Here’s how I pick a restaurant. I walk up, see this sign…
…and then I pick another restaurant.
If I’m out to dinner, I want to be able to chat. I’d like to unwind and delight in some sparkling conversation. I have really important things to discuss with my dinner companion, like how unfair it is that Eva Gabor was the most talented Gabor sister, yet Zsa Zsa is the one everybody remembers.
“But! But!! Green Acres!!”
Zsa Zsa Gabor was not on Green Acres.
Eva Gabor. Eva Gabor was on Green Acres – and I’m sick and tired of having to snottily set people straight when they say otherwise. It makes me look reeeally petty, especially when I pull out the charts and graphs, and pettier still when I make them wear a sign around their neck for the rest of the evening that says, “I should have stayed in my lane as a merely casual classic television watcher.”
So! There are two issues I have with this live music at restaurants. (I should note that bars and clubs are fine, so you don’t have to throw one of your classic hissy fits, Axl Rose.)
The main issue is that I am a musician. I know many musicians. Oh god, so many musicians. Like a plague of locusts in tight jeans that have been raining down on my withered soul for decades. Like a bucket of hot dogs being thrown at my face every time I walk out my front door.
And they’re all too goddamned loud.
When they’re so loud that it’s splitting your eardrums while you’re trying to enjoy your fish dip on the patio at Whale Dick Dave’s on The Wavez (your better Florida-style restaurants are named after midlife-crisis fishing boats), it’s because they think they are way, way more important than anything you’ve got going on at your table.
More important than your right to sit and have a pleasant dinner with someone at Whale Dick Dave’s on The Wavez.
More important than Whale Dick Dave’s on The Wavez losing business over how loud they are.
Your attention must be on them at all times, fish dip enjoyment be damned. If you don’t pay attention to “local legend” Shreddin’ Steve up there wanking away at that cover song like he himself invented the guitar, then guess what?
Would be just fine
To have you leave
I can’t even tell you how many grown adult musicians I’ve known, who when they’re finally told to turn it down by the manager of the restaurant, unplug their gear in a huff and storm out the door, their straw fedora all rumpled and askew atop their Counting Crows chin-length faux-dreadlocks, the clanging of their thumb ring knocking against their guitar case as they borrow someone’s cellphone to call their mom to come pick them up.
Oh no! Now I guess I’ll have to just hum Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise” to myself since Phil Spector here has absconded with his magical talent machine!
Which brings me to my second issue: Song selection.
I realize these things are regional, I am in South Florida after all, but I swear to god if I have to hear some guy in a Hawaiian shirt barf out “Margaritaville” at Ballz Deep-Seafishin’ Depot one more time, I’m driving straight to Jimmy Buffett’s house and bulldozing it – with a parrot on my shoulder the whole time – because I like poetic imagery and stuff.
Ohhh, Jimmy Buffett.
Look, I don’t have a problem with the man personally, not at all, but by the 818,000th time you’ve had to endure “local legend” Jammin’ Joey at the Flick The Beanz Café playing Dance to The Left with an acoustic guitar and a drum machine at 200 decibels while you’re just trying to eat a breakfast wrap and chat about last night’s episode of Green Acres, it takes everything you have to not want to go back in time like The Terminator and push a young Jimmy Buffett out of a tall coconut tree.
And as for the blues, let me tell you. I am a blues fan. Bury me in Memphis – please! I’m not a blues snob, either. I can admit when something “newer” is good. It doesn’t have to have been recorded prior to 1950 for me to like it. And for the record, blues snobs think anything recorded after Truman left office isn’t “real blues”. < eyeroll >
That being said.
You would think, based solely on the live music that is played in South Florida at restaurants, that Stevie Ray Vaughan is the only blues artist who has ever existed.
And not just Stevie Ray Vaughan, who recorded like twenty albums.
Two songs by Stevie Ray Vaughan:
- Pride and Joy
- The Sky is Crying
That’s all you get. Occasionally, you’ll get Cold Shot, and even though you’ve heard that one 56,000 times, it will seem like a breath of fresh air that it’s not Pride and Joy.
You will reach to the sky, arms extended, to thank the stars that it’s not Pride and Joy.
You will give all of your worldly possessions to charity to show your gratitude to the universe that it’s not Pride and Joy.
You will have a baby just so you can fly to Hawaii and chuck it into a volcano as a sacrifice and say, “Thank you, Pele, Goddess of Fire, for not making me sit through Pride and Joy again.”
Do I have a problem with Stevie Ray Vaughan as a person and musician? Hell no! Does hearing the beginning chords of “Pride and Joy” for the 2,654,925th time make me want to rip my own ears off and throw them at “local legend” Rockin’ Randy whose playing a $2,500 guitar but arrived at The Salty Dogbonerz Bistro on a borrowed BMX bicycle?
One time, I swear I melted out of a dining chair and rolled onto the floor when the first chords of Pride and Joy started – because it was the second time I’d heard it that day. Then it turned out I was wrong, and it was actually The Sky is Crying, so I turned into booger slime and escaped from the restaurant like ooze down a storm drain, Rockin’ Randy crooning out “Can’t you see the tears rooooooolll down my noooose?” as a fitting soundtrack.
No. No, I can’t see the tears roll down your nose, Rockin’ Randy. Because I am in my car, speeding away from Mermaidz Tittiez Raw Bar like it’s on fire.
Also, none of this applies to my current band because we are awesome and don’t even know any Jimmy Buffett or Stevie Ray Vaughan songs.
It definitely applies to my previous band. Times one trillion.