[Dixielandjazz] Rocky Ball's Japanese gig

John Farrell stridepiano@tesco.net
Mon, 12 Aug 2002 21:00:07 +0100

I don't care if it is all lies, that was one of the funniest stories I've
read on the list, Rocky - great stuff,
congratulations. More please !!!

John Farrell

----- Original Message -----
From: <Bigbuttbnd@aol.com>
To: <dixielandjazz@ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Monday, August 12, 2002 3:52 PM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Re: [Dixielandjazz]Stranger even....

> Here's a memorable one... Playing at one of the numerous parties for the
> Masters each year in Augusta. This particular year we were playing for the
> Japanese equivalent of ESPN which was covering the tournament (can't
> the name). It was supposed to be a cookout but the weather wasn't
> Although new to us Georgia boys, the social and organizational structure
> within a Japanese company is etched in stone and the president of a large
> company like that literally has the power of God at his command (and the
> equivalent respect and unwaivering loyalty of his employees). Even before
> arrived at the party, the president decided he wanted to eat indoors. As
> began to set up a small sound system the room of workers broke into a loud
> cry in Japanese and they all began to RUN in different directions,
> to move the party inside. The hotel staff, normally in charge of banquets,
> seemed to have a Japanese television counterpart assigned to each of them
> that promptly began to "assist" the staff in moving the party indoors.
> Once indoors, we began to play and things settled in for a few moments...
> then the president arrived at the door. Upon his entrance the entire staff
> Japanese workers snapped to attention and shouted some Japanese term as
> (Something like "Hie!") All of the Japanese folks turned rigid and
> with chins up and arms straight by their sides. The American hotel staff
> too shocked to do anything but just stop and stare. Of course, we broke
> in a couple of snickers which drew some very evil looks from the Japanese.
> soon as the president was seated everyone went back to work and we began
> play. About halfway through Sweet Georgia Brown a harried little fellow
> up and asked us to stop.
> "Prease pray "My Old Kentuckry Home", he asked politely, in a thick
> accent. I looked at the president, surrounded by some very nervous
> who were biting their lips... I also noticed that everyone had stopped
> and the whole room was quiet. We went right into 'My Old Kentucky Home'
> immediately, as if someone had taken a VCR off of pause, the room cranked
> again and everything was cool.
> We finished 'Old Kentucky Home' and launched into something like a rousing
> version of Bill Bailey. Immediately, another nervous assistant approached
> asked us to stop... the music just died away. "Prease pray 'My Old
> Home' for president." We all looked at each other, shrugged and launched
> "Old Kentucky Home'. The room exploded with activity again. The tuba
> motioned to me to stretch it out so we took maybe 10 or 12 choruses with
> vocals and patter and all.
> While the long version was being played we really started paying attention
> the room. The president would whisper in a lackey's ear and he would take
> off, literally RUNNING, to accomplish his assignment. Then the next one in
> line would bend down for some instructions in his ear, take a jack rabbit
> launch into his assignment and at full sprint... it was amazing to see!
> Outside, the thunder and lightning was getting worse. Finally, the bottom
> dropped out of the sky and a torrential rain began. The ballroom had an
> to the outside with windows so we could see all of this drama enfolding.
> hotel worker had a Japanese TV worker glued to his side and it was obvious
> neither could understand the other. They had a massive open charcoal grill
> about as wide and twice as long as a pool table and they had moved it
> the eaves of the hotel to keep it out of the rain... but the rain was
> worse. Soon, the president called one of his assistants and whispered.
> Immediately, the assistant stood at attention and yelled something like
> "Hie!". The entire room of Japanese assistants bounced to attention and
> answered the "Hie!" with a louder "Hie! Hie!" and then it looked like a
> went off in an anthill. That room literally exploded with activity as
> EVERYONE began running in opposite directions, shouting and motioning. We
> were clueless and so we stopped.
> One of the assistants, while running past us, turned our way and, in the
> unlikely but polite voice said, "Prease pray 'My Old Kentuckry Home'". So
> cranked it back up and just watched the mayhem around us.
> Apparently, the president, facing the imminent possibility of a rain out
> his reception, had ordered that the big charcoal grill be brought inside
> ballroom so the cookout could continue. As if some kind of
> disaster plan' had been drawn up and practiced, each Japanese worker began
> follow his emergency preparedness plan. Although none of them could
