Crazy Gig Stories by and for Working Musicians

Gig Anecdotes is updated regularly, and is dedicated to preserving and sharing the experiences of today's working musician. Lots of music stories: wedding gigs, agents, life on the road, recording sessions, gig horror stories.. and all of these funny gig stories are submitted by our readers! Click ADD YOUR ANECDOTE! to add your story.

Work it, grandma!

Location: 
California Central Coast
Type of Gig: 
Bar

One of our guitar players lives just a couple of blocks from a micro-sized bar and I must emphasize micro. This was fall of 2011. Our band was only a few months old and this was our first time there.

They literally move a pool table for the band and that is about how much room you have to set up. But it's a fun little place with a loyal local crowd that loves to party and packs it in.

About half-way through our gig a crowd of older women come in obviously already enjoying themselves. I'd guess early 50's to some blue hairs. Turned out they were celebrating one of the ladies 80th birthday.

Despite our hard rock repertoire they were loving us and dancing to every song.
At the end of a song the birthday girl politely asked our guitarist if she could say something over the mic. He was like "sure it's your birthday have fun." Now mind you this lady is 80 years old tonight and looks like a typical great-grandma. Well she grabs the mic and screams at the top of her lungs "I AM FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKED UP!" Our jaws hit the floor. That was the last thing we were expecting from her mouth. But everyone was cheering and laughing and after we got over the shock we were laughing too. Man I wish we had that on camera.

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782 users have voted.

That's not a guitar. Put it down.

Location: 
Santa Barbara, CA
Type of Gig: 
Music Store

I was with my bandmates passing through Santa Barbara CA. headed to Orange County where we had a gig the next day. While walking around browsing stores and what not and enjoying the nice day we found ourselves in this huge store that had a little bit of everything including a lot of used items. I ran across an odd sized guitar case that was leaned up against the wall so I opened it to see what it contained. Turned out to be one of those latin style instruments with the courses of 3 strings together, can't think of the name at the moment, but I had never seen one in person and was kinda thrilled and excited to mess with it.

I was plinkin' away and about that time this kinda dumpy old Hispanic man came up and tried to take it from me. He couldn't speak English and though not getting especially angry or too physical he was obviously trying to get it from me. I'm like "Hey gramps, I saw it first". But he wouldn't let up. I finally gave him a pantomime of "Dude, back off". With that he walked away and I look at my buddies like what was that all about. A few minutes later the guy comes back with a younger man that could speak English. Turned out the old man was a street musician and that was his personal guitar. He was friends with the store owner and he would set it in that particular spot when ever he took a break.

I was so embarrassed. I told the young guy to explain what happened and that I was very sorry. He was actually pretty cool about it smiled and shook my hand.
But I got ribbed about that the whole weekend. My bandmates were all "You big bully stealing an old man's guitar".

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596 users have voted.

Butter's Fingers

Location: 
Agawam, MA, USA
Type of Gig: 
Restaurant

This is a pretty short and sweet story. So the 4-piece band was jammed into this little tiny corner in the bar on the lower level of this pretty snazzy restaurant/bar, and we're doing our thing, which was a classic r&b and soul kinda thing. Anyhow, (I was the keyboard player) I'm sitting there playing, cuz I sit down to play because "that's what real keyboard players do", and this "butterface" mature woman proceeds to stand near me and leer. I'm fully aware, but try to focus on the task at hand. She continues to slowly creep closer and closer. I continue to focus on the black and whites. Next thing ya know she sits on my tiny keyboard bench next to me and starts rubbing my inner thigh, or should I say "giving herself organ lessons". Right there while I'm playing. Now I'm a happily married guy at the time, and sort of in shock. As she's doing it she's glaring over at her(presumably) husband at the other end of the bar, who is watching her trying to play the organ, all the while with this creepy grin on his face. Anyhow, I finally break away from the song, which suffered greatly due to my 10 seconds or so of not playing, and pushed her off of me and asked her to please not do that again. Ridiculous.

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575 users have voted.

Oklahoma City Phantom

Location: 
New York, NY
Type of Gig: 
house band

I had landed in New York to find my fame and fortune as a trombone player. Shortly thereafter, I got a call one day from a drummer who was the contractor for an interesting sounding gig. The fame and fortune thing was not yet in full gear so this gig sounded appealing. A businessman had been building a race track in Oklahoma City which needed a house big band. This was in the early 80s and $750 a week was good money, especially for a trombone player. They also needed a tenor sax player, so my good friend and I decided to both take the gig.

