So I’m working a gig in Chicago as a piano player and there were probably 6 or 7 women in the room tonight who were VERY opinionated about what I was playing and singing at the piano. It was kind of sad. This was one of my favorite Chicago bars. Last night was the same way. Women who would give the thumbs down to the song I was playing or give the universal signal to cut the song. I didn’t know why that was happening. It was rare that I had that many young ladies who were so eager to express their views so openly. Luckily, and as is most often the case, for every one dissatisfied patron, there are at least 3 or 4 VERY happy people to more than balance things out and maintain equilibrium.
So after the third time of the yucky face being made by this woman who didn’t look a day over 35, I finally had to tell this one girl, who was celebrating her “23rd birthday” (Yeah, Right!), that it was okay to make a request instead of just putting down and dismissing what was already requested by someone else. She seemed offended that I would make that recommendation to her. It was like she expected me to KNOW what she wanted to hear or something.
I handed her a pencil and a request pad and said let me know what you want to hear. She appeared perplexed. Positively mystified. Befuddled even. No. I take that back. She was kind of befuddled anyway. I mean, alcohol HAD been consumed in great quantities by this time of night. Even so, she was searching her meager conscious memory banks for a song to ask me to play.
As she started to pull out her phone “to look up songs” (or so she said), the women on either side of her came to her rescue.
They saddled up to her and started talking her through the various selections that may or may not be within a definite possibility of being performed by me; the Chicago piano player in the bar. (It does help that I put out a song list of over 1000 songs that I know.)
She eventually came up with a song request, scrawled it down on the pad and placed it on the piano.
I pretended not to notice.
She pushed it closer.
I continued playing ‘Desperado’.
Then she picked it up again and waved in front of me beckoning me to take the piece of paper from her pasty hand.
I looked right at her, smiled … then continued singing.
One of the ladies next to her whispered in her ear and pointed towards the tip jar.
Now I have to say here, that I usually don’t “play to the tip jar”. It’s crass and it doesn’t really make a difference. Some people tip and other people don’t. Besides, I really do want to play everything everyone asks for. It’s one of the reasons I’m a decent entertainer. I want everyone to have a good time. But I was having too much fun with our Birthday Girl to stop.
She placed a crumpled up 5 spot on the request and grimaced at me.
I immediately stopped and looked at her request. It was ‘Baby Got Back’. Not your typical piano bar request but a frequent one nevertheless.
I didn’t even announce the song. I just looked her in the eye and said roundly into the mic, “Oh My Gawd Becky! Look at Her Buu-utt!!!”
She exploded into a gleeful shriek along with 3 of her friends and started jumping up and down and hugging each other.
The women who had helped our Birthday Girl out just looked at me and we laughed.
Balance had been restored in the world of live music entertainment in Chicago.