Somewhere in the wooded boondocks of Northwest Washington there sits a barn, converted into a restaurant, bar, rehearsal studio, and music venue by a former Icelandic children's television star (this story is true). Being a new band with limited options for shows in our area, we decided to give them a call. After setting a date, listening to frustrated exhales regarding the size of our band (there are four of us), and repeating and spelling the name of our band several times, we listened as the curmudgeonly booking manager explained the origins of our band name to us. It was not, as we had thought, a traditional folk tale with its roots in African and Cherokee culture, but in fact a cartoon segment in a 1946 Disney film. We thanked him and went on our way, promoting our show as usual. As the date drew closer, we noticed that the website for the venue had not one but three calendars, and none of them had a correct listing of our upcoming show. When we contacted the booking manager about this, he assured us with a bite in his tone that this could not be true, for he ran the website himself. The calendars never changed.
On the day of the show, we arrived to a dry-erase board that read, "Tonight! Live Music. Beer Rabbit." and a full parking lot. "Odd," we thought aloud to ourselves, "the venue must have done more promotion than we thought." The truth was that our show had been scheduled on the same evening as a rehearsal for the 40-person cast of an original musical about the Salem Witch Trials (there were several hip-hop numbers in said musical). When we asked the proprietor if she was concerned about the lack of parking, she responded that she was not. When we asked where we could find the equipment necessary to start our sound check, she responded that she was unsure of the whereabouts of said equipment and that we could ask the sound guy, whom she thought might be there before or perhaps slightly after our planned start time. So we set off in search of our needed equipment. It was in the hallway.
We played our set to the best of our ability (the occasional interruption of upstairs rehearsal music blasting "Where My Witches At?" was a bit distracting, but we managed to hold focus). We passed the hat around the small crowd, and considered the night, for all its pitfalls, a success. We approached the booking manager (who was nursing what we can only assume was his eleventh drink at the bar) pleased with our performance and anticipating his response. He shook our guitarist's hand (holding it for an inordinate amount of time) and with indifference stated that we had a long way and a lot of work to do and he hoped we had what it takes to weather the hardships. He then offered us another date the following month, but absentmindedly named a different month with each mention of it afterward. As we turned to finish packing our equipment, the proprietor advanced upon us with a hallow smile we later agreed was eerily similar to that of a Stepford Wife. She thanked us for our performance and, as she leaned in close, said quietly, "We generally appreciate our performers to stay past closing to help clean the restrooms."
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