This Light Hearted Blog is about things that only grass roots entertainers will ever understand.
All those things that you know will happen when you go out gigging, Wonder if they happen?, When sometimes you wish they wouldn't.
This is the life on the road, arriving at different venues and seeing hundreds of strangers week in week out, yet having fun looking for those familiar things!
All of the A-List celebrities will never be fortunate enough to experience any of the things below. Well maybe, if they started at the bottom and worked their way up they may have.
For example, (Observation 2) you wont ever hear about Beyonc√© and how her tour bus driver have got lost in a village somewhere, in the winter and due on stage in about an hour!
Its about those things that more often than not will happen, some very annoying, some extremely funny and some where you feel you just have to say something................but probably don't!
Enjoy and I'm sure pretty much all you entertainers will be able to relate to over half of these!
1) CAR FUEL, WITH HARIBO OR SOMETHING ELSE?
You have allowed a ten minute window from getting in your vehicle, to getting on the motorway. This ten minute window is to stop off at the local petrol station, get fuel and grab those important in car journey sweets. Great, no queue in the kiosk. Upon entering you are greeted with the teasing choice of all those large sweet bags, but which one? In the mean time other people have started to enter the kiosk, the queue is building and potentially eating into your ten minute window. In panic you grab the most colourful sweet bag you can see, so not to be at the back of a now large queue! When re-entering your vehicle you are annoyed that you picked up Skittles and not Haribo!
2) YOUR SAT NAV HAS A LAUGH WITH YOU
Your journey has been brilliant and you set off with more than enough time, even stopping off for that snack at the service station. No worries, ample time. It's now dark, but it's ok as your Sat Nav has cleverly guided you to the village you are performing in. You turn down what must be the final street and then your Sat Nav toys with you "You Have Reached Your Destination?" But all you can see is trees and people's houses, nothing at all that looks like your performance venue!
3) MAYBE IT'S CANCELLED?
After the issue with the Sat Nav (stupid thing!) you eventually arrive at your venue destination. But this can't be it, no one is about. Sure the sign outside states "Entertainment every Saturday" but maybe it is cancelled? You do the thing where you push your hands and face up to the main entrance to try and see someone, but nothing. You will have to explore this strange place. Around the side of the building you walk, a pile of empty beer barrels sit outside what looks like a fire entrance. You hope to god this isn't the way in, whilst looking at the three greasy looking metal stairs leading up to it! Then as you turn and walk away the door opens. First words spoken are not "Can I help you?" but instead "We don't open for an hour!" At this point you have to try and convince them you are the entertainment!
Everybody hopes there isn't stairs. It's not funny getting kit up and down stairs. But it's ok you have spoke to the agent who has assured you there is none and it's all on one level. That is if you come through the main front door! But as you have already established the club doesn't open for half an hour, the steward hanging out the fire doors at the top of those three metal stairs said so. Why does it seem you only see metal stairs when it has been raining too?
5) KIDS QUESTIONS ?
There is however the occasion where your venue has been open all afternoon. Adults have been in there watching sport or meeting friends. You carry your kit in and as soon as you place your first speaker down you hear a small voice "What you doing?" The child who was happily swinging a pool cue round is now focused on you. It's easy to answer the first question nicely. Usually a "Hello I'm the Entertainer" or "Hello what's your name?" Major error as you realised you have started conversation with this child! Every return journey with a new bit of kit is met by a "What's that for?" or "Can I help you?" By this point you now want the parents to come over, tell their child to get out the way. But no the parents are happy they are now free, pleased their child has took an interest in something. Oh Yes, interested in touching your stuff!
6) THAT CONVERSATION WITH THE STEWARD
Once set up, child has now gone home; you need to check how the evening should run with the Director, Concert Manager or as we know them better by "The Club Steward" You already know how the evening should run. After all your contract says so and you have designed your set already and in line. This conversation is all about being polite. But does the Stewards words match the contract? No! They want two breaks not the one you had hoped for. They have important things to run between your sets that their members expect to run to schedule! Never mind your schedule.
7) GREAT CHANGING FACILITIES
You look for the stage to identify the welcoming door right next to it. A fully furnished room for acts, complete with photos of other entertainers, a wash basin and star light mirror! However you can't even identify a stage. Sometimes the Steward will proudly announce that you can use the extra committee room, snooker room or we have a large broom cupboard to get changed in. Giving an act a large cupboard is a luxury. But the fact that this Steward hasn't said anything at all about changing, kind of lets you know..........Toilets it is! Great to get changed in a cobweb filled cubicle, with the only heat source a halogen heater! Why is this heater even near water? Even more fun if a whole band has this only option. Band members will know the fun of getting changed in the back of the van, in fact staying in the van until performance start!
8) STAR CURTAINS AND TINSEL HANGING THINGS
You may laugh at both of these, but seeing these actually mean that the venue will look after you and really values their entertainers. They have installed something for you that is the absolute limit that club funds will allow. They know the stage is what you are used to, so why should you not have something sparkly behind you? Even if the venue doesn't have a stage and you are performing in the corner of the room, a sign of effort. No star curtain but instead one of those things that has lots of different coloured tinsel strips hanging down to the floor from it. Looks a bit 1970s-80s. They are usually Purple, Pink or Gold in colour. If you are lucky, all three! You probably don't even know what these are called but even so, the venue has made the best effort for you. If you get a big stage with those tinsel things, then chances are your drinks will be free all night too!
