Thursday, January 27, 2011

The gig

"Hey, we're closed."

Sunday afternoon and the Empty Glass was empty, practically dark, but it would be. Only the most devout alcoholic or a fraternity kid would be in a bar getting hammered this time of the day --unless there was a football game on. That goes without saying, I think.

I smiled, waved and said, "Hey, this is Bill with the Gazette."

Roadblock, the bouncer and sort of manager of the place, squinted then smiled.

"Sorry. I can barely see you, man. How are you?"

He's a big guy and comes by his name honest, but I told him, "Fine," as a couple of people scurried out the door, hauling amps and a drum kit.

"I think that's the band I'm supposed to be interviewing," I told him.

Roadblock looked at me. It was news to him. They'd just been recording, and a guy come to do an interview with a band in his bar, that couldn't be terrible.

He chased after them. "Hey, dude from the paper is here for you guys."

I followed outside. The remnants of the band blinked and stared like they thought at any second I might burst into flame and get some ash on them. It was just two of them, a man and a woman. I knew the woman vaguely. Her name was X and our careers in this town had sort of run parallel. She got started in music about the same time I started writing music.

It took her a second, but then X seem to remember inviting me to come, "between three and four."

It was 3:30 and watching her, you could almost see the stomach ache starting to form and the words, "Oh fuck," dangling from her mouth.

Instead, X said, "Sorry. I should have like checked back with you to see if you were actually coming."

In my mind, this had already confirmed, but an argument was pointless. I was annoyed. The interview was a favor to them --on a Sunday afternoon, during what are usually my off hours --but there was nothing to be done except to see if something could be salvaged.

"That's okay," I said. "My photographer should be here in a minute."

I said this because I hadn't given up on them. I was still willing to do this, if they could pull it together.

"No, the guys left," X said, eyes wide-open. "I mean, they're gone."

For the next couple of minutes, they tried calling the two missing players while I worked out what I had and what I didn't.

They'd put away their gear, packed it up and loaded it in the car. So, a cool picture of them looking all rock n' roll was probably out. Also, the bar was closed. Roadblock might have been okay with us coming inside to sit and talk, but then again, he might have had other plans. They hadn't cleared this with him. This could mean sitting in Wendy's, which is just about the lamest places to talk about anything other than taco salads.

Also they were having only limited success in getting in touch with the rest of the band and I had another gig in about an hour. No secure location. Not enough people. Not enough time.

Essentially, the interview was toast. There would be no picture. There would be no story. There would be no press coverage.

"Well, this is pretty much a wash," I told them then broke the news to the photographer. No way were we shooting half a band.

He shrugged. It was just one more thing of his to do list.

X said, "I guess you were right with what you said about interviews at rehearsals being not so good."

She felt kind of bad about it, but there was nothing to be done.

Apologies all around again. I was sorry it didn't work out. They were just sorry. Oops. Didn't mean to like wreck your Sunday afternoon. We made vague promises to work this out another time, but I don't know if it's going to happen.

Six or seven years ago when I was just starting to get into the whole business of writing about musicians, I was working nights at Books-A-Million. One night, X was out on the patio playing guitar. I thought she was pretty good, unusual, so I introduced myself and handed over one of my nifty, little cards I got over the Internet.

"I'd love to do a story," I said then explained that I'd written for Graffiti, wrote for a couple of free papers, and had just landed a few stories with the Charleston Gazette.

She smiled, but never called. I tried asking around some of the people who knew her at the bookstore, but she never came in again, at least while I was working, and I never got much of an explanation of why she didn't appear to be interested.

It was the first time I pitched a story to my editor that I failed to deliver on. The rejection bothered me. I was just getting started. I was a bundle of nerves and back then not a lot of people took me seriously --this is not to say they take me seriously now, but I did get some better.

Anyway, you hear, some things are never meant to be. The timing is never right. Some pieces never go together. Fate always conspires against, never works for.

Of course, I don't believe any of that.

1 comment:

eclectic guy said...

Fucking lame-ass musicians can't remmeber anything they say!

Seriously, what a hose job. I would have been furious.