Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Frankly, Scarlett...

As the stomach churns...

SUBJECT: guitarist - Rock Bottom

Friday and Saturday, April 14th and 15th
Mingo's, Granite City, Il

Hi ho, kids!

Yeah, I haven’t “blogged” much recently. I sat down to analyze why, and some interesting answers struck me as to the reason. Part of it is time management, to be sure. I’m a busy guy, a part time father, and an active social/poker life.

Part of it is because of the bittersweet comfort that Rock Bottom has become. I say bittersweet because it’s sweet that I’ve started to find my groove, everything is flowing smoothly, we’re having a blast, and the jobs have been a success.

The bitter part is that it’s also kind of bland, and there’s nothing really that interesting to differentiate one gig from the next. Nothing much to share, anyway. Once I leave the show, wake up the next morning (or afternoon…) and get on with the events of my daily life as father, computer tech, or struggling poker player, the weekend's events just kind of melt together and fade away.

Part of the issue is the rather personal nature of some of what has transpired, as well. I don’t mind writing about my life, but sometimes you have to really open yourself bare to prying eyes, and I have to wrestle with this: how far do I go? How far do I let you into my life? How far is too far? Why am I doing this?

I’m an honest guy, perhaps too honest, even with myself. I do see some interesting threads developing, yet perhaps I’m too chicken to let them run their course? Perhaps it’s inappropriate to openly discuss?

But, I am about entertainment, and nothing is more entertaining than drama! So, I’ll push on…

Friday night at Mingo’s was rather uneventful. A decent show. I remember being a bit uncomfortable as to not cracking my guitar case the entire time we were off, and that my playing would suffer terribly. I’d “suck a wrench”, as my old buddy and teen age mentor Todd Jones used to colorfully say. But, phrases seemed to flow effortlessly from my fingers, and I was rather pleased, honestly. Wish it was always this easy!

We had a warm crowd as we always do, and many of our friends popped in. Oh, as I remember now, I believe it was my buddy Steve’s 40th birthday, and a whole gaggle of old friends showed up! We had quite a party! That was fun. I've known Steve since kindergarten. Steve’s a connessuier of great classic rock, and it was nice to entertain him and his/our friends. Being a big Van Halen fan, I ripped through Eruption for him as a birthday gift. And, I didn’t crash and burn too badly.

The crowd was quite good. Apparently, Eddie’s booked a country band, and it got through the grapevine that we were down the road at Mingo’s, so people starting coming through the door. I noted many an Eddie’s regular! Odd to see them out of the “confines”.

We had a special guest, whose name I’m constantly forgetting. Part of that “forgetting things as I wake up the next day and life rolls on". Between breaks, they mentioned to me that he plays a mean Comfortably Numb. Now, I’m all about Pink Floyd, but, hmm. This would be a challenge. “Who’s gunna play bass?” I asked.

“You.” Uh, ok.

“Who’s gunna sing it?”


Right. Well, this is going to take some Jagerbombs!

Well, the Jager flowed, and I figured, “what the hell? Sounds like fun!”

In the third set, he jumped up on guitar, I grabbed Chuck’s bass, and I asked “what key is it in?” With a quick flash of the chord changes, I bellied up to the mic, summoned “The Force”, and we performed Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb.

All in all, it wasn’t that bad! Hell, he can come up anytime he wants to play it! After the tune, he kind of sheepishly shrugged his shoulders at me. I guess he wasn’t that comfortable with his performance of it, but it sounded ok to me. But then, I was FOCUSED, to say the least!

“Man, you are so fucking loud over here!” he said, glancing at my amp. “Kinda freaked me out playing that loud.” I just kind of chuckled as I strapped on my Les, Black.

