Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Gig from Hell

The other day a fellow drummer commented on the subject of bad gigs (The Gig from Hell), on a social site for us drummers and I thought I would write about mine. Every musician has one or thirty. Sometimes it's difficult to determine which one was the worst. Other times there is no thought needed whatsoever. Mine falls into the latter category.
Way back in the 80's (that would be the 1980's for those who aren't aware of the last century), I received a phone call from a band-leader who I will refer to as the world's worst saxophone player for a gig in which he needed a drummer. Being a "professional" musician means not turning down too many jobs otherwise you will no longer be a "professional" because nobody will call you. So with that mindset I gladly accepted the gig. Turns out this was an indefinite engagement at a now defunct casino in South Lake Tahoe. Most "indefinite" engagements typically last a month if you're lucky. Welllllll, this one lasted ten, a new record.
One of the interesting aspects of this particular gig was the leader liked to play the song, "Yakity Sax" by Boots Randolph. The song is OK, it was a big hit back in the 60's (1960's that is) and a good deal of saxophone players play this tune. The average tempo is somewhere around 120 beats per minutes which is two beats per second. This bandleader liked to play the song at approx. 3,000 beats per minute making it without a doubt the fastest that song has ever been played. Another interesting aspect was that at those speeds the song became completely unrecognizable. After 3 or 4 times through the tune, which was 6 or 7 seconds, it had become a cacophony of noise. As the time keeper, I basically waited for the pickups which is the introduction played by the saxophone player, and then played as fast as humanly possible while rushing the tempo for a couple of minutes until I heard the "shave and a haircut, ten cents" tag, which identified the song as being over. This bandleader had a reputation for playing many popular songs of the day in an unrecognizable manner but none as fast as "Yakity Sax".
Another thing he liked to do was play two (2) saxophones at once. Well, he tried to play two saxophones at once. The idea is to have two notes producing a harmonious musical chord. It was neither harmonious nor musical. Ever. It was, however, reminiscent of stepping on a chicken while skinning a cat. And he would try this more than once a night, every night, always unsuccessful.
About three months into this gig from Hell the world's worst saxophone player announced he had booked us into a lounge in Jackpot, Nevada for either two weeks or a month. I don't remember which. Having no choice, we packed up the equipment and headed east for Jackpot which was about an eight hour drive. I had the band leader in my car with me and the female singer drove her car with the keyboard player on board. Somewhere around hour number three a $5 piece of plastic broke and ended up dumping all of the motor oil onto the freeway, causing the engine to blow up. There weren't cell phones back then and the female singer with keyboard player on board never saw my headlights flashing on and off nor did they hear my horn blasting at them...they just casually disappeared over the horizon never to be seen again, until the next day. So there we were; stranded in the desert miles from nowhere with a blown engine. The band leader ends up hitchhiking to the next town and hours later shows up with a guy in his tow truck, who doesn't take checks. At that time the only one in the band who had a credit card was the female singer. Go figure. So the tow truck guy tows us into the next town and the band leader writes him a check all the while telling me he's going to pay for half of the expenses including having the car towed back to Lake Tahoe. Right.
