Things look very different from the stage, #9.

I love VNC. It’s awesome.

I am a passenger in my own car. Why, you might ask? I’m still not fit to drive. I got none sleep. None.

You’ll understand, as I share my adventure with you.

For those that don’t know, this is the most “blog” type of posting I do. I try to make the rest of ’em education, interesting, and sometimes funny enough to make you smile. These pretty much skip the whole educational part.

So, if you’re reading this and expecting me to impart some wisdom or lore, you’re doing it wrong.

These have been mostly aimless and I’ve never really been sure who the target audience is, but they do all have something in common. In each one, I’ve tried to share things that you’d probably not have experienced – unless you had spent some time on the stage.

This one is no different. Though, it’s exceedingly difficult to type in a car, I can only imagine it’d be much more difficult if I were also driving!

(I’m just cramming the page break right there. You folks who come in from deep links don’t see it. But, I break the page with a ‘read more’ tag, so it’s not a front page that’s three miles long. I’m pretty wordy.)

Where was I?

Sometimes, it’s the best day ever.

If you remember yesterday’s article, you’ll know that this last show was at a venue we’ve already played. That’s probably important.

I realized that there was no way in hell that I was going to drive all the way back to my house after the show, so I went ahead and booked some rooms for everyone. (I should follow my own rules and get a manager.)

I then left early. I didn’t want to help with more of the set up than minimum, because I pay people to do that and (for all the shit I do) I’m inherently lazy.

But, I still worked. I did the non-existent manager’s job and went to the hotel. It was there that I realized it was going to be a pretty good day. It might possibly be the best day ever.

Like normal, the person booking us scattered us all across the hotel and managed to mix us in with other people. Even though I told ’em we were with a band and we should probably be placed somewhere close together, they scattered us around.

When I went into the lobby and they started giving me the keycards for the rooms, I pointed out the sheer folly of a decision like that. No, if they scattered us throughout the hotel, and didn’t have us grouped together, we’d be wandering the hallways at 03:00 and possibly shitfaced. They’d probably have to ask us to leave.

But, fortunately, the manager of the hotel remembered us! Things were quickly sorted and we were given a distant block of rooms, as well as giving me a special key that’d unlock any of those blocks or rooms.

That man understood and has probably been in the business for a while. He gets it! I invited ’em to stop by, after we got done with the show, but I don’t actually know if they visited.

I then went to the store. I bought food and booze. I got juice and bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. I even got some non-alcoholic beverages. I bought a bunch of snack platters, sandwich stuff, and even remembered to grab canned spinach and vinegar. I had even helpers!

This is stuff that your manager should be doing, or at least making sure gets done. We don’t have a manager. We have me.

I dropped all the stuff off at the hotel, and dropped off a person to take care of it, while the rest of us headed to the venue. I dropped them off, picked up everybody’s luggage, gave them their keys, and went back to the hotel to put their luggage in their rooms.

I also checked to see if the hoodlum had put everything from the store away and made a reasonably approximation at dispersing them strategically throughout the rooms. She had! So, I made her help me lug their luggage in, lock the doors, and go down to tell the hotel manager we were leaving and that there should be no people in our rooms until we returned.

You band managers out there, this is what you’re supposed to ensure gets done.

I made it back to the venue in time to finish up sound check, get dressed, and whatnot. I pretty much just carry my own guitars and take care of them. I already told you, I’m inherently lazy. Also, I’m old and I feel like I’ve put my time in and I’m owed this luxury. Mostly, I’m just tired of lugging heavy stuff. Hell, I didn’t even carry all my own guitars this time.

I might even start leaving ’em on the truck and just letting them carry ’em in. I need one of those guitar cases on wheels. They come in various sizes and are big hard cases that hold multiple guitars. They’re meant for living on the road and rolling in quickly, long tours, etc…

Gotta admit, I’m telling you that so that I don’t forget it myself.

Anyhow…

By the time I got back to do my part, the place was packed. Sound was tight. We were capable of being loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss and still very clean. By the way, I don’t actually check the sound anymore. ‘Snot my job. I stand on stage and play my instruments when I’m told to. I then show them a few of my more common settings, a quick checklist basically, and I’m done.

‘Snot my job to do sound anymore. My goal is to ensure this is something they can do, and they’ll know how to replace me with someone who knows what they’re doing. I only promised a year of my life. That’s going by pretty quickly.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll just say we then went on to play two long sets and an encore that went a little over our scheduled time. Nobody minded and I’m told that they turned people away at the door.

They were excellent sets, we did very well, and everyone had a great time. You already know what that looks like, I’ve told you that before.

I will say that something you’ll never quite understand, unless you do it, is how awesome it is when you’re at volume levels that’d cause OSHA to scowl, and you say to the audience that you want to hear them – and you do.

What makes it awesome is that it isn’t really that kind of venue.

One side is tables and chairs, as well as a bunch of pool tables. The side we’re on is a dance floor and tables. Someone moved the tables out of the way and very few people played pool.

Here’s another thing that made the day pretty much the best day ever…

We had a nice private place out back to take our breaks. It was even fenced in and locked. It wasn’t even next to dumpsters! That’s right… We’re fancy! We even had a dedicated dressing room AND an employee bathroom.

If you performed, you’d understand how fantastic that is. Those might seem like little things, but they’re not.

It gets even better. The kitchen brought out food for us and it was waiting when we took our break. They even brought us drinks!

But…

We finally figured out that we could escape our private enclosure out back.

Having a couple of drinks, some weed, and a quick band meeting, we took our chance and escaped from our captors! By that, I mean we left our enclosed area.

We sneaked out around the side of the building and checked the parking lot. It was packed and we were soon spotted by the intoxicated people taking their smoke breaks and sneaking drugs and alcohol into ’em. (You’re not supposed to be drinking, or drugging, in the parking lot.)

