Every Musician who’s played any number of gigs at all has gig stories; usually about the bad ones. I remember fondly the Kaintuck Trail Riders gig. it was with my college band, The Generics. We played a mix of originals and eclectic covers. We were just out on summer break when I got the call from a local agency asking if we were interested in playing a week long camp-out gig. Since we were all young and broke this sounded like a great idea. The booking agent said “ you guys play country, don’t you?”
“Uh, a couple of tunes, why?”
“Well, don’t worry about it, I’m sure you’ll be fine.”
Did I mention we were young? The gig was in a state park near the college we’d just left, but we had some trouble finding it. 3rd turn on the left after you enter the park, said the directions, but that was an empty parking lot for a picnic area, no trail riders in sight. On our third trip from the park entrance counting lefts, we noticed a gravel road on the left that disappeared up a steep bank with a sign that said “Authorized Vehicles Only”. John, the bass player was riding with me.
“Try it,” he insisted, “what are they going to do, fine us for being lost?” I gunned the truck, laden with PA and amps in the bed, up the incline onto the gravel which soon turned to dirt. At the top of the rise we looked down into a flat field full of pickup trucks, horse trailers, and cowboy hats.
Quoth John “We’re going to die!” He also made several references to the Blues Brothers movie, wondering if we’d have chicken wire in front of the stage and predicting that these cowboys would appreciate both kinds of music, country AND western.
As it turned out, the people involved with the trail ride were incredibly kind. It was a 5 night gig and they were very accepting of our eclectic mix of rock, pop and punk on the first night and our hastily learned renditions of their requests on the following nights. The rain started early Wednesday morning. Wednesday night, it let up from a downpour to a drizzle and we played under our awning while people danced in the wet. One lady was kind enough to give us a thick foam mattress which raised two band members above the water running through our borrowed cabin tent while the rest of us sought high ground.
Thursday, we drove into town to launder our sodden sleeping bags and damp clothes. They told us to quit playing that night because the heavy rain was back. Their motto about weather was “if we can see, we can ride” but while they admired our resilience, everyone had retired to their tents after a long day of riding in the rain. Friday night we played again. We had learned two entire sets of country tunes via combined band brain cudgeling and loaned 8-track tapes (1984, no internet at all!) and added a little twang to our regular playlist to close the weeklong gig with a good show. They thanked us, paid us (the most sincere applause) and we made our way out of the muddy campground; damp and sleep deprived, but wiser in the ways of gigging.