Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Junior's Grill & Icehouse, December 14, 2013

Cold, Christmas, and Cowbells.

Of course, cold is a relative term. I realize there are those who live in places where it gets seriously cold that would think our little bout of upper-30s-to-lower-40s is shorts & t-shirt weather, but yeah, whatever. It was cold.

Like we always do, we had been keeping a close eye on the weather all week. At Junior's, it's pretty simple: unless it's raining, you play outside. Since there was no rain in the forecast, it wasn't raining Saturday afternoon and there was a private party booked in the pool room, the deal was sealed. However, the folks at Junior's agreed to let us have one of the propane-powered space heaters, which was pretty cool. We put it right in front of the stage and it helped a little (until it started running out of gas, anyway).

We've only ever gotten around to learning three Christmas songs -- "Merry Christmas Baby," "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" and "Run Rudolph Run" -- so we kinda spread them out through the night. Always fun stuff to play; I guess we really ought to learn a couple more for next year.

But one of the highlights of the evening was a visit from World Renowned Cowbell Player El Borracho. For those not familiar with El Borracho, here's the deal: he shows up, takes his cowbell (and cowbell beater) out of its special case, plays one song with the band and disappears into the night. He played with us once before and it was a lot of fun, so we were looking forward to it. And of course, he didn't disappoint.

Like last time, he played on "Southern Dog," which has plenty of room for things like cowbell solos. So, at the appropriate time in the song, he and I walked out into the audience and did the "guitar vs. cowbell" thing again. Then we went back and I sang another verse, but I realized we missed a great opportunity: the private party going on in the pool room. So he and I ran (yes, ran) back out, made a small loop and I headed for the pool room door, which was closed at the time. We burst through the door and I shouted, "Ladies and gentlemen, EL BORRACHO!!" and he triumphantly banged his cowbell over his head. About twenty or so people, adults and kids, looked at us like, "Huh?" About that time the door closed behind us, COMPLETELY shutting out the sound of Sean and Bill still churning away onstage (I wasn't even playing my guitar at the time, but if I had that sound would have been cut off too). Everybody in the room just stared. El Borracho looked at me and said, "Let's get out of here" and we made for the door. He got there first, put his hand on the door and pushed...and it DIDN'T OPEN. Oops. Apparently you have to actually operate the door handle to get it to open. I grabbed the doorknob, gave it a twist and we tumbled out the door and down the steps. I sang the last verse and the song finished in a frenzy of cowbell and cymbals. I just wish somebody would have captured the whole thing on video, but I guess it will have to be one of those "you had to be there" moments.

Visit the mysterious cowbell-playing man himself at IAmElBorracho.com.

A good friend of ours was about to move to Colorado and this was one of his last nights in Texas, so we played one of his favorite songs: the old gospel number "I'll Fly Away." I did a little of my little of my "preacher" bit in the middle and invited everyone to sing along to send him off in style; I think he was pleased. Thanks for all the support, David (you were with us from the beginning!), sorry we never learned any Aerosmith songs. :)

The temperature continued its steady decline, but somewhere in the third set, about the time we played our third and final Christmas song (the aforementioned "Run Rudolph Run," played slower and in a lower key than Chuck Berry's classic version), the area in front of the stage suddenly filled up with dancers. Cool! So we did our best to keep them going, and it went on for quite a while. There's something about a full dance floor that makes you forget about the cold and anything else that's going wrong, you just go with the energy. As we said over and over that night, "Thank you dancers!"

But the night wasn't quite over yet. As we were about to start the fourth set, saxophone player Walt Stike showed up, so we said grab your sax and get up here. He played a couple of songs with us and did a fine job as always.

Finally, after midnight, it was down to just us and a handful of people. Our space heater was running out of fuel and the cold was really setting in, so we called it a night about 10-15 minutes short of our "official" 12:30 stop time.

But it was a good night, and a fine way to finish up 2013. Major thanks to any and all who attended. Our next show, and the first of 2014, will be at Junior's on January 18th, and you know how unpredictable the weather can be in January. Here we go again...

Until next time,