The Band Room

Volume 122, No. 11December, 2022

Bill Crow

Shelly Ferrell posted this on Facebook:

We used to play this big Florida club. The two guys that owned it were in the mob, but they loved our band and paid us great money. The problem was, one of the guys got busted for moving big quantities of coke, and part of his probation was that he was forbidden to go near this bar, because that’s where he did a lot of his dirty deals. The next time we played there, we were just starting our set when I saw the big garage door backstage go up. My drums used to travel in big flight cases, and one of them was long like a coffin. I saw two crew members roll that case out of the garage door, down the ramp and into our truck. The truck drove away, and 10 minutes later, it came back, and they rolled the big coffin-case back into the club and tipped it up on end. They opened the latches, and this Sopranos-looking dude was inside, just waving and smiling ear-to-ear. I’m thinking “Yes, this is how my life will end,” because if law enforcement got wind of it he might try to shoot his way out. But his plan worked. He watched our whole set and then then the roadies rolled him back into the truck and carted him home.


Lin McPhillips quoted Harry Edison:

“Well, this happened one day in March back in ‘37. All of us in the Basie band were sitting around the lobby of the Woodside Hotel in New York. It was snowing outside, and we were waiting for the bus to go on a tour of one-nighters. We were all like brothers in that band. I was kind of the baby of the band and took a lot of the ribbing. So, this time Lester Young was joshing me about my ‘sweet’ style, and he said: ‘We’re going to call you Sweetie Pie.’ They did, too, for a few months. Then they shortened it to ‘Sweets.’ The nickname has kind of lasted a long time.”


Kevin Larson told about playing in a band where the guitar player said he was quitting. “He had us over for a nice dinner, and afterward we went to the bar to play his last show. The bar owner was buying us shots, and everything was going great until the last set. An out-of-towner showed up wasted, and proceeded to get even more so. He loved, loved, loved the band, and especially the lead singer. He danced around in circles by himself, then tripped over the monitor and landed face first on the retiring guitar player’s pedalboard. The bouncer picked him up, and there was blood running down the guy’s face onto the pedalboard. I asked my friend, ‘Are you SURE you want to quit?’”


Jerry Wayne posted this on Facebook:

“When I first moved to Florida, no one knew me, and I was open to take any gig that would pay me. Even those I knew would end up being a difficult crowd. One of those gigs was at Century Village, a senior community ranging in ages from 70 to deceased. We were playing a favorite of the audience when a lady came up to me and said that we were playing the song too fast, and she could not dance to it that way. I asked her to turn around to see the huge dance floor packed with around 500 seniors dancing. I asked, ‘If it is too fast, why are they all dancing?’ Her answer was the funniest I ever heard. ‘They’re all wrong.'”


Steve Kessler wrote that he played piano for the dinner crowd at an Assisted Living Facility. “I played all kinds of music. A sweet resident came over to me afterwards and said ‘I used to sing in a band. But we did the modern stuff. Like Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey.’” And Marc Apfelstadt said he played one where an old lady was wheeled into place, front row, before the performance. She promptly fell asleep and remained so through the whole event. When people started applauding at the end, she woke up and shouted out “When will the concert start?”


Brian Hagen told this story:

“Ages ago, in a Top 40 band, our idiot boss booked us at a dingy joint in International Falls, Minnesota (aka ‘the lumberjack capital of America’). Part way into the first set, a big brawny drunk approached our singer, grabbed him by the throat and very profanely yelled at us to start playing some ROCK N ROLL! We all took off our tux coats and ties and started winging 50’s tunes. The dance floor then filled up with dirty lumberjacks and dingy off-duty strippers. Fights were breaking out and according to the bartender, that was ‘just these guys’ way of having fun.’ Fortunately, we got fired the next day. At least we were able to leave town without getting mauled.


Herb Gardner sent this comparison to Sol Yaged, who idolized Benny Goodman:

“In Boston we had Mel Dorfman, a fine jazz clarinet player, and also a uniquely strange character who worked in a bookstore, worshipped Benny Goodman and would send him a Christmas card every year. After several years with no responses, Mel finally gave it up. Around the following Easter he got a note in the mail: ‘Where’s my Christmas card? Benny Goodman.'”