Some Clubs do have ‘em'!
The Chairman and the Tractor
It was some years ago, I was keen to get contracts even if the finance wasn’t good. I had started playing at hotels etc., using a Yamaha FS30, then a big jump to the Wersi Beta, and in the early ‘90s I acquired my portable Arcus.
Following some enquiring phone calls I was offered a booking for a Club in the West Country, a round trip of 400 miles and overnight accommodation at my expense.
We all learn from our mistakes but I wasn't quite prepared for this one:- it was bucketing down, fortunately my transport was a VW camper, and I could get the doors up close to the venue’s doors. Nobody about, except an elderly cleaner who “ dunno nothin’ ‘bout them things!”, There was room, a corner stage some 6 inches high, so I unloaded and set up.
The occasional person came in but didn’t respond to my “ Good Evening”. At 10 minutes before starting time I sought anyone who might know Miss Bloggs, the Secretary. She was sitting in a corner. I said good evening and told her my name. “Yes”, she said, “ What do you want?”
“I’m your organist for this evening”, I said.
“No”, she said, “ We’ve got…..” she tailed off, picked up a large sheaf of papers and waded through them. Not finding what she wanted she stared at the ceiling.
“No, she said again, “We’ve got John Dolly or someone tonight” “That’s right” I said, “ Do you introduce me or do I do it myself?" “Oh no – the Chairman will do that, he’s not here yet!”
I stood to the side of the stage awaiting events. A farm tractor–stopped at the front door with the engine running. The Chairman came in, shaking off his saturated coat and leaving a trail of mud.
“Evenin’” he said “ Bloody awful weather! Now, this evening, - this – er-evening-“ He jerked his thumb in my direction, “We’ve got ‘im!” He nodded in my direction, left the hall, revved up the tractor and went away.
The audience were polite but there were only 16 of them. I spoke to the Secretary in the interval.
“Rather disappointing turnout this evening” I said
“No” she said – her favourite word “ there are twice as many as we get normally, - next month we are having Mrs Smith’s two little girls to play for us. Would you like to come?”
I pleaded I was busy, loaded up, went back to the hotel, and drove home the next day through continuous floods.
Put in place
Funny thing, but the other filthy night I remember was to play in a small church, 8 in the audience. I enquired after the Chairman and the Secretary,
“Oh er..” I was told, “ They’ve both gone to an organ concert…”
Friends in high places
Then the large membership club in north Wales. I had set the Arcus up on stage, checked and re-checked the equipment, all the presets set for the music wanted with two hours to spare.. Half an hour before I was due on, they put a 5 piece band on to greet the incoming audience. Time to start. My opener went very well, and I pressed the switch to change banks. I went cold, as bank after bank showed ‘not formatted‘ leaving me with Basic, Custom and bank 9. and 50 minutes before the interval.
“Do you know?” said the Secretary, “ That you turned bright red just after the start – was the room too warm for you?”
“Not quite", - "I lost 90% of my special settings and had to busk the first half”
“I’ll go and get Fred ( or George – maybe ) – he’s a dab hand with organs!”
I made some mild protests, but the fellow came onto the stage,” I’ve got one of these at home” he said “ Mine does this sometimes, let’s have a look inside”
He took the top off, pressed every cable and slave with magic results. “Are you a Wersi engineer” I asked.
A lady came onto the stage, “Ah! There you are, Vicar” - - - -
It was a wonderful second half !
It pays to have friends in high places!
It’s a bit risky asking for requests, mostly they ask for old standards, but once in a while:-
“ Will you play ‘ The XYZ waltz for me”
“I’m very sorry, but I’ve never come across that one”
“But you MUST know it” – we’ve the record of it at home…”
John Back To Topic List