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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Brushes With Show Biz War Stories

Looking back over my many years of traveling as an opening act, I got to thinking about how "stars" start perceiving the world when they have reached the top.

I recall driving all the way up to Thunder Bay, Ontario, to open for the late Conway Twitty -- my second time around with Conway as I had done two nights with him earlier at the Carlton Celebrity Room in Bloomington. Minnesota -- and sitting backstage before the show, waiting for my time.

I recall stepping outside the stage door to get some fresh air just before show time and seeing Conway's huge touring bus parked just yards away from the door.

It was raining lightly -- well, that's an exaggeration -- I could have stood out there for at least five minutes without really getting wet as there was just an occasional rain drop falling.

After a few minutes, suddenly the bus door popped open and standing on the bottom step was the man himself, clad in his show tuxedo, impeccably quaffed.

Conway held his hand out, checked the precipitation, such as it was, and mumbled something to his security man who was toting the hand held radio.

From the back of the bus appeared another of Conway's minions, thrusting an umbrella into Conway's waiting hand.

Only then did Conway and his management proceed the few yards to the door, which I thew open for him and nodded hello.

I smiled to myself at this display of intense care for the talent, thinking of all the times I have unloaded my sound equipment in a down pour and wondering if this was all necessary.

I also recall opening for the Bellamy Brothers at the hockey rink in Hayward, Wisconsin, a show that stands out in my mind in that it was a terrible room acoustically.

During my 25 minute warm up set, I could actually see the drop off point in the audience where my voice became garbled to the point that I could not be understood by anyone beyond that point.

After finishing my set, I was packing away my guitar when I was approached by the Bellamy's guitar roadie who wanted to know how I kept my guitar in such good tune.
He said that the Bellamy's were always bitching at him because the guitars would go out of tune so much during the first half of their set.

I asked him how often he changed the strings on their guitars and he said that they insisted that he change strings on all the guitars before every show.

I told him that therein was the problem as it takes some time for a set of strings to stretch when first put on the instrument. I don't care how much you hand stretch and pull at the strings after installing them, it will take them a time to settle in and stay in tune.

I often wonder if he kept his job.


Yesterday I was reminising about a young "insult" comic I traveled the ciruit with some years ago. A lot of comics that I was hooked up with on tours I tended to just be around as long as I needed to be as many of them were little more than an ego trip pain in the ass who thought that I was along for the ride as a "sounding board" for their latest attempts at writing.

This kid, (wish I could remember his name) however, I rather enjoyed being with and we would stay around after the show and have a couple of beers and then find a truck stop for breakfast somewhere near the flea bag motel in which we were ensconsed.

He teased me tirelessly throughout the entire two weeks about my being "the nicest guy" type comic he had ever worked with and what's up with that? He found that very amusing, particularly when I would choose to ignore asshole hecklers.

I found that if you really want to piss a heckler off, the best thing you can do is just ignore the son of a bitch and keep rolling right along with the rest of the crowd.

Oh, there are a few times when I really nailed somebody but it was always on my terms.


Proud of myself tonight as I have completed all of my leg exercises three times today and am looking forward to seeing my physical therapist again tomorrow afternoon before heading out to the Eau Claire airport to check out the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber which is due in at noon tomorrow. Maybe I will have some pictures of it to share!


Still waiting to hear from Kim with a report on her mother's appontment with the oncologist today.


Man! I hate it when I run out of money! Today I had to resort to grabbing the penny jar and head over to RCU to use the automatic machine. When I got there, two employees were working diligently at the gaping maw of the machine. Turns out some bozo dropped wet change into the machine and it doesn't run well that way.

So there I stood for ten minutes to retrieve my $9.64 cents which I turned into american cheese and fresh blueberries with some change left over. I am constantly astounded by how much the cost of groceries has jumped in the last months. I was going to get a one pound package of bacon which used to be $5 for two packages -- now it's $4.50 per pound -- and that's low end stuff!



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