Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Don't Lock The Door

I traveled on the road for two years with a hotel band.  I learned more in those two years than any time in my life.  For starters, I was required to be an extrovert. It was part of the job. This was not going to be easy for an introvert.  The band had to socialize during the breaks. Talking to people would keep them at their tables and when people are chatting with you they are likely to buy more drinks.   A failure to do this, would be reported back to your agent and could cost you a return gig.

I had a good teacher, Jerome.  Jerome had years of road experience. My two years on the road was less about music than it was about learning about life outside of my room in Philadelphia.   As I started to get comfortable with being a professional extrovert, I hit a few embarrassing moments.  Like the gig we had in the midwest somewhere. We arrived early to set up.   There were a couple of girls dancing together [Must socialize. Must socialize] , so I walked over and started dancing with them. A bouncer approached me, barked something at me, then proceeded to throw me out of the place.  Somebody in the band shouted "He's with the band!" The bouncer walked away muttering nasties. When I turned around those two girls were now dancing without a stitch on, or maybe a stitch.  They were naked.   I didn't know we were in a strip joint.   Embarrassing.     And to think, I couldn't blame alcohol.    

Jerome also taught me to hang on to hotel keys.  We'd save our room keys for every hotel we played in. If we were in a town and needed a place to stay, we'd check our keys  and call the appropriate hotel. 
"Hello, room 108 for Mr. Washington." 
"There's no one in the room by that name." 
"I'm sorry, I may have the wrong name. Someone ordered a pizza…"  
"There's no one staying in that room tonight."

Once we got the green light, we'd enter the room and make ourselves at home. We only had to remember two things.

1. Make sure we leave before the maids came to clean the room.
2. Make sure to never lock the door.
If you oversleep and your door is locked, the maids will figure out something is wrong.  

This routine worked often, except for once in Williamsport, PA.

The bands hometown was Williamsport.  Since we often played in hotels in the area, hotel staff knew us well.

My brother Greg came to visit one weekend.  The band was playing at the Lycoming Hotel.   I really wasn't up for sharing a room, so I had a plan.

I gave Greg a hotel key (I had a few), and some instructions  "Get up and meet me in my room at 8am." "Don't locked the door."

Greg must have partied real hard that night because he came back to his room, locked the door and was out cold.

I got a call at 8:30am. I thought it was Greg. Nope. It's hotel security.  "We have a black man in custody. We think you might know him."

Greg was trying his best to not get Jerome or me involved, but his excuses were getting worse and worse.   "Where did you get that key?"  "From a friend." "Who?"  "I don't know."  "You got it from a friend you don't know?"  

Poor Greg, he was sticking to his story.    Stories like that were known to get a black man beat by the authorities in Philly.   
Fortunately he was in Williamsport. Fortunately because he was my brother, they let him off the hook.   We had to return every Lycoming Hotel key we had.  

Jerome was a better teacher than I.

Meet the teacher:
Jerome and I in Seaside, NJ

No comments:

Post a Comment