JJ Rocks Article # 127:
From St. Croix Music Magazine, Issue # 27, December, 2008
It’s that time of year again when most people can’t wait to have a little time off from work and spend it with their families during the holidays. And one of the reasons that it’s so enjoyable other than being with your loved ones is the fact that most jobs are referred to as “work” and that is always nice to get away from for a while. But that’s not so for most musicians. I never hear any of my fellow players refer to a gig as “work”. They usually say “I’m going to play tonight”. And many people in other lines of work are sometimes a little envious of that. But for many reasons it’s not all a bed of roses, and one of them is when you have to play gigs on special holidays when many people are home snuggled up on the couch with Charlie Brown’s Christmas.
Playing around the holidays can be fun, but having to gig on Christmas Eve or even Christmas night never equaled being able to stay home. Especially if you have to drive many miles in the snow just to get to a club that only has the owner and a few of his friends partying. And as you play to an empty dance floor for the first few sets while you wait for their alcoholic beverages to kick in, you wind up gazing out into the room and wondering what your family is doing back home. That’s when the night seems twice as long as normal, but usually ends on a decent note when free drinks start to arrive at the stage and the band is invited to eat at the buffet. And by the time your last set has finished, everybody is tanked and treating you like their long lost brother. But the night isn’t over until you get home and that drive can be very lonely and sometimes treacherous.
After you hump your gear out into the frozen slippery parking lot and your fingers start to get numb, you find yourself sitting in the car with your head in your lap trying to stay warm while you wait for the heater to kick in. Then you cautiously pull out onto the road with your heart pounding because you know that you had too many drinks. And as the snow covers the lines on the street you start imagining that there is a cop on every corner. Then as you approach the freeway entrance you breathe a sigh of relief, your nerves are regenerated by the roar of huge tractor trailer trucks fearlessly shooting by you while clouds of snow and brown slush slam into the windshield. And this whole time you are thinking about your family, but then realize that they are all sleeping so there is no use to rush to get home. But then it even gets weirder when you realize that something could happened to you on the road and you would not be home on Christmas morning to see your loved ones.
About this time you see a truck stop ahead through the blowing snow and decide to pull in and have a bite to keep you awake. The place is huge but very empty except for a few truckers who are looking at your poofed up hair and red eyes. That’s when you see that the only thing to eat is a hotdog wrapped in tin foil so you start to pile it up with everything on the table including that cheap melted cheese. You know that you are going to pay for it the next day but at that time you have an iron stomach and a bad attitude.
And after eating so fast that you actually bite one of your own fingers, you drag yourself back out into the freezing cold and onto the freeway for the last leg home. But when you finally reach your exit you notice that the smaller road that leads you home is totally covered with snow and it blends into the landscape. That’s when you say to yourself out loud “What the hell! The cops in this neighborhood are all home in bed”. So you just aim for what you think is the center of the road and enjoy the drive as you look at all the pretty trees covered in snow. That is until you suddenly realize that you are in the middle of a corn field.
But eventually you make it home and pull into your driveway. Ah, home sweet home and everyone is sleeping except me. But wait! You can’t leave your prize axe or precious tube amp in the car! Even your wires could freeze! So you have no choice but to carry your stuff down a long driveway without slipping and falling on your ass. And you have to do it all without waking up the neighbors. So as you hold the door with one foot and a 50 pound amp in you arms while trying to find the keyhole, your dog starts to bark! Then the neighbors porch light comes on and all you can think about is how much you went through just to get to that point as you are about to turn the key.
Finally the door opens, the heat from inside warms your cold face, and your dog shuts up! And as you quietly settle in for a long winters nap, you start to realize that it won’t be that long because morning is just a few hours away and the kids are going to be up like midget marine drill sergeants pounding on your door saying “wake up! It’s Christmas!” That’s when you realize that you’re still in the same clothes you wore to the gig and you must have just passed out on the bed. And as you feel the warmth of your living room and smell the pine from the Christmas tree, you hold your hot coffee and say to yourself “Man, I’m never going to go through a night like that again!”….. Of course you will. You’re a musician. Merry Christmas
JJ Rocks - The Spotlight Zone
Musically Speaking: The Christmas Gig
JJ Rocks Article # 127: