Day #2 of the challenge…
From the ‘Cave of a Thousand Gems’ it is indeed a challenge to choose just ten.
We set the time machine to the late-90’s during my Moment’s Notice tenure.
I worked exclusively for the Moment’s Notice entertainment agency from 1990-2002 as a sideman, singer and bandleader. As a result, I know my way in and out of every hotel,
country club, golf resort, ski resort, casino and practically every other event venue in Colorado.
I played more weddings in a typical month than most people will attend in their lifetime.
I learned a TON of material, bought my own p.a. equipment and I worked very, very hard during this era.
This agency would dispatch musicians and singers to cover general variety/wedding/ dance gigs. You didn’t always know who you’d end up having on the band, sometimes it was great, sometimes it was not. For me, being a bandleader was stressful and difficult compared to being a sideman. I did not relish being the bandleader but I did my best, plus I needed the extra money at the time. On that note, these gigs as a bandleader did not pay what they should have. I should have been paid more than what I was paid, since I had no help with setup, teardown, running sound or anything else. While I was glad for the work, there was much to find fault in. The chief complaint was not having any say in who was sent to my bandstand.
Of the countless New Year’s Eve gigs I’ve done, here’s a gem from the late-90’s,
an emerald to be specific. Moment’s Notice slapped various names on the bands they dispatched. They called ‘my’ band Emerald City, and we did a particularly memorable NYE gig
at the Ritz-Carlton in Aspen. The Ritz had charged people a fortune for their big New Year’s Eve package. Our band was hired to play variety/dance music in-between sets by headliners Jack Mack & the Heart Attack. Jack Mack is a raucous, hip L.A. party band. Too hip apparently.
The attendees were totally non-plussed and weren’t dancing or responding at all to the headliners. The “Suits” (that’s what we call the uptight hotel guys with their designer suits, clipboards and ear-pieces) were going out of their minds and guests were complaining.
They begged me to rescue the disaster that was happening. Really, they begged!
Even though our male vocalist wasn’t there that night I was cool with singing my dozen or so lead vocal tunes, and we had the divine Diana Wood with us! We came out, all eyes on us and palpable tension. Oh boy. Even though Jack Mack’s dreadlocked singer was about 50 times more soulful than me, I kicked things off by singing a medley of “Soul Man” and “Gimme Some Lovin’” and the dance floor flooded with a sudden tsunami of happy people.
It was a slam-dunk for us from that point on…we were exactly what they needed.
The “Suits” were SO relieved. I’ll bet they regretted spending the money to fly in a big party band from L.A. Believe me, the guys in Jack Mack were not happy with the way we won the crowd that night. I talked with them about it backstage. We always did a good job for the client, but on this night we were like The Avengers, and we turned the whole vibe around for everybody.
I say “we” but I suppose it’s okay to give myself credit now and then for being the Captain.
Some additional thoughts on my time with Moment’s Notice…
Many of my Denver musical colleagues met me through this agency, and some are still my dearest lifelong friends. I’m very grateful for that, and for those cats who have remained my friends. I was lucky to work with such a variety of musicians within this agency, especially because they had all gone to college, and I was just a self-taught kid with no college. Still,
even without having gone to college I managed to be able to hang, and ascend to a position of leadership and expertise.
The variety of gigs I experienced during these Moment’s Notice years was surreal. I played in places I would have otherwise never seen nor been invited to. I learned a lot about chick singers and the catering industry. I learned first-hand about socio-economic class and disparity from a musician’s perspective. I did a lot of gigging during these years and my repertoire-storehouse was increased with popular music from the 80's, 90’s and early 2000's.
I eventually quit leading gigs for this agency when it finally dawned on me that my strong work ethic and preparation was not conducive to having random people sent to my bandstand that weren’t qualified, by salespersons who didn’t know what they were doing. I had no say in it.
God spoke to me after a terrible Convention Center gig that I’m certain took several years off my life. I had two completely unqualified singers on my gig, and the client was unhappy. The gig was rough. After the gig, as I waited for a half-hour to be rescued from the stuck freight elevator (it was 1:30am) I became aware that night that I was done having other peoples’ poor workmanship forced upon me. If it doesn’t fit, you must quit.
Overall, Moment’s Notice was a good thing and provided me with many friends and a steady stream of income during my divorce and single-dad years.
Thank you dear readers!