Monday, March 11, 1991

Songwriter’s Workshop at Clinton’s

Well, maybe breaking a string at Albert's Hall wasn’t such a disaster, after all. Danny didn’t want me to use the Fender guitar that was displayed on the stage (it’s going to be some kind of prize, I guess). He says “you don’t want to use that guitar – it’s not set up, it’s not in tune. . .” Well, what the hell is it doing on the stage??? Anyway, Gayle Ackroyd had been sitting next to me in the audience and she offers me her Telecaster so I managed with that – I haven’t seen the video yet, but I hope the camera wasn’t on me when I took a solo on the Tele, because when I flicked the switch to the treble position and start to play, there was no sound so I missed the first part of the solo. Anyway, back to Gayle Ackroyd. The following night I was going to see Pinetop Perkins, but the show was cancelled and I remembered Gayle saying that she conducted a songwriter’s workshop so I popped in there and found a small room with a dozen middle-aged bearded guys with their guitar cases and Gayle. She didn’t recognize me from Albert’s Hall but she did invite me to sing a couple of songs and when I did it went over very well (one guy came up and said “Where the hell have you been?” But the reality came striking home when the waitress came around collecting the $3.00 cover charge. I said “but I’m performing. . .” and she says “It’s still three dollars!” I think I have just climbed aboard the “pay-to-play” circuit. Then Gayle invites me to be the featured performer in two weeks. “Great” I say, “and, uh. . . how much would one be paid for that?”. . . She looks slightly embarrassed and says there’s no money. “Do I still have to pay the three dollars?” I ask. And she’s relieved to tell me that I won’t have to pay that. I may even try to wrangle a free beer. Big Time.

This town has Blues Jams happening every night in one bar or the other, and now I know why. The club only has to pay one person and they get ten others playing for free. Not only that, they charge you admission and expect you to pay the full rate for beer. Actually, I was told that at Grossmans, if you do a good set the host will bring around a tray of beers (but you don’t get to say what kind you want – in fact, I bet they just collect the beers that are left on tables, top them up, and then pass them out to the musicians).

Real life Blues Vignette: On the first warm day in a while, I look out my window to see a little local colour. Some fifty-year old fart has taken out his big white convertible (with the top down) and put on his Florida outfit (white shoes & pants – I don’t think he was wearing an ascot but it looked like he should). Anyway, he has parked his big boat right at the streetcar stop – everyone knows that’s an instant ticket. I see his lady friend coming out of the Shamrock Tavern. She is young, blonde and busty and as she is getting in the passenger seat, she sees the ticket on the windshield (I told you so). She gets out of the car, tears the ticket in half with a great flourish and throws it on the ground. Then she thinks better of it and picks up the two halves, looks at them this time, then throws them into the back seat as her fella comes back to the car and they drive off. Do you think they paid the ticket?