As the weeks went by we were in frequent contact with the drummer/contractor who was confirming the gig, our arrival, and other details. I had given up my apartment and my friend had handed the reins of his small business to a friend coming from Canada to run it for the year we would be gone. Everything was working out just fine.

Then one night, I received a call from the drummer. He had gone to the businessman's house and found something very different than he had expected. Yes, it was a big house, but is was a total wreck. It was a complete mess with cigarette burns everywhere, broken windows, and even dead rodents in the microwave. There was no racetrack and no gig. It was all a figment of a broken old mind. No malice intended. Just the fantasy of a sick old man.

So there we both were in New York with no apartment, my friend with no company, me with all cancelled gigs, having told everyone we would be gone for the next year. What did we do? My friend found a cruise ship needing a tenor sax and trombone player and away we spend a year cruising the Bahamas. All's well that ends well!

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535 users have voted.

Reminds Me of Backing Certain Singers

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
Type of Gig: 
County Fair

I played drums with a show band that performed in many different venues during the middle 70's. During one county fair gig the leader told me a fair organizer needed a drummer for a special show over at the outside amphitheater and that I 'fit the bill' since I had vaudeville experience. Be there ready to play at 1pm.

I got there before 1pm and set up on the stage but no one was around. The audience started to come in but there was no one else on the stage or backstage. Was I at the right place? The leader of our show band came in with the other musicians but they all sat down with the audience. He gave me the hi-sign so I knew I was at the right place.

Suddenly a guy comes running out from behind the stage and said 'Watch the right side in front of the stage and make some sound effects to what you see'. He then ran off to the right side of the stage.

Out of nowhere came a LARGE ELEPHANT walking in front of the stage wiggling it's ears, head, etc. Well, I started imitating what the elephant was doing on my drums. It really went quite well for no rehearsal. The audience loved it, the elephant handler loved it, my fellow band members about died laughing, and I walked away with $25 for 15 minutes work!

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579 users have voted.

Be Sure to Check the Front Line Equipment

Location: 
Dallas, TX
Type of Gig: 
Bar

I was working in a house band at a large country bar in Dallas. We were taking a break, watching the dancers and the guitar player leans over and says, "Hey look its Elvis!" And sure enough, there was an overweight dude with black mutton chop side burns, pompadour hair-do, chrome sunglasses, and leather everything else. But with him was the sexiest woman I had ever seen. Red stiletto heels, black fishnet hose, black leather mini skirt and a red sweater at least two sizes too small. A well endowed, blond knockout.

Every guy in the bar rushed over to ask her to dance, including our guitar player. A minute later they were slow dancing by the band table and the guitarist is giving us the thumbs up with a great big smile on his face. We finished our break and started the first tune, when a ruckus ensued at the back of the club.

All I saw was the bouncers escorting miss leather mini skirt out the door. Seems someone checked out her equipment, and they don't allow men in the ladies room. We never let the guitarist live it down.

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519 users have voted.

Be Careful of Barflies

Location: 
Alaska
Type of Gig: 
bar

This was in '81 or '82. I was playing bass in a 4 piece rock/pop group, and we did the whole hair and spandex thing like most bands at the time. Girls were never a problem. Anybody who doesn't believe guitars are chick magnets has obviously never strapped on a guitar before. Anyway, we played all over the state, working pretty steady, staying in all manner of “band housing”. We were at a better-than-average club (closed mid-90's) and doing our normal thing. This particular night the bar was having a drawing for something, I can't remember what. We were going to have a longer break than usual after one of our sets so they could use our PA to do the drawing. I went to the bar and was getting a coke. A rather attractive girl asked me if we did a certain song she liked, to which I nodded and replied “next set, I think”. Our drummer was standing there waiting on me, as he wanted to get in a game of pool while we waited for the drawing to get over. We went to the tables and he racked up the game. I was lining up my first shot when I heard “hey, asshole”. I, of course, looked up to see who was calling who an asshole. What I saw was what turned out to be the butt end of a pool cue coming at my face at rather high velocity. It caught me on the bridge of my nose. I'm done. I'm collapsed on the pool table, screaming, blood pouring from my face. The drummer tackled the guy swinging the cue as he was lining up for another whack at me. Then the singer (not a small guy) jumped in. They, with a bouncer, dragged the guy out thru the kitchen and behind the bar where they damn near killed him. Turns out the attractive girl who asked me about the song had an extremely jealous ex-boyfriend who was in the bar and saw her talking to me. A couple days later, after the swelling went down and my eyes were able to open, she took me to dinner. She was really embarrassed over the whole thing. Just dinner, too. She had another boyfriend already, a cop. Who just happened to be the responding officer that night who ended up arresting ex-boyfriend for assault. Guess there were a few too many witnesses for him to claim self defense...

