Playing at the Rodeo Cookoff

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Admittedly, this was a little odd for me. I don’t really go to the rodeo for a lot of reasons not the least of which that I just don’t care to watch animals spurred and ridden for pleasure nevermind my basic lack of interest in country music, but I got a call to go play and so here’s my story.

I get a call on Saturday at noon from Artie Villasenor, the guitarist I worked with in the Basics in the 90’s. His bassist (Jake Jacobs, a tremendous player himself) got a gig that he had to make that night during the same time they were supposed to do their second set at the rodeo barbeque cookoff.

He basically needs me to fill in for an hour. I had no other gig and I figured it would be fun. Mainly, the gig consists of rock, blues and Latin stuff – Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Led Zeppelin, etc. The set was fine. It was a fairly easy gig and I enjoy playing with the guys.

The journey to get there was fairly arduous. I had to park about 4 blocks away and haul probably 75 pounds of gear (2 basses and a bag full of cables, etc) in the rain. On the way there, fortunately, one of those bike guys with the little rikshaw behind him pulled up and offered a ride. When I asked how much, he said, “Whatever. Don’t worry about it,” noting my gear. He took me half the way and I gave him $20 – well worth it to keep my gear dry.

Once I got there, the line for tickets had to be a few hundred people deep – all with umbrellas. I had no idea where to go and Artie was in the middle of his first set so no way he was answering his phone. I took shelter in one of the ticket taker booths that was closed and normally used for collecting money for parking in the lot that contained the festival. Not only was it open, but it was freakin’ heated! Bonus.

I dropped my gear off there and headed – in the rain – to scope out the gate. I found out I could get in pretty easily, went back and got my stuff and sloshed into the festival. I still wasn’t sure where to go but was directed to the right tent and made it ok.

It was so damn wet everywhere and cold…yuck. Plus, I’ve never been anywhere where the sound outside of the myriad of tents jammed with people and bands was LOUDER than inside of them. You had to yell just to be heard on the grounds!

Anyway, got in, had a good set and managed to walk the 4 blocks back in only a light sprinkle.

Funny to go to a place so loaded with country and western stuff, barbeque – hell, ther was even a professional bull rider at our tent making announcements! How do you beat that?

It was fun playing and I made a little cash on the side – never a bad thing. Plus, I was able to test my stamina after almost a month of working out by toting that 75lbs back to my truck 4 blocks away. The walk wasn’t too bad, but dodging drunk people – especially one’s falling directly in front of you face down in puddles of mud (seriously) – was tricky.

Bottom line: I’ll go back if I’m being paid to attend, but those who enjoy the rodeo can have fun there. I’ll be somewhere else. 🙂

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