Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Dreaded Fly-Gig

This weekend, the never ending tour of the Lonnie Brooks Blues Band will take me to fabulous Lake Tahoe, NV.

We'll fly in, do the show, and then leave the next morning to head back for a gig here in town.

On paper (or your digital screen), it sounds kind of exotic. Sexy even.

On one level, it is. After all, I'll be in Tahoe, albeit for less than 24 hours. And I'll be sharing the stage with some great musicians: Eddy "the Chief" Clearwater, Jimmy "the Bar Room Preacher" Johnson, Elvin "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" Bishop, and Mavis "Respect Yourself" Staples. The gig is in an outdoor amphitheater, at a large casino (poker anyone?), and we're getting cash.

It'll be so tempting to put it all on "Red."

I'm sure there's a pool AND a hot tub. Hot diggity-dog.

On another level, though, it will hardly be the "Days of Wine and Roses."

Flying is rough enough as it is these days, with the taking off of the shoes, the shaving cream and toothpaste in the zipper bag (can't say Ziploc due to copyright infringements which certainly gives me a strong, false sense of security), and the general dour attitude of airline/airport workers.

After all, in this post-9/11 country, you simply look guilty of something.

I've written before about the effect that life's "minor indignities" has on me.

I can't stand them.

Especially in airports, and especially when they come from people who clearly are low scorer's on the intelligence scale (how many airport workers are there, anyways, who have no H.S. diploma in concert with extensive criminal backgrounds?)

Almost inevitably, there will be issues with the guitars and bringing them on board into the cabin. You see, guitars generally fit in the overhead compartments, which are quite roomy (if the other passengers are able to find their modicum of good manners and don't just throw their crap up there all willy-nilly and spread out with no consideration for anyone else.) This is a fact. I've been doing this long enough to know how it is.

I don't even play guitar.

However, the flight attendants (waitresses) usually express disbelief when we board the plane, guitars in hand. More times than not, they're "sure" that the instruments won't fit and they'll need to be checked. As if they've never seen someone bring a guitar on board.

More times than not, they're dead wrong.

Sometimes, though, they're (gasp) right. The gear won't fit. This is especially true with small prop/commuter planes. So you're forced to check the instruments.

That is where fear is struck. You are at their mercy, knowing well in advance that they just.





About you or your stuff. Why should they? You paid your fare in advance, and good luck getting compensation should something happen to your $5000 Les Paul. Nobody within the airline, from the lowest baggage handler to the highest levels of upper management, will be inclined to take responsibility for anything. They will run you around in circles, with the hope being that you'll just give up one day due to lack of time or legal resources or both.

There is a musician from Nova Scotia, Canada, by the name of Dave Carroll, who experienced this familiar tale of woe. United Airlines (that's who I'll be flying on Saturday- hooray!) broke his guitar.

They actually compensated him for his repairs, but only after he made a video lambasting the company and posted it on You Tube.

It's called, appropriately, "United Breaks Guitars."

The video, as many of you may know at this point, went viral (that means it's a smash hit, no pun intended). United had no choice but to bow to the PR goddess and save face and fix the gear. How generous of them.

Only took a year.

Can't wait to go to Tahoe.

So it goes...

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