These stories actually happened! If it weren't true, I wouldn't bother to put it here!
As this scene opens, our hero is working at mix position in the middle of a field at a 2 day outdoor festival. He is up on a platform about 3 feet above ground level. 52 channels of expensive mixing board, 3 racks full of outboard gear, and a tent overhead to keep the sun (and possible rain) off the equipment. Everything went fine the first day. The second day started out OK, but it seemed to be getting a little breezy. It was time to change the stage over for the next to last act. The previous act just finished and left the stage. We were waiting for all the musicians for the next act to arrive. Before they could all show up, I heard a noise coming from behind me. It sounded kind of like a freight train getting closer. I turned around to see large, low, black clouds approaching very quickly. I quickly turned back to the board to try to put things away before this wind and/or rain hit.
Too late! I heard a snap as the wind ripped a hole in the front of the tent at the main stage. A huge gust of wind blew one of the equipment racks off the top of another. I stood there trying to keep the second rack from going over. I lost! A new gust of wind blew me off the platform. I started grabbing covers to throw on the equipment racks. I was unplugging wires like crazy -- then the rain hit! I have never been so wet in my entire life. Within seconds, I was soaked to the skin.
Meanwhile, the rest of the crew, seeing what was happening, rushed out to help me. We knew it was going to be a total washout for the rest of the day, so someone drove the truck up to the platform to try to get the equipment inside. People were scattering like cards in the wind. Everybody was running for the shelter of the nearby buildings, but we were there trying to save equipment. We finally were forced to give up and leave the equipment outside while we ducked into the back of the truck for cover. That's when it changed from rain to hail! I can't tell you how loud it was in the back of that aluminum truck body. The hail sounded like somebody was holding the trigger on 50 machine guns in the truck with us. After about 5 minutes of going deaf, it seemed to let up a little. I got out of the back of the truck, and everybody started pulling equipment back together. The tent over the main stage had many tears in it, and several large pockets of water. Every piece of equipment, cable, and body was soaked. It took us a couple of hours to get everything packed up, but we did it.
I don't know if that was officially a tornado or not, but it sure felt like it. As it turned out, all of the equipment was fine. There were a few bent rack rails here and there, some cosmetic damage, and an EAW 850 speaker grille got damaged. We were still very lucky. I'll never forget that day. My underwear is still soggy.
Is your name Leo?
Okay, it's the night of the Leo Kottke show. Leo called the theater to say that he would be taking the train to the nearest train station. He asked if someone from the theater could pick him up. Jennifer, the ticket seller, said she would be thrilled to pick him up at the station. They told Leo that someone would be there within 15 minutes to get him.
Jennifer hopped in her car and zoomed up to the station. Upon arriving, she saw a gentleman standing at the platform with a couple of guitar cases. He was looking at every car that pulled up to the station to see if it was his ride. Jennifer popped open the car door and the guitar-totin' musician entered. He thanked her, and they had a brief conversation. They were almost at the theater when Jennifer said something like, "I enjoy your work very much, Leo." At this time, her passenger said, "Who's Leo?" Oops, wrong guitar-totin' dude. Jennifer dropped her passenger off and hurried back to the station to get the real Leo Kottke.
Picture this: Lainie Kazan (I'm very fond of her) often travels with her little Bichon named Ella Fitzgerald (after the famous jazz singer). This cute little fluff-ball is usually free to roam about backstage wherever Lainie is appearing. One night while Lainie was appearing at the Emelin Theater in Mamaroneck, New York (a very nice place, indeed) we had a minor incident. The band was on stage playing their introductory number(s), and I was waiting for a signal from backstage that Lainie was ready to come out. The drummer played his timpani roll, and I proudly announced in my best announcer voice, "And now ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Lainie Kazan!" At this point, Ella came running out to center stage! The audience roared with laughter, and Lainie came out on stage to retrieve her poor little frightened Ella. It was a marvelous sight to behold! Like the true professional that she is, Lainie went on with the show as if nothing had happened.
Hey, isn't stuff supposed to come out the other end?
During an event (which shall remain nameless) at a large theater on Broadway (which shall also remain nameless), I was out at front of house doing my sound thing. When the performer I was there to mix for was finished, I went backstage. There I found one of her musicians (who shall also remain nameless) standing in the wings with a pained look on his face. When I inquired as to the source of his condition, I was told this story. He was standing backstage waiting to go on for one number. The area he was waiting in was right behind the large riser where a portion of the band was seated. To his dismay, it appeared that one of the horn players had a rather bio-active dinner. It was probably this dinner that was the source of a large cloud of greenish foul-smelling gas which had made my friend very ill! The things you don't know about that go on backstage! Well, I suppose this poor musician couldn't just get up and excuse himself during the performance. Kids - take this as a warning: Being a musician can be hazardous to your health.
Jackie the Stench Man
Jackie Martling, of Howard Stern and Penthouse Joke Page fame, attended a concert where I was mixing monitors. The Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, New York runs an outdoor summer concert series. This particular concert featured The Subdudes, a Southern Blues Rock band with some very innovative instrumentation. Evidently, he is (was) a fan, and had invited the band to his house for a barbecue the afternoon of the show. Obviously, there was some connection, because I saw him backstage after the show, talking with band members. It was at that point that Rick, our front of house engineer came up to me to recount this tale.
Apparently, Jackie and his friends were sitting in one of the back rows of the tent, close to the mix position. Rick observed that one by one, people sitting next to Jackie were getting out of their seats and moving away. As the last one left his vicinity, Rick overheard the line, "Hey, what do you want from me? Those shrimps were good!" Rick noticed that as he got closer to Mr. Martling that his eyes were beginning to sting. This was obviously the source of the pungent aroma that had driven the guests away. Now we know that when people leave a concert before it's over, it's not always because of how it sounds.
More stories coming soon!
Copyright (c) 1997-2004 Mind Over Machines Inc.
Contents updated on 05/07/04