That Crazy Gig In Alaska
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The Gig In Alaska
By Paul Ivy
There is one experience I'll always remember as a musician because out of all the crazy things that can happen to a person who plays in a band this one really took the cake for me.
I was on a road trip with a group in Alaska in the eighties. These were the days of the big pipeline that was being installed up there, and it was like a gold-rush. People were coming up from the "lower 48" and making great money doing things like making beds, working in restaurants, and just plain working on the pipeline. Easy money was in the air, and there was a sense of lawlessness all around.
We were playing in Kodiak, an island on the Aleutian chain not far from Russia. Kodiak was a beautiful, raw, natural wonder kind of place. The scenery was breathtaking. The main industry was fishing and we were playing in a club that catered to the fishermen. These men and women would stay out on the sea for two weeks catching fish and make about $20,000. befieve it or not, and when they came back into shore they were ready to party. And they did. They would stay drunk for all the days before they went out again and spend all their money.
There was one main big-time fisherman - John, who sort of took to us, the band. It was good that he did, too, because whatever he said seemed to go, and we had heard some stories where the townsfolk didn't take to the current touring musicians and would make life quite miserable for them, so getting his "okay" set things right.
One night, John invited the band to have dinner on his fishing boat before we were going to play that night (The gig started at 10pm and we'd play till 4am). That dinner alone would be worth a story. He served us freshly caught King Crabs that were so enormous they covered an open newspaper size sheet which is what we ate
them off of, hot steaming out of a huge pot, Then he filled I Ooz tumblers with rum for each of us. No ice, no mixer, just a big glass of warm rum. By the time this all ended we could hardly stand up and then it was time to play.
We got back to town and the club in time and begin the night. It's a good thing we were young. We kept falling down and finally played a good deal of the night on
our backs, but the crowd loved it; we were a band they could really dig. Amps were screaming and the drums were covered in beer and every time they'd get hit, a huge spray of beer went up into the room like a fountain. They were cheering wildly!
My eyes were closed most of the time, and during one number the drummer screamed at me to open my eyes and take a look at the crowd. To my amazement, everyone in the club had taken off their clothes and dancing completely naked. All around the dancefloor were these little piles of clothes, and when the song ended everyone
went back to their pile, got dressed, and sat down to their drinks.
That was the longest night I can remember as a musician, and it was an
introduction to Alaska I'll not forget too soon.