“Hey, Man. You Guys Know ‘Free Bird’?”

March 15, 2012

Scribbling

There you are. Up on stage. Cheap par can lights with color gels duct-taped over them are heating the side of your face from an intimate distance. The atmosphere a southerly stew of stale beer, cigarette smoke, hair-spray, and “Yeee-eeee-eeew!”

You’ve made it through the first little three-rock-block of cover tunes to open your set with an upbeat, familiar bang. Well, familiar to the college kids you actually want to be playing for at the dive bars downtown, anyway.

But hey, man. A gig’s a gig, right?

This is the point where you stop to introduce yourself, proper.

“Hi, we’re Dipstick & the Dumptrucks!” or whatever dumbass name you guys came up with while giving the drummer’s new bong a break-in worthy of respect. It had some deep counterculture meaning that you all bull-shitted your way into after giggling for 15 minutes, when it was first thrown out there. And even though you have no clue what that is now, you all stuck with it because people seemed to remember it. (Go figure…)

So you say ‘hi’ and exaggerate how great it is to see everyone out here tonight. (“Ye-ah!”)

You feel you’ve primed the pump properly to indulge in what you’ve really come here to do: play your own songs. You’ve been wood-shedding with these guys twice a week for months to earn the opportunity to play your own songs. You’ve learned 3 sets of cover songs so you could then negotiate slipping in as many original songs as non-writing members would relent to learning. You’ve done your best to convince not just yourself that you are a sensitive, undiscovered treasure.

And just as you are about to introduce your little flower creation, you hear the dulcet marimba tones of an empty beer bottle kicked over onto a tile floor. A few giggle bubbles float in the air. And then it comes at you out of the dark…

The rebel yell mating call of the inebriated, red-gilled, leather-backed, hound dog: “Freeeeee Birrrrrrrrrrrd!”

Beaker, on drums, starts to sarcastically snicker behind you. Matt looks up from silently tuning his guitar with a shit-eating grin and rolls his eyes. Even I didn’t think he would win the bet this early. Sigh…then lie…

“Maybe later, man. We want to do some other stuff for ya first.”

Of course, “later” is a rather relative term. You hear this shout-out at every break in the music. You start eliminating all breaks between songs via visual cues amongst the band. You slow down the tempo a bit so the set isn’t over too quickly.

During the back half of the second set, when a crowd of your own fans has filled in a bit more, you finally get fed up and cocky when this same guy is surprisingly yet not paired with a mate, and sends out another call: “Free Birrrrrrrrrd!”

“Dude…
Do we look like the kind of band that plays Free Bird?”

This gets enough of a laugh to make him feel foolish and stomp out. Of course, only after firing back over his shoulder, “No…because you suck!”

***

Image source: http://rnrhighschool.com/

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8 Comments on ““Hey, Man. You Guys Know ‘Free Bird’?””

  1. Steve Mitchell Says:

    heh! giggle bubbles . . .

    Reply

  2. Ian Burgess Photography Says:

    As a sax player in a pub band in London in the 90’s I can relate…except instead of Freebird is was Danny Boy or anything by Madness.

    I’d usually get asked for this between sets, as if all sax players the world over know Danny Boy.

    I learned to spot the Danny Boy fans from a distance and avoid them

    Great post by the way 🙂

    Reply

    • Brett Myers Says:

      ‘Free Bird’ is the Southern American ‘Danny Boy’… That makes sense to me. 🙂

      At the downtown gigs for the college crowd back then, we were usually asked to play REM or The Cure. That we could do.

      Thanks for stopping by and offering some feedback, Ian. As I’m getting going, it’s nice encouragement.

      I took a cursory glance at your site and look forward to digging in more this weekend. Love the quote in the header.

      Reply

  3. a. m. f. Says:

    laughing… does not EVERYone not wish to yell “Free Bird” during a concert??? I grew up listening to classic southern rock, ergo, I swear it reverbs in my mind whenever I see a cover band. I think I even hollered it, back in the day, when I ‘dated’ a bass player…~

    Reply

  4. kateshrewsday Says:

    😀 Poor bloke. Just the wrong person bellowing his wrong heart out, having drunk the wrong six pints.

    It’s best he stomped out, I think!

    Reply

    • Brett Myers Says:

      There is an actual version of this where I literally tossed one these guys toward the front door. The number of feet he flew varies with the telling. But please understand that was only after he pushed one of my friends, who was trying to good-naturedly run block for us, over a stack of monitors. Usually these guys are annoying, but harmless; and I tended to remember I was the guest… 🙂

      Reply

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