Monday, July 10, 2006

Hail and Farewell (again)

Now that I'm back after being gone a week I have four whole days to get ready to go again. I took most of Saturday and Sunday off (remembering that on a "day off" I still have to practice a minimum four hours) to do stuff around the house. A storm shredded some limbs off a cottonwood tree while I was gone and that needs to be attended. Some new eucalyptus that were planted recently have to be straightened and restaked. Four nights in Vegas will be fun. I am not much of a gambler. College level math just kind of ruined the casinos for me. I enjoy a decent game of poker and have set aside a modest sum to risk at the hold 'em tables, but I have no illusions about my skill levels. I figure if I can hold my own for a reasonable amount of time that's good enough. Vegas used to be a lot more fun.

Back in the late 70's and 80's when I worked out of Vegas it was still a "mob" town. It was the unspoken fact of life and doing business there. Business was good back then. The casinos that were mobbed up were great places to work. They always kept their end of every deal they had with me, the unions held sway enough that there was a decent cut of the pie for working folks. Back then Vegas was a great place for a working musician. There was always work available. House bands in the showrooms, freelance stuff with guys working the caberet circuit (Vegas/Reno/Tahoe), smaller lounges, even one cool ass strip club had live music. For a guy like me it was tailor made. I never cared what kind of music I was being hired to play. I enjoy at least some of just about every genre. I was brought up on jazz, I have played opera, broadway shows, country, rock, anything for anybody was my motto. I love the smaller venues like the caberet rooms in the casinos. You play two sets a night, four to six nights a week in rotation with other acts. Going to Vegas now that it is all corporate and themed usually just makes me homesick for my old home.

In old Vegas, if you had a problem, you could always get your side heard. "Sit Downs" could be arranged with a neutral party who would then decide the issue. Some of the guys who mediated were old school and would take one side or the other. They were my favorites. I had one of them decide against me on a contract issue and on my way out I was pulled aside by an associate of his and told "don't worry, the boss likes you. he'll cover your loss, just finish the deal." Old World, Old School. The younger guys out of Chicago would sometimes try to deal out a compromise, although that usually had the ultimate result of pleasing nobody. Give me New York Sicillian any day.

I think the thing I miss most about the old Vegas was that you always knew that your place in the system was valued and respected. The old "Mustache Petes" understood that shows bring in players. They also would drop some tickets on somebody on a hot streak to get them away from the tables.

I guess the downside was that when dealing with goodfellas you are always at risk for sudden physical violence. Those lads could go all Pesci on you in the blink of an eye. And for no discernable reason.

Enough about what's coming up!

Over the last week we really solidified as a playing unit. Mainly by playing our asses off all day on the 4th. It's like that when you're a musician, you go to a party and you end up working. With the folks that were there though, along with the work was a whole lot of fun. Because we went up and nailed two sets of what we are going to be doing this summer, after that it became a total musical free for all. Guests were brought up and dragooned into singing or playing, the personell on the stage changed after every tune. It was good clean fun.

My daughter, the gorgeous and dead clever Renee, was there. She was fresh from her public singing debut at our friend Mike's funeral (where, pardon the pun, she killed). She could not be prevailed upon to perform at the party or even the evenings after rehearsal. She did demonstrate her ability to flat handle my ass several times. She's getting ready to go back to Tucson for her last semester of Pre-Med this week. I'm sorry that our time is being cut so short by my work again. Ah well. We have had a great time together this break. There will be many more good times to come I am certain.

My son Matt is due back from his working trip up to Wyoming. He's been going up there to work with a professional hunting guide for three summers now. It's the life he wants to lead and I am happy for him. He'll get home just as I am leaving, but then, tell me a teenager that wouldn't think that's about perfect timing.

I'm trying to take time off from political stuff. The world will go on without me just fine. There are lots of good political writers out there. I recommend reading Shakespeare's Sister for variety and shameless activism. Also The Dark Wraith Forums for interesting content and truly thought provoking comment threads. Lastly don't forget litbrit for equal measures of moral outrage, great kitten stories and all in all a very high quality of writing. I'll try to do some posting from Sin City and will leave you with the words of Gram Parsons Las Vegas

Ooh, Las Vegas ain't no place for a poor boy like me
Ooh, Las Vegas ain't no place for a poor boy like me
Every time I hit your crystal city
You know you gonna make a wreck out of me

Well, the first time I lose I drink whiskey
Second time I lose I drink gin
Third time I lose I drink anything
'Cause I think I'm gonna win

Ooh, Las Vegas ain't no place for a poor boy like me No
Ooh, Las Vegas ain't no place for a poor boy like me
Every time I hit your crystal city
You know you gonna make a wreck out of me

Well, the Queen of Spades is a friend of mine
The Queen of Hearts is a bitch
Someday when I clean up my mind
I'll find out which is which

Ooh, Las Vegas ain't no place for a poor boy like me
Ooh, Las Vegas ain't no place for a poor boy like me
Every time I hit your crystal city
You know you gonna make a wreck out of me

Instrumental (Electric Guitar)

Well, I spend all night with the dealer
Tryin' to get ahead
Spend all day at the Holyday Inn
Tryin' to get out of bed

Ooh, Las Vegas ain't no place for a poor boy like me
Ooh, Las Vegas ain't no place for a poor boy like me
Every time I hit your crystal city
You know you gonna make a wreck out of me

Instrumental Ending (Electric Guitar)

Come to think of it, that place is a lot safer all around for us non-drinkers.
Also, at the urging of the gorgeous and wicked smart Renee I promise to do some writing about my sobriety upon my return. She says it's a vital part of my life and story. She's right.

3 Comments:

Blogger PeterofLoneTree said...

"I guess the downside was that when dealing with goodfellas you are always at risk for sudden physical violence. Those lads could go all Pesci on you in the blink of an eye. And for no discernable reason."

Reminiscent of an incident Hunter S. Thompson described in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"(?): He'd been hanging out with some Hell's Angels and getting along with them when all of a sudden while having a drink or something in a bar, KERBLAM! Several of the boys stomped him.

4:35 AM  
Blogger konagod said...

Perhaps if I had applied myself in college math I could have saved myself a few thousand bucks from those damned one-armed bandits.

8:43 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

Yes indeed Peter. Once I even went pre-emptive. I had been hipped by a connected friend who also didn't like this one young turk that I was being eyeballed and that the threat of unprovoked violence was real and imminent. I went up to the guy and told him that I was going to break his nose, then his leg if he didn't immediately step back. He didn't step back and I hit him in the solar plexus, then broke his nose with my knee, his knee was crumpled with a kick from the side. As they were picking him up to take him to the doctor I told him "I forgot to tell you about the gut punch which sets that whole sequence up. That was unfair of me and I apologise." The wiseguys loved that. It also forced me into a night of Viet Nam stories because they wanted to know where the harper they all assumed was a fag and a pussy learned those kind of moves.

kona: Indeed, not being attentive in math class can become expensive later in life. Figuring the workings of slots however, doesn't even require that level of study. Simple arithmetic can expose that scam.

10:11 AM  

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