Brokedown vans. Snowstorms. Floods. Brokedown vans. Clueless sound techs. Swarms of beetles. Brokedown vans. Vomiting vocalists. Drunken brides. And let’s not forget: brokedown van heaters.
They’re all in here – and more; all the makings of the classic horrorshow for the working musician, or as the title of the book says, Another Nightmare Gig From Hell. Nick Zelinger and Tammy Brackett have compiled cringe- and wince-worthy tales from players from various musical genres, letting the musicians themselves tell their stories. Or, in the case of radio personality Dayna Steele, admitting how she once mistakenly hung up on Robert Plant. (The caller identified himself as “Bob”; Steele, nervously awaiting her coveted opportunity to interview Mr. Plant, shooed “Bob” off the line. Yep – you guessed it.)
There are chapters that will provide insight into folks you probably know: you’ll witness firsthand Jeff Mosier’s unflappable “sixth directional sense” as he pilots Blueground Undergrass’ van into the wilds of Missouri; you’ll cross your fingers as Larry and Jenny Keel patiently make their way through one of the one worst soundchecks known to man; you’ll cower in the back of Big Head Todd and the Monsters’ snowbound van, stranded somewhere around Donner Pass – with only a refrigerator well-stocked with Buds and Coronas standing between them and cannibalism.
And then there are the musicians that you may not be acquainted with whose stories will have you digging further into their worlds: Donnie Christianson recalls the weekend gig that cost his band “around $4800 or so”; Chris Sheehan remembers the time he, his bandmates, and their equipment had to hole up in a borrowed apartment for “what seemed like weeks” due to – you guessed it – a brokedown van; Gregg Hammond gives a blow-by-blow account of what it feels like to hit the stage, grab your guitar, launch into what should be a brain-numbing intro … and have nothing coming out of your amp. Fortunately Brackett and Zelinger included contact info for authors whenever possible.
Most chapters from Another Nightmare Gig are told with humor, although Stephen Simmons’ “Hold Thy Tongue” is a touching lesson in humility and Natalie Nicole Gilbert’s “Short and Sweet” talks about a long-distance collaboration that unexpectedly turned out to be a posthumous one.
The best part of Another Nightmare Gig From Hell is the fact that the cover is stamped “Volume 1” – Zelinger and Brackett are already compiling stories for their next book. There should be no lack of material … I mean, we both know there’s a band van breaking down somewhere as we speak, right?
Brian Robbins and The Horseshoe Crabs park their van at www.brian-robbins.com