The worst gig I had to play -- man! There are so many to choose from!
But surely one of them was a wedding gig I did with my old man. We were hired
to play this fancy wedding. The mother of the bride was planning everything (a
process that lasted longer than the marriage). She wanted us to play every
kind of music in the book. We worked up about six "special" tunes and hired
three college music professors (drums, piano, flute) to put some gloss on the
show and cover ourselves on the standards/big band stuff. The drummer was the
college band instructor; the piano player a college music theory
(instrumentalist), and the flute player was the spouse of a well-known jazz
player. They kept assuring me we didn't need rehearsal because they, of
course, were masters and this was a "knock-off" gig. I was uneasy.
We arrived at the gig only to find no piano (the prof. "assumed" one would be
there). The three professors insisted on eating dinner (part of the deal, but
not necessarily the first thing to be done) before setting up. So we started
about 20 minutes late. It was a gala affair -- big money everywhere. We
started off with some of the six "special" songs ordered by the
Mother-of-the-bride. The audience looked at us like we were nudists at a DAR
dinner, so we switched into a few well-known standards. The piano player (who
had decided he would play trumpet instead!) took a solo and went into a whole
'nother song! The band stumbled along behind him, and when the solo was over
he came "back" into ANOTHER different song. Well...my old man and I gave each
other a look and stopped everything. I got on guitar and he on bass, and I
said to the others "Follow me." We plunged into Chuck Berry and the whole
place came alive.
Things were lookin' okay there for awhile, but the gig wasn't exactly smokin'
with trumpet and flute Chuck Berry solos. Nevertheless, we had that band
teacher sweatin' bullets in about 30 minutes. "You cats play like this ALL the
time!?" he asked. We hauled those dead-a_ _es through almost three hours of R
& B and then, on the dot, the flute player says she's gotta go...she has a
"jam" to make. It was true, our contracted time was up, but we HAD started 20
minutes late. The audience (having shaken-but-not-broken it for a good three
hours to the weirdest Chuck Berry/etc. they would ever hear) wanted more.
Several of the grooms buddies came up and argued for at least one more. We
were willing but the Music profs. were half packed up and loaded out. They
My old man and I were left to tear down the PA. The bride was in tears, the
groom looked steamed and the friends-of-the-groom kept eying us like we were
nuns at a biker's convention. How we ever got out of there without bruises is
a mystery to me. And of course we never did get paid.
I learned several lessons from that gig...one of which was...never get snowed
by someone's credentials...and don't listen to mother! Man....
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