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Crappy environments

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Don Higdon, Feb 15, 2004.

  1. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    I've played in alot of dumb setups, but last night was a first.
    I was subbing, decided to leave the good bass home, brought Old 87, my 1925 plywood. I had to stand directly against a roaring fireplace. I could shield the bass somewhat, at the price of having my a$$ sweat all night, but on breaks there was no other place to put the bass. Special bonus: this was the designated smoking room. All the smoke in the entire place had to pass by me to get to the chimney.

    Anybody want to share their nightmare setups?
  2. CB3000

    CB3000 Supporting Member

    Drizzly, Stormy day. On an island in the middle of a lake. We're under a tent type roof (not in a tent mind you) on a plywood "stage" at ground level. Power extension cords running along the wet grass. Me standing as far away from the edge as possible to keep the mist off of my bass. Lightning in the background. Thank god for plywood basses!
  3. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I played a dogsled race once. In Manitoba, in January, in a big tent -- cold, I say. It was actually a slab gig and I wore light fleece gloves.
  4. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas
    Several years ago, had this gig and a cafe on Lake Thunderbird, near Norman, OK. They had us OUTSIDE under a tree for shading. It wasn't too hot with the lake breeze, but the humidity still made me sweat like a pig.

    Added bonus was the ski boats that would roar by making us inaudible.

    I do hate all the smoke at a cigar bar I play at frequently. My eyes are so messed up at the end of the night that I can hardly see through my contact lenses. However, it is one of the only clubs around that has regular jazz, an audience that occasionally listens, and an owner who treats the musicians fairly and pays accordingly, so I put up with it.
  5. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    The roof of the "Snack Shack", a decrepit old thing at the Hyatt Kaanapali. The building, it turns out, is infested with carpenter bees, which apparently have an appetite for bassists' forefingers, ten minutes before downbeat.
  6. I got talked into playing on a flatbed truck in a 4/July parade one year. Of course, it turned out to be 90+ degrees, high noon and no shade, with the damn truck stopping and lurching like a sonofab**ch. No pay, just free beer and "great exposure."
  7. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    I played a bar gig once (on slab) on a 3' riser in a room with a 9' ceiling. I'm 6'3".

    Where's OSHA when you need them.
  8. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA

    Yea, to Ultraviolet radiation.
  9. Ah, the trials of the working musician...We did an outdoor wedding under a tent (thankfully) in Paris Virginia with an uneven floor, so everyone was slipping and sliding. Singer (in high heels) almost took a header into the wedding cake. Nice gal, but I would've liked to have seen that anyway, just for the drama. Or how about the stage at a restaurant in Covington, KY, that was at head height relative to the dining tables and only deep enough to fit the upright (out of tune) grand piano. Had to climb around that one to set up and there was no place to lay the big bass during break. Or how about the outdoor gig at the cafe in Cincinnati in the direct burning sun? Old basses love that. The second-story outdoor bar next to the freight train tracks in Cincinnati wasn't so bad--in between trains. Or being next to the cellist in the theater pit band who kept dragging her bow across my strings in between pieces, just to make noise (she was kinda cute, actually). One of the better venues was a big college outdoor picnic next to a lake near Charlottesville VA where everyone swam nude. Played a great winery/cafe in Aurora Indiana, but the rednecks at the gas station on the way home were downright scary, hurling nasty names just because my buddy was wearing a beret and I had one of those floppy newsboy caps (we call them Jeff Caps). The Playboy club in Cincinnati was a great place to play (circa 1980) but my bass slipped off a chair, putting a crack in the neck (lesson: lay the bass down). I also took heat from the feminist women in my graduate program for ever considering playing the Playboy club...and there I was all excited just to get a gig to pay some school bills. A big hotel in downtown Cincinnati made us load in the back alley door which made one feel very vulnerable as it was very dark. Another coffee house/bar in Cincinnati is a great jazz venue but the bass corner sucked up the bass sound in some mysterious way I could never figure out. The audience could hear but the player couldn't.

    I'm sure I'll think of more some time....Roger
  10. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Low ceilings, oh yeah! This one is actually kind of cool. The acoustic tile ceiling on the stage at the Monroe house in Wailuku, HI, is low enough to just wedge the scroll of the bass. Look, Ma, no hands!

    Then there's the now-defunct Tiger Restaurant in Lahaina. Rats. BIG rats, and lots of 'em. I was playing there with George Benson once, and he just smiled and said "Ahh...just like the old days"...
  11. Ok, it's 1969, I'm 21 years old, never been away from home...take the train for 2 days to Northern Manitoba to fill in with a jazz trio...the other two guys I've never met before...

    Never slept a wink, sittiing on my amp outside the The Pas train station at 7 am, wondering what the heck I'm doing this for...

    A taxi takes us to this huge beverage room...seats approx 500 patrons. No racist remarks here, but it was a real eye opener. Didn't get to play much jazz, but had "Squaws Along The Yukon" pretty well pat by the end of nine days.
  12. Oh Yeah, like Damon, I've used mitts a couple of times as well...it's a Manitoba thing!!
  13. Another Manitoba story...

