Saturday, January 25, 2014

About Playing The Bars....

Had a great show last night at Mr J's Bar and Grill in Murray, KY last night.  Great crowd, great food, lot's of fun!  I even did something I've NEVER done before.  I played the entire 3 hour plus show without taking a break.  Whew.  I don't know how Springsteen does it...

I don't play as many bars as I used to.  I don't think anyone does!  Part of the reason behind that is there just aren't as many bars anymore, and even less that feature live music, but thank goodness some still do!

A few things I've noticed about the patrons in bars these days, as it relates to live bands.

1. If the crowd hanging out there is older than 35, they tip better.  Much better.  They tips the bands, they tip the waitresses and bartenders.  Maybe that's because young folks haven't picked up on the habit of tipping. Maybe that's because younger people just don't have as much money.  I even had a 20-something guy tell me once while heading out the door, "Sorry, but I spent all my money on booze!"  The older crowd also tends to do less binge drinking but then again there are always exceptions.

2. Older patrons tend to be quieter and pay more attention to the bands than younger ones. With the younger crowd, many times, it's more about socializing and less about being entertained.  A fellow musician friend of mine who frequently tours Europe says the bar scene there is totally different.  The crowd, both young and old, are usually really into the music and listen intently.

3. Alcohol seems to amplify who people really are.  Sweet people tend to get sweeter.  Mean people tend to get meaner.  As for me?  I don't drink at all while I'm playing.  I want to make sure I give the folks the best show I can, and I can't do that unless I'm sober.  I'm STILL having fun though! Rest assured!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Toughest Gigs Of All

Today was a tough day but a day to celebrate a life.  My Aunt Nell passed away at the age of 102 and we buried her in my hometown of Trenton, TN. Aunt Nell was something else. One of the most positive, happiest people I've ever known.  Maybe that's why she lived so long! She was also the first professional musician in my family.  In addition to playing the piano and organ for more than 50 years at Hickory Grove Baptist Church, the church I was raised in, she also played organ for many funerals at Shelton Funeral Home in Trenton.  Those are some heavy gigs.

I've only played at 2 funerals in my life.  One was a friend who was also the husband of a co-worker, and the other was the owner of Fat Moe's Bar and Grill in Paducah, where we frequently played and his widow said, we were his favorite band of all the ones who played there.  Both times, I was scared to death.

Now I rarely have stage fright and most of the time I relish the chance to get onstage and do our thing, but funerals are different.  I am SO SCARED of sending the dearly beloved out into the hereafter with a chunked note, wrong lyric or otherwise obvious mistake! They should be honored with perfection, and perfection is not my specialty.  If you've ever heard me play live, I'm sure you'd agree.  I never play the same song the same way twice and have been known to own my share of musical "train wrecks."

However, at both funerals, I DID play perfectly and sing perfectly.  Even when I never played the song perfectly while rehearsing.  The only thing I can figure is the hand of God moved my fingers, led my voice and allowed me to do something I never do...a perfect performance.

Maybe that's how Aunt Nell made it through all those funeral gigs herself...