There was no choice but to wade our way through the people and enjoy the ego boost! And possibly get a wee bit intoxicated ourselves. We couldn’t get too messed up, ’cause we’ve got to go back to work soon.

We were a few minutes later than we’d expected, but I regret nothing!

I should give you a hint…

When that sort of thing happens, and y’all ask us to play your favorite song? Yeah, we’re probably not going to do that – unless it’s already on the set list. There’s a very, very slim chance that we’ll do it – if we know it AND it fits into the list. We also aren’t going to play the same song we played earlier as our encore. I’m not actually sure why some people ask for that.

Either way, they were a lovely audience and I’d already decided to invite the venue staff back to the hotel with us and told ’em they could bring a few people. This means I didn’t invite anyone that was still in the bar or in the parking lot. Quite a few people know to stick around to see if we’ll be coming out to the front of the bar after the show, and I’m pretty sure they know we also like to hand out more swag at that point.

I did good. I, personally, didn’t invite any of them back to the hotel – only the staff and a few of their friends.

We did pretty well, I think. Only maybe 25 people (that I’m guesstimating) came to join us after the show. I also didn’t get too intoxicated. I doubt I had more than a half dozen beverages with alcohol. There might have been a few more things, but nothing major.

We did end up jamming in a room, leaving the doors open, and just spilling into the hallway at times. There were no fights, nobody got arrested, and at least two other people who were staying at the hotel came and joined us. I’m pretty sure they brought more booze.

We did have one room that was pretty quiet and a few people sacked out in there. I’m pretty sure 98% of us weren’t fit to drive this morning. I, myself, am a passenger. So far, I’ve heard no stories of anyone getting arrested. I’m pretty sure at least 50% of the people drove away while still intoxicated.

Welcome to Maine, where pretty much the whole State is at least smoking pot while driving. Everyone drives shitfaced here. Strangely, when compared to other States, Maine has like the lowest number of accidents per mile driven. I’m not sure how. As near as I can tell, they’re all shitfaced. They even drive like this in the winter!

Then again, it could be confirmation bias – and it’s just that the type of people I hang around with are also likely to be driving around with an open container between their legs. I’m not sure how our insurance rates are so low. Then again, there’s big snowbanks in the winter. I call ’em ‘drunk bumpers.’ That might have something to do with it. But, I digress…

Either way, it was pretty much the best day ever. The audience was way too good to us, the venue was awesome, our accommodations were excellent, and nobody has been arrested.

I planned on ending this here. Y’all can stop any time, you know. You don’t have to read this. But, I’m going to keep writing until I’m home.

So, I guess I’ll tell you about the encore. You’ll get a kick out of it, probably.

During the quick break between our last set and encore, we take a small break. The eldest hoodlum was back there with us and, as we were headed back out, I asked her if she was coming on stage.

She, of course, got very excited and asked what she was supposed to do because she doesn’t know how to play Sweet Home Alabama (which was our chosen song to play and extend). I told her that was okay, the audience doesn’t know that.

So, she came out on stage and I told her to follow me. I showed her a fairly basic rhythm that’d fit well and then let my fingers meander off to do my part while she kept that up.

It should be noted that we extend our encores. They are specific songs that we know we can extend and go off-script with.

We also have some antics, where we’ll have what you might call a “guitar shootout” or “guitar duel.” Two, sometimes more, of us will face each other and take turns shredding. After we’re done, we settle into our own different rhythm, while the rest of the band keeps repeating itself, and the next guitarist lights up the amps. We even let the drummer have fun! (All instruments get to rock for a few.)

This is loosely scripted and rehearsed, if you’re curious.

But, the important part is that the eldest hoodlum kept her part up and her timing was pretty good. Seeing that, I meandered over to her and had a played a bitchin’ solo over her rhythm.

Then, I started playing the rhythm she was playing and nodded. The look on her face was priceless. I’m pretty sure it’s the most embarrassed I’ve ever seen her.

But. she pursed her lips and and actually did okay. She knows what key it is in and had seen what I’d just played.

She stepped over to my pedal board and picked a little something called a “Tube Screamer.” She then chose the appropriate scale and you’d have thought she’d channeled old Black Sabbath. She even knew to switch to the second channel and then press the pedal!

It’s at this point that I should remind you that we were playing Sweet Home Alabama. This girl is not much for country rock. No… No, she is not.

It fit well enough and we were able to keep up with her increasing the tempo. And, as far as bitchin’ solos go, it was not bad. It was very out of place, but the audience seemed to like it.

This is my student, in which I am well pleased.

I’m reluctant to offer a grade on it, but she’s been asking how she did – pretty much ever since. The scale choice was correct. The courage was exceptional. The tempo was wrong and she built up speed without letting the band know her intent. The stage antics were good. I give her a B.

I should explain that I grade very hard. For her to get that grade is exceptional. I am very, very impressed that she got that grade. It’s my opinion that grades represent where one should be, not where one is. She’s heard us rehearse that song, many times. I do believe she can do better. I also know she could have done much, much worse.

And, really, when you consider the circumstances, that’s an exceptionally good job. There was a ton of pressure. I’d have not been mad if she’d just kept playing the rhythm. At her experience level, I would have. She’s learning quickly. In another decade, she’ll be a good guitarist.

There, I’m not far from home. I’m going to proof-read this, go inside, publish this, and submit it. Then, I’m gonna go unpack my guitars. I believe at least a few of you will enjoy hearing about EH’s progress. She’s coming along quickly.

So, you can see why it’d be the best day ever. All shows aren’t like that, but sometimes they’re awesome. That’s what it looks like from the stage. That’s what we experience. If you get the chance to perform, do it. Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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