Within the confines of a favorite pub, bar, watering hole or whatever you would like to call it, one expects certain things. As an example when one frequents a sports bar you expect televisions full of sports and not the Oxygen network. But are bars the only place where you expect something and then were so disappointed at the product you were seeing?
If you actually believe that sports bars would be the only location... well if
that's the case you should really shave your beard and leave the Amish.
We have all been in a restaurant where we are bombarded by terrible mariachi
bands and incessant table traveling troubadours in such a fashion that you slip
them a five dollar bill just to get away from you. While I'm fairly
confident that their job stinks so bad that those five dollar offerings are
really a gift of mercy.
It seems that every establishment that serves the general public has to have
some shtick that resembles that mercy five dollar tip. From steak
restaurants screaming at the top of their lungs just to announce that Matilda
is celebrating her 84th birthday (who because of the screaming has had what
could be identified as a massive coronary), to bars having a "house
band". The house band is the "wing-man" of bars that
cannot find any other bands to play that specific evening.
Look this is not an attack on musicians, it cannot be an easy to play in
front of any amount of people but for these bands there is some sort of issue and this isn't an indictment of a
single act, performer or band. What I am merely saying is that there is a
reason a band becomes a "house band" and to compound that there is
usually a reason that they are available at a minutes notice. I have always had a certain amount of trepidation regarding "house bands". I think
that the straw that finally broke the camels back was following a comedy
performance I had recently attended.
After the performance (which was funnier than all get-out) we rested a bit
and watched as a band came out to play the instruments that were like props for
the comedian (they shared the stage). The band had this uneasy feel to
it, it was as if they had never played together before (and they had, the lead
singer said they had performed together for four years). In all honesty
this band reminded me of a garage band and not an act that has it
together. And as I an staying honest I have to tell you that I saw this
band TWICE that weekend (the comedian was that good), so I can tell you with
great vigor (vigor?) that both nights this band played exactly the same.
It really isn't the fault of the band (well not entirely), some of the fault
lies within the venue for booking them so often. Think about it, the
venue must know the band isn't the best but they keep booking them. It is also the fault of those that stick around, continue to buy drinks and I think
its safe to say that a playlist that includes the first two songs by Johnny
Cash followed by a Beach Boys song and then Van Morrison can help fuel the contempt. Just a bit
ambitious wouldn't you agree?
Johnny Cash songs albeit not sacred BUT should only be tried by musicians
that can pull it off. Cash's signature sound works when it is played
properly but to make it muddier than a Redneck's "Wed'in" reception
down on Slow Skunk Creek is just a bad, bad thing. Instead of trying to do anything like Cash, it
became painfully obvious that they would play music however they wanted but use
Cash's lyrics. Hey I get trying to put your own spin on something but
just plain STOP! The songs "Ring of Fire" and "Folsom
Prison Blues" should at least have an attempt to sound right. It's Johnny
Cash not Lady Gaga (butcher the crap out of her stuff, it will probably sound
So as I disappeared into the smog of the casino in which I was visiting that
evening I began to hear Van Morrison cut its way through the second, third,
forth and fifth hand smoke. Much like Cash, Van Morrison songs have to be
done the correct way or you risk the chance of sounding like a terrible house
band. Based on the lyrics I could hear it should be noted that I BELIEVE
that the song was "Brown Eyed Girl" but by that point I couldn't
handle it further so I made my successful escape.
Following the comedians set the next night I decided to stick around just to see if it the
set the night before was simply a bad night or a complete abomination and much
to my surprise (Not) the attempt was exactly the same. Unfortunately at
this juncture they decided to do two Van Morrison songs, TWO... So
following the butchery that was indeed"Brown Eyed Girl" and
"Moondance" (its too painful to talk about further) and what was
seemingly a Willie Nelson song I had to leave.
House bands can be a great thing if the band is talented, disciplined and
what's the other word... oh yeah, good. Unfortunately for those
individuals that remained from two excellent sets by the comedian, the band did
not deliver. I do believe that as this is an election year I will try to
get a referendum on the ballot that will in essence ban every bad house band
(hey dumber, much dumber things have been passed now haven't they). Come
to think of it, forget I ever mentioned the whole ban thing. The
Constitution has been pillaged enough already!