I had a bizarre and great gig in Park City, Utah.
The film festival sent this extremely odd and chatty guy to pick me up at the airport. The moment I got in the minivan he started complaining: “What time are you going to the show tomorrow? 5 pm? I tell ya, I told ‘em I needed five hours off tomorrow, just five hours, you know I told ‘em last week, so maybe 5’s not gonna work, maybe somebody else’s gonna drive you there, you know, I mean I’ve been driving ten hours a day, and twelve yesterday, that’s just too much, you know, that’s a lot of driving, let me tell you…”
And on and on all the way to the hotel. At one point he turned to me and asked, “So, what is it you do, you’re a guitar player?” Yeah, that’s right.
“I’m a performer, too,” he said. “I do an Elvis show.”
The next day, as foretold, a different guy picked me up to drive me from Salt Lake to Park City. Nice, normal guy, which was a relief. His cell rang. “Jerry wants to talk to you,” he said.
I figured it was one of the festival’s organizers, so I took the phone. It was the driver from the day before. “Hi, Bill, oh did I call you Bill? I mean Mike, sorry Mike, I just got mixed up there, well anyways, hi, this is Jerry, and I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry that I couldn’t pick you up, that’s my son that’s driving you right now, and be nice to him, he’s a good kid, heh heh, you know, a very good guy, and once again I’m real sorry I couldn’t be there myself to drive you…”
I got off the phone. So, your Dad’s an Elvis impersonator? I asked Jerry’s son.
“Well, um, you know, for karaoke and stuff,” said Jerry’s son. “He sure is into Elvis, though.”
Park City was packed. There are something like 200,000 film festivals appended with the word “dance” going on simultaneously. My favorite was Thumbdance, which I was told is all movies shot on camera phones.
I anticpated a rough, talky gig, full of industry schmoozers, and that’s what I got. But, with a heaping dollop of pure weirdness.
In the front row were a pack of maybe five or six really big Mexican dudes in blue football jerseys. They were ridiculously into what I was doing, yelping and hooting. So weird! At one point I had to (VERY nicely) ask them to stop whoop! whoop! -ing. They stopped for a minute or two.
One of the security guards came over to the big, blue-jersied Mexicans, and was waving his flashlight at them. I thought he was shushing them, but in fact he was doing some kind of disco light-circle over them, egging them on. Apparently, at one point in the show he got onstage behind me and was dancing and waving his flashlight in time.
A drunk girl walks up to the stage. “Could you play ‘Tiny Dancer’?” I made fun of her, and her friends laughed, and she slinked away.
A few songs later, a guy walks up to the stage. “Mike! Mike!” Um, yes?
“I’m the percussionist who played before you, and I’d love to do a song or two with you.”
Um. Thanks for offering, man. But, uh, I have no idea what you sound like, and I usually like to rehearse with people I’m playing with…
“Oh, I totally get it, Mike, you do your thing, Mike,” he said. Like he was being magnanimous about it.
A few songs later, a DIFFERENT drunk girl walks up to the stage. “Excuse me,” she said. “Could you play ‘All Along the Watchtower’?”
You have an interesting sense of entitlement, I said.
“What’s the matter?” she said, entirely friendly and unfazed. “You don’t like that song?”
It was a pretty fierce gig though, even with the strangeness and the talking. Apparently Denis Leary came; the guy on the door told me he walked up, said, “Where’s Doughty?” and was pointed up the stairs.
A local Salt Lake guy named DJ Knuckles played after me; REALLY good, with turntables, laptop, and the aforementioned percussionist.
I was driven back to Salt Lake by the fabulous Spencer and Maggie. In this strange weekend of existential mishaps, the minor miseries were capped off when I woke up with a stomach flu, and enjoyed a very pukey flight back to New York.