Thursday, February 27, 2003

Nice comments from Ms. Hines on why the J.C. scene is so memorable and important to all of us, despite the fact that nothing much actually happened, if you think about it.

It's like this. One flower in the middle of a field of flowers? No big deal. But when you find one growing between the cracks on a busy sidewalk, you have to say, "Wow, those things find a way to live anywhere. Right on, my flower brother!" Or something like that.

Here's a J.C. story that relates. Stinky Finger had done their Down Home gigs and a few others, but they hadn't been around for very long. It was still more of a joke idea (well, it was always a joke, just a daggone good one) and not a REAL band yet. So, Mike and Lynne have some people visiting them from out of town, probably from Kansas, and they tell their friends about Stinky Finger and say they wish SF could play for them while they're here. This is at M&L's house. Anyway, figuring we'd just get no for an answer, we decide to go down to Burt at the Club Venus and ask him if Stinky Finger, Beat Yo' Mutha, Old Plez and maybe somebody else could play one night while they're here. There was no PA at the place. We said we'd rent or borrow a PA from somewhere if Burt said yes.

Well, not only did Burt say yes, he said "What about Wednesday AND Thursday?" (Or maybe it was Thursday and Friday--how can I be expected to remember, but it was two nights in a row.) Well, this just blew us away, the idea that to get a real gig, all you had to do was show up in a place and ask to play. This probably never occurs to most people who can play but never have. They imagine there's some sort of mysterious process to it all, when, if the scene is small enough, there is no process beyond just showing up and asking.

So, then, we go down to Morrell's and rent the worst Traynor PA setup you have ever heard. Puke and Ugly would've sounded better with police bullhorns, really. But we didn't care. I mean, we took that PA back to Morrell's the next day and didn't use it on the second night, and I don't remember what we did use, maybe an upgrade from Morrell's or maybe one borrowed from Franky Spangler. I can't remember.

What Brook was saying made me think of that because, in a city with a REAL music scene, you'd probably never be able to do that as easily. I mean, think about it--you don't just walk in to the Bluebird Cafe or CBGB's or wherever and say, "Can I play here tomorrow night?" You don't even walk into the Down Home or into your local sports bar that has classic rock cover bands on Saturday night and ask that. But you did with Burt, 'cause he didn't have a music club. He just had a space behind his pizza place that he wasn't using very much except to let people drink dollar pitchers of Meister Brau and was wondering if maybe these kids could help him to get it to make a little money.

And probably the best thing for us was that Burt didn't exactly have discriminating taste. It wasn't like he was sitting there and thinking, "Hmm. . . these boys are ok, but they really need to work on their stage presence and get tighter on the changes." No, he was just thinking, "I have 80 dollars in my hand, 50 of which goes to the band. Now, the band just drank 40 dollars worth of beer, and their 20 friends who came to watch them have ordered 4 large calzones and about 10 slices, and that table over there is on their 9th pitcher of Meister Brau. Let's see, that's about 100 bucks more than I was gonna pull in if we didn't have the band here. Ok, let's keep having bands, and for the moment, no high class deesco."

I lived in Auburn, Alabama for a long time, too, and it was much the same. There was no real music scene, no industry for it at all, just like 30 local people who divided into bands and played sometimes. In my entire "career" (ha!) as a player, I have gotten exactly ONE gig because I gave someone a tape or CD of my music and had them to check it out. The rest were exactly like those gigs for Mike and Lynne's visiting friends.

--Plez

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