When we left off, Tina was coughing, I was drinking and the unknown drummer was doing alright.
The odd assemblage of players in the band was a tribute to tolerance. Tina was a washed-up waitress from Buena Park with a kid. Lots of gumption, but no goods. Paul was the keyboard player who gigged with us when he wasn’t touring fairs with 70’s bands. Henry the sax player, was big, black and really black. An okay player, but great charisma, we always put him center-stage. Mike, my guitar playing brother and myself, well let’s just keep us out of it for now.
The fill-in drummer was a Basque. If you’ve never met a Basque then I apologize. There isn’t enough space in this story to adequatly describe the psychological complexities of the Basque heritage. Suffice to say that the tension was high and the behavior erratic. This does accurately describe every drummer I’ve ever worked with, but being Basque adds an entirely new dimension to the equation.
The night wears on, the drunks get braver and the room stinks.
The dust and scum filled corners of the 34 year-old building hasn’t seen a sober broom since 2 months after inception. The gum stopped urinals are stained and just plain nasty.
The frequenters of this establishment are locals. There is nobody at home they want to hang out with, so they come here. The bartenders and waitresses are their family. The clientele choose to soak their heads in alcoholic splendor rather than have an actual life.
That’s where we come in. It’s our job to encourage and incite the rabble and boost sales.
We think we have it. The people are dancing and smiling and getting it on. The staff are bobbing their heads and nudging their neighbors in excited, useless conversation.
People are buying rounds, the manager is smiling and nobody has been arrested or died. It’s been a good night.
The last song is played and I expel a sigh of ouzo drenched relief as the evening seems to come to a close without incident. But of course, it’s never over until it’s over.
We’re packing up, carelessly swinging the heavy equipment through the thin doorways and tossing it into our cars. The Basque wants a beer, but the place is closing and the bartender and the manager are anxious to leave. The answer is no.
The Basque does not accept this answer and waits until no one is looking and while the competent staff are busy restocking for the following day, the Basque steals a 6-pack off the top of the bar and runs out the back door.
None of the band members are new, but we are a new band trying to break in to the club scene. We start getting regular work and BAM, it’s gone.
Welcome to Rock-n-Roll