The Worst Gig I Ever Played

jbtsax

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#1
I wanted to share this story with my friends at the Cafe. Those of you who have played a few gigs can probably relate and share your own less than stellar experiences.

I had a few "interesting" gigs over the years, but one stands out in particular. A local dance band had booked two "wedding" gigs on the same night and called the leader of our jazz quartet and asked if we could sub for his group on that night. No problem. We played a lot of standards, soft rock, and pop tunes so we felt comfortable playing for a wedding dance.

We got there and as we were setting up began to realize the gig was for a for a Greek wedding party and there was a good chance the a** hole who called us to fill in knew exactly what he was doing. The bride's father who hired the band was expecting a Greek Bouzuki Band that would play music to do "traditional dances" to---not a jazz quartet. On top of that, the last minute sub we got to play drums packed his set so quickly, when he opened his snare case it was empty---he had left his snare at home.

We played a couple of slow tunes, but no one got up and danced, and the crowd began to get more hostile the more they drank. The bride was in tears and the father who was a BIG man approached the bandstand with a look of rage on his face. How did we dare to ruin his daughter's special evening! Suddenly the piano player broke into "Never on Sunday", the drummer hitting a tamborine in his lap, and me reaching for my soprano. They began to dance and have a good time, but we had 2 1/2 hours left to play!

We played Never on Sunday again, this time in a different key and it didn't seem to matter as long as they recognized the song and could do their dance to it. This went on for a while, as the piano player racked his brain to think of another song they might like that sounded---well foreign enough. The next seque was into Hava Nagila and they loved it! Over and over again all evening Never on Sunday and Hava Nagila were all that we played. Every word of this is true, you can't make this stuff up.
 

Jazzaferri

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Victoria BC Canada
#2
Way back in my early days as a touring pro we played a gig in a small town. The community hall was full and they had a makeshift bar on top of all the beer people brought. After a few hours of playing, the vibe started to turn and we started playing requests for 50's rock(not our style but we could manage) The fights were breaking out and got closer and closer to the stage.

For our last number, an up tempo boogie feel if I remember correctly, after each person took their solo as the net player launched into theirs we dismantled their equipment and threw it into the van. The last solo was the drummer and we dismantled parts of his kit. It ended up with us carrying him out on his drum throne while he whacked out on the snare, The place erupted and the brawl poured out of the hall and carried on up and down the main street. According to the Cowichan newspaper it went on for a few hours after we left. The RCMP were unable to do anything but watch. I dont think we even got paid for that one.
 
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Long Island
#3
Not rerally a gig, but I'd say a school concert is close enought ;)
Were were playing a peice in jazz band that featured a driving rock bass line, played by our excellent bari sax and not played by our bassist whos amp always misteriously unplugs...
Anyhow, our regular italien food fundraiser came, and our bari player- the one whith the most important part that is at times the only one playing- went on vacation that week.
Now at the concert, were playing that peice (whose name eludes me), and the part that builds from the bari part comes up. Not only was the entire peice sloppy and poorley played (the bari part was very useful to lock into), but we ALL failed to come in afterthe mini bari solo was over, so we all just sat there waiting for each other to come in. The band directer cut the peice off there.
 

Halfers

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#4
Many many Years ago we turned up at a local very popular Music Pub and found the stage stacked with chairs. The Landlord told us he'd forgotten we were coming and if we wanted to play we had to clear the stage! We were young. We cleared the stage..
We turned up to a party at a Community Hall. We were sharing the Entertainment duties with a DJ, who was having terrible trouble with the Volume trip, which cut the Power every time She wanted to turn the Music up. She had to play at a ridiculously low volume and the crowd were getting restless. After the DJ finished the first set, it was our turn to play. A quick yank on the control panel for the DB trip and the off switch was found. We cranked up the volume while the DJ looked on in disbelief. After our set the DB trip was turned back on and the DJ continued to scratch her head all evening.
More recently, we were three quarters through our first set, getting into our stride. We were all ready to count off the next song until someone noticed the drummer had disappeared. Turns out he was desperate for the loo and couldn't wait. Sign of getting old..
 

