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Won't you take me to - dah de dah - a funky town?
All Rights Reserved © 1996 Duncan R Fry
When I was just starting out in the industry, Colin and I worked with a Jazz Funk band for a while. Unfortunately for them, it was at the height of the extended mix disco compilation craze, and despite the band's undoubted talent, audiences responded to them by sitting down and drinking when they played, and getting up to dance when they stopped. (About the best thing you could say about the "Hooked On..." crap by Jive Bunny etc etc was that it taught a whole generation of Australians to clap off the beat!)
Still, luckily for the band (and us) their management had a lot of clout, so there were always 2 or 3 gigs a week.
The bass player either had enormous faith in the two of us, or a misplaced faith in divine intervention, because he didn't have a road case or any kind of cover for his speaker box. And although we took the best care of it that we could, one day the inevitable happened - it fell over in the truck and something sharp ripped through the grille cloth. Incredibly the speaker wasn't damaged, but there was a nasty hole in the cloth; and although he was philosophical about it, you could tell he wasn't pleased. We put a cross of gaffer tape over the hole to stop it spreading.
Musicians definitely have no sense of humour when it comes to themselves or their equipment. The next gig, just for a bit of fun, we put great huge crosses of black gaffer all over the front of his bass bin. He rolled up to the gig, stepped on stage, took a horrified look at the gaffer tape, rushed over to the box, and peeled up the tape to have a look at what he anticipated would be enormous holes! Of course, there weren't any, and he stood on stage fuming as Col and I rolled around laughing our heads off.
From then onwards he carried all his gear himself in his own car!
Not all the times were funny, though. One night we had a gig at Billboard, a subterranean club in the city, situated in the bowels of a multi storey car park. The band were headlining, and there was quite a long break between the support band finishing and our guys coming on.
Since we were all hungry, I volunteered to go around the corner to McDonalds to get us all something to eat. Coming back across the street with my arms full of burger, an aggressive drunk careered into me on the crossing. Next thing I knew, he had run up behind me and given me a king hit to the side of my head that would have dropped an elephant, sending me crashing head first into Michael's Corner Store.
I went out like a light, and woke up to see the guy being held by a plain clothes cop. He helped me to my feet and took us down to the Police Station, where he said they would be charging the guy with assault.
However, when we got down to the Police Station, despite my cut face, loose teeth and smashed glasses, the officer on duty declined to press charges since he couldn't be sure that I hadn't provoked him. He did give me the drunk's name and address, though, in case I wanted to sue him privately myself. No way, I thought, but the next day I rang up some of my ex-Vietnam chums, told them the story and gave them his address. They rang me back a week or so later to say he had been taught to be more careful in the future. I didn't ask for any details. As the Italians say, revenge is a dish best eaten cold.
And talking of cold, I got back to Billboard a bit late, still clutching my bags of burgers, and handed them around to a chorus of "Shit, mine's cold" "What about my fries?" "I said no pickle on mine"
What an ungrateful bunch. There's just no pleasing some people!
The band had got itself a gig at a large all-night party down the coast. From the crew's point of view, the highlight of the night was a topless dancing competition, with all the girls dancing on tables for the grand prize of a bag of Bob Hope! I've got to admit that it was certainly more exciting than watching the band.
During one of the breaks the guitarist latched on to a stunningly good looking girl, blessed with a chest that would have been a definite dead heat in a Zeppelin race! They disappeared into his car for a spot of 'hide the sausage,' emerging half an hour later so that he could get back on stage to play.
In the next break he wandered over to the mixing desk, and said to us
"Wow, what a hot chick (Did people really talk like this, Dunk? Ed). Unbelievable. And you know what? You'll never guess where she works, never in a million years."
We agreed we'd never guess, so he told us.
"The Salvation Army! Can you believe it - the Salvation Army!" and he wandered off to find somebody else to astound with his news.
However, the sting was in the tail, so to speak. About two weeks later at a gig, he wandered over to talk to us again.
"Hey, remember that girl from the Salvation Army I picked up at that party? Fucking bitch - you know what - she gave me a dose of the clap! What a slut, eh"
We agreed, nodding solemnly and trying to keep a straight face, while the words 'Serves you right' drifted through our minds.
"Shit," he said, "I tell you what. That's the last time I buy the fucking War Cry!"
This story first appeared in Connections magazine