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New Gig – Does the Chicken Wire Indicate Trouble?

New Gig – Does the Chicken Wire Indicate Trouble?

Your agent has booked you a new gig at a club you have never been to before. Your agent tells you it might be a little “rustic” but the money is well worth it. You and the band, being on a tight schedule, will only arrive in time to set up and play. No time for a qualified sound check. But you have done this before and you are not worried. You arrive and are greeted with a gravel parking lot covered with beer bottles and empty half pints from the night before. Whatever, you have seen this before also. You open the front door and immediately look for the band stage and….What? Chicken Wire!

Maybe you have not been in this situation. But usually there are signs that will indicate to you what kind of club you are going to play. It is true that there are a couple of places that still have chicken wire. This is not a bad thing. It is to protect the band’s equipment and the band if necessary. But mostly this type of thing has been exaggerated. Especially after the movie The Blues Brothers.

The parking lot is one key. If it looks like the one described earlier you might want to watch yourself. This usually indicates a place that has a lot of power drinkers. Power drinkers bring pints and half pints into the club in their boots, among other things. I guess they are afraid of the club running out of booze. They retire to the parking lot and get a good buzz, come back in and order a beer and look around for somebody to either dance or fight with. Just stay out of the way. It really isn’t hard to do.

Setting up late and the club is already full of very intoxicated people is another warning. These kind of watering holes are very loyal to their customers. They spend most of their weekly check in these places. Any kind of remark that is thrown your way at this time should not be ignored. That will only bring on a torrent of the same all night long. At the first remark I would usually proclaim in a loud voice, “Bartender, these are my kind of people. I want to buy the house a round.” Expensive? I call it cheap insurance.

I always kept an eye on the pool tables. You would not believe how many fights this little game can cause. I never played pool in a bar I was playing in. Pool causes hard feelings especially if money is involved. I have seen the ambulance called because of an altercation over whose quarter was up next. Again, you just want to stay out of the way.

Your best friend in a club that you suspect might be rough is the bartender. I always tip the bartender on the front end. I usually tell him I appreciate how hard he has to work and want to show my appreciation in case I forget when the night is over. The good bartender can indicate to you who the trouble makers are. He usually will not tell you outright. You have to watch his posture and his off hand remarks to the waitress.

I do not want to cause you, the young musician, any undo alarm. I played in every kind of hole you could imagine for over 30 years and never got into a single altercation. Want to know how? I simply minded my own business and stayed out of the way. The best way is to recognize potential trouble before it explodes and simply do not be in the middle. Good luck!