Things & Stuff
The Band Wore Blue Shirts
2008-11-29 - 12:55 p.m.
Another Saturday entry. It must be something monumental.
And it is.
I arrived at the bar last night to set up. As I was doing so, the guys from Time-Warner showed up and began setting up the cameras for the taping. The place was already filling up, an hour before our start time.
Shortly after Bob arrived, a fellow musician named Billy Dee took him aside for a brief conference. A little bit later, Bob gave the rest of the band the news:
The bar was closing. This was to be our last night.
There had been rumblings of the possibility of closure - supposedly the building was going to be knocked down - but the owner had been saying that every Christmastime for the last two years. Besides, the front parking lot had just been resurfaced, so demolition seemed unlikely. There had also been rumors of a sale, but that apparently had fallen through.
That explained the crowd. They were saying goodbye to their favorite watering hole and to Mona, the owner.
And so we started. The cameras began rolling. Billy got up and gave us a big introduction. We started playing.
The guy with the hand-held camera moved around in front of us, filming Bob or me (depending on who was singing). Or he'd film band member's movements during solos. At one point Mona came over and told him he should start filming the crowd.
Gee, Mona - you're closing the place, you know they're shooting film for Bob's TV show...and YOU want to be the director? Screw that.
Mona also started pressuring Bob to let Billy come up and sing. We didn't have a problem with that, but again - we're filming for the show.
So, after the filming was done - they shot about 80 minutes of footage that will be pared down to a 25min show - we got Billy up to sing. When Billy took the stage, he made the announcement that the sale had fallen through, and the bar was closing the next day. This was the end of Cero's.
Gasps from the audience. They didn't know. They hadn't been told prior to the announcement.
We took our first break. Bob took the band aside and told us the following bit of news - Billy's announcement was also supposed to be when we were to find out about the closure.
Got that? Mona had found out the night before, and told Bob (later) that it was "too late" to contact him.
How about that - she couldn't call him Thursday evening or all day Friday to tell us. She already KNEW we had set up the taping. Did she think we'd back out?
Billy also knew of her plan. He refused to go along with it - that's why he told us before we started. He didn't think it was fair of Mona to do that, so he told us earlier, trying to soften the blow.
The customers found out about what Mona had done, and they were appalled. Bob has been playing in Orange County for over 40 years, and some folks in the audience have been coming to various clubs to hear him play for decades. They couldn't believe he'd been treated this shabbily.
During the break, I walked around and shook hands with the customers. Many asked how they'd find us. I promised that any new gig info would be posted at bobchance.com. One man told me that, as soon as he heard that Cero's was closing, he told his wife they were cashing out and buying a bar and hiring us...which I thought was a very kind thing to say, but I couldn't tell if he was serious or not.
Before the second break was over, we also had an offer to play New Year's Eve - and for a decent amount of money. Bob said he'd talk to that owner this week.
We got up for the last set. The VERY last set.
And we played. And played. And played. Billy got up again and sang a few more.
The audience didn't want us to stop. The bartender didn't care. We went until 2:20am, when Mona finally made us stop. Then she started bitching about how slow we were in breaking down our gear. She's seen me set all my stuff up in forty minutes - with the stage empty. How can I break everything down when Dave (the bass man) and Bob's gear are still on stage?
Dave and Carl, the guy who used to play drums for us, helped me get things packed up and out to the car. Mona and several customers stayed behind, drinking and smoking and partying and commiserating. I was the last band member to leave. I said goodbye, and left with a phrase I've heard Jeff Foxworthy use many times:
"We'll see you down the road."
So that's the end of our gig at Cero's.
How was it? How did it feel to know that it was the last gig, that we were out of a job playing music?
It felt strangely liberating.
Mona has bitched before about Bob playing "the same songs, in the same order, every night for thirty years". She has also on previous occasions complained that we were too loud. Never mind that the dance floor was full - we were too fucking loud, she has told us.
Well, the same-songs-same-order isn't true. We've brought in new tunes regularly. We also play a lot of the same stuff simply because that's what our audience wants to hear. Bob plays people's favorite songs, and those don't usually change.
As for the volume - we're an oldies dance band. "Johnny B. Goode" just isn't going to work as dinner music.
Anyway, we were able to play what we wanted, when we wanted, at the volume we wanted. And it felt great to really cut loose.
What was she going to do - fire us?
Now it's the morning after.
Bob is going to work on getting us another gig. I hope it's soon - this is his primary source of income.
But for now, my Friday nights are free. It's going to feel strange not going to play music those evenings.
There's always the Park.
Be seeing you.
1 comments so far
Brin aka Bindyree - 2008-11-29 21:51:46 -