When Enough Is Enough

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I eat out relatively often. The accommodations may run from fancy to dive, but there are a few things I will not tolerate: dirty conditions and/or poor service.

I try to be patient. If the restaurant is especially busy, I will allow waiters/waitresses some extra time. A small apology along the lines of “Sorry for the delay, we’re a little short-staffed today,” goes a long way. On the other hand, if no one comes by my table at all…

Sunday afternoon my girlfriend and I went to the Savin Rock Roasting Company in Stratford, CT. It was a new place for both of us. This restaurant is part of a small chain and has been at this location under a year. It’s a lovely location, alongside the water with indoor and outdoor seating. Entering the front, there is a small vestibule where a hostess greets you and asks if you would like indoor or outdoor seating. We chose indoor. We were seated near the grill area/waitress station and could see into the kitchen and watch the different dishes as they made their way to diners. The dishes looked good.

The menu had a nice mix of surf and turf. There was a nice selection of sandwiches and platters, good for lunch and dinner. We scanned the menu for a little while, discussed our selections and got ready to order.

…and got ready to order.
…and were ready to order.
…and were waiting to order.
…and desired a chance to order.
…and wondered whether we would be allowed to order.
…and greatly hoped to partake of the privilege of giving someone our order.

Perhaps we were doing something wrong. Our menus were down on the table, we had our napkins in our laps, signifying that we expected to have some sort of food. Our eyes were filled with hope each time a waitress would pass. We were next to their station. They passed us as they delivered other orders. They saw us as they stood by the cash register making idle conversation.

Was the place too busy? No. In fact there was more staff than there were filled tables. Am I easy to miss in a crowd? I don’t think so… and THERE WAS NO CROWD!

Was I being unreasonable? Am I expecting too much? I don’t think twenty minutes displays a lack of patience. Yes, I’m sure it was twenty minutes. I checked, and double checked. It was twenty minutes after we put our menus down.

Our patience was exhausted. We left.

I don’t complain with people that serve me food. I would hate to be the victim of someone’s revenge. I am passive aggressive. I flipped a quarter onto the table on the way out. I believe a tip of a single piece of silver is enough to say, “I was here and this small token is a way of saying your service sucks.”

How would you handle this situation?
Was my reaction warranted/appropriate?

Gig Review: April 17, 2010

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One of the major challenges of a seven piece band is fitting on a stage. There are seven bodies, drum set, keyboards, microphone stands, pedalboards, amplifiers, music stands, etc… The New Yorker, while a nice place, has a relatively small stage. Granted, it is an actual stage. Usually, we have a cordoned off area in a section of the club, this was an honest-to-goodness raised stage, complete with back door and parking lot for loading (sweet). The acoustics of the place were good, not particularly bouncy, bassy, or tinny.

On this particular evening, we were being filmed. The video will soon be appearing on the Ricky Blues website. Below are some pictures of the evening.


Created with flickr slideshow.

When playing rock n’ roll, musicians prefer a slightly raucous crowd. People that are singing along, jumping up and down, and crowding closer to the stage are the best. The worst are the people that grab the microphone to sing along, jump up and down on guitar pedals, and crowd too close to the stage bumping members of the band. No one wants to deal with that guy.

The New Yorker was neither. I am not implying that the crowd was not appreciative. They clapped, sang along occasionally, but literally and figuratively maintained their distance.

I understand their hesitance at first. There were video cameras, cameramen, and umbrella lights set up in the first half of the club. No one wants to bump into someones expensive equipment, knock over a light, or interfere with the filming. I appreciate their caution and concern.

The equipment was gone after the first set, but by that point the gulf had been established, and we could not reclaim that ground.

I recall someone writing (I think it was Robert Fripp) that a performance should have three parts.

  1. Hook the crowd.
  2. Take them someplace interesting.
  3. Bring them back.

I think every performing musician knows the first one, but what may not be understood is that there may be impediments to that beyond his control. They can vary. Perhaps there is a playoff game on the bar’s television. Maybe there are two scantily clad women dancing on the bar (even you’re probably watching that one instead of concentrating on your playing). There are any number of unforeseen reasons.

What to do? Try to get the crowd involved at your earliest opportunity. Try to get them engaged. Though you may try this, despite your best efforts, you may not grab them. Hooking the crowd is like a first impression, most times you only get one chance.