For those that have checked out my gig calendar on this site before, or have been following me on Facebook, you know that I’ve played a number of times at a restaurant in Rockport on Friday and Saturday nights.
Well, as I’ve said before, the only constant in life is change. I will no longer be playing at that particular restaurant in Rockport. After having played at that venue for just a couple of weeks shy of a year, I quit last night. I’m sorry, but I need to rant, at least a little bit. So please bear with me as I vent.
First, the base pay is the worst I’ve ever agreed to, just $30. (Fellow musicians, beware.) Yes, I did agree to it, thinking from the beginning “If the tips arem’t what they claim, then this will be a short lived experiment.” Well, the tips were good, and consistently so. But not on every night, primarily just Fridays & Saturdays. And even then, not always, but they were consistent enough for me to agree to keep playing those nights. The lousy base pay essentially meant that, given my travel expenses, I started each gig $8 in the hole. So I was playing the gig solely for tips.
The owner has a demanding and micro-managing style. In the year that I played there, I’ve lost count of the servers and bussers that have come and gone. Now I know that these jobs typically have a higher turnover rate, but there has been a lot of turnover in this restaurant. I once watched him storm into the kitchen to chew out a server. This restaurant has an open kitchen (the doors are old fashioned swinging saloon doors), so everyone knew something was going on. In a few moments, the young lady being chewed out walked out, never to return.
From the very beginning, the owner was demanding of me. I auditioned in boots, blue jeans, a Dallas Cowboys T-shirt and my straw hat (a.k.a., my “uniform” of choice). He offered me the gig, but told me that he did not want me to wear my hat. I didn’t particularly like that, but I wasn’t going to make it a deal breaker if the tips were good, so I acquiesced. So at the gig, I took it off and set in on top of the bass drum (a stage prop) behind me. After a few minutes, he came up to me and said, “I’m going to need you to hide that hat.” Incredulous, I asked “Seriously?” He said, “Yes.” Again, I acquiesced.
Oh, and he also discouraged me from playing Country. (What can I say? He’s a California transplant, and doesn’t really belong in Texas.) In fact, he later admitted that when he first saw me at the audition, he thought “Oh, $#!+, another Willie wannabe!” Now anyone that knows me knows that my repertoire is quite diverse, and not limited to Country, whether of the Classic, Outlaw or “New” varieties. But it absolutely does include Country in the aforementioned sub-categories. I complied with this “No Country” stipulation at first, but as more and more of his clientele asked for songs by “Waylon, Willie and the boys,” Country came to be accepted.
At the audition, he also said he didn’t want me to wear a T-shirt, and asked if I had a Hawaiian shirt. (I don’t.) But I knew that other musicians had played there in T-shirts with a buttoned shirt over it, left open. So I compromised by wearing a long sleeved or flannel shirt over my tee, left open. And that’s the way I’ve played there from September of 2015 until last night: boots, jeans, T-shirt with a shirt open over that, and I always took my hat or ball cap off for the gig. And the clothes were always clean, and not torn, tattered or threadbare.
Last night, for some inexplicable reason, he sent word to me that he wanted me to button up my long sleeved shirt over my tee. I looked at the thermostat, which is just to my left on the stage. It read 80 degrees. I chose not to comply with this unprecedented demand. It had never been required before, and given the temperature, I deemed it an unreasonable demand. I know that it’s his establishment, and he can say that he refuses to let anyone wear a Dallas Cowboys tee if he wants to, but he had never before made that a stipulation. And to just capriciously spring it on me in the moment was something I wasn’t willing to acquiesce to.
At the end of the night, he again complained about the T-shirt. I explained my reasoning, and asked if it was going to be an issue. He said it was, so I replied, “Okay, well it’s been fun.” And that was it; no histrionics, I didn’t raise my voice. I just packed up and left.
Okay, ‘nuff said. Moving on to a positive perspective, this is an opportunity. I’m “looking for bookings.”