After a moment, I realized what he meant: my amp is fucked up, and when you click on the “clean channel”, and kick off the distortion, there is no volume control! It’s all the way up! I compensate for this by adjusting my picking attack, and control the dynamics of the volume level by playing more gently. Unfortunately, he wasn’t prepared for that, and that apparently threw him off. I sympathize. Playing someone else’s rig is unfamiliar territory, and those little quirks we take for granted can be foreign territory to some poor sap that marches up there and plays your rig!

Still, as I say, I enjoyed the shit out of it, and next time, he’ll know what to expect, and I’ll help him navigate my tricky clean sound. But there will be another attempt, I can almost guarantee!

Which kind of brings up another point: will it be worth it? Sometimes, the luster of that magic fades, and even if you pull it off again, it’s like “yeah, but that was more planned, more staged.” I love spontaneity. That kind of magic is truly special.


Saturday night at Mingo’s, I had a friend coming down to meet me. A casual thing. We’re not dating serious or anything, but we have some chemistry that seems to spark between us. She’d been briefly dating this friend of mine, and we just became chums. Now she’s stopped dating him, and seems even friendlier! That’s cool. I can hang with a cute friend, and get to know her a bit. They didn’t have anything serious, so I did feel like I was imposing on his turf, although you always feel kind of awkward in a situation such as this.

She came in and introduced me to her friend, and it wasn’t long before I could tell what a live wire her friend was! Within the first few moments, her friend was ranting about her views on guys and sex, and well, she’s a wild one, to put it mildly. She demands attention, to be sure! Before long, her tits were flopping out and she was carrying on. This was an interesting start to the evening…

My friend, I call her Peaches because she’s from Georgia, told me that she was pissed at her old boyfriend.

“He told me he was goin’ outta town, to his grandma’s, but I don’t believe him,” she said, in her sexy, Georgia drawl. I have to admit, those smooth southern belle “twangs” are really cute. Not the hoosier Arkansas or Kentucky twang, but the slow drawl of a Deep South belle. Dunno why, but I dig it!

“You watch!” she said, “he’ll probably show up tonight!”

God, I hope not, I thought. See, I kind of ended up dating his old girl friend before her! He and I have to stop passing dates around…

The show went off, and we plowed into our familiar songs in a familiar way. The bar had a good sized crowd. We seemed to be making a following there, or at least one that will come see us there, and Eddie’s still had a country band booked, so many that had gone to Eddie’s last night and not diverted course to Mingo’s, did so tonight!

I felt comfortable in my playing, but my rig promptly gave me hell. There seems to be a short in Violet’s jack, and it cuts out intermittently. I also discovered another short after a great deal of panic and scrambling during the first song. My guitar tuner jack seems to be shot. Oh well, it cost me $15, and lasted me 15 years. Time for a new tuner, and get this damn jack replaced!

Towards the end of the set, much as my Georgia Peach had predicted, in walked her “ex” boyfriend! Needless to say, she was pissed. And, of course, I’m thinking “well, what is going to happen now? Not the spot I want to get put in!” I was also curious as to how much of an ex he was, and who was pulling the plug on whom.

They ignored each other for the most part, and Peaches came over to a table by my side of the stage, out of view from the main part of the bar. At one point, I kind of brushed by my buddy and mentioned her, and we’d had a chuckle, and slapped each other on the back. It’s all good, baby!

While I’d noticed her firecracker friend was hanging on some guys at the bar during the set, she’d seemed to have disappeared. From what I could gather, she’d taken Peaches' car back to her house in Alton, for whatever reason. I don’t think she needed a reason. This free spirit came and went with the breezes.

So, I played the cordial host to Peaches, who was basically stranded there, trying to avoid eye contact with her ex. The shots were flowing, and I was getting pretty tanked! Naturally, they were all coming out of my pocket! Peaches sure was looking prettier, and prettier! During the next set, she’d jump up and dance with the other girls, and I could hardly take my eyes off her. What a great body! I was having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that a sexy little southern belle like this cutie was really even interested in a meatloaf like me! But, as I’ve come to learn: women are attracted to men of action, and that guitar in my hands was my ticket! Made me look 150 lbs lighter! Beer goggles probably helped, too.

