Monday, June 10, 2013

A musician's life: volume 14

Monday nights are band practice nights for Free to a Good Home. Tonight Joe was off listening to somebody else play, so it was just Chicken Grrrl and me.

We were both feeling grumpy and over-worked and under-appreciated tonight, so we split most of a bottle of wine and vented before we even powered up the guitars and mics. I rarely drink while we practice, but I have to admit, a couple of glasses of wine make our mistakes so much funnier.

We're gearing up for our next big gig on June 23rd. It's a private party, so sorry, you can't come. Our audience will be enjoying a swimming pool and a hot tub while we play. And I know this time the hosts will feed us. That's a bonus we can't always count on.

You may not know this but musicians don't always get fed, even when everybody else is stuffing their faces and talking and laughing while we play. I've played quite a few gigs where I watched people chow down as I did my thing, and by the time we could take a break, not a crumb remained. And some were fucking potlucks I'd brought food to!

At one gig I played with my daughter's SO Rock Dad, we were promised a BBQ dinner, but we ended up with cold corn on the cob and whatever we could scrape out of the empty mac and cheese pan. We had fun playing though, got paid, and stopped for food several hours later on our way home.

I can't complain about Free to a Good Home's luck so far. The festival we played Memorial Day weekend was put together by the members of one of the bands and their wives, and it was fantastic. I guess they treated the bands -- we were one of six bands that played from 4:30 until after midnight -- like they wanted to be treated.

 Each band had a designated area in a big room right behind the stage where we could stash our instruments and equipment for the whole evening. Much better than storing guitars in hot cars.

A couple of the wives also supplied the band room with a big plate of Italian cured meats and  delicious, stinky aged provolone; bread; a crockpot of meatballs with sub buns; chips; fruit; beer on ice; and a bottomless jar of a vodka and lime juice concoction they call the Rubicon. After our set, one of the guys was passing around a bottle of maple Crown Royal, so we all took a swig of that too. We definitely found a ourselves good home for that gig.

To be honest, it was worth playing for the music and the camaraderie too though. I knew the guys in the band that put it on. I've jammed with them, and they're fun guys. But I also met a bunch of new guys. Oh, yeah. That's the thing about playing in a band. Most band musicians are men. Out of the 6 bands, Chicken Grrrl and I were the only women on the stage. Food is not the only bonus when you're a girl who plays a guitar.

And the music ... well, the music is really the reason for the whole thing. Like I said, I've played in all kinds of situations: with my stomach rumbling while I watched people stuff their faces all around me; in an empty parking lot; when it was so cold I couldn't feel my fingers on the strings and when it was so hot sweat was running down my back into the crack of my ass like the Mississippi River; when people were listening intently and when nobody listened at all; in bars so smoky I couldn't see the audience; when members of the wedding party were elbowing each other and me over my microphone so they could sing along; when I've practiced and once when I didn't even know 3/4 of the songs we played (nobody knew, and all I got paid was a lousy ham sandwich on white bread); and one painful historical festival where yellow jackets kept buzzing into the holes of my recorders as visitors milked a goat right next to me. Sometimes I got paid; more often I didn't. Kind of like writing, I suppose.

One thing I love about playing music is that I never know what's going to happen. I just practice until my fingers bleed, and then once I'm on stage it's all up to Miss Serendipity. I love it.

Free to a Good Home
(Photo credit: Alex Carmichal)

Note: I went 3 days without writing about sex. I have a will of steel. Suck it, naysayers.

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