By now it's evening and we are hungry so we check into a motel (he writes a check!), have dinner and end up in the bar shooting some pool and wondering what's next on the agenda. I have to point out that he was a recovering alcoholic and I had been clean, straight and sober for almost a year myself but for some reason he wanted a glass of wine. I didn't. Beer, however, was sounding pretty good at this point and not wanting to drink alone, he bought me one. Two bottles of wine, two six packs of beer and a pack of cigarettes later it was determined this was not going to be a good gig. I'm still not sure how he paid for all of this but we crawled to the room and passed out. In the morning there was a knock on the door and the keyboard player had driven five hours against his will to pick us up. I remember very little of the drive.
For the most part,all I remember was the daytime temperature never got above 18 degrees and the sun never came out. I do remember having a birthday and the two cute little keno writers who wanted me to take them to California had disappeared, never to bee seen again. And the cute cocktail waitress wanted nothing to do with me though she understood my predicament: I wanted a cute cocktail waitress for my birthday! It didn't happen. What did happen was I broke the cardinal rule of musicians: I ended up with the female singer. How I managed this I still have no idea. I remember a hot tub in a hotel suite and the next thing I know is I now have a girlfriend who happens to be the singer in the band. A note to young, up and coming drummers: Never, ever, EVER get involved with the female singer! Ever. It will scar you! Every drummer I know has done it at least once and look at us!! Now if you're a female drummer, well it's rather obvious this won't happen unless, of course...
Anyway, back to Tahoe and the rest of the story. The band has taken on a whole new demeanor as we're all a bunch of lushes now. I thought "Yakity Sax" sounded strange before. It was now on a whole new plateau this time around.
An interesting observation was that the club was about four miles from where I lived and at mile three of the drive to work the headache would hit. Every night. Without fail. On the bright side, at least at the time, was the fact that there was an open bar for the band. Needless to say, we got there early enough to make sure the headache was gone before the first song of the night! Most of our senses and abilities were gone as well but this truly was the gig from hell and that was how we dealt with it.
Another notable observation of this gig was the band was set up behind the bar on a very small stage with the drums being closest to the blender which made the strawberry daiquiris. I never realized the bartender would take the cover off while the blender was still churning to put some other substance in until that first time when the overspray got all over the drums! For weeks I complained about it and was told by the GM that if I didn't like it I could go...deal with it! I decided that if they didn't care, I didn't care.
Like all good rat packs I had numerous drum stuff laying around the pad and determined I would create a drum set just for this gig. I took all the hardware off the drums I had and wrapped the shells with white contact paper and proceeded to "camoflauge" them with a plethora of spray paint cans. I then painted all the chrome hardware white, threw it all together and schlepped it down to the club. The piece de resistance was the cover of a GQ magazine which had a deadpan photo of Woody Allen that the female singer duct taped to the bass drum! In a weird sort of frame of mind they looked pretty cool but in reality they looked like $#@t and sounded worse. "Blend away, Matey!" says I. In less than a week I was told I would be fired if I didn't remove them from the stage. They never got one bit of spray on them, either.
After ten months of insanity I was given a one week notice the night my female singer girlfriend was fired because, after all, I wouldn't want to be in a band that she wasn't a part of anymore. The good news is I broke up with the female singer shortly after, I cleaned up and have been sober since and I never had to play with the world's worst saxophone player again. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