Andrew Sanders

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Ilkley West Yorkshire
#5
The most humiliating moment happened to me at a gig in a traditional workingmens' club in South Yorkshire 1970's. In a power trio a la
Cream, Groundhogs etc. The p.a. was turned right down after two blistering songs with the phrase " If yer not gunna play any Elvis you can
f@#* off and we'll have three more games of bingo. Eyes down for a full house"
 

Wade Cornell

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#6
Certainly can't top any of the above and had a great hoot over jbt's gig. As a teen in the early 1960s we had a band leader/teacher who was a WWII vet and thought that the only music to be played was Big Band. He unfortunately had control over the school dances so we played ALL of them and only payed Big Band music. Every dance was inappropriate and an embarrassment as our peers wanted to dance to rock/pop music. The dilemma was in trying our best to play the tunes well but not having any of it wanted or appreciated. Even worse was having our peers think that since we tried to make it all sound as good as possible that we were somehow responsible for the choice. I can't listen to big band music without it bringing back that cringe factor.
 

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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#7
My worst experience was with a choir. We had been asked to sing as part of a big charity event. So it was in a large civic centre in Cheshire. Audience of around 600. There were three groups performing: us, a School choir and a locally well-known brass band. The concert was two 45 minute halves, with around 15 minutes per group in each half. Running order was us, school, band / band, school, us.
So, we dutifully performed for 15 minutes, as did the school. The band then played a full 40 minute set.... So, we are now running over by 25/30 minutes. Break, during which there is a big prize raffle draw (I think the event was organised by Round Table or Rotary - one of those anyway). As ever, that takes longer than planned, so interval was nearer 40 minutes than 20. So it is now about 9.15. Band resumes (the reason for being adjacent was to minimise stage shuffling). They do another 40 minute set. They basically performed a whole concert. The school teachers were getting anxious, we were getting annoyed. The school choir chopped chunks out of their programme, as did we, so both of us performed maybe 5 or 6 minutes each in part two. This meant we finished at 10.30.
I mostly felt sorry for the school choir as we as adults can shrug our shoulders to some extent. But to deprive youngsters of a public performance opportunity - which are not common - is beyond inconsiderate. It was evident that the band had a very high opinion of themselves (they tend to win competitions) and therefore regarded themselves as the 'main event'. This is arrogant. I would bet that the 40 members of the school choir brought probably half or more of the audience. As a choir of 100 we probably brought quite a few too.
I don't know who they thought they were impressing, but they certainly hacked off a lot of people
 

jbtsax

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#8
Certainly can't top any of the above and had a great hoot over jbt's gig. As a teen in the early 1960s we had a band leader/teacher who was a WWII vet and thought that the only music to be played was Big Band. He unfortunately had control over the school dances so we played ALL of them and only payed Big Band music. Every dance was inappropriate and an embarrassment as our peers wanted to dance to rock/pop music. The dilemma was in trying our best to play the tunes well but not having any of it wanted or appreciated. Even worse was having our peers think that since we tried to make it all sound as good as possible that we were somehow responsible for the choice. I can't listen to big band music without it bringing back that cringe factor.
That explains a lot. Thanks for sharing. :)
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
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The Blue Ridge Mountains
#10
The next seque was into Hava Nagila and they loved it! Over and over again all evening Never on Sunday and Hava Nagila were all that we played. Every word of this is true, you can't make this stuff up.
You telling me nobody knew Zorba the Greek? Start it slow enough and you can spin that out a looooong time

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_WEjAnslGc
 
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485
#12
The most humiliating moment happened to me at a gig in a traditional workingmens' club in South Yorkshire 1970's. In a power trio a la
Cream, Groundhogs etc. The p.a. was turned right down after two blistering songs with the phrase " If yer not gunna play any Elvis you can
f@#* off and we'll have three more games of bingo. Eyes down for a full house"
Then, to the punters during the bingo: "If you can't be quiet we'll put the band back on".
 

ptg

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210
#13
Lots of gig stories over the years but with me playing bass since I'm new to the sax.

Played at a small local bar and put 50-60 people in the place which pretty much filled it up.

At the end of the night the owner wanted to cut our pay because, 'Even though you brought a lot of people into the place, they didn't do enough drinking.'

So...you want us to bring them in AND get them drunk?

He called many times after but we refused to play there again.
 
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Location
Mount Erebus, Antarctica
#15
Way back in my early days as a touring pro we played a gig in a small town. The community hall was full and they had a makeshift bar on top of all the beer people brought. After a few hours of playing, the vibe started to turn and we started playing requests for 50's rock(not our style but we could manage) The fights were breaking out and got closer and closer to the stage.

