Crashing a Gig in a Small Supper Club

Crashing a Gig in a Small Supper Club

By Roberta Miles

I'm singing in a small supper club, on the northwest side of the city. The stage is high and there was no real way to get up to it. The club is dark and smoky. The food is mediocre at best. The smoke is so thick, no one paid any attention as the bass player hoisted me to the stage. The people in the audience look restless. I get the feeling that if they don’t like me they will let me know. They've had too much to drink and now their eyeballs are floating in all the fat they’ve just consumed.

Now that I'm on the stage all I can think about is how much my feet hurt in these very high heels.

The trumpet player and the piano player are bickering on the stage behind me. I can hear that the piano player is ticked off. He keeps muttering, “Let her sing.” The trumpet player keeps repeating, “It's my band, I'll do what I want.” They are on the brink of a shouting match. But I just keep on singing. I glance over at the bass player. He's in another world, as are all good jazz musicians.

Now the yelling has begun.

Image 2 I was Singin.jpg

Crap! Can’t this wait till later? Don't these guys know I'm singing? It’s time for the trumpeter’s solo. I back away so he has the focus. I'm gazing at him lovingly. It makes for good theater. And I'm thinking it's another dive and my feet hurt.

The trumpeter is in love with me. He's as much as told me. He pleaded with me to leave my husband. It's a good melodrama, but I'm not buying it. He’s promised me fur coats and new furniture. Everything a girl could want. Except I don't want it. The newspaper on the windows and TV trays in the living room are good enough for me. I just want to sing and make a little dough. He's promised me lots of gigs. That's what I'm after. He's just not my cup of herbal tea.

So here we are at another dive that he’s booked. There's not enough dough in the budget to pay for all of us. So he's decided not to take anything for himself. It's his sound system that we’re using. He's oh so generous. Every circumstance constructed to show me what a prince he is. With my voice and his brains we can go far. I'm not impressed. I'm more interested in the dialogue in my head. 

So now it's the piano man's solo. No one on the stage is very cheery. Great way to lose an audience. A few couples get up to dance. Oh, thank goodness. I love the dancers. 

By now the piano player hates the trumpeter. The stage has become a hostile environment. Soon it will be time to wake up the bass player. I just want to get off the stage. It's my turn again. We are just about to wrap up my song and people start screaming. The nose of a car is driving through the brick wall of the restaurant. Booths are being thrown about. So are people. The band is paralyzed on stage. It's all happening so quickly. A car has driven through a side wall. The people have been strewn across the floor.

Instinctively I jump off the stage to help. The front hood of a big red car is slowly coming through the wall into the dining room. It’s unreal. I can hear sirens approaching. The trumpeter is yelling at me to get back on stage, he’s saying that it's our job to keep playing, to preserve normalcy. I'm not so sure he’s right.

Someone grabs my hand and yells “We can get out the back door!”

I yelled back. “I can’t, I’m still working!”

The people that aren't hurt are shoving themselves through the back door. It's only meant for one at a time, but they're squeezing through in pairs. Part of me wants to run with them.

“Get on stage!” The trumpeter is roaring. “And start singing!” I climb back on the stage. It's all too absurd. I look at the people lying on the floor. Is anyone dead? I wonder. How can we keep making music if anyone is dead?

I jump off the stage. “Fuck you!” I yell at the trumpet player. The band keeps on playing. The ambulance has arrived and the paramedics are taking people away. No one was killed. A miracle.

You go out for dinner to see a live band, a car crashes through a wall, and the next thing you know, you’re in hell. It's this kind of the unexpected that I don't care for. Some loser falling in love with me, however annoying, is much preferable to a car shoving a booth full of people across the room while I'm on stage singing.

The driver of the car was completely inebriated, big surprise. The police took him away. 

I turn back to the stage. The bass player has slipped away with his big, beautiful phallic symbol. The trumpeter is singing now.

The piano player gets up from the piano in the middle of the tune, and bellows that he wants his money, he wants to get paid right now!

I want to go home. The shock is setting in. I've got a long way to drive. 

I blew an unseen kiss to the trumpeter. I may never see him again. I really don't care. I know there will be other gigs. I only hope nothing as devastating will ever happen again.

I better get my own sound system, I think as I push my way out the door.

American Shithole #3 — Partisans of Liberty

American Shithole #3 — Partisans of Liberty

The Minutes of Our Last Meeting - The PepsiCo Lady-Friendly Foods Initiative

The Minutes of Our Last Meeting - The PepsiCo Lady-Friendly Foods Initiative