The experiences of a musician for hire are the same the world over. A never-ending uncertainty concerning every single gig and added to that a general sense of weirdness surrounding almost every gig. Here’s a tale that gives you a taste.
Once a year, on the 15th of December, I get a phone call. The man on the other end of the line is a fat, very wealthy restaurateur who never has any idea who I am despite the fact he has called me every year on this exact date for the last 5 years.
“Hi is this ahhh how do you say your name?
Kynan is it?” he says with what might be described as the tone that emanates from a fellow regarded as Jolly.
“Yes, it is” I reply. “Hello, Alf. Good to speak to you again.”
“Ah, good. Hi Kynan, you don’t know me. Adam Simmons gave me your number. You see, we have a new years bash at my house every year, lots of fun, my wife likes to have a brass band at it, I want Adam Simmons, but it seems he’s swamped. He’s an excellent guy, that Adam. I love listening to him. Anyway, he tells me you might be able to organize something. Is that something you could do? Get my wife a brass band for my New Years’ bash.”
“Good good good, now go get some trumpets, saxophones drums the whole lot play some music, have a drink you’ll love it. Now I want American Patrol – you know that song Da Da Da dumda da. Of course, you know it, the wife loves it, so play that oh and also the Peter Gun tune play that. I don’t care what else you play. Actually, if you just want to play those two and keep playing them, that’s fine with me, especially Peter Gun. What do you play?”
“Oh right, oh, OK, bring one of those along…and some drums saxophones, oh I’m sure you know what you’re doing, just get American Patrol, OK. Right, see you then but 11.”
And the phone goes dead.
This conversation comes around like clockwork every year, word for word, and no matter what I try to do each year, big Alf blocks me from his memory without blocking the routine.
So I make a few phone calls get a baritone sax, a trumpet, and two marching band drummers, and we show up at his mansion at about 11.00 on New Year.
The party atmosphere is unchanging from year to year, with about 15 people sitting around looking fairly unenthused despite the surrounding madness. When we enter the house, pushing past the collection of choristers that are lining the staircase getting ready for their set Alf come s striding up, arm outstretched, huge feathers sticking out of what must be regarded in some quarters as a hat, shirt open revealing the grey haired mat on his leather chest.
“You must be Kynan, he bellows.
“Yes, sir, thats me, the same as last year.”
“Right, heres the routine. After the choir finishes, you guys come on for about an hour set, that be right with you? Great, what do you think of my hat? I got this at the set of Pricilla Queen of the Desert. I’ll put my fireman’s hat on in a while. Help yourself to anything; you want to come out and see my Lamborghini? What do you think of my chandelier? Had it imported from Italy, I hate it. I’ve got some costumes I want you to wear, go get changed in that spare bedroom. The chandelier cost me thousands, hundreds of thousands. The wife wanted it. See you when you’re ready.”
Despite possessing an impressive overweight voice, Alf still has to speak louder than usual to be heard over the police bagpipe and drum band performing in the kitchen. This would seem like no place for a police outfit unless you were wearing a skirt that these conveniently are.
Same drill as last year, which we follow to the letter.
And come out charging, determined to blow the 15 drowsily drunk guests off their feet. We start with a calypso number that draws an immediate response from Alf at its conclusion.
“Alright, boys, enough of that. Just give us American Patrol followed by Peter Gun and loudly.”
So we do for the next hour, at which stage it is the comedian’s turn.
When it’s all over, Alf stuffs wads of 50 and 100 dollar bills into my hand tells me he loves it. And says. “I don’t think we’ll bother with that Adam Simmons next year. We’ll just get you.”