[Dixielandjazz] St Patrick's OKOM in the Brewpub

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Mar 17 23:12:46 PDT 2009

Just back from tonight's gig as a sideman in a Piano/Drums/Clarinet  
trio at a large brewpub in the King of Prussia Shopping mall near  
Philadelphia. Pianist and leader was Drew Nugent, a 22 year old Fats  
Waller style, high energy, strider/singer/entertainer. Drummer was a  
19 year old student at Temple University in Philly. And me, a 75 year  
old who has more years on him than the two of them combined. <grin>

The audience was celebrating St Patrick's day, Typical mall kids, 20  
to 30, loud and well lubricated with green beer and green martinis.  
The musak was playing very loud Rock and Roll when I walked in. Then I  
met the drummer. Hmmm, a bit young, I thought, to be playing the Fats  
Waller Book. But, I had played with the pianist before so I figured,  
what the hell, we can carry the drummer.

Scary start as the closest table had six people, 3 of whom were tough  
looking girls with short hair, biker style, piercings, tattoos, (one  
like Daxx in the newer versions of Star Trek) and staring at us as if  
WE were from Mars.

Well in the middle of the first set, we noticed that they and the rest  
of the audience, while loud, and seemingly oblivious, were actually  
tapping their feet, and sneaking glances at us. Lo and behold, one of  
the toughs came up and handed me a ten dollar bill. "Nice music", he  
said. We immediately started to play better and with even more energy,  
and Drew put out a tip jar.

I noticed that the drummer, like me, was looking at Drew for his cues.  
He watched Drew's hands, in order to accent correctly, just as I watch  
Drew's mouth in order to fill between his phrases when he sings. Not  
bad, I thought, this young drummer keeps good time, accents well and  
the trio is winning over a lot of the kids in the audience.

Then six swing dancers who I had invited walked in. They looked really  
out of place as they were in 1930s swing dance costume. We cleared a  
spot right in front of us for dancing, with the six toughs graciously  
moving their table back to help.

The dancers proceeded to dance to almost every number and to applaud  
the trio when the songs were over. The crowd caught on and also  
started to applaud after numbers. Especially the high energy ones. And  
they putting money in the tip jar which we shared with the dancers as  
we were being well paid and they were not.

The gig was over after 3 sets and as I was putting my horn away, the  
tough looking girl with the butch haircut, the Daxx tattoo and the  
piercings and grabbed my hand. "I used to play clarinet", she said,  
"and seeing you tonight made me remember the joy and emotion that went  
along with playing. Thank you for such great music." With a hug, she  
kissed me on the cheek. "Thank you", I mumbled. "It is a treat for an  
old guy like me to get hugs and kisses from young ladies."

Meanwhile, the drummer was being hit on by one of the girls in the  
audience. But, he had to get home and study for his 9:30AM class the  
next day. "Man, do I remember those days", I told him. as we left.  "I  
was doing the same thing in New York 50 + years ago."

If there is a moral to the story, it is simply this. Play Where The  
Kids Are. You'll have a great time, they'll have a great time and the  
audience for OKOM will regenerate.

Steve Barbone

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