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Part Kingston Trio, Part Falling Moosehead, and the Ghost of a Gibson LG-1
Music Horror Stories: A Collection Of Gruesome, True Tales
By Janet Fisher, Goodnight Kiss Music
(more articles from this author)
2002-05-10
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Title: Music Horror Stories: A Collection Of Gruesome, True Tales As Told By Actual Innocent Victims Seeking A Career In the Music Business
Exhumed and Edited by: Janet Fisher (Goodnight Kiss Music)
Section 4: Booking in Hades
Chapter 25: "Part Kingston Trio, Part Falling Moosehead, and the Ghost of a Gibson LG-1"
Author: John Braheny

It was 1960 to the best of my recollection. I'd been working on a bridge repair crew for the Chicago Northwestern Railroad and living with the crew in railroad bunk cars on a siding in a little town in central Illinois called Manilus. I got bored with getting drunk in the only bar in town and asked my mother to loan me her old Sears Roebuck guitar, got a Mel Bay book of chords and taught myself to play. When I started getting good enough and knew a few folk songs I saved my money and bought the new Gibson LG-1 I was lusting for. It was a big year for folk music and I'd really gotten into researching old Appalachian ballads, etc. I had worked up enough nerve to go to Chicago's Old Town district to perform on my first "hootenanny," the equivalent of today's "open mike." I can't remember the name of the club but it may have been Mother Blue's on Wells St..

With some trepidation I signed up and waited. The place was packed. The stage was up against the long wall on the right. On the left was a stairway that went to a bar upstairs that also offered a view of the stage below. I patiently waited through several performers until the host began to introduce me. My heart was pounding. As he launched into my introduction he stopped in mid sentence when a commotion started by the door. He said "Hey Bob ladies and gentlemen, Bob Shane from the Kingston Trio just came in. Bob, come on up and sing a couple!" Shane was drunk, and hilarious for a good ten minutes, sang "Scotch and Soda" and left. I had to follow him. The host was sympathetic, and gave me a nice intro explaining to the audience what a bad spot he'd put this new kid in.

It only made me feel a little less terrified. I gave it everything I had with a rousing up-tempo song. Then I sang a beautiful Irish ballad called "Youth of The Heart." By now I was starting to feel okay. As I got into the second verse my eyes were opened by a loud crash and screams as the moose head on the side of the stairs opposite the stage dropped, annihilating the table beneath it with glass and patrons flying everywhere. I stood there stunned for an eternity deciding what to do. When it quieted down I finished the song and left the stage. Sweet host, "Wasn't he cool you guys, first time too, I'm really sorry man!"

I felt shaken but they made me feel like a hero who had just gone through an amazing intimidation ritual and come out a winner. I put away my guitar and took it upstairs to the bar. I sat it against the wall where I could keep an eye on it and checked it every couple of minutes. Hey, now I was hangin' and having a little Guinness with my heroes, Bob Gibson, George McElvey, Johnny Brown and the rest of the Chicago folk aristocracy. Very cool, 'til I turned to check on my new guitar again. GONE! Heart stopping panic! Everybody helped ran into the street - into the back yard nobody saw it ever again.

Afterwards, I thought "If I had half a brain I'd recognize this as a sign that God didn't want me to do this." Now, I'm glad I didn't listen to myself. If I had, I'd most likely would never have had a life this wonderful.

John Brehany is an author, radio show producer/host, and has professional experience in every part of the music business.

MusicDish Bookstore - where print meets digital

"Music Horror Stories: A Collection Of Gruesome, True Tales As Told By Actual Innocent Victims Seeking A Career In the Music Business"
by Janet Fisher
55 true stories from author/musicians around the world. 208 pages of funny, touching, mind-bending stories that are a MUST READ for anyone interested in the music and entertainment industries.


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