Archive | April, 2013

The Crazies

16 Apr

I love all the different types of people I’ve played for as a musician. All across the board, I have yet to meet a fan that was a complete and utter asshole (maybe that’s just because assholes don’t like my music. I don’t know).

Having said that, I do have some crazies as “fans”.  The latest crazy showed up a couple months ago.

It was in downtown San Antonio and I was doing a show for the Main Plaza.  There was a very generous crowd listening–people clapped after songs, bought CDs–the whole nine yards. I couldn’t have been happier and when I was done, I couldn’t have been more scared.

After my last song, the place cleared out and I was left relatively alone aside from a few people hanging around….and the crazy guy.

As I was packing up my music equipment, I started to hear this banging noise.  CLANK CLANK CLANK…..I looked around to see where it was coming from, then it stopped.

I started packing up again and it started up again….CLANK CLANK CLANK. This time, however, I see exactly where it’s coming from.

There’s no good way to describe him, but to say this man looked….crazy would be accurate. He clearly hadn’t bathed in days. His hair and beard were uncombed and unkempt and he was talking to himself.  Let me rephrase that–he was crying/talking to himself. No, let me rephrase that again–he was crying/screaming to himself.

The clanking noise was him crushing a coke can on a metal fence over and over and over as he continued to talk/cry/scream incoherent non-sense to himself.  He looked like he could have been The Joker’s long-lost dad from The Dark Knight.

So what’s the first thing that goes through my mind?  HURRY UP AND PACK FASTER!  I immediately turn back around and begin putting away my gear faster than a pit crew at a NASCAR race. 

I was almost done when I noticed the clanking, the crying, the screaming has completely stopped.  Loud, scary noises are even more eerie when they are followed by a still silence. I turned around and guess who is standing three feet away from me?  Mr. Crazy himself.

In my mind, I’m running through all the scenarios of what he might possibly do, what I should do and where he’s most likely to try and stab me. And that’s when the real twist occurred.

In a completely normal voice he asks, “Hey, what kind of guitar do you play?”

I was shocked. Not moments ago, this man looked crazy, acted crazy and sounded crazy. I turn my back on him for one minute and now he’s all the sudden acting as if none of that happened.

“Taylor….it’s a Taylor”

“Taylor’s are really good guitars. I’m a big fan of Fenders and Gibsons myself”

I was smiling at him, but also waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Isn’t he supposed to be stabbing me right now?   I did see and hear him carrying on like a mad man….right?

“I like how you covered Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray. Who’s your favorite guitarist?” he asked me in a completely coherent and articulate tone.

So I stood there for another five minutes, talking to him about music, guitars, the albums I had for sale, the different shows I play–everything. And he never broke character. He was clearly crazy not too long ago, but for now, he was keeping it together. 

They say “never judge a book by its cover”, but if this guy were a book, he would obviously be a horror story written by Stephen King that halfway through becomes as boring as reading the dictionary.

I finished packing, thanked him for listening and hauled ass out of there. And I’m also happy to report, he never did stab me.

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Pizza Hut helped launch my solo acoustic career

2 Apr

I owe the first show I did by myself—without a band–to Pizza Hut.  Hopefully, someday this blog will get me an endorsement deal with them.

Many, many years ago when I was going to college, I worked a lot of different jobs to pay for school.  At one point, I had three part-time jobs, i was a full-time student and played in a semi-touring band.  Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much.

At this time in my life, I was a pizza delivery boy—going out every night with pizza after pizza, hoping for big tips and rarely getting them.  I had just gotten off a 5 hour shift and had only made 40 bucks all night.  I was furious!   Rent was due soon, bills were piling up and all I had to show for the night was two twenty dollar bills.

I went home to my crappy one bedroom apartment and sat in my living room/kitchen, wondering what I was going to do?  All these little jobs I kept taking were barely keeping my head above water and none of them were worth the time I was investing in them.  Then I looked at my acoustic guitar and it hit me—an idea so insane, it might just work.  I was going beg for money by playing music.

I don’t know where I got the balls to do it, but I picked up my guitar and drove a half a mile down the street to a bar called the Dew Drop Inn.  I walked in and there was a long table of people sitting there—drinking, laughing, and having fun.  No one was sitting at the bar and no one was sitting at any other tables.  It was just them.  There were probably 12 people at this table (regulars, I’m sure) and as soon as I walked in–holding a guitar–they stopped and stared.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I’m kinda introverted.  I couldn’t even get the nerve up to ask a girl out to my senior prom (well, that’s not true.  I did ask one girl and she told me I was so funny and to stop joking with her.  Seriously, SHE THOUGHT I WAS JOKING!).   Introverted or not, I was going to go through with this.

I walked up to the table and said, “Hi! My name is Jeff Wood.  I was wondering if I could play for tips for you guys tonight?”

Dead silence.  They just looked at me for an eternity and said nothing.  This was a mistake, I thought.   I should have stayed home and studied or something.  Then someone broke the silence.

“Well, sure!  What can you play?”

I hadn’t thought that far in advance.  These day, I know a boatload of covers, but back then, I only knew a handful.  So I said, “What do you want to hear?”

“Sweet Home Alabama,” a lady said from the other end of the table.  Thank you, God!  I know that one.

So I started playing it.  It wasn’t the best rendition ever, but they were smiling….and clapping to the beat….and singing with me.  Before the end of the song, we had ourselves a little concert going on.  I finished and they started applauding.

After that, they figured I must know a lot of songs and they started making request after request–none of which I knew.  I wanted to panic, but sometimes things just work out better when you don’t.

“I don’t know any of those songs, but I can play you some of my songs.”

They all perked up a little. “Yeah, let’s hear some of your stuff,” and after every song I played of my own, they followed it up with money and a request to hear another one of mine.  They didn’t even want to hear any more covers, just my original music.

I played for about 30 minutes and by the time I was done, I had made 90 dollars in tips.  Let’s do the math and figure out which sounds better:

Delivering pizzas for 5 hours =$40, Playing music for 30 minutes=$90

The next day, I quit my job at Pizza Hut, went out and bought a cheap PA system, learned more cover songs and hustled.  Every bar I could find, I would walk in and ask if I could play for tips.  I started MAKING money playing music.  When I was done, they would want me to come back and this time, they would pay me wages on top of my tips.   Then I recorded some demos and sold them at my shows and MADE EVEN MORE MONEY!

This was the beginning of me never having a real job again.  Music became my full-time career.  I went ahead and got my college degree, but have never once put it to use.  It’s just a very expensive piece of paper that hangs on my wall and I couldn’t be happier about that.  So if you like my music and enjoy watching me play, take a quick moment to thank Pizza Hut for not working out in my favor.

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