memphismike2We're now fully entrenched in what a dear friend in Oz likes to call "The Silly Season". The holidays are upon us. The turkey has been stuffed and eaten, Xmas lights are blinding me from all corners, the social tragedy that is Black Friday has come and gone...and you've survived to read this.

This used to be a truly profitable time for working musicians. A decent band could easily do 7 plus gigs a week. Bars, night clubs, holiday parties...all packed houses and each a good paying gig. I used to often do 2 and 3 shows a day this time of year. Where O where have the good times gone?

I have a handful of shows this year. I refuse to actively book shows. Have for years now. I figure, if they want me they'll call. And they still do. I guess this is what being a "veteran" musician means. You can still get work just because you've been around so damned long some of your fellow old farts remember you and as it's the holidays, people tend towards melancholia and dig a trip down memory lane.

Being a musician, I'm no different. On Thanksgiving, while spending my day cooking, I amused myself with a memory of a Thanksgiving night show years ago.

The night before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest drinking days of the year. Some have stated that more people go out drinking then than on St. Patrick's Day. My one wants to deal with family sober.

Thanksgiving Eve gigs were always a good time. Packed house, good money, and everyone in the mood to cut loose. Thanksgiving Day gigs were usually sparse, so wherever there was one, it was usually gonna be packed.

One year, back when I was in The Rowdy Bovines, we had a Thanksgiving show at Kangaroo's out in North Hills. We played there often and always had a good turn out. It was a huge joint. Not really a rock and roll club though. If I had to describe it, I'd probably call it a suburban dance club.

mm turkeyIf memory serves, we'd probably played at the old Evergreen Hotel the night before. Michael Keaton was usually there when we did a gig around the holidays. Fun guy, as I recall. Our plan was to spend Thanksgiving with friends in Polish Hill, where our singer was living at the time, and then go do the show that night.

Our singer, James, lived in a pretty cool building and his neighbors were all artist/musician types. Polish Hill was filled with them. The plan was for James and I to cook up the dinner and our friends would supply the booze.

I arrived at around 7am, after about a whopping 2 hours sleep, to start the feast. We had a 16 pound turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies, etc. It all needed to be cooked. James had wisely procured a couple cases of beer.

Cooking can be hard work...especially when one is exhausted and on the border between still drunk and hungover.

Needless to say, we drank all day long.

Dinner was supposed to be around 3pm. Around 2pm we found out that our friends had opted to shoot heroin instead. They were gone gone gone kinda wasted. James and I still had about a case of beer, a bottle of wine, and enough food for a mess of people. So, we did what any young men in our situation would do...

We ate.  All of it.

Yep, the 2 of us devoured a 16 pound turkey and all the trimmings. It didn't seem like we were being pigs...but it was just soooooo good. And...we were drunk. People often do some odd things when drunk...or so I've been told.

Remember...we still had a show to do.

I'm sure everyone reading this knows the symptoms. You eat a big Thanksgiving turkey dinner, and all you want is a nap. Tryptophan has long been blamed for this, but I'll wager it has more to do with carb overloading...but that's neither here nor there. We were drunk, stuffed, and exhausted...and still had a show to do.

Load in was a blur. I barely even remember it. What I do remember is it seemed like we were playing in slow motion. James kept yawning his way through lyrics. It was hilarious. Finally, sometime during the 2nd set we got our 2nd wind (due to some mysterious powdery substance) and got the old rock rolling again. No, I'm not condoning drug use...just telling a story. And yes...bands used to play multiple sets in one night! We didn't have to rely on a few other bands to fill out the night. We had more than enough material to play for up to 5 hours. We were also a good enough band to fake our way through songs we didn't really know....another seemingly lost art.

We were obviously displaying just enough of our A game that another club owner in attendance booked us on the spot. James was messed up enough totry to talk him DOWN in price, but thankfully our buddy The Beer Gnome and I were able to fix that problem before any real fiscal damage was done.

All in all, it was a helluva fun night. It must've been. 20 plus years and thousands of shows later, I can still remember it. After the show, a bunch of us went back to James' place for an after party (I swear, we never slept!).

There on the table was the drying, meatless carcass of the turkey, and our dirty dishes. Empty beers were everywhere. One of the guests mentioned that it looked like we'd had a good party. That's when we told everyone that the two of us ate it all.

I guess you could say that the Bovines could really be hogs...


Memphis Mike is respected working musician in Pittsburgh and beyond. His most recent project is Losers After Midnight.

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Category: On The Street