Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hotels and Rockers don't mix

I remember playing this bar in Kalkaska or should I say vaguely remember. It was a nice club in a small town. One of the benefits to playing this club was it was also the local hotel and they usually gave the bands a whole floor. Not a big hotel, this usually consisted of 10 rooms. Granted this wasn't the Hilton, but they were fairly nice rooms.

Well we were pretty excited to each have his own room for the weekend. That doesn't happen too often. Usually there are 4 or 5 guys cramped in one room. That is, of course, if we can afford 2 rooms. One room was always for band members or whoever wanted to sleep, and the other room was the party room. Basically because there was always a party after playing. Some one in the band always had to invite people back to the hotel with hopes of scoring a groupie that night.

Having 10 rooms was awesome to say the least. We had 5 band members and 4 roadies which left I designated room to trash and party in. You would think that one designated room would be the only room trashed that weekend....WRONG. Here's my account of what happened that the best of my recollection that is.

Night 1. We gave a pretty good show. There were about 250 at the bar and our illustrious singer gracefully announced over the microphone before we finished, that there would be a prty upstairs on the 3rd floor. Yay!!! About 100 people showed up on the 3rd floor to party with the band. I think each person probably brought at least a 12-pack to a case of beer. It was definately going to be a night to remember, tho I can't remember most of it after the first 12-pack.

The band I was in. who shall remain nameless for legal reasons...sort of, had a reputation for destroying hotels and motels. There were counties in Michigan that actually had our name on a list of people not allowed to stay in their places of rest. We were best know as the band that had the loud parties, screaming groupies, Harleys racing in the parking lot and other things that would generally keep the other patrons from getting any sleep and demanding their money back. And yes, there have been a couple TV's thrown out the windows to fit the cliche' stereo-typical rock band. I remember whenever we played in Muskegon county, we had to drive at least 50 miles to get rooms. Although our reputations usually preceded us, it apparently had not made it to Kalkaska.

So there we were in Kalkaska with wall to wall people or should I say wall to wall drunken people. Women flashing everyone, guys getting sick and/or fighting, and of course, everyone using the halls as their personal trash bin or ashtray. It was a real bash. I should probably mention something here. We had one roadie, who in reality was pretty evil. Great guy if you were his friend, but I pity the guy who wasn't. Anyway, this roadie, we'll call him George, got the bright idea of blocking the toilets in as many rooms as he could while we were downstairs playing in the club. I, myself, always lock my room and was fortunately free from his malisciousness. But out of the other 9 rooms, he had managed to plug 6 of the toilets including the designated party room. It was pretty scary to tell you the truth. I'll spare you the disgusting details. So the party raged on until about 6 or 7 in the morning with the exception of the few die-hard partiers, when we realized that our lead singer was missing. He wasn't in any of the rooms and it was unlikely for him to disappear with out boasting of the groupie he was disappearring with. So we were worried, somewhat, we were still pretty drunk. So as we organized the drunken search party, someone mentioned they heard some noise over by the pile of empty beer cans and bottles. And Ta-Da..there he was, buried under the mountain of beer cans. This mountain was, I kid you not, all the way to the ceiling and protruded out about 6 feet from the wall. So as we pulled the singer from the beer mountain, someone noticed that he was bleeding from his foot. What had apparently happened was in his drunken stupor, he had stepped on a broken beer bottle and cut his foot, fell into the pile of cans and laid there as people continued to cover him up with empty beer cans.

We ended up taking him to the hospital and he ended up with about 20 stitches on his foot, give or take, and a large quantity of valium. So without all the sex stories that you would usually hear people brag about in their memories of such events, I thinkI'll go ahead and take a break here, although, just so you know, there wasn't much movement the next day. In fact, I think we all slept until showtime or close to it which was at 9 that evening.

