Friday, March 31, 2006

Ten li'l Indians

I used to be in a band in Nashville, the main members of which are my core group of friends to this day. They're all big shots now. There's CeeElCee on guitar, who can decide on his own whether or not to tell you what he does, because I recently suckered him into blogging. He's a big shot. There the ad agency owner on drums. He's gotten me into luxury boxes at Titans games. That's big shot. There's the Veternarian on the other guitar. He can play the "Doctor" card to get us a better tee time. That's big shot. Then there's me. OK, it's a 75% big shot rate. Not bad for a band of 20-something skirt-chasing knuckleheads whose policy was to NEVER rehearse, under any circumstance.

We played O'Charley's and Rainbow Key and Father Ryan formals and frat parties and every other stupid crappy Nashville gig that came along. We drank as much as we possibly could at every gig. We played "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Margaritaville" and "Jet Airliner" and all the other same songs that every band in America plays that has a "no rehearsal" policy. We generally negotiated $50 a man and free beer. If we had to eliminate one, we'd eliminate the $50 a man. Just becasue we never rehearsed didn't mean we couldn't play a lot of different songs. We were fearless. Mostly because of the Veternarian. He never turned down a request. No matter how obscure or inappropriate for our instrumentation.

"Uh. . . can you play "Sussudio" by Phil Collins?"

I'm thinking that song is nothing but synths and horns.

The Vet: "Sure!" Then he'd turn to us. "I think it's in G. Follow me."

From Prince to Merle Haggard to Van Halen to Vanilla Ice, we never said no to a request.

Then we got the wedding gig. Someone actually thought we were good. And she was getting married in Seattle. And she wanted us to play the reception. She provided us Airline tickets. She agreed to pay us 10 times our usual local rate. So our little Nashville cover band flew to the west coast to play a wedding.

The reception was held in a huge hall, as big as the Ryman. We were to go on right after the best man's toast. The best man was the groom's brother. He took the mic on the stage of the beautiful, historic Seattle theater. And he started talking. We were in the wings, instruments ready, awaiting our best-paid gig ever.

And he talked.

After fifteen minutes, we put our instruments down. We could pick them up and be ready to go in 30 seconds.

And he talked.

And we eventually scattered. After 45 minutes, I was standing at an open window with a beer, and a distinguished looking guest sidled up next to me, lit a cigarette, and said, "That motherfucker needs to shut the fuck up." The best man toast lasted an hour and a fucking half.

By the time the best man had plowed though his brother's toddlerhood, pre-teen, teenage and young adult years in minute detail, the band that was brought in all the way from Nashville to entertain at the reception was completely smashed. Like ten beers and twelve shots of this hundred proof schnapps crap we always drank called Rumpleminz smashed.

We were supposed to start at nine. It was ten-thirty. Many folks had left. The best man drove them out. The ones remaining had been rendered as drunk as the band by the best man. Someone requested the Macarena. The Macaraena? Are you kidding me? It's not even in English. The Veternarian looked at the requester with sympathy, and I could tell that he was going to refuse the first request in the history of the band.

I stepped in and said, "Sure we'll do it!"

You may have never noticed this, but The Macerena is the same tune as "Ten Little Indians." Rumpleminz be damned. We manufactured a groove that was as close to the Macarena as four drunk idiots could get and I stepped up to the mic and confidently slurred:

One li'ltwoli'lthreeli'lindins

We mumbled and stumbled through that one-chord crapfest for 20 minutes while the smashed guests did that hokey-pokey looking Macarena dance. They loved it.

They gave us cross-country plane tickets. They gave us a rental car. They gave us hotel rooms. They paid us $1500. And 50% of our entire set was a drunk and mumbling version of "10 Little Indians." Good work when you can get it.


At 10:24 AM , Anonymous Chris Wage said...

Heh.. Nice. I always thought playing in a wedding band would be pretty fun..

.. for a while


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