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Greg Nicholson's Ozark Experience

I was doing my first tour as a solo artist, in support of my debut album. Don't even begin to ask me why, but thanks to a crafty promoter, I ended up playing a show in the Ozark country of Missouri. This show was painful, humiliating, and hilarious all all in the same night.

It was a good-sized club but there weren't very many people there, despite the fact that the local radio station sponsored the show and even did a live remote there. (I later found out that the poor attendance was due to the fact that the timing of my show was a couple of days before everyone gets their welfare checks! I'm SERIOUS!)

Anyway, the show got started and seemed to be going halfway decent, all things considered.

Between a couple of songs, where I was talking to the audience, pouring out my soul on the personal meaning behind the songs, some guy from the audience started yelling at me.

"Hey! Play some rock and rolllllll, man!" I completely lost my train of thought and stopped. Then he said, "You can'tdo it, can you?".

At this point, I said, "Why don't you come up here and show us how it's done?". That shut him up, at least for the time being.

I went back to my set. Sometime later, I'm in the middle of a particularly tender song and all of a sudden, I hear the Eagles "Take It Easy" blasting out through the jukebox in that club! That guy had decided that it was time to "Rock and Rolllllll".

The owner of the club, this gravel-voiced biker lady, went over to the jukebox and unplugged it. Then she said, "Now Jimmy, let's show some respect to the musicians up there."

After that last interruption, I played a couple more songs and ended the show early.

After the show, there were people who wanted to buy my CD and went around the club collecting change, and ended up paying for the CD's in quarters, dimes, and nickels. One couple asked me to "hold their check" for a week or so, so it would clear. Another guy, and this is absolutely true, came up to my table, wearing overalls with no shirt (he should have been wearing a bra) and asked--I swear this is true--if I had "any of them 8-track tapes?". Keep in mind that this was August 1995!

I went back to the mosquito-filled hotel that night with very mixed emotions, but mostly saying to myself, "Do I really want to do this for a living?".

Fortunately, a week later I played my first arena show, in front of 8,000 people and it was an INCREDIBLE gig. And I knew, "Yes! I do want to do this for a living!".

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