Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Digging Up Your Roots: What was your first (memorable) gig like?

Brendan Boogie (himself and bands with his name in it, legend): My first gig was playing 2 Queen covers at my high school "gong show." Our gimmick was that we played "Another One Bites the Dust" and then all switched instruments and played "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." We came in 3rd behind a lip sync act and a group of football players who reenacted that SNL "Da Bears" skit verbatim. Thus began my distinguished career of finishing 3rd at things.

Dinty Child (Session Americana, The Funky White Honkies): My 7th grade rock band, The Flying Circus, was playing fit's first gig in front of a sixth grade assembly. We had already rolled through two of our hits, 'We're The Flying Circus' and 'Show Me The Way' when the other guitar player, who hadn't had a growth spurt yet and was quite short, sang a song. At the end we blasted right into 'House Of The Rising Sun' but he had forgotten to raise the mic stand, so as I stepped up to the mic I had to slowly sink to my knees and sing the whole song from there. The girls went wild and I was hooked.

Jim Larkin (plays with everyone, makes them sound better): First memorable gig for me was playing drums in my first band, White Shadow in 1989. We scored a summer series outdoor gig at our local town park, opening for opening for the premier Pink Floyd tribute, THE MACHINE. Easily the biggest deal by far for us. A band of 7th graders with our bassist in 5th grade. I believe my mother still has the VHS tape of the show where you can easily hear me yelling in the overhead mics to the band about the song we were playing, “how does it end?”

Andrew Kramer (Comanchero, Riverview Studios): I think the first one for me that really stands out in my memory was playing at the Metco talent show in high school circa 1994. Some friends of mine, as a part of the Metco program, were able to attend our suburban high school, for a better education and more opportunity than they would not have otherwise had in the inner-city public schools. It was a win-win situation for everyone involved, also allowing us suburban kids the chance to become friends with and learn from our peers from neighborhoods like Mattapan, Dorchester, and Roxbury. I was playing bass with a group called The Pointless, doing songs by Janes Addiction, Metallica, the Doors, Phish, and tunes by a smorgasbord of our other heroes, as well as our own originals. When my friend who was helping organize the Metco talent show approached me with a gig opportunity, we were elated! A chance to play in front of a crowd! A gig not in the Teen Center! We agreed, and practiced up for the big opportunity. Like any other band of angsty teens, our personnel was always a rotating staff. Right up until the day of the show we had 5 members. Then, that day, some with cold feet decided they weren't going to do the gig, but we weren't going to let that stop us, so we plowed ahead with guitar, bass and drums - no vocals. Of course, an hour before the show, our drummer backed out. We didn't want to leave the bill and wanted to be a part of this fund raiser, to do our part in helping the program that brought us friends and experiences we would have for a lifetime! So we carried on... We asked around in the backstage area and found out that one of the students had a kid brother who played a mean piano, and so we recruited him to join us on stage in the big school theater. Then we waited, hearts pounding, while the acts before us went on. A hip-hop group, a spoken word poetry piece, a choir, a solo vocalist, an urban dance group, and then finally, they called our name and the curtain opened! The chatter between acts came to a complete silence as the crowd looked curiously at our odd group of tie-dye wearing awkward white kids and our newly recruited pianist from the mostly black audience, of Metco students and their supportive families. The PA squealed as I approached the mic, and with a cracking voice I said, 'well, our keyboardist, vocalist, second guitarist and drummer all left the band, but this is a good cause and we are excited to be a part of it'... Members of the audience began to cheer and call out their support to us, and we began playing. 'Its a 1-1-5-1 in A' I told the pianist, and off we went. Soon enough the lack of drums was overtaken by the audience's hand claps, and we were jammin away! We left the stage as the whole room stood and cheered, and we celebrated amongst our friends in the hallway. This is the first time I can recall really feeling the excitement of playing music for others, and the warm response that night and during the following week in the school hallways was tremendously encouraging.

Liz Frame (Liz Frame and the Kickers): When I first got serious about making music I'd go to the Blue Star Lounge in Saugus every Tuesday night for their open mic. That's how I cut my teeth and that's the first time I ever performed on stage backed by a full band. I was so nervous about performing that I waited weeks before I signed up that first time. But once I got a taste of playing in front of an audience, I was hooked! The Blue Star was the best. I met a lot of great musicians there, some of whom I'm still in touch with today, and all of whom really influenced me. It was a great scene. 

Joe Kessler (master of the blue fiddle): My first gig was in 1989 at Bunratty's with a band called The Hollywood Indians. I had never played through a house pa before or heard drums mic'd up and was very impressed by how loud we were!


Steve Allain: Hmmm, good question. It depends on the definition of "first gig".
I was living in Los Angeles going to music school (Musicians Institute) and I decided to come back East to visit family over Christmas Break. I took a train from L.A. to Boston. One of the many stops we made was in Chicago and we had a couple hours layover for some reason, so I went out to the street to look around a bit. I opened my case and just started playing. I guess technically busking. As I was playing, a homeless man came up and started singing the blues with me. Before I knew it, we had a small crowd and people were throwing money in the case!

I had a great time and remember thinking, "Well, I guess this is my first gig". I don't remember how much money was in the case, but I ended up giving all of it to my duo partner, the homeless guy.


Another excellent cross section of our crazy community. Thank you awesome folks for contributing!

Hope to see some new faces next week!


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