My brain is starting to hurt. I think I have a phantom hangover so I'll continue this story on my next entry.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Embarassing moments on stage

When I started this blog, I had planned on doing things in chronological order. New plan. I'm just going to write about what I feel like talking about. So in this entry is about the early 80's when I was in a rock band called Brat. Brat was originally called Shadowfax but after a few member changes and the fact that there was a popular Jazz band with albums out that already had the name, we changed it to Brat. Brat was a pretty good band. We were tight and had a pretty good following. We played local bars that seated about 50 to 100 people and had a lot of fun doing it. We all had dreams of being rock stars. We used to play this club called The Rainbow in MI 3 weeks straigt every other month. It was in the middle of nowhere but probably one of the rowdiest clubs around. It was probably one of my favorite places to play. They had this speacial drink called the rainbow where you could see 5 different layers of alcohol in the drink and it actually looked like a rainbow. Knocked your socks off. The owner of the club was a real nice guy but had his eccentricities. He used to invite us over to his house before a show and boast about his gravity boots. He'd have us hang upside down and then actually used a pointer to point out how certain muscles were tightening to other people standing there trying to contain their laughter. After seeing that, I declined to wear the boots. Back to the story. Apparently the owner really liked us tho. We got a call from one of the big clubs on the A-circuit in a nearby city and they wanted to book us on a recommendation from The Rainbow Inn. This club, The Silver Dollar, had recently been remodeled from a fire and the owner wanted us to do the grand opening. He was telling everyone that he discovered some new band of unknowns and we were going to blow people away. Mind you, we were just a cover band, but we were pretty good if I may toot my own horn. So we agreed to play his grand opening and the rest of the week. This club owner also had some eccentricities as he wanted us to come out hidden in cloaks with only blue lights on and tons of fog and then when introduced, shed the cloaks and rock the audience into oblivion. That never happened. Thank God. Anyway, opening night was here and we were the opening act for some big band out of Chicago, Passage or something like that. I don't remember for sure. This club was set up to seat alot of people, couldn't really tell you for sure but it was the biggest crowd I had ever played for. There were TV cameras there, the mayor was there, radio stations up the ying yang and yes I was nervous as heck. In fact, you could literally see my knees shaking. We had roadies, sound technicians, light crews, the works. This was pretty damn close to the big time for us. Well we finally made it to the stage and the first song, some Benetar tune, went pretty good. My nerves were starting to calm and I thought, things are going to be okay. The crowd loved us. Now I'm a pretty active bass player as in, I like to move and jump around alot. The second song had started and I had had loosened up a bit so I decided to start doing some of my fancy stage moves. At just the right time, coordinated with the music, I did one of my drop kicks. Normally this looks pretty cool. This time tho, I kicked the microphone in front of me square on, it flew off the stage and into the audience hitting some poor girl on the head.. Thankfully she was okay but I was pretty embarrassed. If that was all that happened that night, I would've probably been fine and this wouldn't have been remembered as an embarrassing moment. Unfortunately there's more. On the very next song, I was standing by one of the roadies changing bass guitars for a freshly tuned bass. He was still laughing...bastard. Anyway, I put on the new bass just in time as the next song was starting when I heard him yelling at me. I couldn't hear as we had already started the song and took off running to join the other band members at the middle of the stage for some choreographed moves we had for the song when I felt something tugging on me. Remember this is the 80's. I was wearing these bright yellow pants, in fact that's the only time they were ever worn, with the big open collar shirt and the ole bandana head band carefully positioned as not to interfere with my carefully ratted hair. I looked the Mtv rock star part. Well these bright yellow pants, with the white pin stripe down the side I may add, had somehow managed to catch a tuning peg of one of my spare bass guitars. So there I was, running toward the middle of the stage with what looked like to the audience I'm sure, some giant protrusion coming out of my arse. Remember, this was aired on tv, the 11:00 news. The bass player with the bass guitar coming out of his arse thankfully didn't make the 6 o'clock newscast the following day, but it was quite a while before people stopped reminding me of it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Black Light Room

