From My Hometown: The Night I Turned Professional

Discussion in 'Tall Tales & Fabrications' started by Bill Boggs, Jun 7, 2021.

  1. Bill Boggs

    Bill Boggs Veteran Member
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    I was sitting out on my patio sipping a cup of tea

    when my roommate stepped out and said a man

    wanted to talk to me. Who is it, I asked? She

    didn’t know and when he walk on the patio I didn’t

    either.

    “Howdy,” I said, “What can I do for you?”
    ‘I guess I’ve got a pitch for you to consider,’
    he says.

    ‘I’m in a band and we have a gig tonight at
    The Depot and we’d like you to sit in with us. We’re
    on first. The gig is two and a half hours. We’ll pay you.’

    “To do what,” I ask?

    Play harmonica.’

    “You’ve got to be kidding,” I said. “I’ve never played
    with a band. Your band must not be any good to use
    somebody like me. How did you know I played
    harmonica?”

    ‘I’ve got a friend who is a part-time musician. He’s taking
    classes a OU. His professor said his dad played harmonica.

    His dad would be you and my brother lives just the street
    over there. He said he’s heard you play.’

    “Why, all of a sudden, do you need another band member,” I asked?

    ‘We’ve got a guitar player out sick.’

    “Why don’t your hire another another guitar player,” I asked?

    "We tried, too late to find somebody. No luck.’

    “What time do you start, and what are you going to pay me’?



    'Seventy-five dollars, is that okay?’ We start at seven-thirty, play till ten and then another band takes over.’

    “Well, I’d do it but I don’t drive at night. Somebody will have to pick me up and bring me back here,” I said.

    ‘No problem.’

    “And, one other thing, what kind of music you play, mostly?”

    ‘Country, mostly.’

    Somebody will have to tell me before each song what key its in?

    ‘No problem,’ he said. ‘I’m Phil Mack. I’m the drummer. You can stand back by me and I’ll clue you in.’

    I’ll need a chair; can’t stand the whole time. I said. He laughed and said, ‘Pick you up at seven.’

    He did. The place was almost full. I found a folding chair and borrowed an old amp from Phil. I had a long tube on my oxygen supply and Phil’s amp had a long chord. Phil introduced me to the other band members. and I was asked if I wanted to solo. I said maybe a short one, toward the end somewhere.

    I didn’t know the first song (heck I hardly knew any of them) and I held off but soon got the tempo and added a few licks here and there.

    Soon I was adding a little something to each song.

    I had fun and time passed hurriedly. When It came time for my solo, I sat in the chair, back to the audience, mike in my right hand, harp in left, and played, an old guitar song, “Under The Double Eagle."

    Got a nice round of applause, a few whistles, and a call for more, more.

    After the singer finished a few calls came out to bring back the harp man, and he asked me to play another. And asked if I could come up to the front mike where people could see me. I couldn't, oxygen tubing to short. But the band members spread out some so I could be seen. I stood up briefly and introduced myself, and said to the drummer, Let’s do it to it, and we cut a rendition of another old one, “Tight Fitting Jeans.”

    I had fun. Had a drink with them afterwards. Mack took me home.

    He said, "You're good. Who have you played with before? We’d like you to play with us whenever we’re here in town."

    I thanked him for the compliment and declined. But said, 'I will come hear you when you’re here.' We shook hands wished each other luck. That was my gig. Now I’m a retired professional.
     
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  2. Shirley Martin

    Shirley Martin Supreme Member
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  3. Faye Fox

    Faye Fox Very Well-Known Member
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    Well, I was buying it hook, line, and sinker until you mentioned playing "Tight Fitting Jeans." Somehow that doesn't sound like a good piece for a harmonica solo. It also indicates your mind wasn't on your work but rather how ladies filled out their rigid 100% cotton jeans in a time before super stretch poly lycra jeans. Those old jeans when skin-tight, were harder to move in but did hide numerous issues that might be seen as flaws to the male eye. Apparently, something worthy of singing about, and old Conway did a great job vocalizing it. I was puzzled that an old harp man wouldn't talk more about his mic, maybe an old Astatic JT 30 cupped in both hands using the index finger and thumb to hold the harmonica. Of course, you mention playing country, so the old blues method of holding might have been inappropriate. Sitting for 2 1/2 hours in a folding chair next to the drummer may account for why you didn't play "Stand by your Man." Since you are from Wichita Falls and were on an oxygen line I was surprised you didn't play Campbells, "The Wichita Lineman." I think Campbell was singing about Kansas, so I withdraw that statement.

    Regardless of whether fact or fiction or a hybrid, it was a fun read.
     
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    Last edited: Jun 8, 2021
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  4. Bill Boggs

    Bill Boggs Veteran Member
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    Maybe I should put more thought into what I’m saying. I don’t know the words to TightFitting but it’s a great melody.
    and plays well on the harmonica, but you are right. A solo might be questionable.
     
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