Sheila's entries appear in purple
Dan's entries appear in blue.
Saturday, October 7
(Dan) "The Irish Are Coming! The Irish Are Coming!"
Things go from weird to worse this night.
Happy to be playing right in town finally. The Michael Collins Pub is just a skip and jump from Gaudi's epic Sagrada Familia, the unfinished cathedral that looms over town. Cool, a smoky bar with Guinness on tap and English filling the air.
Arrive on time for sound check, but whoops, what have we here. TVs on full blast, crowds glued to the set, wow, it's soccer (I mean Football!). No room to shove your way in, even. England is playing Germany for a very crucial World Cup qualifier.
Mr. Bar Owner appears, apoplectic. "I've been tryin' te call ye! We've got games on ool neight, ye cain't possibly sound check, eh booked the gig three moonths agoo and didn't know! Ye'll haif te coom back later."
He has an intense, hyper demeanor and we smell trouble right away.
Worse news: Ireland's match begins at 10 pm, goes to midnight. But it's okay, we can play directly after, okay? Just be ready to go by 12:30. So the stage is set for a very trying evening.
Imagine schlepping a band's equipment through a BART train at rush hour. Imagine smoke so thick your eyes water. Imagine setting up and then getting asked this question: "So then. Have you got your mics and leads?" Instant panic. A bar with no microphones for the band. "Never have them in Irish bars, don't ye know?"
Instant panic is detected by the guy setting up the 'mixing desk'. My jaw hangs open slack. What the fuck kind of wanky bar is this? We are being rushed, because the game ended and our 30 minutes time is done--time for the show! What's taking you? You want to get paid, don't you?
But, whew. He suddenly darts off, returns with a plastic grocery bag. "Got it from a man on the street!" he jokes. It's got cables, and yes, a microphone. "Kind of a sheit mic. Wouldn't use it if I were you!"
But use it we do, the toy microphone somehow appropriate. We have hewn a clearing out of solid people, set up and now play a set--a little short on harmony singing but with ample enthusiasm for a pack of drunk Irish. Our friend Birgit sits in the front looking amused. Alberto is starting to get a grim, Latin look on his face. Tempers have been tested a little. We are a little drunk. Sweat rains down from every forehead. The crowd cheers. What do you know, they loved that fiddle tune!
Our repertoire thinned by the microphone fiasco, we wrap up the set and grab yet more beer. But ay, yi, yi. More problems? The bar owner is not happy. Supposed to play until half-two, whatever that means. Alberto's grimness climbs a notch.
Well okay. Playing is what we do after all. Not really a problem of course! A misunderstanding easily remedied. Play we do. Play our asses off in fact. This is a freaking great crowd, look at em crowding around us. We're in our element after all. It's the Hotel Utah on a good night. Barkeep! Could you pass a few pints up here!
We play 'til nearly three in the morning. Cleaning up, it becomes evident that Mr. Bar Owner is not through with us yet. Certain problems related to time--we didn't start on time. Can't see paying the full amount. Oh boy we are too tired for this sheit. Alberto pulls me aside. "Dan, I will get the money. And tear it up in his face! He is (expletive deleted)." Alberto is mad tired, and amongst heathen Ingles.
Patrick is withdrawing into a semi-coma. Dan feels too wimpy to deal. Paula is already ready to bite off someone's head. But luckily, somehow, Sheila centers herself and becomes the Band Diplomat. Takes a breath, follows the pissy Owner for a bit, then corners him for a Reasoning Session.
Sheila shines. Will not argue, merely reason. Misunderstandings, yes, but blame, no. Surely you can understand that, sir. Difficult evening, with the football and all. Were not told to bring mics. Played a great show, eh? Lots of people enjoying it, weren't there? How she could stay calm as her adversary's eyes bulged and voice rose, is hard to fathom. But she has the skill. He is trying to save some money--but that observation goes unspoken. We will not leave, we need to be paid sir. Not trying to blame you, not at all! Just misunderstanding, no one at fault.
An hour later we are out the door with our wad of pesetas. Alberto will hang onto the money without the gesture we all would like to make. Bar employees all commiserate with us--geez, they have to work for this bastard! We are now free.
Deborah, the bar tender, wants us to come to a late-night speakeasy. So Dan and Sheila crowd into a cab for a 4 am visit to another, more friendly club, La Pipa, converted from an ancient apartment, somewhere in the old city. Love these Irish, and Scots, they really know how to have fun!
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