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New Year's Eve At Johnny B.'s...


It’s a fluke, really—the only reason I’ve been able to post more often than weekly lately is I’ve had an extra holiday with nothing to do. (Well, not exactly true. I’ve been avoiding work. And it’s cold outside, so I haven’t wanted to go there. No gigs today, either, and no songs I wanted to work on. But I wanted to keep my hand in writing.)

New Year’s Eve was good. I opened with about a half-hour solo set , and then got to sit in later and play electric rhythm guitar (I wouldn’t call it “lead”) with Johnny B.’s band, “The Cheatin’ Hearts.” The solo audience got:

Eatin’ Cornflakes from a Hubcap Blues

The Termite Song

Can I Have Your Car When the Rapture Comes?

The Abomination Two-Step

Naked Space Hamsters in Love

--and for an encore, I’m Giving Mom a Dead Dog for Christmas.

Good setlist for the about-to-be-hopelessly-inebriated. Starts with something slow and sleazy, that needs no introduction (introductions may not be necessary much any more—half these people either knew me or had heard about me), then picks up the tempo (since most of what I’ve written are uptempo songs); mostly simple ideas, with a few punchlines and an increasing dose of sexual innuendo (since that’s the other thing an inebriated crowd is interested in besides dancing).

Two songs that were requested that I didn’t get to play were “Hey, Little Chicken” and “Dirty Deeds We Done to Sheep”; I’d hoped to do those later with the band, but it didn’t work out—we ended up doing all their songs. It does make one wonder where the requesters had heard them (I’m sure one of them I’d never met before). Has Johnny B. or his bartender been playing the CD I left them?

Are there some marketing lessons here? Maybe; if you “never stop selling,” you may end up selling things when you didn’t plan on it. So leaving the CD at the bar was a good move. (It was just a collection of fast songs I thought “Screamin’ Gulch” might be interested in playing.) The bar has a stereo system instead of a jukebox, and they play music constantly. Doing the solo set was good, too; I hadn’t planned on it, but I was prepared—these days, I carry little setlists around in my head, so if I’m asked to play 15 or 30 minutes’ worth at the drop of a hat, I can do it without thinking about it. (Come to think of it, I didn’t use to get asked to do that. Maybe that’s a plus, too.)

And the audience did listen, which I didn’t expect a crowd of determined partiers to do. (And I think Johnny noticed.) I am angling for a gig there, ideally with a band (I told Johnny with a band I could fill an hour and a half with music easily—that’s what we did for Cycle Oregon in 2006).

Now, what would be fun to try would be pulling this off in other places, too. The ideal spot to tackle first would be the Wild Goose in Ashland, where the crowd has gotten fairly used to me at the weekly open mikes (as have the bartenders—they don’t even ask what I want any more when I walk in). Depending on the night, I could probably draw a crowd—which is what venue owners want.

It could grow from there. I better get those press kits (“Joe is Great!” brochure, promotional poster, business card, and copy of the “Santa’s Fallen” CD) ready. Happy New Year, everybody.



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