It was a good thing I had nearly twenty years of gigging under my belt by the time I met female impersonator Craig Russell. It would have been near impossible deciphering each unpredictable moment spent in his company.
A year or so later I get a call from Mingus tenor sax man Bobby Jones to play a strip bar - Iroquois Gardens. I was truly not versed in life much more than a trip to church and or a run up the river in dad’s cabin cruiser. Jones was crazy insane. I knew possibly three songs and a bunch of Scarlatti. The stripper wants 'Shangri-La'. Nothing like the sound of drums, piano tuned to A 330 and clarinet. Jones doesn't give a shit he wants the stripper. We're playing along - me in some foreign key clueless of chord changes. Jones would yell ‘G7’ and laugh his ass off. As we conclude the rhapsody when stripper yells.. ‘You stink! Jones looks at her and says, ‘You stink too, I can smell you from here.’
That's just a sample of the necessary steps needed to endure and appreciate a Craig Russell. I always say the two craziest music icons I've ever worked for we're Ronnie Hawkins and Craig Russell. You couldn't tell them apart. Every moment in their company brought hilarity most would grimace or dial 911.
So we’re flying above the clouds when I hear – ‘Bill’s my music director – he’s from Indiana – Bill stand up and take a bow.’ I don’t dare look back. “Hey Bill, Mae calling – back here honey.” I turn slightly and every passenger was either laughing or in fear. “ If you don’t take a bow, I’m coming up there.” I raise my hand. “There you go, the boy’s in show business and he just showed some.”