3 weird & wonderful gig stories

A post by Andrew Healey about some weird and wonderful gigs.

When I’m not writing and recording songs for my new album, I play live as often as I can. Music is for sharing, right? And, over the years, I’ve experienced some ‘interesting’ situations. Here are three of them.

My ‘holy’ guitar!

I’m prone to sea sickness, so I don’t particularly like boats. My lack of ‘sea legs’ hasn’t stopped me from playing on boats, though. And, a while back, I played on the Willian C. Daldy, New Zealand’s largest functioning steam ship.

Here’s how things went.

I’m set up and ready to go. Today, the Willian C. Daldy is cruising Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour, and there are lots of people on board. I wonder how many? Who cares? It’s nice to play to a decent audience.

The crew belong to the William C Daldy Preservation Society. These guys love steam boats. And, so, today, the guy who hired me is shovelling coal within the boat’s stiflingly hot engine room. He works in IT during the week. Go figure! I guess it’s good to have a hobby. I’d rather collect stamps, though.

I’ve been playing for a couple of sets, and all is well. The boat is swaying a bit, but that’s to be expected, and the audience is enjoying my songs.  

Oh, the boat is tilting to the left — chairs, tables and people are sliding. My PA speakers tumble, one on top of me and the other on an old man in the audience. This is serious.

I put down my guitar and rush to the man. His head is bleeding, and someone is patching him up. He could sue me! Thankfully, though, he thinks the whole situation is funny and wants a photo of the speaker that wacked him on the head. What a guy!

The boat is steady now, and I rearrange my gear. My speakers can sit on the floor this time, rather than on stands. I’m not risking them falling again. Actually, it’s a miracle that one of the speakers didn’t fall overboard.

I continue playing, and towards the end of my set, I notice that there’s a hole in the top of my guitar. Shit!

I learned a lesson today: Never put speakers on high stands while playing on an unstable boat. People can get hurt.

My Martin Dreadnought with a dent in the top.
My poor guitar.

The goldfish lady

Lately, I’ve been playing at a local retirement village. Now, senior citizens aren’t exactly my ‘target audience,’ but they’re usually a lot of fun and appreciate what I do.

Here’s what happened at a recent session.

I’m setting up my gear in the residents’ lounge, and I see an old lady seated near the stage. Nothing unusual about that, I know, but, she’s talking to someone — or something — and looks none too pleased.  

“Oh … naughty, naughty!” she says.

There’s nobody nearby, so I wonder whom she’s chastising.

“Naughty!” she continues.

Then, I see the lady pointing to something near the stage: a bowl of goldfish.

I wonder what these ‘naughty’ fish have done — they look innocent to me. I guess you can never really tell what goes on in the mind of a goldfish, though.

Anyway, I’m setting up my gear, and the lady turns her attention on me. Andrew, be on your best behaviour

“Oooh,” she says as I tune my guitar. “Oooh,” she repeats with urgency as I check the mic.

This is going to be ‘interesting.’

I kick off my set with a jazzy version of Blue Moon. The song goes down well, and I receive enthusiastic applause from the residents, including the Goldfish lady (that’s what I’ve decided to call her), who thumps her hands on a table.

She’s still scowling, though. Does she like me or not?

When I put down my guitar and reach for my ukulele, I get the feeling that Goldfish Lady likes my music.

“More!” she shouts.

“Don’t worry. I’m just changing instruments,” I assure her.

So, Goldfish lady does like me. I’m a ‘rock star!’

It’s a few songs later, and Goldfish Lady’s mood takes a turn.

“Okay. That’s enough,” she says.

Oh, audiences are so fickle!

Actually,  she’s hilarious, and I’m struggling to stop laughing.

I’ve finished my set, and one of the carers says that Goldfish Lady is over one-hundred years old. I guess when you get to that age, there’s no point in bottling up your feelings. Maybe honesty is the key to a long life?

Naughty goldfish.

Love is in the air

They say that music is the language of love. Well, I was once hired to play a song called Such Great Heights by a guy while he proposed to his girlfriend.

Here’s what I remember.

I’m at Cornwall Park in Auckland and looking for my client at the agreed meeting place. Oh, there’s the (hopefully) husband-to-be. He’s dressed in a suit and looks calm—he must be quietly confident. Imagine if his girlfriend says no? How embarrassing would that be? Anyway, we chat, and I get into position near a large rock.

I’m thinking about the song I’m going to perform. I’d never heard it before getting booked for the gig. And, with some strange rhythmic stuff happening, it was difficult to learn. I put in the work, though, and I’m confident I’ll pull it off. 

“I’ve got a photographer over there with a telephoto lens,” says my client while pointing towards a hill a short distance away.

He says that his girlfriend will arrive in a limousine soon, and he wants me to start playing  Such Great Heights once she’s out of the vehicle and close enough to hear the music.

I’m doing a quick run-through of Such Great Heights when a limousine appears. A young woman alights and looks suitably surprised. She’s walking towards my client and me. Get ready, Andrew.  She is within earshot now, so I start playing the couple’s special song. My client gets on his knee (how romantic) to pop the question. Did she say yes? Oh, it looks like she did.

Yes, the girlfriend did say yes, so it was a successful day. Mission accomplished.

Album update

I’ve almost finished recording my song Mouse in the house. Next week’s post will be less of a story and more about home recording.

To keep up to date with the progress of my album, please complete the form below to subscribe to my blog.  

Andrew Healey


Andrew is an Auckland-based writer and musician.

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