Saturday, May 10, 2014

Audience Participation.

Live music shows are always an adventure.

Today, we had 3 - count' em - 3 people walk up and start talking to us. Mid-song.

It's a new record for us.

It started during our first song when this guy wandered up and started talking to Steve. Mid-song - did I mention that? He said that he was a musician, too. And played the guitar. And he had a song that Steve should learn. It was a song for kids. Kids love it. Could he play it. Now?

Steve, as always, was polite and professional and explained that we had just started our show and maybe the guy could come back later as there were a bunch of people sitting there, watching us play. Then the guy told Steve that his name was Steve, too. And he told him his website address and his facebook site, again mentioning that he was a children's musician. He then suggested, in a clear, ringing voice, that one of the audience members was "probably retarded".

How could this guy NOT have a Grammy for his children's music act, yet?

Hi. We're kind of right in the middle of a show here, buddy.

Steve eventually convinced Steve 2.0 to take a seat so we could continue. We plowed forward and, if I do say so myself, we sounded pretty good.

Later in the show a guy came up to the gazebo where we were playing, slung his arms over the railing and spent an entire song staring at me as if he was trying to take over my mind. Which he might have - I'm still not sure. He was covered in festive neck-tattoos that had a distinctively home-made feel to them. As the song wound down, he started hooting, "Do a drum solo! Do a solo on the drums!"

Steve, naturally, is disinclined to let me perform long, complicated drums solos on the flimsy pretense that I am so awful at the drums that I would drive the audience, screaming from the show.  I politely declined the fellow's offer and he yelled "A Metallical drum solo!" before wandering off toward the corn-dog stand.

Freed from his hypnotic gaze, I performed with my usual ineptitude through a few more songs. As Steve was announcing one song, a kid, maybe 13 years old wandered up to the front where Steve stood and handed him a frisbee.

"Wanna frisbee?" he asked, interrupting Steve.

"I love frisbee," Steve answered, ever the gentleman and consummate performer. "Thank you so much."

The kid lumbered back to his posse of friends, who staggered around for a moment, convulsed with laughter at their brilliantly witty idea of giving a frisbee to Steve mid-show.

Before anyone else could rush the stage, the show ended. Joe and I began packing up instuments as quickly as we could, fearing that if we didn't, people would rush the stage and begin playing them.

Sure enough, Steve 2.0 sauntered up and said that he was going to play his song now.

"Noooooooooo," Joe hissed. "Steve - Just say NOOOOOOO."

I cringed and awaited the inevitable moment when Evil Steve would start pointing out more audience members who  he thought might be "probably retarded".

"Hey, Steve," Joe said, in a brilliant attempt to stave off the horrible end that loomed over us, "They cut off the power, already. Sorry."

Evil Steve commandeers the guitar and sings his song. Our Steve high-fives a young fan.

Evil Steve looked at my drum set. "Drums don't need power," he said.

I quickly yanked the snare off its stand. "Sorry," I mumbled, "Set's already torn down."

"I can play without power," Evil Steve said, heading for Steve's guitar.

"Noooo," Joe hissed again.

Steve, however, has his own set of guidelines for interacting with deranged lunatics - to wit - he is amazing with them. He smiled and handed the guy his guitar and stood back as Evil Steve sang his song about a class clown.

The lyrics that I caught, in my race to break down my drum set before the Metallica drum solo guy came back, went like this:

"Class clown. He's a class clown.
Class clown. He's a class clown.
Class clown. He's a class clown.
Class clown. He's a class clown.
Class clown. He's a class clown.
Class clown. He's a class clown.
Class clown. He's a class clown."

Repeat until entire audience rises as one and leaves.

Steve - our Steve, the good, kind, patient Steve, stood there with a genuine-looking smile spread across his face, clapping along.

Joe and I marveled at Steve's cool, calm equanimity.

Eventually, Evil Steve wandered off, probably headed to play songs at some kid's 5th birthday party - a party he hadn't been invited to.

Our Steve wandered over to us with a blissful smile on his face. "That was fun, wasn't it?" he asked, slipping his guitar into its case.

"Are you mental?" I asked. "He said that that kid was retarded! Out loud. On stage!"

Steve smiled again. "Awwww, he was a fun guy, wasn't he?"

"Steve?" Joe asked. "Did you practice patience with a monastery of Shaolin monks?"

He claims not to have, but I'm not sure. All I know is, he does a hard job well, and makes it look really, really easy.

Now, if I can just convince him to let me do a Metallica-style drum solo during the act...