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Life (and Near Death) on the Road

October 24, 2006

There are many things that give us a common thread here at FA and help make us the "community" that we are.

Without a doubt, right after the music itself, are the "Road Stories" that everyone can relate to (and hopefully laugh at). It was this idea that prompted me to email Ann and Linda to see if they would be interested in starting a blog of them. I said that the only possible drawback would be the quite REAL potential of being the longest (and possibly the funniest) blog in FA's history!

In my years as a working musician, I was actually only On-The-Road for only one short year. Actually I should say one LONG year as I hated every minute of it. There are some people who love it and some who don't. Traveling wipes me out, and I was VERY happy to settle down and to do film scores and studio engineering (and sleep in the same bed every night). Even with my short stint, I managed to have a few stories, but there is one that always makes me laugh out loud to this day. So here goes..

My friend John and I were a short-lived folk duo, with me playing the guitar and he singing. We were booked along with four other acts at a large auditorium in the middle of New York State just over the Massachusetts border. We both lived in Cambridge, MA (Boston) so it was going to be a somewhat long drive.

It was November, and we had heard of the possibility of snow, but in the Northeast US, it was basically a daily possibility. So, we did not bring any real 'winter' coats, etc. with us as we figured it would just be a quick run from the can into the auditorium.

Well, it turned into a major blizzard WHILE we were on the road. We still weren't really nervous about anything with the weather, but the fact that we were FIRST up to play that night made us drive a little faster than we should have, given the conditions.

We were about a mile away from the place with now JUST enough time to get there, run up on stage and begin playing, when we slid off the road. We both tried to push/pull the car free, but could not, and the fact that we had not seen another car for at least five miles told us we had better walk it.

So, dressed in only our sport coats, with no boots or gloves, we started the mile long walk in almost white-out conditions. I had the guitar case handle tightly gripped with my right hand and was trying to hold the top of my sport coat together at the top with the other, as the wind was constantly whipping us as we tried to walk. I wasn't worrying about myself so much, but John had just gotten over the WORST, and LONGEST case of laryngitis I had ever witnessed, and this frigid air was not doing him ANY good at all!

Anyway, we get there just in time to be LAST up instead of first. The MC is furious with us and yells that we have less than 60 seconds to get up on stage!!!

Well, I put the guitar case down and I then realize that my hand has literally frozen itself around the handle and I am not able to move or straighten out ANY of my fingers to let it go. I 'peel' each finger loose, get the guitar out, hope that is still more or less in tune (and has not broken a string), and run up to meet John on stage.

The MC (still very outwardly upset) doesn't even introduce us - he just points his finger at where we should be, and we begin our first song - a Spanish song that required me to do a continuous flamenco roil while John sang a melody line over it.

I sit down to play. Since my hand is still a frozen 'claw', I immediately get two frozen fingers deeply imbedded under the third and fifth strings and cannot get them out because I still can't straighten my fingers out yet. So, in one HARD spastic/jerking motion, I pull my ENTIRE arm straight out away from my body so my hand is now as now level with my face. Of course, the non-musical noise that emanates from the guitar is almost as scary as my body language!

It is then that I look up at John. He is standing there, his mouth IS moving, but there are NO words coming out of it!

The MC quickly ran up on stage, and with a really angry delivery, said..
"And finally, I like to thank our last act of the night.... "POLIO and MUTE"!!!

TOOOOOO FUNNY!!! (Of course, it wasn't then).

Anyway, I can't WAIT to hear some of yours.

Paul Marks

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at October 24, 2006 2:26 PM

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