The Midnight Movers recently played a memorable gig at a bar located in a small town across the Sound from Seattle. We had played there one other time to a small but enthusiastic crowd, so we thought we would try it again. Besides, the owner had recently remodeled part of the place so that there was now an actual stage there, unlike our previous visit when we played underneath the stairs in a corner of the restaurant.
We arrived at the joint and set up. The new stage was a good size, but there were only two duplex electrical outlets and no stage lights (unless you count the three small lights that blinked off and on in a box on one of the back walls). A large neon beer light was thoughtfully installed next to the stage where it introduced a persistant 60-cycle hum into my PA speakers.
We played to about eight people during the first set, including the owner, who happens to be a big harmonica music nut ("I've been playing harp for 35 years, but not professionally"). After a few songs he began loudly suggesting that we "have a little fun" and have him join us on the stage to play harp. I don't know what came over me, but I invited him up with us.
I figured I should play a tune along with the Big Guy, so I asked Eric, one of our guitar players, to sing a song. Eric called off a song in the key of A. The Big Guy couldn't see the keys of his harps for some reason (Earth to Mike - WARNING! WARNING!), so he asked me to pick out an A harp for him. I figured that this meant that he was going to play in first position, so I told him that I would play in third position. This information did not seem to make much of an impression on him. I gave him my vocal mic to blow into.
Poor Eric started the song and our guest began producing a torrent of feedback by playing incorrectly into the vocal mic. No problem, he just kept playing anyway. I jumped offstage and turned the mic down. Our boy was playing up a storm, relentlessly producing many, many notes and broken chords, all in the wrong key, played in a sort of mangled cross harp (second) position.
When the song ended, he insisted that we play one in the key of C, because that was his favorite harp key. My mind went blank, I couldn't think of a tune in C. But I did know this - if I called a song in the key of C, he would actually be playing in the key of G (sort of). What the hell, I sang another song while he wailed away in the wrong key again. Have you ever tried to sing in tune under these circumstances? I don't recommend it.
Implements of Distruction?Oh yeah, the customers! The remaining few watched this...event with that "deer in the headlights" expression, then fled the scene of the crime before the set ended. Our guest artist wanted to "talk harps" with me on the break, but I chose to drink shots of Wild Turkey in the bar instead, while New Country and Metallica tunes blasted away on the stereo.