Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rhythm Alley Redux - 11 - Open Mic Night

Up until now I've been doing most of the talking - now it's your turn.  I need to take a break for my writing to catch up with my posting (I may be going to every other day) so here's a request to you guys - use the comments to tell your own stories.  What bands did you love?  What bands did you hate?  What was your favorite place to eat before a show?  Where was the best after-party?  And why didn't you tell us then?  The stage is yours...

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At 4:21 PM, Blogger Tony Plutonium said...

Man, you guys kind of suck at this! ;)

At 8:14 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I can add that The Othermothers were another band I learned to follow from my time there - but I don't know now if I was in the audience then, or working the bar - either way, I noticed.

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I kept the beer flowing.

That is all I did at Rhythm Alley - and I did it well.

But I guess if that was all I did, Tony and Jeannette would not remember me so fondly, huh?

I was roughly 25 years old at the time. I was unaware that my own life was about to be turned upside down when I agreed - eagerly - to work at Rhythm Alley for nothing. Okay, I earned my share of tips, but that is all I wanted. But really? I can't say I wanted even that - I wanted the free admission to see all these bands...

I had a day job - granted, nothing (then) very interesting or as dramatic as now.

I used to - and still occasionally do - tell people that everyone needs to work at least one year in retail. I could limit that to the Christmas season - because that is when the real nutjobs come out. But beyond that, after reading Tony's posts over the past week or so - I can add another.

EVERYONE needs to work in a bar that host bands - for at least a year or so.

Yeah, I'll cop to begging off the working hours when The Pressure Boys, The Right Profile, and others played - too many to name - but I did not get my wishes all the time - not remotely. And that's just fine. All those bands played the same sets no matter where they played (except The Pressure Boys did seem to have some special love for our venue, which was why I loved to be in the audience those nights, though I rarely was.)

I worked the bar. I dealt with customers wanting specific beers - we had a good selection for the time, thankfully, but sometimes they asked for stuff we didn't have. Knowing more than my share of beers at time, I was able to offer similar substitutions... Slower nights, and when parts of the crowd were bored, Diane and I recruited their help with our latest crossword puzzle - you'd be surprised at how often the young (and not so young) and drinking public can come very close to the right answers... :)

There were many too bands I wanted to see to name them all now. I do not have Tony's memory - but I also don't have his records of bookings. Besides all the local bands, and semi-local bands we booked, there was a blue grass band I cannot remember the name of. We hosted them twice - weeks or months apart. I worked both shows - and even behind the bar, I was blown away. I learned an appreciation of bluegrass music that I have not lost today.

When the place was packed and we were too busy to think, I was in my element. Automaton. taking 3 orders at once was a given - making change, automatic. When the pace was slower, we made up things to do. All of them useful - except maybe the crossword puzzles.

The bands I remember best? The Pressure Boys are the biggest standout, as everyone says. I was in the audience then as often as I was behind the bar. But then came the Connells, and thank God I got to see them in other venues, because I'm pretty sure I worked every time we hosted them. The Right Profile? LOVED them - to me THEY were the band with the best promise for making a big, national splash - but the album never came, and they vanished.

I always wanted us to host Awareness Art Ensemble, but I could not see how we could have possibly fit all of that large band on our kinda small stage....

Flat Duo Jets - the idea of the band always irritated me - just 2 guys, really? But the performance always proved me wrong.

Great memories. Really. A time in my life that stands out now not as an anomaly - but a perfectly normal progression from who I was to who I became - I would not be who I am today without Rhythm Alley and all it allowed me to experience.

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

It might have been the night we were waiting for Lifeboat - I don't know now - but I remember accidentally locking my keys in my car. I had to walk home and back. The fact that I had time to do that leads me to think it was that show. The fact that I had a car, too - I would never otherwise have drove a car there since it was within walking distance - but it was SO COLD.

At 9:02 PM, Blogger Tony Plutonium said...

We were not the best record keepers but I show you as working the bar for both Othermothers shows and for one of the New Grass Revival shows (I don't know who worked the other one, so it could have been you).

Awareness Art Ensemble might have had a lot of folks but we put more on the stage at one time with Rohrwaggon! :)

At 9:08 PM, Blogger Tony Plutonium said...

I was thinking last night about what music we had on before shows in the bar (the soundguy controlled what was on in the main room). I think Jeannette was partial to Guadalcanal Diary's "Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man" and I think Brian was a fan of Yello. If I got first crack at the bar stereo it was probably the Hoodoo Gurus - "Mars Needs Guitars", The 'Mats - "Let It Be", The Men They Couldn't Hang - "Night of 1000 Candles" or the Smiths - "Meat is Murder".

At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really liked Guadalcanal Diary and The Men They Couldn't Hang.

~ Jeannette

At 9:44 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I also remember all the funny guys - and girls - yes GIRLS - who would try a sad story on me to get a free or cheaper beer from me. The girls always tried harder, and always came closer, but nobody got a free beer from me. Or cheaper (we could not get cheaper). Not even my friends - few of them tried - they knew me too well. The "straight" guys that tried hitting up on me for free drinks... LOL

Crazy days.

I did not know then that I was learning how to flirt and tease - but maybe I was just practicing the art of teasing by that point... :)

Or maybe - just maybe - I was learning how to socialize with people while knowing I am the one in control of what happens.

Because, believe me, the come ons were hot and heavy and frequent and regular.

College town. What else could you expect?

No idea what any of them saw in me...

At 9:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unlike most of you, I got to spend quite a lot of quiet "alone time" at the Alley.
My normal-ish work week began on Wednesdays, when I was there for

deliveries and office paperwork. I stocked the coolers, swapped kegs... and even

found time to practise on the piano. I also cleaned and mopped and wiped

down everything (that could possible tolerate it) with chlorine bleach. And so,

half of my time was spent there during the daytime - lights up and doors open.

And I can honestly say that the place was a dump.

But when it was all finished and we lowered the lights and switched on the

tunes and took the board down and we were OPEN...the place was magical!

The bands made it magical. The people made it magical.

( And my favorite place to eat before a show? Obviously, it was Tijuana Fats! If

anyone ever needed to find me, they always knew to look for me at Fats!!)

~ Jeannette

At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(That formatted strangely!)


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