Earlier this year I purchased a home in the California central coast wine area, specifically in the town of Templeton. At the time my intention was to move there after retiring from my day job, which happened 3 weeks ago. No need to get into the details, but the move has been postponed for at least a year. So instead of driving up every other weekend to mow the lawn and dust the kitchen counters, I decided to rent it out.
My tenant happens to work nearby, as the tap room manager at the Barrelhouse Brewing Company. She knows that I play open mics regularly, so she told me that there is a sort-of open mic on Thursday nights at Barrelhouse, come on down and play if you’re in town. Last evening I took her up on it since I have been staying a couple of nights with my friends Barbara & Bob in Morro Bay, which is just 30 minutes away.
The music starts at 5pm, so I stopped in early to check out the milieu. Introduced myself to Bree, who was working the taps, and she pulled me a glass of the lightest beer they make. Tasty, tasty… My tenant Jena arrived and by then the band was setting up, so Jena introduced me to them. Turns out that it’s not really an open mic, but more of a blues jam in which the band is on stage all the time and people can come up and jam with them. But it needs to be BLUES.
I am a major blues enthusiast, so COOL! Oh wait, I can’t play a lick of lead guitar. Hmmm… well I know a few songs that kinda sorta are blues on which I can play rhythm and sing lead, so this might work. I brought along my travel guitar, a 1970 vintage Yamaha FG-110 acoustic with a Fishman Humbucker sound hole pickup. After about an hour of the band playing, they invited me up. The stage at Barrelhouse is fab! It’s an ancient, rusty Dodge flatbed truck sinking into the ground outside with a grassy audience area next to it. Mind you, the brewery is just a stone’s throw from the Salinas River and this is Steinbeck country, so rumor has it that he parked the truck there a few decades back after quitting his job to concentrate on writing.
First song I wanted to do was “Mercury Blues” (original title “Mercury Boogie”) written in 1949 by K.C. Douglas and Robert Geddins. Most of the guys knew it, so no problem, except for me. I’m not used to playing with a band and there were 5 other guys on stage with me – drummer, bass guitar, keyboards, lead guitar and harp player. We got through it pretty well, but it was up to me to signal to everyone when to end it, since it was my song and I was singing lead. Crikey, I turned around to face most of the guys in the hope of signaling a proper end, but my pickup was on a short leash to the amp. I had turned the wrong way and the cord went taut, so the pickup got yanked right out of the sound hole. Well, that ended the song for me! The other guys were professional enough to take it in stride and finish up without me. Next song I wanted to do was “Dear Doctor”, a relatively obscure Rolling Stones song from 1969. Some of the guys knew it, others not, but it’s a standard progression in E, so it went fine.
One benefit to playing here is that anyone who plays gets free beer. Bree pulled me a second glass, but as I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I’m a lightweight drinker, and that was enough. The road back to Morro Bay is hilly, curvy and narrow in parts, so cut me off and live to drink and play another day!