Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Long Strange Trip...

Now that it's August 1, the other high point of this special weekend is upon us.

When I was 16-17 my older musician friends would sneak me into their club gigs to play a few RUSH songs, so I had some bar experience. Their girlfriends would hide me in the dressing room or coat room with a pitcher of beer (and stuff) while I waited to go onstage scared out of my pants.
In New York the drinking age was 18, and not long after I graduated from high school my band ONYX started playing regularly.
My very first legal club gig was on August 1, 1980 at Sullivan's on Route 50 in Scotia.
I was the rhythm guitarist because the band had 3 brothers in it and the youngest played lead guitar. Their call since they owned all the sound and light gear, although fun times ensued because he was underage and their dad had to be at the shows. Dad liked the young girls a bit too much.

Anyway, I finally got to play a guitar solo and was excited and nervous but determined to do my best.
In the middle of my big moment, some guy right in front of me broke a beer bottle on a table and slashed another dude's neck wide open.
Blood gushed everywhere, and I even got some on me and my white Ibanez 6/12 string doubleneck guitar.
It took over half an hour to stabilize him in an ambulance before they could take him to a hospital.
Never found out if he lived or died...

At the end of our show I remember thinking "It can't get any worse" and after 30 years in this crazy business it turns out that I was right.
Do you remember the scene in the movie The World According To Garp where Robin Williams and his wife are house-hunting and a small plane crashes into the house they are looking at?
He gets all excited because the house is "pre-disastered", meaning that the odds are good that nothing tragic will happen again.
All kinds of crazy shit has gone down, but that was the low point and I was "pre-disastered" on my very first night.

Here's a picture of me a month or two into my career (playing the guitar I still have) with ONYX at Foxy's in Schenectady NY:
Chris Rattazzi loaned me his Peavey Mace amp so that I would have two, although this was definitely overkill.
Mine is currently sitting a few feet away as I type this and is going into the shop soon so that I can use it again.

This is me at Tiger's in Clifton Park playing the doubleneck.
Mark Nolan lent me his Peavey 2x15" speaker cabinet for this show, to augment my pair of 4x12" cabs. More overkill but I was young and hadn't run sound yet, which would have taught me to keep the volume under control.
By this time us non-brothers in ONYX had split off and formed the band Dirty Art. We also testified in court (while massively hungover) to win a lawsuit against our former bandmates.
Darryl Williams and Robert Kohler were our singer and soundman.
Dwayne Distal was our drummer and the driving force behind my early career in upstate New York, and is the only person mentioned by name in this post who isn't a friend on FaceBook yet.

Here I am playing bass with BLISS tonight at the Loop 1604 SILO.
Rikk was kind enough to lend me his left hand, which sounds like the start of a filthy joke.
Right before we started the song, some girl in the audience came up to me and asked if it was really my birthday.
While the answer should have been no, technically, I was smart enough to say yes.
She flashed me her boobs.
Not a single member of the band or our group of friends saw this happen, but I can assure you it did and was just one more freebie in a long list of them this weekend.

This picture sums it up--I love to make music!
If I wasn't known as the best soundman in San Antonio I might get to play onstage more often, but the people I work with depend on my skills to make sure that The Show MUST Go On!!

The stories I've accumulated are endless.
Put me next to another soundman/guitar-bassist/douchebag at a party and his stories will remind me of a few hundred more.
Ask me about touring Newfoundland Canada for a month--there's 45 minutes of laughs right there.
Or about how the amazing drummer Bill Bruford (YES, King Crimson, etc) walked into our dressing room and saw my weiner--big stars get "All Access", I guess.
What about when the late great Dimebag Darrell of Pantera tried to hire me as his guitar tech before they even had a deal with a record label?
Then there was the night I captured legendary guitarist Neal Schon of Journey (& Santana) complimenting me on a cassette recorder.

I now have exactly 30 years worth of (legal) tall tales.


Matthew Robertson said...

Happy birthday, and congratulations on the personal milestone as well. An interesting read.

And, it almost goes without saying, your hair's made a big improvement.

vw: cheato

selma said...

Thanks for the glimpse of the last 30 wishing you at least 30 more!

Dave said...

Great post along with great pics and stories. I'm a bit disappointed that you didn't have a camera handy during your birthday flash, but I guess it was intended as a present for you and not the rest of us.