It’s 1969, and I’m convalescing from an appendix operation in Thornhill, Ontario. Some good folks take Kris and I in through the Anti- Draft resisters organization. Nice suburban progressives. Kris cleaned house and I lay up in bed trying to ignore the freshly minted wound.
After three weeks word came they wanted us out. I had a feeling big house man suspected... me of lifting the red felts from the upright piano to fancy dress my scar. So it was decided I’d hit up the Musicians Association for help.
I didn’t know this was a private club – I’m only a few weeks this side the border and missed on the fond history.
Anyway, I think I’m in L.A. or Vegas where they had a quality gig floor. Good opportunities emerged. No such thing here.
I meet Trevor and girl bass player. Trevor was from Jamaica – girl bass player – Planet Admiration.
Trevor has a gig – somewhere near Trois-Rivières, QC. It was $120 for the week. Two weeks on tap!
Suddenly, the brain is wheeling and dealing and looking ahead - imagining paying in advance for a new home room and food – keeping my baby in the finer things of early immigrant life. Possibly..
We rehearse – Trevor drums – girl wonder bass – I still have no idea why she held a bass other than it felt like a wood purse.
This was a very sweet nice couple. Trevor knew all those old Jamaica classics and a few O.C. Smith for croon power.
The trip was a harrowing experience. It snowed the entire way. I was in massive discomfort but willing to suffer the week for my baby.
We arrive and find the club to be a hunters/log man jamboree. A ki yi yippie villa. Bring on the hooch!
We set up and check in rooms.
I bust open my door and before me - a spring coil cot, painting of a sparrow or two dangling from a hunter’s hand and window facing the river. This was a place where wolves sang sweet melodies to sunrise and scared the shit out of newcomers by staring up at their windows.
We hit stage with a vengeance. Busting a groove only a sophomoric polka band could compete.
The patrons looked on like they were watching Satan’s new Vegas act.
Not a word until we hear, “ Green Green Grass of Home.”
We hit like pros. Next.. “Johnny Cash!”
We played “Green, Green Grass of Home,” again.
“Hey, we already heard that – play that “Green Apple!“ song.
I’m thinking – maybe a set of all things green.
They hated us.
Break time – to the piss can!
I’m standing there having a relief and this guy tells me to get out – he has some business.
I leave and “Bang” – a gun goes off. He shoots the fucking urinal.
“That’s what you get for fucking with Bobby Snoggs.”
Gun man comes over looking for my sympathetic ear. “That bastard threw me out last night – says I had to much to drink. I’ll decide that.”
About then five guys in red wool come over and tell him to leave me alone and down a tub of beer.
We make it through night – I call Kris and weep. Wolves ate, howled and cavorted then choired.
Morning comes - time to meet the boss who had been away.
“Hey bossman, I’m Bill “
“Get your things and get the fuck out of here.”
“What’s that black guy doing holed up with that white woman in my room.”
I’m thinking from the looks of the women night before – a fine babe in this hole was one with a known record for mass killings – marrying material. Silent sexy!
“Get your friends and get out of my sight now.”
“But sir, there is the issue of pay. You see we are all card carrying union members and the law says we get two weeks pay.”
This is when he snorted a large blood bugger – one that popped loose dangled for a moment then hand checked.
“Get the fuck out of here now.”
Trevor and girl bass, trembled. I’m still back at army post Ft.Campbell, KY and a week’s worth of ‘nam training.
“Sir, we ain’t leaving here without being paid.”
Man, did I put the fear in him.
“O.K. – here’s a twenty for you, and a twenty for them! “
“Whoa, it’s two musician’s sir – they should be paid accordingly.”
“You telling me she can actually play that bass? From what I hear she’s just a snack for the black.”
“Get the hell out of here now … I don’t want to see you, talk to you or know you.”
Trevor intercedes. “Leave it – let’s go.”
I remind him I have the union standing a province of way – and they are mean pricks who know how to inflict pain on their members.
We did as Trevor suggested and drove all the way back with forty dollars which covered some gas and faced ten hours or so of a blinding avalanche chasing behind.
Was that the worse gig of my life?
Hell, I don’t know ..