True Bar Band Stories

Playing music in a bar can be fun, exciting, exhilarating, and…well, let’s just say that it can often be quite interesting. Like most musicians, I have my fair share of bar/music stories, both good and not so good—but even the not so good tales usually have a humorous bent to them.

Not long before the pandemic, I was DJing at an indie pop showcase in the Los Angeles area. Each band played a 45-minute set of Beatles/’60s/psychedelic-inspired music and I was on hand to spin some similar-sounding tunes in between acts: classic pop, new wave, punk and the like. Stuff the crowd would enjoy.

After the first act finished up, I began playing a set that included songs by the Beatles, the Byrds, and more obscure acts such as Big Star and Emitt Rhodes. (Check those last two out if you haven’t heard them.) Suddenly I spied a young lady quickly striding toward me with a not-exactly-pleased look on her face. She stood uncomfortably close to me and wagged a finger at me.

“Play [a hardcore rap artist who shall remain unnamed] RIGHT NOW,” she bellowed. I gently tried to explain that I was instructed by the organizers to tailor my playlist to the tone of the event, and that [the hardcore rap artist who shall remain unnamed] was not part of that playlist.

“What are you playing next?” she asked. When I mentioned that I’d planned on spinning some soul hits from the early ‘70s, she yelled—in a voice that could no doubt be heard two counties away—that I instead HAD to play [that hardcore rap artist who shall still remain unnamed]. After about 10 minutes of being screamed at, I decided to play back-to-back punk rock tunes by the Stooges and the New York Dolls, and this succeeded in finally driving her away.

Of course, she came back 30 minutes later as the second act (a folk music duo) began their set and stood at the foot of stage shrieking at them to play something by [that same hardcore rap artist who will not be named].

Ah, good times…