Playing country townsThe Rock Musicians Apprenticeship.
Doesn’t matter what walk of life you choose but everyone goes through some sort of apprenticeship when they start out. Muso’s in a rock band are no different… in fact our apprenticeship is character building, fun, demoralising, hilarious, painful, bonding, disgusting, sensational, just plain sad, healthy, unhealthy and will either make or break you in the music game.
Let me explain… the first thing that happens when you have banged together your equipment, built a band, put together a repertoire and put yourself out there via an agent or slogged around to pubs and clubs, is getting gigs. The honing of your music and performance can only be done in a LIVE situation so you need gigs. Sadly, the venues and the agencies know this so you can expect to be doing the most weird arsed gigs imaginable and often playing to a few or NO people.
I personally, and all of my muso mates have done the country gig circuit (which is where the agencies send you) and we all have tons of stories to tell.. or not!.. and even though we are done with driving to the middle of BF Nowhere we carry fond memories of those times.
When you’re playing a pub in a country town, usually called the Commercial, the Railway or the Royal Hotel.. every country town has pubs with these names, the gig could be packed and fantastic or empty and demoralising. The difference is usually as simple as Johnno having his 21st birthday at the local Mechanics Hall or Jacko is getting married. Many times we have had those situations where the publican says “last week the joint was full, but it’s Davo’s birthday and the footy team lost so everyone’s at his place getting blind”
So you play to an empty room except for two bar staff and a couple of old regulars who are there every day until stumps and the old dog who sits on the doorstep. Kinda sad, but you have to push past that and realise that you’re also doing this because you LIKE to play music, not just the free beer and travelling for miles to play in the middle of nowhere.
So when the gig’s over and we’ve packed up and heading back to the room at the El Crusty Sheet 6 Star Country Stay motel or worse… the supplied hotel room upstairs in the bed with the buggered springs, musty sheets and a million mosquitoes, flies and spiders… the only place to get something to eat (if you’re lucky) is the local pizza joint. So we hoe into a Supreme, Capricciosa and Hawaiian with the slab we bought from the pub, but the best thing is that in the morning when we wake up feeling like crap, that cold left over pizza will become the staple breakfast on these country gigs and we will learn to love it.
Well, I'm not in a hurry to do it all again, but have very fond memories and many stories of mateship, music, many miles, pissed punters, no punters, excess of everything, crap beds, weird publicans, great publicans, equipment failures, country girls, sheep, electric fences, milking machines, country boys and their utes and well… might stop now!
Play anywhere anytime but most of all, have fun