The shots and the music had set the mood, and by the next break, I spent most of it in our little corner, hugging and smooching away on Peaches. Man, did I feel like a rockstar! Hot chicks, great tunes, and the booze flowing like water! Ah Stimpy! This is the LIFE! Peaches was all over me, and we just seemed to be clicking. Of course, she was pretty hammered too; her eyes kind of resting at half mass, a plastered smile across her face.

Towards the end of the set though, she’d become more and more concerned where her wild ass friend had run off to, and had been feverishly trying to contact her, telling her to bring her car back! She mentioned to me a friend was coming down, and she was probably going to have to go get it. Ugh, that’s not how I was picturing this evening winding up, her traipsing around Madison County searching for her car! I had a more romantic, candlelit conclusion in mind…

The third set kicked off, and before long, her “friend” appeared to take her to get her car. He was some suave, young buck, and I could tell from the get go, he wasn’t there interested in taking her to get her car, but he was there to “give her a ride”. She was plastered and playing with her cell phone while he used all his “wily” charms on her off to the side of the stage, where we’d been sitting. I was starting to feel nauseous.

They spent a few songs together schmoozing, and I tried not to concentrate on it. I was starting to feel angry, just at how things seemed to be developing for me. I don’t ask for much, and I expect even less. But, God damn, when I’m having some success with a woman that seems genuinely interested in at least going home with me, why does Mr. Swinging Dick have to come in and fuck over my parade?

Actually, that’s happened to me more than once, and is an “occupational hazard” in this business. The girls get all hot and bothered for you, you get them shots and drunk on the break. Then, when you go back to work, all you’ve done is prime them up for the wolves that come prowling along and snatch them away. You’re done with the set, wandering around saying to yourself “where the hell did she go?” She’s getting the high hard one from the Redneck Casanova. Hell, that’s probably what killed my marriage, truth be known.

So, here I am, all revved up and no where to go, with about 45 minutes left to steam on stage over it. I’m a professional, and I was doing everything I could to not let it affect my performance, but I was so disappointed. After a time, I noticed that they weren’t even over there anymore. Great, I appreciated that. At least don’t do it in front of me!

The show ended, and I didn’t really even give a shit. At last! Go home to my dog. About that time, Peaches popped from around the corner, to my surprise. I thought she was long gone.

“I have to go get my car,” she said. Her eyes were kind of glazed.

“Oh,” I said.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“Excuse me?”

“After I get my car, where are we going?”

Was she fucking kidding me? This has to be a joke, I thought.

“Uh, get your car and come back to my house,” I said, throwing it out there.

“Ok, great. I’ll call you so you can tell me how to get there.”

I kind of stood amazed as she grabbed her purse and shuffled out the door. What’s the odds on actually seeing her in my bed tonight? Slim to none. But, that’s better than not a chance in hell.

My mood picked up, even if just for the sake of the humor in the whole thing. I didn’t really think I’d see her, but it was nice that she acted like she cared, and gave me the impression that she’s interested in spending the night with me. For me, a guy who’s pretty shy with women, and not any kind of Adonis, it’s nice to get thrown a bone once in a while. Even if she does leave with the Swinging Dick.

I packed up my gear, said g’night to all the boys and the gang, and rambled home. I greeted my dog, checked the web, and got ready for bed. I tried Peaches cell phone out of a last desperation hope that I might see her, but all I got was voice mail. This should make for an interesting blog, I thought to myself. I hope it has been! With my dog Wednesday nuzzled by my side, I drifted off to sleep.

At 5:45, the phone rang. It was Peaches.

“I just got my God damned car back!” she said.

“Really,” I mumbled into the phone, attempting to come around. I really wasn’t interested. She went on about what happened, and how they took her car, and she had to file a report, and on, and on. That’s too bad, I thought.

Your loss.

Maybe next time.