A First Time For Everything!

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My San Diego guitarist has done it!

My older brother has done it!!

And now I’ve done it!!!!

What is it???

I walked off stage at a gig!!!!

WHAT???? Easy-going little ol’ me, lover of playing anywhere because playing music is soooo much fun? Walking out of a gig???????

Never in my life have I ever thought I would do such a thing… But never in my music career, such as it is, have I been so insulted…..

OK, there was the one time…. But that’s a different story.

Me and Jim Rust a.k.a. Taylor Martin, were scheduled to play an open mic night at a pool hall here in Fresno called the Babylon. We’ve been angling for this for a month. The guy that runs the event, Jimmy O, is a cool guy. The sound guy? Not so much. When Jimmy finished his solo bit, it was our time to set up and play. We are a duo, with two guitars and both of us singing. As we are setting up, the juke box is blaring. When we get to sound check, the juke box is still blaring. I get up on stage and plug my guitar in to the direct box that is laid out, and Jim does the same. We position the mics and, as far as we go, we’re pretty much ready to play. It takes the sound guy several minutes to turn up Jim’s mic and his guitar. When his acoustic guitar comes on line… It;s way WAY too loud, causing massive feed-back! Then it goes back down, but it’s still too loud on stage, and all the while the way too loud juke box is blaring. Jim’s mic comes on line, and Jim is talking into the mic… But he can’t hear himself, because the juke box is way WAY too loud. So he asks the sound guy to have the juke turned down so we can hear the mix on stage.

At this point in a sound check, the juke box normally IS turned down low or off so the musicians and sound guy can communicate, get comfortable sound levels on stage, and get dialed in to get the show going. This sound guy apparently doesn’t operate that way. After several more minutes of a way too loud juke box and way too loud volume on Jim’s guitar and Jim asking a few more times to please bring the juke down, the sound guy yells at me to play my guitar, which I had been continuously strumming for the last five minutes. I had also been talking into the mic, to no avail.

Then, it happens.

Sound guy walks onto the stage and snidely tells us we have to get our shit together……


So then, as I realized Jim wasn’t going to do it… I did.

For the first time ever, in all my years of playing in all sorts of different bands in all sort of situations… I had had enough.

I walked off stage and pulled the plug on a gig.

It’s one thing to take fifteen minutes to fail to set up sound for a freaking duo – Hell, my six piece band Acoustic Highway can set up and play in ten, easy – But we are not the six piece Acoustic Highway. We are a duo. There are no drums to be mic’d… No bass… No keyboard… No electric guitar and Marshall stack… It’s just two mics and two acoustic guitars. It simply doesn’t take much to set up a duo. If you, the sound guy, are having problems getting dialed in, just let the musicians know that you’re having some technical issues and tell us to hang on, be patient, we’ll get things straightened out in a few. But, after waiting for fifteen minutes of useless unnecessary loudness, to have the sound guy come on stage and tell us to get our act together…

Nope. I waited for a couple of seconds for Jim to react. He may not have heard the comment as the juke box was too loud. When he finally turned in my direction, I simply shook my head, gave the hand across the neck sign, unplugged my guitar, and said I’m calling it, I’m not going to play this gig.

Then, not realizing it was me that pulled the plug and walked, the sound guy got in Jim’s face telling him he’s just an old musician and doesn’t know how this works…. HE’S unprofessional!!!!

I was ready to have to break up a fight, because Jim was boiling. Jim has been playing since the 70’s, and has three or four decades of experience on Mr. Sound-guy. I kind of know Mr. Sound-guy from my Chris Plays Guitar days, about seven years ago. Mr. Sound-guy was only getting into the business then, so I have almost a couple of decades of experience on the guy. Maybe this explains why Chris Plays Guitar did not press for relations with the production company run by Mr. Sound-guy. Even though they were supposed to be the hot thing in town to be associated with, we only played a couple of gigs for them. I think I now know why.

Jim was reasonably very pissed of. Me? Not in the slightest. Yo me, after being treated so shabbily, it doesn’t bother me at all. It was, after all, just an open mic. If it were a feature gig, I may not have walked. But you don’t get treated like shit when you are the featured act.

9 Comments to “A First Time For Everything!”

  1. By aurora tehan, June 17, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

    I’m glad you did stop the gig. It really does not matter that it was ” just open mic” respect is still due is it not ? I’m sure open mic is part of the reason some of the patrons go to that place on that night, they should get to hear the entertainers. I also feel you set the tone for yourself and Jim, you won’t be treated that way. If the stage is opened for people to share their talent no matter the grade of it, respect needs to be shown. The owner of the place may want to reconsider who his sound person is. Often one good word falls on deaf ears while one bad one can spread like wildfire.

  2. By Rob, June 17, 2011 @ 4:38 pm


    You let the sound guy get in your face and you walk off without getting back in his? Don’t play, for sure, but certainly don’t allow the asshole’s ego to be stroked by walking away and not telling him he’s an idiot and point out his unprofessional behavior. Go to the club manager/owner and tell them how shitty the sound guy is and then tell them you’re going to blog about how much of a total lame ass the sound guy working at (insert club name here) and how you’ll never play there again as long as the crappy sound guy is working there.

    There’s no glory in walking away from that one maaaaaaaaach!!!

  3. By Rob, June 17, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

    And i mean that with much love Mike 🙂

  4. By Sonicfrog, June 18, 2011 @ 4:17 am

    What???? It’s just a stupid open mic. I don’t have the time or inclination to pick a fight over something so trivial. The sound guy has been associated this this establishment for at least seven years. So my complaints aren’t going to be that meaningful. This incident is no skin off my back.

  5. By Debbie Gerbo, June 18, 2011 @ 4:17 am

    I agree with Rob… you gotta tell the manager that the sound tech doesn’t know his professional ass from a hole in the ground!

  6. By Sonicfrog, June 18, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

    :He’s been associated / contracted with this place for six or seven years, so it’s not like they don’t know his work. They seem to like him. Mr. Sound-guy is long time friends with open mic host Jimmy-O too. He used to book gigs for J-O’s punk thrash band Grooveyard back in the day.

    If this were one of the major venues in town, I wouldn’t be so cavalier. But it’s just a pool hall experimenting with the idea of doing an open mic night… And doing it poorly. They don’t start until 9:30 which is way too late for this kind of thing. Most start around 5:30 to 7, which is typically when you get the best crowds at this sort of thing. But it’s their show. They can do what they want.

  7. By The Last Bass Player, June 19, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

    I’m with you, Sonic, it’s impossible to argue with the venue, managers are more likely to shrug or get angsty if you bring it up with them. And if it’s just an open mic night, well, they’re ten a penny and it was YOU doint THEM a favour by providing free entertainment. Good for you, Sonic. 🙂

  8. By Cliff, June 20, 2011 @ 4:06 am

    Welcome to the club! There are just a few morons out there that just don’t have a clue. They aren’t worth the frustration or the anger. You did the right thing and walked away.

  9. By Sonicfrog, June 20, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

    I wasn’t even that angry at the time. I was very annoyed. As our set was only going to be about 30 minutes, we would have spent more time completing the sound check than we would have in actual play time.

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