"GUITAR is missing." There's something about being alone in a rainy weekend that makes the hazy senses notice. For my dizzy grumpy self, the empty guitar stand in my idle library: "where's my six-strings?" I wondered -- the one I venerated as a young gig-searcher eleven years ago, the only device I carried on those late nights at Session Road, the silent witness to my adventures and rock and roll, the sacred offering to the night gig. How I miss those nights.
Ah the night gigs. Each night has its own story to tell. There were ordinary nights when there were about five or six tables occupied and with some song requests. People get drunk, they enjoy the acoustic sounds, and they give audible cheers. Just another gig in town. Then there were the dull nights -- the Monday or Tuesday sets when there were only a few customers. During those nights, the musician is forced to perform hundred times better to arouse a few claps here and there. Luckily, with that boosted performance, these few customers would offer a drink or two, even a yellow or blue bill for their favorite songs. The first time I got a five hundred tip, I made it a point to put all my emotions into that requested Bryan Adams songs (which also earned me another bucket to help me sleep in the morning).
Then, there were the crazy nights -- the crowded nights of excitement, uncertainty, and vivacity. The nights when circles of human energies collide, and times when a Bon Jovi song becomes a national anthem, those nights of rock and roll and brawl. During those nights, the musician becomes a detective, studying the faces of all the people inside the bar to predict their tendencies -- "the lovers are there, the tired office workmates are here, the students are there with the same drinks for over an hour, a few bachelors on the prowl are focused on the call center women here, the aging rich guy is here with another friend, wait...another woman is about to attack the lovers!" Another crazy night of turned tables, broken bottles, and spilled beers.
They say the local musicians understand human nature better than most people. For one, they are mostly creatives and humanists who sing human experiences and stories. For another, they are night owls who observe people in their most vulnerable state -- stripped off their inhibitions by alcohol and darkness. Those special night changes them to become special creatures themselves.
Sometimes I miss those gigs. I miss the stench of bars, the delight of having a new crowd, the raw jamming with customers, the free drinks, the new acquaintances and friends. But just like most of my passions which I can barely sustain, it was overgrown...left to dwindle on the face of a regular eight to five work, and of course, family life. The itch, however, is there, scratched only by participations to concerts for a cause, and special events. Still, that longing cannot be quenched once experienced...nothing can beat the experience of the "night gig."