Today was the yearly company event/outing.  If you’ve been following things, you know I put together a band of coworkers to entertain at this bash.  I just got home – tired and happy.

Every show I’ve ever played has been a total disaster for one reason or another, usually technical, sometimes due to the audience.  Even good shows have been marred by bad tech.  Today set itself up to be a large potential nightmare but almost escaped that definition.

We had a new sound company, which was a blessing.  Every year is a different sound company and every year we all wonder how they managed to find one even worse than the previous year.

The event took place at an old hotel in a humongous dingy ballroom, as usual.  We were told the sound company would be ready for us at 9am so we got there around 8:30.  When I say we, I mean everyone except Ignatz the drummer.  He always has interesting things happening to him and today was no different: one of his kids left his schoolbook home and he had to retrieve it.

Not that it mattered: the sound company put up mics and disappeared.  We were wondering if there was to be a sound check but couldn’t locate anybody to ask.  We made a little noise, hoping they could get some levels from that.

The first thing I noticed was the copious amount of radio coming from my rig.  We were performing in the heart of Radio Row in Philthydelphia and my rig responded by putting up an antenna and receiving as much radio as it could.  There was no time to troubleshoot and there was no apparent origin of the noise.  It got so bad through the p.a. that I pulled the cord out of the amp (it was coming from the vicinity of the effects board).

Then we were told to hit it for a while, so off we went.  The idea was that we were to play for a few minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon.  We knew we must have been doing a decent job, as our bosses kept asking us to turn it down 🙂   We had to tell them to ask the sound guys.

Now we’re a bunch of night-owl musicians who were onstage at 9am, so it was a bit weird to begin with.   But this didn’t matter, as the people who were there already were very happy to hear us (maybe they don’t get out much either).  We did about five songs, which went over extremely well, before time was up and the rest of the fun was to start.

I got off the stage soaking wet and pretty happy about the reaction.  People were in from all over the country: little did they know that their MIS department was in possession of Weapons of Musical Destruction 🙂

I was the only band member who had done this before so I got to warn the crew about what they were in for.  We had to wait a few hours before we were to go back and do the Serious Set.  Lunch was served, or rather served to everyone but me.  It’s my historical inability to get served outside of the house.  Some call it invisibility.  I just smile and go about my business.

We got tuned up and ready to retake the stage after a few minor delays.  Since we were doing some appropriate tunes, I took my Les Paul onstage.  The people were really digging the band, which seemed to shock most of the band members (in a rather pleasant way).  We did Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way”, which gave me a chance to stretch out on slide.  I brought my talkbox along for the solo part.  This is where things really got funny.  My wife, who came by for the occasion, said the reaction around the talkbox was hysterical.  Everybody started looking around for the source of the talking guitar.  VERY slowly, they started to get it.  She watched it like a very slow wave, going table to table.  She said the show was definitely not on the stage.

A lot of the earlier entertainment featured people wearing wigs, hats, and various other sorts of costume finery.  Not wishing to be left out, I located an Ike Turner wig and put it over my hat.  I looked like some sort of Beatle Nightmare or perhaps a guy with a very large tarantula on his head.   The funny part of this was that we were all standing onstage, waiting for a while for the sign to start.  I stood there, completely obvious, and watched the audience reaction to this.  Once again, table by table, they got it.  They’d start laughing, then poke their neighbor and point at me.  I watched this wave also.  It went very slowly, from table to table.

I usually have no tolerance for the Slow, but this time it was just too funny.

Then the talkbox started cutting out and the radio stations kept getting louder.  I did my best to ignore this, which wasn’t easy.  I switched back to the pukeburst Strat, my main guitar.  Last night I had to brave exhaustion to replace the volume pot and do a little rewiring.

The crowd was going NUTS.  I thought they’d be up and dancing.  Instead they were treating it like a concert, applauding like mad.  The band unanimously enjoyed it.

Meanwhile we were getting the “Let me interrupt you” signal and were told we had one song left.

Oh, that’s interesting, I thought.  We practiced for weeks and we’re doing five songs.   We quickly huddled and emerged with a plan.  The intro to “Play That Funky Music” cleared the chairs and the serious dancing started.  I’m told the show got even better at this point, with the overweight and scantily-clad women falling out of their clothes, not to mention the ones with the dresses so high that you wondered why you couldn’t see only underwear.

Here is where the differences between men and women are highlighted.  I saw a swarm of people dancing: my wife saw women competing for the attention of band members.  She said it was hilarious watching them.  I was upset that I missed this bit… I wouldn’t notice a woman hitting on me if she started to disrobe and rub against me.

Our singer is a young, good looking guy and we almost had to fight to keep the women off him.  The guy seriously needs to take advantage of this while he still can. The rest of us Olde Phartes were content to observe the follies (especially the ones whose wives were in attendance).

We finished to thunderous applause, again to our shock and surprise.  I felt like a rock star or something.  Since that’s what I really want to do, it worked out well.

Oh well, tomorrow I’ll go back to being a MIS Geek.  

Until next year.

—————————————

EQUIPMENT LIST

For the musicians, this is what I took with me:

  • `77 antigua (pukeburst) lefty Strat (modded, hot pink strings)
  • R9 lefty Les Paul reissue
  • Fender Pro Jr (modded)
  • Marshall 2×12 Jubilee cabinet
  • fx board: Roger Mayer Voodoo Vibe, Dano Surf n Turf compressor, Dano Clear Tone Overdrive, RAT, Boss reverb/delay
  • Rocktron Banshee amplified talkbox