This last Sat. (3-20) was my first race of the 2010 season. Snelling was 'sposed to be but I didn't even know reg. had opened until after it sold out in something like 1 or 2 days! Oy.
So Zamora it was. Located north of Woodland which is located north of Sacramento, Zamora is a little intersection that you will miss if you blink but most NorCal races seem to be that way. Don't want to irritate too many neighbors now.
So, turn off the freeway and roll along the rolling rollers to Bariani Winery, which is where the registration is and the start/finish takes place.
The course is a 10 mile loop on pretty good pavement actually and in the Springtime the area looks just like the default on my desktop, and probably yours too if you have a PC. You know the one; rolling green hills with the mountains in the background. This place looks just like that. Of course by June it'll be an UGLY brown just waiting to catch fire so it can go on a major rampage. But for now, it's really pretty.
So I get there a day early 'cause I don't want to spend the money on a motel, especially considering I'm by myself: no one to share expenses, so I took a tent and some backpacking stuff for cooking and it was good. I decided to ride the course lazily and just check it out to make sure there was nothing of immediate concern for the next day and stopped to chat with a couple of guys marking the finishing straight. You know, 2K to go, 1K, 500 meters, 200, and 100. Turns out one of them is Mark Switters, Adam's dad. For those of you who may not know who Adam is, just know that everyone involved in bike racing knows who Adam is. Chell and I had the pleasure of dining with Mark and his bride in (I think) Allentown, PA a couple of years ago when Micah went to Nationals. WRONG!! Just checked Google maps...Somerset, PA is where we ate. Anyway, chated with Mark and another guy who was helping out. Real nice guy but had a bit of an accent and it wasn't the easiest thing for me to understand, especially since I've become half deaf in one ear due to MANY electric guitars and kinda can't hear out of the other one. Wellllll, it turns out the fellow with the accent is Mr. Bariani! So now I'm glad I asked him if he thought it would be OK to pitch a tent instead of just doing it and acting as if I owned the place...sorta like some cyclists I know.
Anyway, got all setteled in, listened to some cool jazz and went to sleep. For awhile. A little, short while. Seems they have hoot owls at the Bariani Winery. Loud hoot owls that like to hoot back and forth to each other most of the night. In morse code they were spelling out the letters K followed by two T's. In music notation it would be an 1/8th note followed by two 16th notes tied to a quarter note followed by an 1/8th note rest, an 1/8th note, an 1/8th note rest and an 1/8th note! If you REALLY have to know what it sounds like, ask me the next time you see me.
Needless to say, I didn't quite get the nice long sleep I had hoped for. Ah well.
Morning comes and it's race day, baby! Got quite a few looks as I was frying up french toast with the morning coffee but all was good. Warmed up and went to the line for the start. 50 plus racers in the 55+ field! FIFTY PLUS!! Over 50 guys at least 55 years of age! Unheard of. Two years ago I did this race and we had something like 11! Yikes!
The whistle blew and off we went, all 50 plus of us. The Uber Geezers are coming out to play this year.
Anyway, hung with the leaders all the way to the KOM ( king of the mountains) hill when they really upped the pace and I got blown out the back. Nothing new here but normally it happens about 7 miles back down the road so I kinda felt good 'bout it.
So now I'm all alone, chasing, going after that perverbial carrot about a quarter mile up the road and by the 3rd of 4 laps I'm starting to hurt and am getting tired of being alone and thinking about packing it in. But I remember Bubba, who is parked in front of me back at the parking lot and am remminicing (sp), reminded of his liscense plate which says, NVRGVUP. For those of you who may not know who Bubba is, EVERYBODY in NorCal racing knows who Bubba is. Renoites know that he is a coach at Galena HS. Never give up...never give up...Yeah, yeah, yeah...I'm ready to give up. Then I remember how Greg LeMond would always say to finish 'cause you never know what might happen, blah blah. Even coach Mel's words are racking my ears. "You'll never know how to win if you never learn how to finish." Not that I've never finished a race. I've finished almost every race I've done. It's just that I don't feel kike doing another 10 miles by myself knowing it won't make a difference as far as my overall placing.
So I'm heading up towards the KOM when the big boys come flyin' by me and when the dust settles lo and behold, there's two guys just up the road. Well, at least peddle up to them and see who they are, if they're even in my race, if they're going to finish or pack it in like I want to. Aw, mannnn...it's a Webcor guy in my race and a 45plus who's been dropped as well. Webcor?Webcor? Anybody but Webcor. AND, they announce that they will, indeed, be finishing. Now I HAVE to finish this stupid race 'cause there's no way I'm letting a Webcor guy beat me unless it's fair and square.
Dude had huge quads. Ripped.Veins bulging out and all...jealous I am. Looked to have quite the motor. Even though he would fall back anytime the road tilted upwards, me thinks this guy is playing possum. Didn't matter as he would always pace himself right back up to us in no time. So after the KOM for the last time we have a straight road for about a mile or two, then a left turn and approx. 500 meters ( 1/4 mile ) to the finish with rollers thrown in just for fun. Welllllll, I make sure that I finish my turn on the front at about 100 meters, ( 100 yards ) before the left hand turn so that I won't be on the front when the heat gets turned up. Sure enough, they both come around me and we make the turn and Webcor just puts the hammer down! From a sitting possition. Drills it. BUT, I'm expecting this so I jump around the 45+ guy and get on the wheel of El Webcor Dude and try my best to stay there. Almost got dropped but caught back on and I'm getting ready to jump around him at 50 meters when he SITS UP! What? He later said he thought he dropped both of us and had the sprint in the bag but he never bothered to look around to make sure. So I caught him by suprise and by the time he realizes it, it's too late and I beat him for something like 40th place!!!
So we cool down, shake hands and lie about how much FUN we had suffering out there when I ask his name. "I'm Lothar" says he. Lothar? LOTHAR? "Dude, You're a legend." Says I. He says he's been around awhile...ever so humble. This guy's been killin' it for a long long time. Hence the quads! But, I not only beat Webcor in the sprint, I beat Lothar as well, even if it was for 40th!
So my first suffer-fest of the new year ended pretty good, all things considered and I just can't wait for this weekend when I get to do it all over again. Only this time I'll be staying at the fabulous Motel 6 where they'll leave the light on for me.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I was there

