Over the course of human evolution scientists have observed one consistent difference between good people and fuckwits. Good people— perhaps even more notably good musicians— don't naturally assume that every instrumentalist playing in a bar somewhere in the vast expanse between Disneyland and Yankee Stadium, has been sitting up nights, stroking an unrequited boner, just waiting for the special moment when yet another drunk they don't know walks up and says those seven magic words: "Hey... Lemme play harmonica with you guys!"
Friends, I don't want to be a buzzkill. I have no desire to crush anybody's dreams of stardom, or at least getting to second base with a stranger who smells faintly of urine. But unless your name is Little Walter, and you've come back from the grave to rock, I can almost guarantee that the band, and the fans who've come to see that band, really wish you just fucking wouldn't.
It has come to my attention that Memphis is in the throes of a Jambush epidemic. Fully grown adults who are old enough to vote and buy liquor are bringing their own musical instruments to concerts like they were going to some kind of open mic night. Simply put, this shit needs to stop. I mean, you don't go to fucking Rigoletto and beatbox all the way through "La Donne e Mobile," do you? Well?
Just the other night, at a popular Cooper-Young drinking establishment, some guy was so hellbent on playing with the band he literally put his balls on the line.
I kid you not.
"If I suck you can all punch me in the nuts," he said, indicating with his delicate harmonica-player's hands, the exact location of the alleged target. This ploy, while inventive, was unsuccessful due, primarily, to a lack of collateral. It's more effective to propose that any nut- punching happens in advance of the joint performance, as a kind of insurance policy covering time that can't be regained, and any harm that might befall an individual song or music's historical reputation for taming our savage instinct.
If you still want to blow that thing after 5-good sack-shots, buddy come on.
Look, we all have our fantasies. We've all been to a bar where a band is playing, and we're having a good time, and dropping some Jagerbombs, and maybe smelling a little toilet seat cocaine, and, naturally, we start to fantasize a little about what it might be like to be awesome. We think, "damn, those band guys sure look cool." And, "Hey, I know how to band! I mean, I've never been in a band, but it just so happens I'm wearing my John Popper-autographed harmonica vest, and it's totally loaded. And anyway, I'd probably be doing these jerks a favor if I sat in. We could maybe play something with a funky groove. Like "Brown Eyed Girl."
If that's you...
Well, what can I say? You're probably still a dipshit, but at least you're a perfectly normal dipshit. When you act on this douchebag fantasy, that's when you become everybody's problem.
So listen. If you want to act like your mama raised you right and you've got some fucking manners, here's how to let a band know you're interested in playing with them.
1. Wait until after the show is over.
2. Go tell the musicians how much you enjoyed the performance.
3. You might even throw down a nice tip.
4. In fact, do that last thing I mentioned. Yeah.
5. If everybody's getting on well enough, you might mention that you play a little harp and would love to get together and maybe jam sometime.
If you follow these five polite steps chances are someone in the band will say, "Sure thing, cool dude! And if you've got an accordion, bring that with you too!"
This guy is fucking with you. And you still totally deserve it.
I confess to being a faithful reader of letters to the editor in The Commercial Appeal. A day seldom goes by when one or more readers isn't bashing Memphis for its crime, taxes, education system, corruption, etc. Memphis gets compared to Detroit at least once a week ...