainwright’s version of his dad’s, Loudon Wainwright III’s, song One Man Guy.
7. Here’s whats working for him now. You might want to try it for yourself.