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558 users have voted.

Midnight Snack

Location: 
Phoenix, AZ
Type of Gig: 
New Year's

I played in a house big band for a North Scottsdale AZ resort hotel in the late 70s. Every week a new headliner would show up with their musical director and charts and we would play their show for the week.

New Year's eve one year, they brought in a well-known "B" actor who was one of the villains in the old Batman TV series. A funny guy, he had some good material and did a little song and dance.

We were doing our show New Year's eve leading up to the big countdown, and around 11:45 I could see the entertainer sweating profusely. He was starting to lose some of his rhythm and charm. The crowd by now, like most large New Year's crowds was starting to get unruly. The noise level was climbing and comments were starting to fly at this guy.

As he finished a joke, he nervously looked at the piano player who was our house player and didn't really know the guy, and said, "What do I do - I'm all out of material"?

The crowd at this point was like a wild animal sensing fear. It got louder and uglier, and this professional actor was turned to mush, standing front and center unable to say anything coherent.

It was the only time I had ever seen a crowd of people eat a professional entertainer for a midnight snack.

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568 users have voted.

Party in the Front

Location: 
Alaska
Type of Gig: 
nudity

This was early '80s, in Alaska. We were a five piece rock/pop group, and I played bass and keys. The bar was rather large, with guest/band rooms upstairs and a “special event” room behind the main bar. There'd be comedians, male & female “dancers” and such back there. This particular week the bar had female dancers in that room. We were playing our regular, routine show on a pretty dead Wednesday night. Big difference that night was most if not all the girls from that back room were sitting there watching us. Nothing better to do, I guess.
Like a lot of bars, this one also held drawings for various door prizes. This night was no different.

We'd played a couple sets, and our singer announced that anybody holding a ticket should get ready for the drawing. He's standing there, holding the glass jar with the tickets in one hand, and his mic in the other, when one of the guitar players nonchalantly walked behind him. The guitar player suddenly turned, grabbed the singers spandex pants and yanked them down to his knees. No undies. The singer, standing there with his junk hanging out, looked down, slowly turned, and kind of shuffled off stage, behind the mains, where he put down the glass jar and his mic, then pulled his pants back up. The girls out front were dying. Indeed, the entire room was laughing so hard even the bartender had tears in his eyes.

The singer came back on stage with his mic, and said “okay, that was different...” He looked at the guitar player and told him “...I'll kill you later...” and we proceeded to finish the set, and the rest of the night. The singer was a really funny guy (I say “was” because he's gone now) and incredibly good sport. Interestingly, he slept with most of those girls as a direct, or indirect, result of that “incident”.

This one's for you, buddy. 30 years on, and we still talk about, laugh at, and miss you.

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551 users have voted.

Drive by Bassline

Location: 
Kingsland, GA
Type of Gig: 
Private/Banquet

I was playing bass in a popular cover band in 2005. We were playing one of our usual bar gigs at a large hotel/motel that had an adjoining banquet room. There happened to be a large party thrown by a pro football player in the banquet room that night. We played our first set to a pretty decent crowd while the football players party raged next door. We finished our set and took a break. About 10 minutes into our break we heard POP,POP,POP,POP. We all looked around like "what the heck"? Suddenly people were running from the front room attached to the bar into the bar area. Still not knowing what happened we followed the curious crowd out the front door. There were three people laying on the grass and in the parking lot outside the bar. All hit with gunfire!One guy,(the worst off of the three) was gunshot twice. One man was hit in the leg and one woman was grazed in the head. The girl I was dating at the time was a nurse and started trying to help the gunshot victim. His buddies kept trying to move him saying they weren't supposed to be in this county and needed to get away quick. Well, this guy wasn't going anywhere as he was fading fast. His friends realized his condition and all just left. An ambulance shows up about ten minutes later and takes the victims to the hospital. Last thing I saw of this guy was him being loaded onto the ambulance on a stretcher with his hands up over his face in an "Oh No" fashion. He died the next day. These people were at the party in the banquet room and there was a drive-by shooting out front. Turns out the shooter was the gunshot guys uncle and the whole thing was over drugs. Go figure. We ended up playing a short set before the gig being called off. Nobody wanted to party after all that.

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591 users have voted.

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