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it happened last night… again…

April 7, 2007

ok… last night it happened again… well, it’s been a while since i’d been in that situation but there it was… again…
alright… we (jeremiah cymerman, matt welch, sam kulik, tom blancarte plus myself) had a gig at this place called stain bar in williamsburg… it’s right off the grand station on L… jeremiah hooked up the gig and we were supposed to do a solo each… and jeremiah had told me how the owner sounded cool and enthusiastic about music and all…
so we got to the place and somehow i could smell that this wasn’t the right place for us… but since we were there, i wasn’t going to ruin other people’s time by saying this place felt weird to me…
anyway…
we walked in and the inside was rather spacious… but then had a tiny stage on the far corner with an amp with a sign saying keep it quiet… no speakers… and a bathroom on the other corner and the bar not too far away… since we were all doing solo, there shouldn’t have been any problem… and of course the bartender reminded us again that we had to keep it down…
it was about 10 after 8 when sam started his solo… he plays bass trombone… he wasn’t playing loud but the people at the bar and the bartender were talking so loud, it was almost impossible to hear sam… which began to irritate me… i mean i knew that we were in a bar and not expecting everybody to be quiet… but then they could’ve moved away from the stage or at least try not to be louder than the music… there were lots of chairs on the other side of the place… well, anyway, i wanted to keep it civilized somewhat and didn’t say anything… then tom went on with his bass solo… he decided not to go through that amp since it wasn’t a bass amp anyway… and he began his solo very energetic hoping that people will start to pay some attention to music… but then of course the bartender and the people kept yakking… making me so angry… so i leaned toward to jeremiah and asked him if he cared if he’d ever get a gig at that place and he said no… so when it was my turn to play, i turned up the amp up and up and up… and still i think i wasn’t loud enough… and when my microphone was feeding back, they all stopped talking at least for a second… anyway, so i began playing with the highest, screechy-est, ugliest sound i can and just continue sawing… i was so mad at that point, i wasn’t playing music but simply letting my anger come out through my cello which made me even more unhappy… still whenever i got little quieter, i could hear that annoying bartender… so i went on and on… then after me, it was matt welch playing saxophone… and he can play that shit LOUD… still people kept talking but at least i could hear him…! then it was jeremiah finishing our glorious set at the stain bar… he began with screechy sound on his clarinet… then when it wasn’t loud enough, he took his mouth piece out and created the loudest sound of the entire night… and i was cheering him to get even louder… that’s when the bartender walked toward to jeremiah and tried to stop him… and i stood up and told her she couldn’t do that… and the next 10 minutes were me and her going at each other verbally… and it wasn’t pretty… but you know what, i am glad i did it… not that i’m a big fan of yelling at people (at least not as much as i used to) but i just couldn’t let her step all over us and our music… treating it like it was some kind of background music that they can talk on top of it… if that’s what they wanted, they shouldn’t even have live music and just play records… and what’s up with that pretentious tiny stage… do they think their bar is a set for “friends” where phoebe sings stupid songs about cats…? and you know what, even in that stupid sitcom, people LISTENED…!!!
anyway… that bartender was beyond anything… she was a total cultural moron and probably didn’t even deserve me yelling at her… the stuff she said was pretty pathetic… she even tried to have other people in the audience get involved which they didn’t…
well, after that 5 of us and a bunch of friends went to a bar around the corner and had a fucking GREAT time…
it’s really shame that it’s getting harder and harder to find places to play in the city… but we are not ready to back down… we will find places to play and the right people… and hopefully i don’t have to yell at anybody anymore… and play some music, damn it…

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4 Comments
  1. That’s awesome! I wish I’d been there to see you chew her out. The experience sounds pretty unpleasant, but this post is hilarious.

  2. Glad to hear my take on this bar was right. I stuck my head in one night cause someone asked me to be on a bill there for basically no pay, so I wanted to check it out first. My gut feeling was that it would be just like you describe, and lo and behold…There was a bar I used to play in Seattle where the bartender and door person would try to discourage patrons from coming in, saying “oh it’s the washing machine music tonight. You don’t want to come in.” I saw what was going on and complained to the owner. I said ‘this is just bad business. If you don’t want this stuff in your place then don’t fucking book it!’ Really irritating. He argued for a while with me, but what could he say, really?

  3. I had that experience before for my first ever bar gig… sigh… I know how u felt…Sorry to hear that…

  4. Happened on your post because I Googled some keywords to see how much other frustration there is out there for people who are completely oblivious to live entertainment. I’ve been playing in bars (and much more respectable places as well) as a solo for about eight years. I have been a finalist at some national songwriting contests, won 3rd place at Suwannee Springfest in 2005… Not bragging, but I like to think that if I’m set up and playing that people might… Just might want to hear something unique. How stupid of me. They either want you to play tired covers all night, or they watch TV. I can’t tell you how many times someone will ask me to play a song I know but am really sick of, and I’ll agree, and about 35 seconds in, the requester actually gets up and goes to the bathroom, oblivious. I swear, then 15 minutes later they’ll ask me why I haven’t played their request.Pardon me venting, but hey, you started it!About a month ago, I started a gig that was like a dream come true… 5 minutes from home (never happens), good pay, and – best of all – people who listened not only to what I was playing but what I said in between. I have a stage rapport (or try to) where I interact with the people, joke a little, say a little something about the song I’m about to play… And they actually interacted and seemed to be having fun! Well, I got there last night for my Wednesday shindig… And there are six brand-newly installed humongous television sets all the way around the damn place. So of course, everyone – even my “loyal” regulars that I’ve begun to establish – is zoned into the flickering onslaught of images being shot at them from the six TVs (all playing the same exact thing)… Mind-numbed. Nobody heard me last night. Huge difference.Good thing is, it’s looking like I might finally be in a position before too long to be able to afford to be a little pickier about where I play. Oy… In short: Great story (from a frustrated performer’s standpoint), and I feel yer pain.

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