After our all night drive into the U.S. and down to Columbus, Ohio from Ottawa, we stopped at the motel (Gotta splurge once in a while- as long as by splurge we mean five guys in one motel room) to take a swim and a shower and headed to Oldfield’s Bar & Grille. I wish I had it together to take some photos of this joint, but being a little under the weather, I wasn’t really on my game. Perhaps a description will suffice:
Oldfields is about the size of a swimming pool, with a long bar, two pool tables, a number of bar stool height tables and a small octagonal, carpeted stage area in the front window next to the front door. It’s a self-proclaimed football bar, with Buckeye paraphernalia spotting the walls and barmaids wearing OSU t-shirts. When one guy entered in a yellow t-shirt that said MICHIGAN on the front, another said, “Do us both a favor and just kill yourself,” which would have seemed harsh, but I once wore a Red Sox cap to the bleachers of Yankees Stadium. OSU had already demolished Akron to the tune of 20-2 and there was a monsoon outside, so people were all home sleeping off their celebration.
When we walked in, they were playing a mix of Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson, which we saw as a good sign. Sure, there was some Gretchen Wilson and Big & Rich mixed in, but we were feeling pretty confident. We set up and Chelsea offered to get us some food. The guys wanted pizza, but with my well documented cheese issues, I chose a sandwich. Of course, it came with cheese melted all over it. Just another in a long line of trends and patterns. After eating, we all sat at the bar and stared at the television. UFC was on and none of us really wanted watch guys holding each other down and beating the crap out of each other. We were about to abandon ship, but then a familiar face came on the tv: Portland, Maine’s Marcus Davis!
I think it goes without saying that we had to root for Marcus to savagely beat this younger, tattoo-ed Brit that he matched up with. I mean, violence is a tough sell for us here at Miss Fairchild, but give us someone to support and we become just as bloodthirsty as the next guy. After a tough moment in the middle of the first round, Marcus took the match handily and then I was happy to see there was no hard feelings. He and his toothless opponent hugged and all was right with the world.
The lead-up to the show was promising, with the football bar and the football game. (I mean, how many drunk college kids do you know that don’t like to watch a bunch of guys in matching outfits play complicated funk music with coordinated dance moves in a band named after a female salon patron? Me, I can’t think of a one.
But the incredible downpour proved too much for these otherwise resourceful Buckeye fans and they stayed home with their X-Box 360s and Ramen noodles while we entertained both of the people who had arrived at Oldfield’s before the rain and were therfore stranded with us. Okay, there were more than two. But there were also less than twenty, which left us in the enviable position of being able to play quietly for the first time in a minute. We saved some voices (mine!) and some fingers (Trick!). It was a bit of a glorified rehearsal and one of the best we’ve ever had.
Let me say this: I’m not complaining. This was a really fun gig. If not for the rain, I’m sure there would have been people there and they would have eaten us up.
So, about the gig: we had to fill a bit longer of a slot last night than we normally would, so we had to do something that we never do. Something that we profess not to do. Something so un-Fairchildian, I would hesitate to even call it Miss Fairchild: We took the jam out of the jar. In fact, not only did we take it, we smashed the jar and exploded jam all over that little bar. We reached into our historical bag of tricks and found a few standard funk jams from back in the Jive Sucka! days. In fact, call that opening act Jive Sucka!
[Quick history lesson for those of you who don’t know already: Jive Sucka! was a band that Samuel, Wrall and myself had with a few other recurring characters way back long ago.]
We played a set of music that we had never rehearsed or played before. Great songs that we all know by heart from hearing them so many times: “Move on Up” by Curtis Mayfield, “Ain’t it Funky Now” by James Brown, “Tighten Up” by Archie Bell & The Drells, “Shuffle Time” by Buddy Nuts & Candy and “Natural” by Arrested Development. We could have really used a certain JedSed on trumpet for this one, which would have allowed us to play the theme from “Night Court.”
It was really fun to stretch out on these tunes and get a chance to play some serious rhythm guitar. I didn’t think about it at the time, but it’s really appropriate that we got to play these songs. Lately, I’ve been going on the mantra “Timing isn’t everything, except when it comes to rhythm guitar.” Playing Curtis Mayfield guitar parts couldn’t have been better for my wrist and soul last. Let’s leave it at that.
Finishing our Jive Sucka! set, our little crowd applauded generously and the bartender, Katie, told us, “You guys are the best band we’ve ever had here!” Hooray for Jive Sucka! and lengthy funk jams! Hopefully, we get to do that again and never have to!
Our Miss Fairchild set was equally well-received and prompted some various interesting reactions. One man approached the Rocket with a stupified “What the heck are you guys doing here? Why would you drive all the way here from Boston to play at this bar?” He wasn’t interested in the explanation as talk of a “tour” and “filling out the schedule” led to the man walking away. On the trend of, uh, interesting tooth concepts, he seemed to have gold fronts on his.
Another guy, who sat two feet from us for the entirety of both of our sets, offered us free Camel cigarettes and kind words. We declined the former and appreciate the latter. Which brings us to potentially The Best Thing That Could Have Happened.
After leaving the stage, our bartender Katie, handed us an envelope that one of the bar patrons had left. (See photos above for evidence.) The front said, “Miss Fairchild” and the back had “Happy Trails” and a John Lennon quote: “Christ you know it ain’t easy…” Inside was a little gas money and a nice note from Lara and her band The Tough and Lovely offering us good luck and a band to play with on our return to C-Bus.
We’ve always said that a single soul touched is enough for us to consider the gig a success, and we certainly did more than that last night. Getting this kind of response is more than we ask, above and beyond and all that. And, truly, it makes it all worth it.
Playing gigs virtually for free is a thing.
Getting pity money from a fellow musician is a thing.
Having our fake band called “the best band that’s ever played here” is a thing.
Seeing people we know on t.v. is a thing.
Seeing people we know beat the crap out of other people is a thing.
Doing laundry is a thing.
Not having time to let the laundry completely dry is a thing.
Having wet clothes in the van taking in the aroma of dudes is a thing.