Tales of a Road Band is an ongoing series sharing my experiences as lead-singer of a touring Country Road Band back in the early 80s. — Corky and the County Outlaws. All true tales (memories) about some of the more colorful experiences that we shared together. Now for the first time, sharing them with you!
WHAT COULD GO WRONG DID!
Beside and attached to the Dallas Club (our home base) was a huge 500 or so capacity hall that was also owned by the club and used to put on these large “Super Sunday Shows” as they were called. Our band played in several of these and usually with great success. That is until one night, when onstage misery and adversity reared its ugly head. When the trials and tribulations of playing live came to fruition.
These country music “Super Sunday Shows” were large multi-band variety events, usually headed by a country recording artist of some fame at the time. Three or four other up-and-coming bands would open up the show and we were slated last, opening for the main event.
On this particular night Terry Sumsion and Stagecoach were the headliners and so we would be on just before they were. Taking our places behind the large drawn curtain, you could hear the rumblings of the crowd as we were getting ready to go on! “It’s a big crowd tonight boys, lets give em hell!”
BAD MOON ARISING
And a big crowd it was! There were well over 500 people there that night. The biggest crowd we had ever played in front of so far and me and the boys were ramped up high and ready to go! The local award winning Country Radio Station was putting on the show and airing it live.
The lights went low, the Emcee gave us a rousing introduction and the curtain pulled back to loud applause. “Okay Guys! Here we Go!”
The intro song for our set was Conway Twitty’s “Tight Fittin’ Jeans” and the band started it up as the curtain rolled back. I remember walking a few steps forward to yell in my mic “Hey folks! How ya all doing tonight!”
But something was wrong?
My mic wasn’t there? My mic and the stand it should be sitting on — wasn’t there?
What the? They forgot to put out a mic for me? The other guys in front of us had one right here! Right where mine should be now! Panic started worming it’s way inside. The band had already started playing and my cue to start singing the first verse was coming up soon but — I had NO friggin mic to sing into!
Then I saw it! And my heat skipped a beat. They had moved it! Moved it away from just in front of my band (where it should of been) and down the stairs (the hundreds of stairs I now imagined!) that led from the front of the stage to a jutting, single person spotlighted and very much alone protruding platform.
Oh crap! I thought, that’s where the headliner Terry Sumsion is set up for, not me! They set the stage up for him and his band instead of mine! And the crowd is still applauding, and the boys are still playing, and I’m thinking, move man, you’ve got to start moving!
So with knees A-Knockin’, and barely supporting me, I start down the stairs to that lonely spotlighted mic and stand that now looks to me (at that time) to be miles away and at the end of a very long dark tunnel.
AND YES IT GETS WORSE!
By now the band has already looped the intro once and is headed for two and I’m still miles away (in my mind) from reaching my faraway spotlighted destination. My mind is racing and my heart is beating faster than the drummer’s steady beat and now I feel the eyes of the crowd (all 500 of them?) glued to my every move.
Steady Wayne — Steady now!
As I’m carefully (don’t you dare fall!) walking down these endless stairs on rubber legs, another panicked thought hits me like a bolt of lightning! I’ve got my guitar with me! And it’s plugged into an amp way back there behind the band! And that’s getting further and further away from me and…?
Oh my God! — My Guitar cord is not going to be long enough?
I had visions of getting halfway there and “Boing!” snapping back from the resistance of the too short cord! Springing backwards in recoil and falling on my soon to be embarrassed ass. Or having to stop 4 feet short of the mic because I ran out of cord! And then what? Unplug it altogether and do without?
My mind was racing with these doomsday scenario’s and all the time I was slowly (taking like forever!) getting closer and closer to whatever was going to happen.
Oh Man, I thought! Please let it be long enough! — Please!
And it was! — Yes! Yes! Yes!
OH! BUT ITS NOT OVER YET!
By the time I finally made it down to my mic. the band was now looping the intro over and over. The crowd was slowing their applause and as you can imagine — I was pretty rattled! I started singing the 2nd verse first and mixing in lines from the 3rd verse and so now out of order, none of the mixed-up lines I was singing made any friggin sense at all!
Worst of all, everyone out there, every single country music fan out there in the crowd that night, knew the words to Tight Fittin’ Jeans! Everyone it seems — but me?
Eventually after the mixed-up 1st verse, I got it together and settled down. Got the words to the song (which I’ve done a thousand times) straightened out and back in order! I wish I could tell you the rest of the show went fine, but it really didn’t!
The drummer had a song and the lead guitar player (for some unknown reason?) kicked it off in the wrong key. A much higher key then usual that had my drummer shrieking like an adolescent school girl at a Beatles concert as he tried to hit the out-of-range (for him) high notes.
I myself was what you might describe as “less than comfortable” the rest of the way. I had trouble hearing myself on the lone monitor they had in front of me and with all that had already happened — I pretty much just wanted it to be over!
OVER AND DONE
When it did finally end and we were back in among the crowd with our family and friends, they kept insisting that the show was fine? That the crowd loved us and nobody even noticed what it was that I was moaning about. God bless their caring hearts.
However true or not, the band and I knew it wasn’t our finest hour. And in time came to realize it wasn’t all our doing either due to the unforeseen circumstances and all. Not deterred, we wrote it off as an unforeseen learning experience. Even joked about it a little later on. — Well, maybe once or twice?
I suppose things could have been a lot worse? Like, if my cord really did end up being too short? Boing? Or If I’d never regained my composure at all and totally screwed up, not just the first song, but the rest of the night as well! Either way, I will never forget that forgetful day.
The day the winds of fate and the Music Gods turned on us, with ill content.
The day that — “What could go wrong —Did!”
“That Night I Met A lady Wearing, Tight Fittin’ Jeans”
Tales of a Road Band: What Could Go Wrong Did!
MORE BAND TALES COMING SOON!
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