Friday, June 20, 2008

On the Road with Sam and Eric

Okay, the heading is a bit of a joke. The show last night was within driving distance for all of us, but Tim's comment, "More stories from the road" inspired it. Thanks Tim.

Night 2 of my 3 night stand as Sam Phillips merchandise guy was way different than night 1. First, I left my daughter at home. Second, we had a long drive to get out of Orange County and all the way across L.A. county, on a work day, right during rush hour. It wasn't fun folks. But we actually made it to the Canyon Club about 20 minutes early, interrupting Sam's sound check. The Canyon Club is a very nice dinner theater with round tables and even a few tables with signed guitars embedded under glass. The sound system was good and the staff friendly. They had a nice table in front of a booth waiting for us and so Maria and I set up the t-shirts and kicked back for an hour. Sam and Eric were pretty busy so we barely saw them before their show. We did meet Marc Cohn's road manager. It seems that Marc figured that during his little tour he would just have someone from each club run his "merch" table. Well, the Canyon Club's staff was pretty busy and... well... we said, "Sure". This should be interesting. And so the third difference from the night before was that we were going to be handling all of the people buying CDs and posters from the main act. This was going to be a lot more work. He offered us money but we refused. As I told Eric later, if the money didn't tie out and we weren't getting paid I could go tell him to... well you get the idea.

At 10:30, the Canyon Club turns into an 80's disco; shifting everything up an hour. The crowd was let in at 6pm and Sam and Eric went on at 7pm. This meant, as Sam jokingly said to the crowd during her show, that she was going to be interrupting their salads. That has to be so tough for an artist to play while the crowd eats. Sam did her best, but it was so noisy, even those people who might have been interested didn't get much of a chance to hear her. Sam only did about 30 minutes, dropping the Steven Merritt song. My gut tells me that if she had gone with a more electric guitar based set she would have done better. The only way to get past someone's dinner is to play louder than the table conversation. But, Sam and Eric did a good job up there. The sound was much better than at the Coach House. We were off to the side instead of in the back, so we had a much better view. But it was so disappointing to hear people talking during the show.

After the show, we sold several CDs to new fans. I don't believe one person came up to us and said they knew who she was. That was very weird. Even in Orange County, we got a few fans coming up to us telling us how surprised they were that she was on the bill and how excited they were to see her. Actually, there was this couple near the booth who seemed to know her music and were always the first ones to start clapping after her songs. I was hoping they would come up to the booth. I'm sure there were more out there. I just didn't get a chance to meet them. A big thank you goes out to Rich who came to the show based solely on my recommendation. He kept coming over to the booth to get his CD signed and kept missing Sam who was bouncing around the venue after the shows. I also met a guy who did audio/video reviews. I couldn't resist going for the small world concept: Do you know my friend Kim. Of course he did. He knew who she used to work for and what she was doing now. It really is a small world.

Marc Cohn (I believe I misspelled his name last night... Sorry Marc) came out at about 8pm and did a solid show, singing songs from his new CD as well as classics like "Walking in Memphis" and "Silver Cadillac". There is a song called "29 Ways" that Maria and I just loved. He's got a great voice and I really found all of the songs that night to be enjoyable. After the show a lady walked up to me and whispered, "Why isn't he more famous"? Good question. The voice is there. The hooks are there. The band plays with a lot of energy.

After the show, the rush started. We sold about 50 or 60 CDs and a handful of posters. Marc came out after about 15 minutes and sat down at the table next to us. He pretty much ignored us, probably assuming we were Canyon Club staff. You get spoiled when you're hanging with Sam and Eric. Sam came by and brought us a plate of cookies. She is so thoughtful. I hope she doesn't think we are even though (I brought her home made cookies back during her Boot/Shoe tour). I should also mention that they fed us both nights. That was very nice of them to do.

At the end of the evening we didn't tie out. Off by three whole dollars (someone must have stolen a poster). Marc's manager was very happy with that though. We asked for a couple of CDs which he happily gave us and he then offered to get them signed. We followed him into the back and actually met Marc, who seemed a bit tired but was very polite. By 11:30 we were in our hotel room in Valencia (we're headed to Sacramento for the weekend) exhausted but happy.

The final leg of this mini tour is next Thursday at the new Largo. Maria is staying in Sacramento and I'll be manning the booth all by myself. Those of you who are coming to the show, please be patient... and please bring correct change! Largo is going to be great. Sam told me that they are going into rehearsals starting today for that show with Jay Bellerose taking time off from the P/K tour to rehearse with them. And the Section Quartet will be there too. It is going to be a great show. Oh, I said that already, didn't I. Well it is. And if you live in So. Cal. there is no reason for you to miss it. Hope to see some of you there.

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