“Another Nightmare Gig from Hell: Musicians Tales of Wonder and Woe” is a new collection by writer/publicist/promoter and former performer Tammy Brackett and musician/graphic designer Nick Zelinger that logs the sometimes horrific, sometimes amusing stories touring musicians (and others in the industry) experienced on the road and on stage.
Several of these stories have Charlotte connections. One of the best (or worst as it were) is Simplified guitarist Chris Sheridan’s recounting of the night The Press Box was robbed at gun point while the band was playing on stage. Another finds the Spongetones’ Steve Stoekel having a hilariously bad day at a small town festival gig that pushes him further and further over the edge as the day progresses. Knowing Stoekel, who seems like the nicest guy, makes it even funnier.
Other Carolina storytellers include Charlotte guitarist Donnie Christianson, Asheville funk outfit Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, and Charleston’s Sol Driven Train.
There are also stories from artists I’ve never heard of and some of those are real gems. There’s one about a disc jockey who hangs up on Robert Plant, another from a sound engineer who worked a Christmas gig where the entire room, including the performer, got sick which may actually be the worst gig I can imagine. Brackett’s own tale rings with familiarity whether you’re in a band or not.
Some of my favorite stories come from unknowns because those are the musicians that really have it rough - not the artists that can afford handlers and limos and dictate details. It’s the cover bands, bands touring endlessly in smelly vans eating cheese sandwiches, or the singer-songwriter peddling cds by asking people listen to it on headphones on the street, that often have the best stories. Mark Stevens’ story about his former band Toast being invited to open for Styx at a corn festival in rural Colorado may be my favorite because there’s no rock star pretentiousness in his anxiety-ridden lead-up to the actual gig.
The authors are already collecting submissions for a second edition of “Nightmare Gig.” If you’d like to check out volume one or submit a traumatic excerpt from your own tour diary go to www.nightmaregig.com.