> communicate their wishes to their American partner they all began to talk
> argue with them. Very quickly, about 10 of the Japanese gave up trying to
> communicate and, en masse, grabbed tablecloths and boards and lifted the
> charcoal grille and began moving it indoors. As the implications of an
> open-pit charcoal grille INSIDE a hotel began to dawn on the Americans...
> they began arguing and finally grabbed one end of the grille and tried to
> push it back out the door. The Japanese stood their ground and even more
> joined their ranks on the other end of the grille as they began to play a
> of war with the flaming device.
> Several times we became so engrossed in the battle that we would stop
> (while laughing our butts off)... but immediately one of the little
> assistants, while engaged in the battle, would turn his head our way, and
> from across the ballroom, shout very politely, "Prease pray 'My Old
> Home'!" Other assistants, thinking that the music would mask the battle to
> their American guests... would begin singing loudly as we played "Oh the
> shine bright on my Old Kentuckry Home..." Sometimes the tug of war would
> the grille outside only to be met by a combined effort by the Japanese and
> the entire party would be pushed back into the ballroom. The lightning was
> flashing and huge thunderclaps filled the place. The steaks were already
> the grille and the constant shoving in and out would cause the brickets to
> flame up. The juices from the steaks would drip onto the flames, causing
> flames to rise very high from the grille... the flameups were always met
> an unconscious "Oooooh" and "Aaahhhh" by everybody there but nothing
> the Japanese or the Americans from the contest.
> As the flames rose higher and the steaks really began to sizzle, the room
> started to fill with smoke and the smell of charcoal, good beef and
> fluid. Many of the Japanese assistants, unfamiliar with American music,
> panic when we got to the bridge... and thinking that we had begun a
> tune, would simultaneously yell, "Prease pray 'My Old Kentuckry Home'!" to
> which we would reply "We ARE praying My Old Kentuckry Home!" This really
> began to piss us off a little, now in our 30th or 40th chorus of the
> Foster classic. I heard the trombone player cheering the Americans on with
> "Remember Pearl Harbor!" and "I guess we kicked your little yellow butts
> Iwo Jima!"
> The banquet manager from the hotel would come in and begin screaming for
> grille to be taken outside. The president would see this and dispatch 3 or
> lackeys to counter that operation. These little guys would RUN over to the
> banquet manager and begin arguing FOR the grille. The banquet manager
> retreat back to the kichen and return with 3 or 4 of his assistants. The
> president would counter by dispatching 4 more of his reserves. As the
> argument continued the smoke was getting thicker and everyone's eyes were
> watering and most everyone was coughing. The smoke began piling up in the
> ceiling and working it's way down like a San Francisco fog. The trumpet
> player layed down on the floor and played toward the ceiling... the tuba
> player was laughing too hard to play and Peanuts Fitch would try to sing
> words but he began a coughing jag that wouldn't stop... but each time we
> would stop there would be a shout "My Old Kentuckry Home, prease!"
> Finally, the banquet manager returned with the cavalry and the Manager of
> Hotel came in and demanded that everyone get quiet and listen. We stopped
> listened. He explained the fire codes and asked the president to have his
> people move the grille back outside. The president grunted and, in unison,
> his minyons snapped to attention, grunted twice in reply and began moving
> grille back outside at double time.
> They brought in some fans, opened the doors and blew the smoke out. We
> launched into "Cakewalkin' Babies." Half-way through the 1st chorus the
> president came forward and motioned us to stop. "Prease pray 'My Old
> Kentuckry Home'."
> It was going to be that kind of night. Somewhere in the middle the
> brought his 8 year old daugthter up to the mic to sing a song. "what would
> you like to sing?" we asked. Before she she could reply her father said,
> sing 'My Old Kentuckry Home."
> And she did. And did. And did. Finally, the president came up to thank us.
> grabbed the mic and sang "My Old Mentucky Home" to mixed response,
> he grunted once and all of the Japanese workers snapped to attention,
> twice and sang with him.
> A couple of times we just ignored the constant request... whereby the
> president would send one of his lackeys up with a $20.00 bill and ask for
> Old Kentuckry Home'. Now they had the idea!
> As we were leaving, after 4 hours and about $800.00 just in tips, he shook
> our hands and asked us to come to Japan where he assured us that "My Old
> Kentuckry Home" would be a big hit. No thanks.
> Rocky Ball - banjo
> Atlanta
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