Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Steve Paul's The Scene

I think one of the 1st times that I went to Steve Paul's The Scene was when I was 15 years old, and Velvert and I wrangled our way past Teddy when he wasn't looking and busy taking some other customers money. Immediately we went back into the left and to the dressing room. We always ended up in the dressing room anyway, so that's where we went and the bill that night was Buddy Guy (one of my all time favorites) with John Hammond Junior as his opening act.
Anyway, we walked into the dressing room and a bunch of black guys were hanging out including one big fat one who was crushing the couch and who claim to be Buddy's manager, who told us that but he had gone out to find something to eat. But there was his hard shell case containing his Stratocaster – oh my God, what a beautiful instrument (later Buddy told me it had been stolen -- what a drag), and Velvert asked if we could touch it or play it and the big guy said "I don't care, but you better take care of it because Buddy's got a gun."
So we took it out of its case and passed it back and forth between us and as Velvert bent the "high e" in an over bend that Jimi did a lot, bending a minor or major third, the damned string broke. Okay, the cats on the couch state "y'all better fix that, because Buddy's got a gun and he is going to be mighty mad that you fucked with his baby".
So Velvert starts rummaging through the guitar case – no spare strings. We both start freaking out and looking all over the place – at the time the Buddy Guy band carried two drum trap cases, one with drum gear in it, and the other one was full of liquor, which had everybody's favorite hooch in it - Velvert was digging through it trying to find strings pulled out bottles of all sorts of hard liquor and I asked to catch on the couch why they carried an extra drum case full of booze, and they said that was for Sundays, or dry counties. Hilarious. No luck with the guitar strings and now we know that Buddy's going to come back soon so Velvert opens up John Hammond Junior's guitar case and sees a set of strings which included a ''high e" and Velvert is clandestine asking "do you think he would mind?" And I told him a better put it on – there's a bigger chance the Buddy will freak if he has to play with 5 strings than John Hammond is going to get upset because somebody took his e string, so Velvert purloined the said string and put it on Buddy's guitar and got it pretty well in tune and everybody breathed a sigh of relief, but the circus isn't over yet.
We went out and sat at a table for the changeover and waiting for Buddy and he finally comes out with his band takes the stage and starts the 1st song, and gets through that one is starts the second song when I guess he noticed that the high e string had stretched out and during those little breaks between the piercing guitar lines and the singing he put his arm out and turned the tuning peg to tighten the string and the damned thing went down. Velvert had put it on the way Jimi did, so that clockwise is up and away from you is down which is the exact opposite of probably every guitarist on earth, and on the stage,
Buddy was freaking because as you tune one string on a Stratocaster sometimes it affects the other strings so that the whole thing turns into a giant mess. Buddy finally figures that it was a practical joke but all the same he has steam coming out of the top of his head and if looks could kill… Oh boy. Hendrix was due to come down later on and do some jamming but Velvert was so scared he insisted that we leave. I did not want to go, but eventually I realized that our friendship was a bond worth the price and we hurried out the door and up the steps where Velvert gasped with breaths of relief. I mean I guess he had been really scared that Buddy would have actually shot him.
I wonder if anyone else remembers that night and Buddy's surprise that when he tuned the string up it went down? The whole fiasco lasted like 3 minutes but in hindsight is one of those moments you'll never forget that are just hilarious.

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