Before I started concertizing in nice rooms with the help of the International Guitar Nite, my pet project, I used to make my rent money by gigging in bars, restaurants and clubs up and down the west coast. I live in SF, and for a while had a regular dinner gig every week at the Cafe du Nord, which is a very cool jazz/swing salsa club filled with beautiful people, none of whom ever seemed to notice me when I played.
I also had a few regular after hours gigs-- 11 to 1, or 2 if you're lucky here in SF-- at a few unusual places; a Bodega in North Beach, a bar in the Tenderloin (where all the transvestite prostitutes seemed to hang out), and an artsy wine bar (one of my favorite hangouts) in Hayes Valley. Needless to say, the PO boxes of strippers, heroin addicts and other unusual vagrants started popping up on my mailing list as a result!! Strangely, none of them come to my concerts now.
Anyway, one nite I was playing at one of these places, in an area next to the bar which, when the couch was moved, functioned as a stage. A woman was nursing her addiction at the bar and was INCREDIBLY drunk (eyes crossed, stammering to herself). I was playing my 2 hour set for $35 or 10% of the bar, which never amounted to much more because hardly anyone was ever there, when this woman decided to come over and talk with me while I was playing. "Hey, what's your name?" She asked me.
I was struggling with a difficult instrumental passage-- I play sensitive, very introspective music-- but I managed to say "Brian." She went "what, what, I can't hear you." She came over and rested both her arms on my shoulders and brought her face to my eyes while I was still playing.
I'm kind of a high energy guy. I have to go to the zen center in SF periodically to empty my mind of all my thoughts, or I go nuts. I use my music as a way of centering myself. Everyone is always surprised at how mellow my music is, when compared to my zany personality. It's yin for my yang. I decided this affront to my performance wouldn't go on much longer-- that it was a test that would be over soon once the bartender threw her out. To my surprise, he didn't react. She leaned over my shoulder and started bantering nonsensical gibberish in my ear. I still kept playing. Thinking of the peaceful emptiness of the zen center. I was concentrating on my music, and this obviously began to rile her. That's when she started screaming.
She stood back about a foot away from me and started screaming:
"That's the woman we rent the space from," he replied.