The Bar Gig From Hell Part 2: The Revenge

By BOB WIRE

The second night of a two-night stand: by now you know where the bathrooms are, you know which power circuit onstage will electrocute you if you touch your lips to the microphone, which bartender pours the stiffest drinks, and which regular’s stool you should NEVER sit on. Should be a lot smoother than the first, confusing night when you spend so much time finding your sea legs, right?

Yeah, sure. And if you believe that, I have a municipal water company I’d like to sell you.

Fortunately, though, all the bartenders poured stiff drinks. That’s basically what got us through another night of pop country requests, complaints about the disco balls, and a general absence of love in the room. Still, some people must have decided we were approachable, because they kept approaching us.

“Don’t you know any Toby Keith? Any Toby Keith at all?” David had to hold me back.

“You guys look like you’re having fun, but don’t just play stuff that you like. Play stuff we can dance to.”

“Hey, my brother-in-law has a guitar just like that’n.” (Pointing at David’s Strat) “Only his is black, and it has only one a them cutaways. And I think the pickups are silver. And it has four knobs instead a three. Come to think of it, I think the tuning pegs are three on a side, not all in a line like this one. But other’n that, they’re identical.”

“Hey, are you guys gonna play a two-step any time soon?”

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Magnificent Bastards MK III: John Walden, “Cousin” Bob Sularz, Bob Wire. Not pictured (offstage, vomiting into a planter): DavidColledge.

David said that if he heard the phrase “two-step” one more time, he was going to, well, I couldn’t really make it out because he was muttering and walking away toward the bathroom, presumably to throw up. His flu was worse than last night. But I think his threat involved reupholstering a bar stool with somebody’s asshole.

David’s wife, Paula, is usually at our gigs, and we’re in the habit of having her sing “These Boots Are Made For Walking.” So much of a habit that I can no longer remember the words. She was out of town during this show, though, so you can imagine my delight when some guy called me over to his table and said that his wife sings that song, and would love to come up and sing it with us. I looked at his wife. She shrugged.

“You’re on,” I told her. Right at the top of the next set, I invited her up onstage, asking the crowd to applaud for encouragement. She smiled and grabbed the mic, and the boys went into the intro.

“I forgot the first line!” she hissed to me.

I leaned over and quickly yelled in her ear, “youkeepsayinyougotsomethinforme!”

She sang, “You keep saying, you got something for me,” and looked at me.

“Somethinyoucalllovebutconfess!”

“Something you call love, but confess.”

“Youbeenmessinwhereyoushouldnbemessin!”

“You’ve been messing where you shouldn’t be messing…”

I had turned our act into a panicked mash-up of Cyrano de Bergerac and Charlie McCarthy. More shockingly, I was remembering the words! She didn’t know any of the words! Why was she up here? At least she knew the chorus. We made it through the song and she melted back into the crowd.

Of course, I don’t expect a bunch of people who’ve never seen our show to just welcome us like the greatest thing since sliced head cheese, but most folks give us the benefit of the doubt for at least one set before they throw on their coats and leave in a huff. But these specimens were stubborn. They didn’t cotton to our particular brand of ribald rockin’ country, but instead of just leaving and seeking out some bland cover band elsewhere, they assumed that we would immediately transform from a chopped and channeled ’66 GTO to a mud-bogging Ford F-150 simply because they asked us to. I finally had to just announce on the microphone that I was sorry, but we only knew 50 songs, and none of them are by f***ing Tim McGraw or any of those other phony douche bags clogging up country radio with their cheaply manufactured bullshit. Or words to that effect.

Well, that moved a few coats. This was about halfway through the night, and we had made the realization that, dammit, we just weren’t a good fit for this particular venue. So since we had nothing to lose, we just kind of put the pedal to the metal and played loud enough to entertain the people in the bar across the street. Maybe they’d like to hear some Jason and the Scorchers.

During one of our breaks, I was sitting with the boys, laughing at the napkin full of demands, uh, I mean, requests from the previous night. Somebody at the bar caught my eye and pointed to the stage. I looked up, and a drunk, reasonably attractive woman was squeezing in behind the drum kit, picking up Cousin Bob’s sticks. It was like someone had read my previous column about what NOT to do when you’re watching a band, and they were determined to break every rule in one night.

I set down my beer and walked quickly up to the stage. The gal behind the drums fixed me with her red-rimmed eyes, and I said, “Not cool.”

She was taken aback. And pretty stoned. “I just want to hit ‘em a few times. It ain’t like I KNOW how to play these things!” She laughed, and her girlfriend, standing off to the side holding two drinks, cackled along with her.

“Honey, you’re not exactly sweetening the deal here. I need you to get off the stage, okay? These are expensive instruments to be playing around with.”

Her friend said, “You’re mean. She just wants to play them drums.”

But the Gina Schock wannabe had lost interest, and climbed out from behind the kit. She grabbed her drink from her friend and jutted her chin at me. “Why you so mean?”

If there’s anything that I have no patience for, it’s attractive women who use their good looks to open doors for them, more so when they have all the charm of a carp. I didn’t waste any more words on these two miscreants. I retrieved my beer, threw back another shot of tequila for fortification, and we plowed ahead with the next set.

The night actually began to improve near the end, when a good friend’s nephew came up and said hi. I hadn’t seen the kid in almost ten years, and that in itself was worth all the hassle we’d endured since Friday night’s rough start. My attitude began to improve.

I unleashed a gleeful flood of tasteless blow job jokes (none of which I can repeat here), and we played our most savage rendition ever of Hotel of Dreams, a grinding, pounding 16-bar blues number I wrote that featured about a dozen guitar solos by David and me. His NyQuil was blending nicely with the tequila he’d had earlier, and his solos took on a kind of Hendrix-meets-Amy Winehouse quality that had people wondering if he was going to either explode or take a header off the stage and drown in his own vomit. Me, I pretty much stuck to the pentatonic scale.

So we finished our contractual obligation and loaded our gear into the vehicles. The staff all told us that we were the funnest band they’d had there in years, and hoped we’d be back. To their credit, they did take good care of us and apologized several times for the boorish patrons who kept trying to run the show. But after we loaded out and I was going back inside to get paid, I discovered that all the doors had been locked. As master thespian Steve Cropper said in The Blues Brother, this was no accident. I pounded on the window till they let me in, and we got our cash and split.

I don’t know if they’ll ever ask us to come back, but I kind of doubt it. Anyway, if they do, I’ll tell them we changed our name to Bob Wire and the Human Cattle Prods.

Let’s see them two-step to that.

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blogarchive.

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Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an openmind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.

 

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