For most of the summer, we’ve been setting up on Friday and Saturday nights down on Wharf St., in Portland’s Old Port, busking from about 10pm until the bars close – and last Friday was no different. It had been raining hard all day, though, and we weren’t sure we were going to get to play. But by around 10, the rain had cleared off and it turned into a rather nice evening, so we packed our gear and headed down to the Old Port to play a few sets.
Now, usually, we’re competing against the live band that’s playing at Amigo’s, where they have an awesome outdoor patio and feature live music on Friday and Saturday nights. On this night, though, the rain apparently scared off whichever band was supposed to play, because when we rolled up at 10 to set up in the alley, the place was silent. Nothing happenin’ at all.
We talked briefly with the door man at back, who confirmed that the band had not shown up and there was no live music at Amigo’s that night.
So, sensing an opportunity, I grabbed my guitar case and went up to the front door. The door man took one look at me and said, hey, you guys playing here tonight?
“We sure are,” I said. “Is the manager around?”
Yeah, somewhere, he said. You’ll find her.
And find her I did, behind the bar. I ordered a beer. As she place the ice-cold brew in front of me, I said, hey, I hear your band tonight didn’t show. Would it be okay if we played here?
She looked me up and down and said, who are you?
I told her that we’re a band called Plague Dad, and she might’ve heard us because we’ve been busking pretty much every Friday night out front of her joint for the last couple of months, and drawing a pretty good crowd, too. I explained that we had our own PA, our own mics, and that we were ready to go. All we need is a small space to set up in.
She thought about it for a moment and said, eh, never heard of you. I think we’re good, but thanks for stopping by.
Thankfully, though, three of the servers who working there that night were standing near by and heard the conversation.
Alanna White, who also happens to be the Head Chef at the East Ender, piped right up: Did you say Plague Dad, she said? I said yeah, that’s us, and we were hoping to fill in if here tonight if nothing else is going on.
I’ve heard you guys, she said, out there busking every Friday – you guys are awesome!
Alanna turned to the manager and said, hey, these guys are great – you’ve got to let them play here tonight. They’d be perfect, and people will love them.
And so, based on that particularly credible personal testimony, the manager gave us the go-ahead. I can’t pay you, she said, but you can play for tips.
Good enough. We grabbed our gear – a Roland Street Cube Ex, two mics, two mic stands, my guitar and mandolin, and Mig’s percussion rig – and set up in the corner of the patio.
Fifteen minutes later, we were underway, and an hour later the place was packed and people were rockin’ out and having a great time.
We set up our case for tips, just like we were busking out in the alley, and people must have liked what they heard, because they were extraordinarily generous that night. We also sold four records – which you can pick up here at Bandcamp, if you’re so inclined.
We did manage did to get a few pictures that night – one’s posted above – but more importantly, Lorenzo, who who host’s WMPG‘s Podcast Open Mic show, was in the house and managed to record pretty darn near the whole set for his show. Word is, it’s gonna be go live soon, and we’ll post the link as soon as we get it.
And with any luck, we’ll be back at Amigo’s soon to do another show.