How To Look Foolish: Lesson 1

(There are times when performing music in front of people that you can be faced with embarrassing situations. Maybe a forgotten lyric or playing the wrong notes. Sometimes getting tangled in a guitar or microphone chord can produce a red face. These things however pale in comparison to two incidents which occurred to Tom and myself during the summer of 2007. There are only a couple of people who know of these incidents, but I guess enough time has passed and now the world can know)

Pissing in the Dark
The summer of 2007 would be our last full year of playing a full schedule of shows. We had been lucky enough to play a number of venues over the years, that had great audiences and were asked to return many times.The annual Cohoes Caregivers Concert Series held at Canal Square in downtown Cohoes NY was one such show. Canal Square was a small park on Remsen Street. A small pavilion stood at the back, a fountain that never seemed to be working bordered one side and a concrete pad with a large bronze statue was at the other end. There was a small patch of grass in the center where folks would set their lawn chairs and blankets. There was also a small building that housed rest rooms, but I don’t ever recall them being operable. Instead there were bathroom facilities a block away and that’s what everybody used.

The July day we were scheduled to play was your typical upstate New York summer day, warm a little humid with a chance of thunderstorms. Most times we would ride to a show together. Tom would drive his big Tahoe and tow Joe’s trailer, which contained all our gear and whatever other thing Joe was storing in it at any given time. For this show however Tom and Walt had other commitments and would be driving their own vehicles and meet Joe and I in Cohoes.

We arrived in Cohoes about an hour before we were to start and began setting up. The entire trip from Rotterdam to Cohoes we noticed storm clouds forming, and this created concern as we were setting up out in the open, and rain would certainly be a problem. Tom and Walt arrived, we finished setting up and did a sound check, and then Tom and I contacted the promoters just to make sure, that they didn’t want to move to the indoor inclement weather site. It was determined that we would take the chance it wouldn’t rain and do the show outdoors.

At this point we had about ten minutes before we were due to play, so Tom, Joe, and Walt walked down to the bathrooms. I on the other hand didn’t feel the need to go, so I took a seat in the shade, watching the ever increasing storm clouds. With five minutes before show time I was suddenly overcome with the dire need of a bathroom. There was no time to run down the street, so I decided to go into the equipment trailer, pull the doors shut and relieve myself into a soda can.

As I pulled the doors shut behind me, the first fatal flaw in my plan became apparent. “It’s pitch black in here!!!” I muttered to myself. I soldiered on though and began to relieve myself. As I was nearing the end of my task I began to feel a dampness on my leg, and upon finishing and stepping outside into the daylight, I was horrified to find that there was an enormous wet spot, beginning at my crotch and continuing down to my knee. It was huge!! Knowing I only had a minute or two before I needed to stand in front of a crowd of people, who upon gazing on me would realize in an instant what I had done, I weighed my options. The side of Joe’s truck was still quite warm from the heat of the day. I maneuvered myself so my urine-soaked leg was was leaning against it, and attempted to “quick dry” it, but with no success. With less than a minute to go, and everyone else at their mikes and tuning up, I had no choice but to get my guitar and start the show.

Now it’s a funny thing about playing music in front of people. Once you begin to perform, the mind seems to focus on that and little else. This night was no exception, and I soon forgot about my problem and focused on the music………and the thunder and lightning that had been moving ever closer as the evening progressed. As I began to introduce our fourth song (appropriately named “Four Days of Rain”), the skies opened up with a deluge, that may have been the worst we had ever experienced.
We scrambled like wild men to get our gear covered and out of harm’s way, and in the end although some things got a little wet no great damage was done. The crowd of people who had filled the park were all gone and we were all drenched to the bone. So much so that the once very apparent wet spot on my leg was no longer a glaring testament to my rather poor aim.

And that my friends is how one of the most embarrassing moments in my life occurred in a park in the city of Cohoes NY. Don’t wander far, for soon I’ll retell one of Tom’s equally embarrassing ordeals.

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