Six nights a week dine and dance gig, Five 45 min sets, 10 PM start six month contract at a White Spot Restaurant. I had just got married (same girl, still Shelly!); this was my first pay-cheq gig/1973…
That playing grind was essential for developing as a heavyweight player. The variety of music was certainly an ear developer and kept things very interesting! In that era, the circuits were large and demanded lots of travel. Landing a large contract in town was sheer luxury! Most of the time, it was two week contracts and many all-night drives between the best and worst places.
The groups had to have an approach for the different style of gigs; dine and dance first set, mellow; then if you wanted to keep the job, you better have the dance floor packed on the second set. Cabaret, later start, later finish and strictly dance. My favorite the show rooms, two one-hour shows, featuring comedy, Broadway show tunes, filled in with heavy dance music. Taverns/no dancing, anything goes, 5 beers for a dollar, they better like it or else music!
One thing that really got me was, taste in music really varied and was very territorial. Specific styles AND tunes were expected, NO, demanded or else! Downtown maybe Lovetrain (The O’Jays); just outside of the city, The Most beautiful Girl (Charlie Rich); 100 kliks away, Proud Mary (Ike & Tina version ONLY!) and so on.
All weather mountain pass driving; many hours of prairie driving; ferries etc.. Not everyone could handle the life-style, and those who didn’t use it as a stepping stone usually wound up in rough shape. As we all know, parties don’t last forever!
We usually tried to sneak in originals when we could but it was tough. “This food is home grown, don’t come from Hong Kong…” Burton Cummings, Running Back To Saskatoon.
…a career in music? Don’t be silly, you won’t make a living. That’s no life for a son (daughter) of mine. That’s that! I don’t want to discuss it again!
Hey! Turn the radio up! I love that song!
As I stated above, tastes and demands were very territorial. One song that was always expected, everywhere in that era was Jackie Wilson’s Higher & Higher. I never understood why; not that it wasn’t a good tune, it’s just that if you were nearing the end of the night, depending on the TYPE of crowd, many bits of paper with that title were handed to the bandleader or EVERYONE would simply start shouting until you played it! I never got over that, it was phenomenal! An absolute crowd-pleaser, guaranteed to fill the dance floor; you’d better have a follow-up!
Shortly after this , Shelly played keyboards and sang with me in a four-piece band. We traveled around in an Cadillac ambulance like The Ghostbusters’!
*The Series …While Listening To Myself In The Mirror, chronicles the milestones, influences and progression of the musical career and times of Arnold Faber, Canadian Career Musician/Composer. The intent is strictly to inform, entertain and chronicle a 38+ year career in Canadian music history.