Live at Yoshi's in Oakland with
the Electrik Band...
Happy Birthday to Me !!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

News of the Day

Well, it's official.

Mikey Hernandez has asked Junior to be a part of the new VOS P~1,2 squad. Waaaaaayyyy

He was all set to ride for the Lombardi U23 boys but nothing ever seemed to come of it.It would have been a good team for him, three of the strongest juniors he's had to race against, and with, over the years but things just didn't work out.

But now he has the perfect opportunity for growth and developement with Mike. If Hernando can't show him the ropes no one can. It's especially cool 'cause Michael has been Micah's hero since Junior got into racing about 5 years ago. Olaf used to live in Reno and was the guy who always crushed our poor little bike club when he raced for the Mighty Reno Wheelmen. We've since forgiven him. They've always had a good relationship as Mike LOVES to talk bike racing and I've always instilled in our
yoots to ASK QUESTIONS, especially ask those who know what they're talking about.

So now he's taking the next step to see how far he can go with racing. One day at a time, eh? Daddio is jumping up and down and trying to stay out of the way, (that's got to be the toughest part) and couldn't be prouder!
His grandpa is all excited as well...he used to race a Lotus sports car so can certainly relate. That's the reason I HAD to race Sea Otter this year, (see earlier post).

Now that he's going to be on a new team, maybe I can grab some of the AMD stuff!!!


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Country-Western Bass Player

So this kid decides he wants to be a country western bass player and moves to Nashville, seeing as that's the home of county music.
He seeks out the top bass player/teacher and approaches him about bass lessons.
The pro says that in order for him to teach the newbie, the kid has to show up on time and learn what was taught. "OK, I can do that." says the prospective student.
Says teach,"My house, 4:30 Tuesday next."

So the next Tuesday the kid shows up and the teacher describes the biggest, fattest string closest to his chin: "That's the E string. Start at the bottom and play the first 12 notes up the neck and back down. That's called a chromatic scale."

Next week the kid executes his first lesson and teach describes the next biggest,fattest string, calling it an A string and tells him to do the same thing as the week before.

Nest week comes and the student is a no call, no show.
Teach is angry, very angry, but there's nothing he can do about it so he forgets about it.

Many weeks later Teach spots kid at the grocery store and calls him on not showing.

Says Teach,"What happened to you? No call? No show?"

Says student,"I got a gig!"

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Jazz Musician

So this jazz sax player comes back to New York from L.A. for a short vacation and runs into an
old buddy.
JSP: Yo, 'sup?
OB: Not much, you?
JSP: Oh man, I've been in L.A. for the last couple of years.
OB: Oh yeah? I hadn't heard about that.
JSP: Yeah, and shortly after I moved there I got a gig playing for Sting on his world-wide tour!
OB: Wow! I hadn't heard about that.
JSP: Yeah, and after that I got a call to record on Barbara Streisand's new CD.
OB: No kidding, I hadn't heard about that.
JSP:And if that weren't enough, I landed some studio gigs and have been heard on several TV shows and three movies in the last year!
OB: Amazing! I hadn't heard about that.
JSP: Yeah, man. But then I came back to New York for a short vacation and, not wanting to let
my chops go to waste, I took this stupid wedding gig and must have had a bad reed or something 'cause my playing really sucked!
OB: Yeah, I heard about that!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

From there to now

Oh, well, what the hay...

Many, many months since anything's been written on this site but I 'spose it's time to update now that the season is over.

A few things happened since Sattley ~ for me I missed the podium @ Esparto TT by 4 seconds and should have been on it except for the sandbagger who beat 2nd place by close to 5 minutes!
2nd place beat 3rd place by 1 or two seconds and 3rd beat me by 1 or two as well. Alll things considered, it was a very good day for me. AND, I didn't have to do Patterson Pass the day before. Got to hang in the feed zone and then follow Micah's Cat 3 race for the last lap. Once again he got top 10.

San Ardo was a blast...Actually hung with the pack the whole race. A first, me thinks.
And I didn't have to do University RR.

The only other accomplishments for me were placing 2nd in the Mighty Reno Wheelmen's Time
Trial Series for the "C's"...obvioulsy, not many of the heavy hitters showed up for that one but
I'll take it just the same. 5 free entries next year!

And I finished 3rd overall in the "C's" with Alta Alpina for the year. Next year = numero uno, baby!

