I know it sounds like a minor plot point in a low-budget comedy, but circumstances last night led me to spend the evening singing in the bar of a Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant, backed by a band that had never played together before.
I'd spent the early afternoon at a blues festival watching my cousin and his band play. After I got home, my husband and I had intended to go to a movie, but he got a call from one of my old guitarists. His band had gotten a last-minute gig, but only his bass player was in town and available to play. He needed my husband to play drums.
My husband agreed to take the gig and I figured I might as well go with him since I didn't have anything better to do. Because the band only had one vocalist, I offered to sing some songs but waive any pay.
When I arrived, I found that a second guitarist - another former bandmate of ours - had been recruited. They were all happy to have me sing a bunch of the songs, so I circled all the ones I thought I'd heard enough times to be able to pull off (as long as I had the lyrics in front of me) and we headed to the restaurant to set up.
This is not a triumphant story. Everyone in the makeshift band (which the guitarist dubbed, "The Scramblers" because it was thrown together at the last minute) was a good player, but without any practice and with limited familiarity with the songs, the end result was not good. Also, the sound mix was awful, with loud vocals and drums carrying through the whole building while the guitars and bass were swallowed up by the palm-frond thatch over the bar.
When we arrived, the place was still pretty full. Once we started playing, people began exiting in droves. By the second set, we were lucky if one person clapped politely after we ended a song. By the last set, the few remaining patrons weren't even bothering to do that anymore.
I stayed on the tiny stage even when I wasn't singing lead to try to offer some backup vocals and the occasional harmony. There were some songs I ended up doing well ("Oh, Darlin'" by the Beatles) and some that were disastrous ("Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House, which is SO not my style, and "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benatar, which I wrongly figured would have been right up my alley). The positioning of the lights made it very hard to read the lyrics on the stand in front of me, so there were times when I was just making word-like sounds to the tune of whatever song we were doing and hoping nobody noticed.
After the second set, I broke my usual "no drinking during gigs" rule and got a beer. It clearly wasn't going to make any difference. At the end of the night, while the band leader was collecting the band's pay, the bar manager expressed surprise that we'd never even practiced before the gig. Surely he was just being polite.
So that was my Saturday evening. How was yours?