Archive | December, 2013

My Third Professional Gig Could Have Been My Last

18 Dec

Actually, this wasn’t my third show, but it was the third show my parents came to–and by parents, I mean just my mom (thankfully, my dad was working that night).

We were asked to play a high school function in a town called Grain Valley. The show was to be performed at the high school theater on a huge stage in front of a good-size crowd of high schoolers. This was a great gig for any band.

We were the headliners for the night and while the other bands played, we were allowed to hang out in the costume room. This was where they stored outfits and props from the school plays the drama department would put on every year. And this was the room where I got a very bad idea. 

At first, I wasn’t going to do myself, so I tried pawning the idea off on my crazy bass player. This guy was and is as wild as they come. I’ve seen him suck lighter fluid into his mouth and blow fireballs under a lit match–multiple times. So yeah, I thought I could surely talk him into it.

“I dare you to wear one of these old dresses out on stage tonight”

Yes, this was my bad idea. And do you know how I know it was a bad idea?  Because my crazy bass player who use to blow fireballs told me it was a bad idea and he didn’t want to do it.

I begged and pleaded and eventually he asked, “Why don’t you just wear the dress on stage?”

Good question. This was–after all–the 90’s where the lead singers I looked up to were always pushing the envelope.  Just days before, I had seen concert footage of Kurt Cobain from Nirvana in a full dress.  So why shouldn’t i?  It’d be funny, I’d get some laughs. Beside, this wasn’t like it was a cocktail dress or anything.  I wasn’t wearing high heels and earrings. It just looked like something an overweight old lady would wear.

So I…..did it. The curtains came up, we started playing, people were laughing and having a good time along with me until…..

Unbeknownst to me, I discovered that my mom had decided to come out to see me play that night.

To this day, I can’t figure out why she picked this show, because we had played sooooo many other shows she could have come to– shows where I didn’t decide to wear a dress on stage.

But there she was, standing in the back of the theater, watching her son  play music dressed like a woman.

I wore my regular clothes underneath the dress and the first chance I got, I took off the grandma dress and continued on with the show as if none of it had happened.

Afterwards, my gracious mother waited in the lobby to tell me good night. She said as convincingly as she could that we sounded good, it was a good show and she’d see me back at home. She never mentioned the dress and I never tried to explain it. It was probably for the best.  Enough embarrassment had been absorbed the second she made the unannounced arrival to my show.

All the stories I’ve told about my parents and my music career have been horrific, so let me end this one a little better than we started.  The last show of mine my parents attended was in front of a packed house in a beautiful hotel resort with their grand children dancing while their daddy played his songs. We have come a long way:)

My Second Professional Gig Could Have Been My Last

18 Dec

If you’ve read my very first blog on this site, you know the idea of me being a musician was a hard sell to my parents.  If you haven’t read it, here’s a brief recap:  the first show I ever did, my parent were in the audience and I cursed on stage like I had Tourette syndrome the entire time.  I was basically trying to be cool in front of an audience of my peers and mom and dad weren’t impressed. I was in high school–still living in their house–and once I came home that night, they said my days singing in a band were over.   As it turns out, they were just beginning.

A couple weeks later, my band was scheduled to play a very hip coffee house in downtown Kansas City and this show would be my first attempt at being in a band behind their back. I didn’t want to be that kid who “rebelled” against his parents, but I had to scratch this itch I had for music.  Even though I knew very little about being in a band or how this new obsession was going to play out, I had to keep going even if it meant breaking their trust, so I did.

I don’t remember what lie I told them that night (probably that I was going to the movies with friends), but I was convinced it had worked.  Neither one of them grilled me with questions and I felt comfortable that the lie had done the trick. Maybe this was going to be easier than I thought!

So I hopped in the car and met up with my band as we headed to the show. I remember being giddy that whole night. This place was actually set up for bands–a real rock venue!  Our first show was amazing, but it wasn’t really a bar known for live music. We had to bring our own PA system that night and there wasn’t a real stage for a band, but this coffee house was different. It had a stage, it had a high quality PA system with stage lights and a fog machine!  The walls were covered with flyers from other bands and a handful of local rock legends had played there.  This was a real rock show with other band playing before and after us.

But unlike our first show, this was an audience that knew nothing about us.  When we played our first gig, we–at least–had the luxury of playing in front of friends from school who liked us as people before we ever played one song. None of these people had ever heard of us before. We were brand-spanking new in the music scene and needed to leave our mark.

There were a lot of bands booked that night, so our time on stage was going to be very brief–two songs!  We were only allowed to play our two very best songs and then get off stage for the next band.  We had our work cut out for us. How do you get a crowd to fall in love with you with only two songs?

Well, we found a way!  If there was any chance of me eventually losing interest in music, it was lost during that set.  We killed it!  We were hands-down the best band that night and it became obvious this crowd was into us. When the other bands played, the audience stayed in their seats and politely clapped when their songs were over. But when we played, people’s eyes lit up. Smiles came across their faces and–I swear–they got out of their seats and were standing in front of the stage before the end of the first song.  By the time we had ended the second song, we had them eating out of hands.

Here’s what I remember in vivid detail and this is all true: as soon as we stepped off stage, we were swarmed by people!  They were telling us we rocked, they were asking for our autograph, they were inflating our egos like I had dreamed they would!  I literally was surrounded by people when someone who work at the venue came bursting  through the crowd asking, “Are you Jeff Wood?”

I stuck my chest out, held my chin up and said, “Yes, I am”

I thought in that brief moment, “Yes, I am Jeff Wood. I am the singer in a kick ass band that is going to take over the world just the Beatles, Elvis, the Rolling Stones, and Nirvana had done before us. I am him!  So what can I do for you, kind sir?  Would you like my band to keep playing since we are clearly superior to all other bands and the crowd loves us?  Are you wanting to book more shows with us?  Do you have some connections to record label executives dying for our sound?  Why are you asking for THE Jeff Wood?”

“You’ve got a phone call!”

Uh-oh……..

He handed me the phone in front of my new fans and I knew exactly who it was.

“Well, hello there!”

It was my dad. I had been caught.  I don’t know how he caught me or how he even knew where I was playing, but he caught me. Whatever ego I had from that show disappeared as soon as I had heard his voice.

“You get your ass home!” he said as calmly as he could and I obeyed. I tucked my rock star tail between my legs and came home like a whipped pup. I had just made my case to be a musician an even harder sell. 

Obviously, my parents eventually came around and let me keep playing music, but this wouldn’t be the last time my music and my parents butted heads.  So many good stories left to tell…..

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