Micah had a good year...11th overall in the RR at Nationals. Had the finish been at the top of the
hill instead of another couple hundred meters down the road, he would have been more like 8th.
I understand he JUST managed to avoid the crash, and a good thing as apparently he was flying
down the hill and it would have been ugly for him had he not. He was pretty shook up for the first lap until Ben calmed him down, then he showed some stuff. Finished in the chase group which was 3 or 4 minutes up on the pack. Not bad for some kid from Podunk, eh?

Next, he was off to Valdor, Canada for the Tour de l'abitibi, which was his first UCI race. Rode for the South Central team from Lubbok, Texas. This was the race Taylor Phinney won before
he won the World's Time Trial. Did I mention Micah beat Taylor at Nationals? Yeah, I know, Taylor's something like 6'2" and isn't a climber per sey and was kinda working for the team, but
So anyway, Mi moved up an average of 10 places per stage and finished 60 something overall.
He also was the highest placed rider on his team which won him a trophy, which allowed him to
come up to the stage during the presentation ceremony and that gave him the opportunity to
kiss either the Commissare or Mayor on the cheek which brought down the house. Typical.
He was also the highest placed rider from the NCNCA so that was cool as well.

Next, he WON the Challenge in the 3's, finished 8th in the 3's at Everest Challenge, ( BTW, his
overall time would have placed him 8th in the Pro 1~2 ). He made the mistake of hanging with the P1~2 guys on the first two climbs of the day, which caused him to be dropped on the 3rd climb, but he was still the first Cat3 to make the turn-around at the top. Unfortunatly, the 4th
climb took him out. Nothing like bonking at the beginning of a 17 or so mile climb! He lost 30 minutes or so to the leaders BUT the next day made up for it. Being the smart just 18 year old that he is, he rode his own pace on the first climb and was sitting around 4th or 5th in the 3's.
The leaders of the 3's were 3 minutes up the road with the P12's at the top of the 2nd climb when he flatted. Good thing Daddio was there to give him a wheel, even though he felt kind of awkward about it. So, seeing as he flatted, his companions naturally attacked him, and seeing as
he was running junior gears, ( 14X25 ) he wasn't able to catch back on. So, with one climb of 21
miles with upwards of 20 percent gradient he set his own pace and one by one picked off every
one of those guys!!! By the finish he had worked his way up to 4th place for the day! Way to go,

And last but not least, the Great Race Around Lake Tahoe.
Got there thinking it was a 7:30 start only to find out it went off at 7:oo.
So as the gun went off ( literally ), Micah was just getting on the bike and had to slot in at the back of the 150 or so riders that signed up for this epic race.
I was able to motor-pace him up to the back of the lead group and by the first real climb he was on the front drilling it. From my vantage point, which was behind the wheel of the loser cruiser,
which is what the juniors like to call the minivan, Micah was drilling it at the front every time it
went uphill.
By the end of the first climb, the lead group was whittled down to 13, including Jeff Angermann,
Chad Timmerman, Jason Walker and John Laine, not to mention Kat what's her name, the former National Champion up from Santa Cruz, who impressed everyone by staying in the entire race. When I remember her last name I will insert it where it belongs.
So everything stayed together until the last climb which was from Sand Harbor up to Spooner Summit. One of the Reno boys had rolled off the front and had a decent gap at one point, but Junior was able to bridge. Unfortunatly, the chase group caught them with about 2 miles or so to the top. Jeff then attacked the field but to no avail. No sooner was everyone all back together
Micah counter attacked and got away. He quickly opened up a 45 second gap and was looking like this might be his day.
I got caught in road repair hell and couldn't stay with the group as they were allowed through but no cars.
So I finally get through and drive like a madman down the hill towards Glennbrook and catch
up to them only to see that they have reeled Junior back in. Rats! I was REALLY looking foreward to him snatching victory on this one.
They all stayed together until the sprint and Micah ended up 3rd, according to the timing chip.
There was some doubt to the accuracy of the thing and he still hasn't received his prize money
yet, so we're sure of nothing at this point, but he had an excellent finish to his season. AND, he
WON the King of the King Time Trial up the backside of Kingsburry Grade. 39 minutes,16 seconds ~ 8 miles , 2,500 ft. altitude gain.

So now we are resting the legs and thinking about next year. Lots of new things happening. Too
bad I can't disclose any of it yet.

Until then,
Caio for now