After months and months and months of practicing, my band finally played its first entire night in a genuine dingy bar, in the lovely suburbs of Philthydelphia. We’re talking bar, pool table, and a band room that looked like someone’s basement, only bigger (and with paneling that’s even more ugly, if you can imagine that).
Since it was a private club, smoking was allowed. Blah.
There is nothing on the planet that quite matches the sheer joy of waking up after a gig, opening the guitar case, and getting hit on the head with stale beer cigarette smoke odors coming from the equipment. They should make an air freshener called Beer.
We got in two hours before showtime and proceeded to set up. The place was full from some sort of party or banquet but a lot of the people wound up sticking around.
Setup went flawlessly, which would normally cause unmitigated worry and grief, but I weathered the unexpected good luck well. Aside from some flaky power, things were sounding good. Family, friends, and other bands’ members showed up to wish us well, which was extremely cool.
This particular assemblage has only played one set out before, so this was our Coming Out Party, as it were. Along those lines, I tried to get the drummer to wear a dress but somehow I knew that no matter how much he promised me, he would show up in the clothes of his native gender. (sissy)
Don’t ask me what songs we played because I don’t remember. Someone was kind enough to print out three set lists and I just followed along obediently. What really threw me for a loop was that the audience behaved as if they were watching a concert: they sat and listened intently, making a lot of noise when the songs were over.
And get this: they applauded when I played solos. You could have knocked me over with a feather. If I was really thinking, I would have been in heaven. We couldn’t have asked for a better audience (never mind that we brought a large percentage of it).
The real entertainment was the side show going on in front of the stage. There were some wild women dancing around the place, grinding up against each other, and providing no shortage of entertainment for the band and the audience. I kept leaving the stage to dance with them but this was a flawed premise from the start, as I can’t dance without a guitar, no less with one. Let’s face it: I just wanted to be close to the grinding women, ok?
During the third set we had the privilege of welcoming friends from other bands. We had people sitting in and playing songs I’ve never heard before. It was a blast!
BIZARRO WORLD ULTIMATE REVENGE
I do not travel light. There were two amps and three guitars. The best and most ironic part of the evening was the plethora of guitar players sitting in who couldn’t play my guitars because I’m left-handed. They had to play the other guitar player’s Strat because they’re backwards. For once, there was a room full of lefty guitars and one righty, with a bunch of people upset because they couldn’t play them. It was the exact opposite of what happens to me whenever I go into a guitar store: all righties. Sweet irony (ok, only twelve people on the planet will appreciate this).
The band really did well. I was very proud of them, especially as I didn’t have any idea how it was going to play out, as it were. There were no train wrecks and even the little mistakes were glossed over so well as to appear to be intentional.
Can’t wait to play out again!
BUT WAIT…. PICTURES!
The medium-size rig: `77 antigua (pukeburst) Strat, `59 Les Paul Historic Reissue, Fender Pro Junior (modded) into a 2×12 anniversary Marshall cabinet. Plus one quarter of a `53 tweed Deluxe amp.
PEDALBOARD: (from left) Rocktron powered talk box, Boss RV3 reverb/delay, Rat, Dano CTO-1 with LED of Death, Dano Surf n Turf compressor, Roger Mayer Voodoo Vibe. The blue LED looks tremendously cool but if I were to tell you I set up the shot like this, I’d be lying.
The whole shebang, including a `94 G&L Legacy, the tweed Deluxe, and the other guitarist’s backwards Stratocaster.
GUITAR TECHIE STUFF
I started out at practice volume and quickly wound up turning the rig up significantly. I was running in stereo and the tone was magnificent: thick, chunky, and brown. The ProJr started out in triode mode but got switched to pentode mode for a bit more oomph. The outputs distorted so pleasantly that words cannot do them justice. If I had brought the big Marshall, it would have blown the place out (but it’s good to have that kind of power).