Whether in a Holiday Inn band or a multi-million unit-selling mega rock extravaganza, going on the road retains its unpredictability. Like with a cab shift during which anybody takes you anywhere on all manner of adventures, traveling with a musical outfit offers a similar experience.
Laboring as a full-time musician for more than ten years of my life, I certainly had my own. But the two potholes I’d like to talk about today befell others who despite their million-selling success, couldn’t avoid a shake-my-head engagement they could have lived without.
The year was 1998 or 1999 when I heard that two country western acts I really liked (LEANN WOMACK and THE KINLEYS) would be playing between the World Trade Centers Thursday at noon for the Wall Street workaday lunchtime crowd. As a guy who’d been on the road, I had to wonder “who the fuck booked a gig like that?!?! Only a promoter/manager who’d never played on the road himself!”
With most of my Press and Voice obligations taken care of, I knew I could take a couple of hours out for this rare treat: a real live (and free) C & W concert in New York. While chairs were set up between the towers, it didn’t appear that anybody really knew there would be a concert – let alone that two of Nashville’s most successful and best acts would be playing. But by the time the Kinleys had warmed up the crowd, a sizeable number of people began to gather.
Out came Leann without a drummer (bummer) looking bleary-eyed as if she was wondering “what the fuck am I doing here at noon?” And despite being drummerless and tired from a gig the night before (no doubt), Ms. Womack soldiered-up and seduced New York with her version of from-the-heart Texas rockin’ country. It was like…all those jaded New York nine to fivers paused to notice “Yo! This girl is for real! Who is she?” Personally, I left tingling. Leann might not be the best-looking woman to ever sing a country song…but she’s got a lot of heart and soul. Though I might not fantasize about having sex with her, I could listen to Leann sing anytime and anywhere!
Now the reason I’m on this subject today is a result of my finding an odd video on You Tube of two really cute country girls I also admire playing in of all places…Chicago…before a White Sox game. Now the duo already had a #1 country hit and a couple of more top 40 numbers so why they’d been booked into this disaster beats anybody’s guess. But as you can see in the video, the crowd is really thin and the applause barely audible. Added to that the sight of MADDIE AND TAE in White Sox jerseys makes me cringe and feel for them. No doubt when it was all over, the girls had their shake-my-head moment; “Uh, management! Whose brilliant idea was that to book us at a fucking baseball game up north?”
The girls gave it up like pros but I can’t imagine that they sold too many records or won too many fans on that performance. And not their fault. Bad booker! Pothole on the road. Here’s that video and my favorite Leann song.