Gigging and Giggling
Our first gig was already set up at a local nightclub where we rehearsed in the evenings prior to the shows. Since we were all talented, we became tight in little time and were ready to play our first gig. These cats were lushes, as well as cannabis (marijuana and hashish) freaks. They were all seasoned musicians, and they liked getting high before a gig, something that I wasn’t use to. As a matter of fact, they claimed they could perform better under the influence.
Nevertheless, I eventually succumbed and joined in due to peer pressure. One evening after a few puffs of hash outside in my car with Roberto, we started giggling, and I became extremely paranoid. It was the same way I felt several years earlier in Harlem. Later while playing on stage, I felt sort of strange and uncomfortable. The dope made me feel uptight, and overly sensitive to every vocal and musical note that was reverberated. Moreover, I kept wondering if I was making mistakes. It seemed as though everyone in the audience was staring directly at me.
Till this day, I still can’t perceive how skillful and extraordinary musicians have been able to exhibit their talent while being high on cannabis. This reminds me of the concerns expressed by the Latino rock star Santana, who revealed his apprehension about keeping in time and staying in tune after coming down from a LSD trip. These were my exact concerns to a “T”. How was I viewed from the audience? What were they thinking?
During our first break, I sat at the bar, but felt uncomfortable with people walking pass and behind me. To relieve my uneasiness, I moved to a table situated in a corner; that way, no one could creep up behind me, and I could easily observe the whole scene. After a moment, Roberto came over and asked “What’s a matter Sonny? Why are you sitting back here?”
I responded by telling him how I felt.
Then he taunted me by saying, “We are getting paid to have people look at us man. We’re entertainers on display.”
Then he turned to a bulky customer sitting at a table, who overheard the conversation and said to him, “Sonny feels uncomfortable up on stage.”
The customer replied, “So what. Either Sonny gets back up there and entertains me and my dame, or . . . .”
Just then he snatched a pencil out of the apron pocket of a waitress that was passing by; then with his pudgy hands he continued by snapping the pencil in two and saying, “else there’s gonna be some consequences.”
He continued, “Like maybe Sonny ‘ll be playin’ to the muskrats down by the river.” Needless to say, before the break was over, I had already made my way back up on stage.
For a personal testimony about pot displayed on a separate page click here.