    We were "intermission entertainment" at the Royal Winter Fair, I think it was in Brandon. (Regina?- not sure, the mind grows fuzzy with the passage of time...) We're on a flatbed trailer "stage" at one end of a cavernous arena. The house PA speakers are suspended from the roof in the centre of the building- maybe 40- 50 feet above the arena floor. No monitors. Time delay of about a second between playing a note and hearing it back through the PA. Meanwhile, at (dirt) floor level in the arena there are crews dismantling the gates, fences, etc. from the previous equestrian events. There are guys tossing heavy logs, timbers, etc. onto flatbed wagons drawn by diesel tractors that drive past the foot of the stage, filling the air with dust, diesel smoke and the aroma of horses**t. I don't recall any applause at all, I think everyone was oblivious to what the band was doing.

    Good ole days, indeed...
  14. Hi Eric

    That would be Brandon...and yes, I've played there, and the smell never does quite go away...
  15. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    Got a call to do an outdoor jazz gig--spur of the moment--during a severe heat wave. The leader reassured me it was no problem as we'd be in a gazebo. You guessed it--the gazebo was all glass, including the roof. My strings kept going up the entire gig, and all my callouses ripped apart from sweating so much. The drummer nearly fainted. But at least the weather kept him from rushing...
  16. We played at a living history event. Next to the stage was a Civil War artillery demonstration. It was like a bluegrass version of the 1812 Overture.
  17. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    I once played at a nudist colony...in August...in Texas. I was a sub and didn't know about it until we drove up to the entrance. first thing i saw was a guy walking across the drive with nuthin' on but a smile and tennis shoes :eek: . the drummer got the gig to pay his membership fees. I've never seen anything so disgusting. I made alot of eye contact. Part of the pay was all you could eat. I didn't eat much - nuthin' lower than eye level (pardon me but, you're dragging your thang through the potatoes). When i was asked why i wasn't nude i said "mosquitos".
  18. At the end of a pier. And all of the guests were inside a tent on the mainland.

    But this was my favorite. Big ballroom in a hotel. $1,000 a plate charity dinner, for an organization researching a cure for blindness. Probobly 500 guests. A 6-piece band, on a long narrow stage. Micromanaging-control-freak-headset-wearing b!+(h telling everybody what to do. Had to be there 2 hours early to set up. The organization's huge logo is hanging directly behind the band, so nobody could see it. First I had to move. Then she asks the drummer to lower his cymbals. finally she tells the drummer to move to the opposite end of the stage, so the logo would be visible. Now we wait for 90 minutes.

    We start playing. We are going thru a large P.A. that the event company has provided. People are filing in from cocktails in the lobby to sit down for dinner. We are too loud. (Not our fault - we're not running the P.A.) There is a table right in front where sits an old patron whose contributions have been of such magnitude that if she requested someone come over and bite her on the a$$ it would done quicker than you could say "Stevie Wonder". She is conveying orders to the headset lady, who is in turn relaying them to the bandleader. First she asks the singer to stop singing - in the middle of the vocal. We are still too loud. Now, there are 500 people in the room, all talking, but according to the wealthy patron we are still too loud. Since she's wagging the dog we aquiesce. The horns stop playing. I turn my amp off. It is to the point that we are almost pretending to play, it is so soft we can't hear ourselves. All this in the space of about 10 minutes, 3 or 4 songs. Then we are told that we're done, get off stage immediately, the program is about to begin.

    We are not allowed to pack up, the speaker is at a podium just to the left of the stage and they don't want us to distract from his presentation. He is announcing the first celebrity guest speaker, astronaut John Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong launches into a 50 minute rememberance of his mission, complete with slide show. What this has to do with blindness is not apparent to me. We are now waiting "backstage". Next we must endure a segment by the Capital Steps, a political satire/musical review troupe. After some more bits of program, the celebrity guest entertainer is introduced - you guessed it, Mr. Stevie Wonder. Stevie sings two songs, accompanying himself on the piano. This is as expected the evening's highlight.
    So on a 4 hour job we played about 20 mins. And we didn't even get a chance to ask Stevie for an Autograph.
  19. SleeperMan2000


    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC
    I play double bass in a swing band, had a wedding reception to play Sunday. House party. Always risky.

    They set us up on the deck, but it was too cold for anyone to watch, so they all went inside. We played two sets for the neighbor's dog. Since he was on a chain he couldn't get away.

    The wind was blowing so hard it twice blew my bass into our saxophone player's back. I had to turn the bass sideways to make it more aerodynamic, which in turn led to feedback problems.

    The food was good though.
  20. ArenW


    Jan 14, 2004
    Cocoa, FL
    We were booked for a "private affair" which was a hour and a half, one way, drive, but according to the band leader was paying well and would offer great exposure. We arrived and found that we were playing in an old, thank God it had been cleaned, CHICKEN COOP. Upon completion of the gig I was informed that the "decent pay" amounted to the beer that we drank. I don't play with those guys anymore... :mad:

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