9) THE BAR MAID WHO REALLY RUNS THE VENUE
Most places have one, she has worked here for years and is great fun. This is the sort of person you want to meet especially of you have arrived at a gig totally on your own. She is loud and no matter how many drunken people may be lining her bar, trying to make fun of her; she has full skill and capacity to put them in her place, Usually with a blue word or two, mean while her helper silently gets on with his job.
She can tell you what act was in the week before, how may times they have performed there? She is not afraid to tell you what singer was no good for this place, and then asks you if you know them after? You kind of establish that it's actually her that is really running the place, usually based on the fact the Steward has gone by 9:30pm and not even bothered to watch you. Finally, why is it she always seems to have family where you have family or has been to where you once worked?
10) BINGO, RAFFLES & INTERVAL GAMES
This is the real reason that most of the punters have come out isn't it? Yes as mentioned in observation 6, the important member things that must run and are expected! A majority of the time Bingo will be called by the Steward who will normally leave after. The moment his voice will be heard every week. Or there are those games like open the box or the thing where they put bottle tops on top of playing cards. Looks like something your grand parents would understand more than you, either way part of you wants to join in but you are too afraid to ask. Instead you continue to look at who may have messaged you on Face Book or who is out in town having more fun than you, a world away from playing cards and bottle tops? Then there is the age old raffle, consisting of boxes of chocolates, alcohol from behind the bar approaching its use by date and any unwanted Christmas gifts from the year before. Someone always wins there own stuff back. But the ticket everyone wants pulling is the one that will win them and their family that slab of pork. The Meat Raffle, as an Entertainer you wonder when this ever started? Raffles from the 18th Century maybe? Once you are ready to restart, funny how the room is now half empty. Oh yes watching your first set was a case of having to, so they could be aloud in that Meat Raffle. They have all gone home now!
11) KAT SLATER IS IN THE BUILDING
There she is, her one big night out of the week; Kat Slater dressed in her absolute Saturday night outfit! You normally see her during your first performance moments in, almost putting you off. Not by the fact it is actually Jessie Wallace from Eastenders, but by the vision of tight Leopard print hugging a 50 year old. All the gentlemen who are even older start staring, even sat next to their own wives of 40 plus years. But this lady can party like no other, an hour in she is sozzled and the only one on the dance floor or small carpeted area! It's only a matter of time before she will stumble over to you and ask you to bang out a Cher song!
12) RESERVED SEATING
If you haven't seen this then make sure you look out for it next gig. It happens! A couple or a group of four who will walk in. I say with respect, usually 60 plus and they have one thing in mind. Their seats! There may be 30, 40 maybe 70 plus empty seats but they know where they are going. The nice ones that are normally against the wall, within that wrap around cushioned design. They have sat there for 20 plus years and this isn't going to change. God help those poor people who are new to the venue and also taken a shine to that specific wrap around cushioned area. When this happens and the four have had their territory taken, anything could happen. Let the seating battle begin and if you are ever lucky enough to witness this, it's priceless. Will she insist on her seat or will husband of 40 years have the balls to suggest they sit elsewhere, just for once?
13) DRUNKEN WANNABE ROADIES
The end of the night comes and everyone has had a great time, as much as you are pleased you have rocked the joint, you are tired and like the venue; Now have your own routine that takes place. Get the kit down, Receive payment, Get Changed, load your vehicle and leave. But hang on who is this? The drunk bloke who has been dancing in front of you all night, thinking he is gods gift and actually believed you fancied him back!
Now asking you "Can I carry anything out for you?" and thinking he now qualifies as your roadie! There is no chance on earth you will allow him to help you, normally making up insurance reasons lies, whilst bringing up your partner.
The ladies who have been drinking tend to go and sit down, still drinking and loudly chatting about bedroom stuff with their partners that you really don't want to hear. All accept for one. The lady in the Leopard print has she now started hugging your drummer, trying to convince you she too used to gig. Oh how she could sing when she was younger. You imagine that 35 year old in the Karaoke bar with a fur coat on in the 70s! Both situations and what with your own tiredness, create a moment where you actually want to say "F-Off" to your public!
14) THE WONDERFUL UNEXPECTED LAST FEW SWEETS
The journey home begins, it's quiet and you have that funny sound in your ears, where nothing but noise was before. You can think of nothing more than having a cup of tea when you get home and going to bed. Maybe even watching a bit of X-Factor or Strictly on catch up before you do.(You know who you are) You set your Sat Nav to home. Surely it can't get that wrong, it's been on your drive enough times?
You eventually get to the Motorway and know for sure you are heading home, it seems to take forever especially when you get to the road sections with no lighting. You reach to change gear and what does you hand brush across? Could it be?. It is, about 7 or 8 remaining sweets. Where you were unhappy with your choice earlier, those remaining Skittles are so welcome now! A chance to fill that hunger gap, something to chew and pass the time and above all; they taste so much bloody better now!
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