It was one long night and one I wish I could forget. I had just finished a “bar gig”. It was my 3rd to last “bar gig” before I moved up to the big times. (Opening for people like Clint Black). Unfortunately, that’s as famous as my “Almost Famous” career took me. But I’ll not cry about water under the bridge, but speaking of Water……
I had played my ass off and was tired at 3 in the morning. Bar gigs (performances) are no fun. Sure you get free drinks and sexual proposals, but you quickly outgrow that. The bad part is the work that you don’t see. Bar bands don’t have road crews. So you need to load and unload the van. So a 9 to 1 show is really a 7 to 3 show because set up and break down takes about 2 hours. (The drive is also an extra hour or so)
Setting up isn’t just plugging in your guitar cord and microphones, but rather taping down your cords so nobody ends up in the Emergency Room. (That’s another story for another day) But it includes a sound check, lights, monitors etc… This is time consuming and if it’s not done right, the rhythm guitarist will drown everyone out all night until the club manager comes up and say: “All we can hear is your strummer”. Breaking down can be quicker, but you do so at the risk of ruining your expensive cords. You really need to take your time when putting your stuff away. Most musicians put their cables in a place that will make it easy to get to the next time you set up. (Lots of Rubbermaid bins)
Thus you have the extra two hours coming and going.
I had found that if you “get your shit and get gone” at the end of your performance, the police will not bother you. I also had a bad habit (back then) of having a Heineken and a shot of “Corazon” Tequila at midnight. That’s two ounces of alcohol. I always felt that if I was playing hard during that last hour, then working to put my stuff away, the alcohol would be gone by the time I got behind the wheel. And like I said, most PDs will leave the band alone because they don’t want the responsibility of 40,000 dollars’ worth of gear, plus they don’t want to be accused of driving off business in remote areas.
I was tired that one night and after loading my gear into my van, I took a break and had a glass of “Ice water” and just sat in a booth to relax. This put me into the “DUI” hours of the night. Sure enough I got pulled over by the CHIPs. They made me blow and I came up at .069. (or so I was told) I think .07 was legally drunk. I could go into a rant about making a hard working guitarist pretend to be a ballerina on the side of the road, but the next thing I knew, (and I still don’t think this was legal) I was at the CHP Satellite station where they had more accurate testing means. Oh, and hand cuffed to a bench. Since they had a responsibility to protect my gear, they didn’t want to take me to the tank, but they also were upset because I wasn’t legally drunk.
By this time it’s 4 in the morning. The sun is peeking over the hill. I’m sober and hungry yet still in cuffs. They had the nerve to ask me if I wanted to volunteer my blood at 4 in the morning. They said if you can call someone to come get you we’ll let you go. My ride who knew nothing about the area got lost trying to find the cop shop in their sleep and it was creeping up on 5 AM and the new shift was coming on. So they were taking me to the drunk tank and as we pulled out of the CHP station my ride arrived. We went and had a sandwich at an all-night grocery store, came back and got the van and drove 85 miles home. The county D.A. refused to press charges.
That was my night in Jail for a glass of water.