Warning: The content of this particular blog may be offensive to "Haters". It contains coarse language. Reader discretion is advised.
It's been a while since I've had one at a gig. It's usually just old, drunk high school friends yelling "F*ck you, Downham", or something like that. I occasionally throw out a funny rib to lighten a mood.
(I always get my back up when people take themselves too seriously. Lighten up, friends. Life is too short to be so uptight.)
The other night I had one of those hecklers that was trying to physically ruin my show. During the first set of my last minute performance, this guy and his brother thought it was cool to just hop up and play piano over one of my songs. The bartender was new, and also fairly busy serving, and didn't know that I didn't really know them. I can't really blame her. So, she did nothing to stop them. Much to the chagrin of the people in the audience, the guy and his brother, drunken and uninvited, kept playing. I even tried to give them an easy one with 3 chords, but they still couldn't find the key, or the beat.
I mean, these guys couldn't find a pocket in a Levi's factory.
Before I started my next set, I kindly asked the brothers not to play during my set. They were wasted, but agreed to lay off.
Later, I invited a few friends up to play with me. As I was playing, one of the brothers (oh, let's just call him local musician Tim) decided to start telling me, as I'm playing:
"You should stop. You're always selling yourself. You're not good."
I laughed at first, but this was no joke. He kept pushing towards me, agressively repeating himself. Eventually I just turned my head and proceeded to give him the ol' hand to the face. He was then escorted out by the owner.
So, thank you Tim. You have proven to me that people can be both terrible at piano AND oblivious to the feelings of others at the same time.
I am reminded of The Causey Way, the band I saw open up for Wesley Willis (RIP) about 10 years ago. A fresh faced member of the audience kept squirting his beer on the female bassist. The singer politely asked him to stop doing it. The kid squirted her again. The singer asked again "Please don't do that." The kid squirted again.
Suddenly, the singers guitar came at the kid's face like a 6-string missile, smacking his face open in a bloody barrage.
No one helped him up.
Except the paramedics.
I'm not saying this is the correct way to deal with a heckler.
But in The Causey Way's defence, they did ask him to stop.
Some classic "on-the-mic" retorts:
"I'm sorry, I can't hear you over my awesome job."
"I don't come to your job and kick the cock out of your mouth."
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
For free shows only: "If you don't like it, you can totally get your cover charge back. That, I promise you."
"Is it nap time already?"
Remember folks: When you have the mic, you win.
I guess the real point of this blog entry is a classic quote from our collective parents: "If you haven't got something nice to say, don't say anything at all."
As much as I agree, you should never show up to a gunfight with a butterknife. Be prepared. There's all kinds of people like the afore mentioned just waiting to bait and hate on you. Usually due to their own shortcomings.
(You can visit Tim Isherwood at www.timisherwood.com)
Also keep in mind: If you want a small world, become a Canadian musician. I get calls to play constantly, because I treat people as I would want to be treated. It's one thing to be a great player. It's another to be a great player with people skills. I aspire to be both, constantly. I have room to improve, and therein lies consistant inspiration.
Hug a musician today.
Know your worth.
You are where you are, because of WHO you are.
Hearts above all,