For our last number, an up tempo boogie feel if I remember correctly, after each person took their solo as the net player launched into theirs we dismantled their equipment and threw it into the van. The last solo was the drummer and we dismantled parts of his kit. It ended up with us carrying him out on his drum throne while he whacked out on the snare, The place erupted and the brawl poured out of the hall and carried on up and down the main street. According to the Cowichan newspaper it went on for a few hours after we left. The RCMP were unable to do anything but watch. I dont think we even got paid for that one.
I've played gigs (way back in the 1970s and early 80s) where punch-ups and even brawls broke out from time to time. People may find that amusing, but in reality it's not one bit funny when you're close to the action. Bottles and chairs (as well as punches) get thrown. And of course you're holding your saxophone, an easily-damaged instrument which doesn't bounce when dropped...

Back in the 1940s and 50s, fellow-bandmates used to play the theme from "Dick Barton Special Agent" whenever a fight kicked off and they were on-stage. Nobody does that now:-

 
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544
Location
Mount Erebus, Antarctica
#16
The most humiliating moment happened to me at a gig in a traditional workingmens' club in South Yorkshire 1970's. In a power trio a la
Cream, Groundhogs etc. The p.a. was turned right down after two blistering songs with the phrase " If yer not gunna play any Elvis you can
f@#* off and we'll have three more games of bingo. Eyes down for a full house"
I played in working men's clubs way back in the 1970s. I can confirm that it really was like that.

They club-members were miners and their wives from the local pit. The clientele were hard as nails and not to be trifled with. I was still playing quick-steps and waltzes etc, but by then DJs and discos were taking over the scene. I played at the tail-end of the big-band era where you were well chuffed to get a regular gig because it was a steady income stream. You got your little brown envelope at the end of the night, full of cash and a few coins. Eventually, things slimmed down to organ, drums and sax combos. Oh yes, I still remember the excitement bingo created. The punters (particularly the miners' wives) absolutely loved their "eyes-down" waiting for legs eleven or two-fat-ladies (88) to be called etc.

Of course it's a vanished world now and I still feel nostalgic looking back, though not at all the tobacco smoke I inhaled. Chain-smoking was the rule rather than the exception, so the air inside the clubs was filled with it. It hung in the air like a pale blue mist. Few things are more bittersweet than nostalgia.
 
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tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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#17
I've played gigs (way back in the 1970s and early 80s) where punch-ups and even brawls broke out from time to time. People may find that amusing, but in reality it's not one bit funny when you're close to the action. Bottles and chairs (as well as punches) get thrown. And of course you're holding your saxophone, an easily-damaged instrument which doesn't bounce when dropped...

Back in the 1940s and 50s, fellow-bandmates used to play the theme from "Dick Barton Special Agent" whenever a fight kicked off and they were on-stage. Nobody does that now:-

I like the style... :)
 

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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#18
I played in working men's clubs way back in the 1970s. I can confirm that it really was like that.

They club-members were miners and their wives from the local pit. The clientele were hard as nails and not to be trifled with. I was still playing quick-steps and waltzes etc, but by then DJs and discos were taking over the scene. I played at the tail-end of the big-band era where you were well chuffed to get a regular gig because it was a steady income stream. You got your little brown envelope at the end of the night, full of cash and a few coins. Eventually, things slimmed down to organ, drums and sax combos. Oh yes, I still remember the excitement bingo created. The punters (particularly the miners' wives) absolutely loved their "eyes-down" waiting for legs eleven or two-fat-ladies (88) to be called etc.

Of course it's a vanished world now and I still feel nostalgic looking back, though not at all the tobacco smoke I inhaled. Chain-smoking was the rule rather than the exception, so the air inside the clubs was filled with it. It hung in the air like a pale blue mist. Few things are more bittersweet than nostalgia.
When I was in my late teens/early twenties, I was a barman catholic parish club, which was the parochial variation on the working mens club. The main room had a small stage at one end. There was a resident trio (vocalist, organ, and drummer) plus on some Fridays and most Saturdays bands of some sort - mostly duos/trios. I can testify to the blue haze...
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
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#20
When I was in my late teens/early twenties, I was a barman catholic parish club, which was the parochial variation on the working mens club. The main room had a small stage at one end. There was a resident trio (vocalist, organ, and drummer) plus on some Fridays and most Saturdays bands of some sort - mostly duos/trios. I can testify to the blue haze...
Not your average catholic working men's club
Wikileaf: Blue Haze Marijuana Strain Information
 
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