I think everyone that grew up in the 60's and 70's knew someone that had one of these. Sure you did. It was the neighborhood hippie with the Lennon glasses, bell bottom jeans with peace sign patches and love written all over them. They had the long straggely hair, 20 strings of beads around their neck and, of course, the paisley or striped shirt unbuttoned halfway revealing the not quite yet matured 3 hairs on the chest. They always had that lacksadasical walk that told you that they could give a flying F#$K what you thought about anything. Yup, they were my role models and I wanted to be one too. Well, I finally worked my way into the circle of friends that happened to hang out at one of these places, and was invited to hang with them one night. That night changed my life more than you know. First I should tell you about my friend, Lynn. He was one of the few people in school that had long hair which in itself made him one of the coolest guys in school. Second, he was one of the first guys that had a car too. He'd let anyone drive his car too. Didn't matter if you had a license or not. I remember once that we were riding snowbanks, which is stupid but a lot of fun, and Eric was driving. He hit a snow bank that had pretty much frozen into a block of ice. And there we were, doing about 30 miles an hour on 2 wheels. Everyone of course knew what to do and began screaming at him dufferent instructions at the same time on how to resolve the problem so we didn't all die. It was scarry as heck. Finally, Eric let go of the wheel and the car seemed to manage it's way back on all 4 tires. Charlie had wet his pants. I don't think we let him live that one down for some time. There was one other time worth mentioning. We were driving through the snow that had drifted onto the road. Doing this makes a cool explosion type effect. Really cool. Anyway, Stan was driving this time and just before us...the mother of all snowdrifts. It was huge. It stretched all the way across the road. We were in for a treat. So as Stan speeded up to 40 mph, we all anticipated what was to be the coolest snow explosion in the history of our doing it that day. Well, Stan hit the drift and lost control of the car. We started spinning in circles, couldn't see a thing in front or on the sides of us as snow was covering all the windows. When the snow finally settled, we found ourselves in the middle of a cornfield about 150 feet off the road. After all the excitement and ranting about how cool that was, we realized our dilemna. We were in the middle of nowhere off a country road, in someones God-forsaken cornfield, stuck without a clue as to how we were going to get out of this mess let alone, make it to school. We were screwed. After a couple minutes, we heard a farmer with his tractor coming. He told us that he saw us stupid kids riding the drifts down the road and figured he had better get the tractor out and drive down the road just in case we did something stupid. I figured he must have teenagers too. After digging us out, he asked why we were out in this blizzard. Said it was one of the worst storms this year and that all the schools were closed. I guess he was right..we were idiots. So after we thanked him, we started to head home but not before we added to the list of stupid things we did that day and did some bumper surfing. If you've never bumper surfed, let me explain it to you. Bumper surfing is when you hold onto the bumper of someones car when the road is icy and slide along on your feet. This is fun for a few minutes until you hit a patch of dry road. Remember Charlie, who wet his pants? He also broke his leg that day. No one really knows how he broke his leg except for the few of us who had to do a blood pact to never tell. So that's how I got in good with Lynn and made my way to the Black Light Room.
Ah, the black light room. It was in a house in the second floor apartment. I'll never forget it. You walked in the side door and immediately had to go up the stairs. Once up there, there was a tiny excuse for a kitchen on the left that seemed to have more empty beer bottles than the local party store and more flies than the rest of the state. Directly in front of me was the bedroom that consisted of a mattress on the floor, a bunch of clothes that I wouldn't have my worst enemy touch, more empty beer bottles, cigarette butts everywhere but the ashtray and a sheet covering the window. And to the right... The Black Light Room. I carefully sidestepped around the piles of clothes in the hallway, stepped over whoever the hippie was passed out in the hallway and made my way into the room. There it was. A room full of posters illuminated by 8 4-foot black lights. Incense burning and the stereo so loud, you couldn't even hear yourself think. Awesome. Bean bag chairs everywhere and a couch that you had to be careful where you sat. Don't ask. The round table in the middle of the room was full of dirty ashtrays, crushed up cigarette packs, empty beer bottles, some of which doubled as ashtrays, rolling papers and 4 different sized bongs. There was 5 people enjoying the room at the moment. No one saying anything, just looking around through their squinted eyes and bobbing their heads to the music. I think it was Frankenstien by Edgar Winter. I remember Lynn introducing me to a couple of the people and showing me how the bong works. It seems the posters illuminated by the black lights came alive. You could actually see things moving around in them. What was really strange was the fact that they seemed to move with the music. I don't remember much after that. I do know that, even tho' I can't remember most of what happened after that, that it was cool and it changed my life. I'll elaborate on that some other time :)
You Are 87% Grown Up, 13% Kid
Your emotional maturity is fully developed, and you have an excellent grasp on your emotions. In fact, you are so emotionally mature - you should consider being a therapist!
How Emotionally Mature Are You?