Grateful for . . . Gig Stories
One of my favorite parts of being a musician is collecting and trading gig stories. Not only are they great conversation starters at parties or during rehearsal breaks, but they often provide a good dose of hilarity.
December always brings to mind my personal favorite gig story, which occurred around this time of the year 5 or 6 years ago. I was in Toronto, getting ready to fly back to Seattle for the holidays. I got a last minute call to play pre-ceremony music for a wedding at an upscale hotel a few blocks from where I was living. They were willing to pay well and didn’t have any musical requests at all, so I figured it would be a nice way to get some extra Christmas cash. Oddly, the call came not from a bride but from a design company (in retrospect — my first hint that this was not your typical wedding).
Walking into the hotel lobby, I was greeted by a lavish (and, frankly, garish) display of silvery trees, huge colored balls, and fake snow. One (there were several) of the designers met me at the door and gushed, “Oh, we’re SO glad you’re here. The harp fits PERFECTLY with our Winter Wonderland theme! Let me show you to your throne.”
Sure enough, they had set up this big white throne for me. (Try imagining the White Witch’s throne from Chronicles of Narnia.) I convinced them that the arms of the throne were in my way and it really would be easier for me to play on my own chair, but agreed to set up right in front of it to complete their visual design. Soon I was ready to go and started playing.
After a few minutes, another designer came over to me and announced, “The dancers are ready! They’re going to be right in front of you, ok?”
And I kid you not — two dancers scantily dressed as peacocks (!) appeared and started doing this twitchy, cavorting interpretive dance to my Scarlatti. It was horrific and hilarious. It’s a miracle I could play because I was shaking with laughter. I also don’t know how peacocks relate to a Winter Wonderland theme.
I finished the prelude and started packing up when another designer frantically rushed over, whispering loudly, “The bride’s coming and we don’t have any music! Quick! Play that Pachelbel thing!” So I started playing the Pachelbel thing . . . and the aisle started smoking. To this day, it is the only bridal entrance complimented by dry ice that I have witnessed. It was dramatic, and I have to say — it fit the occasion.
Fellow musicians: any great gig tales to share?