Gene kicked off the song on his guitar, but when he reached the end of the opening--still the lone sound of his guitar. No drums that were supposed to be playing. He didn't panic; he knew once they got rolling, everything would be fine. So he played the starting notes again. And again no drums. He kept playing. Still no drums. Five times he played through the opening before he felt a tap on his shoulder. It was his drummer.
This particular drummer, Gene explained, was particular about his stool, or "throne" as he called it. He would move it back and forth, looking for a stable spot. This time, he had placed his throne right on the edge of the drum set's elevated platform. "Hey Gene, don't laugh," the drummer said to him on stage, in front of a whole stadium of people, "but I just fell off the stand and my ass is hurt." The entire stadium erupted in laughter, as his mic had blasted his confession through the speakers. After they got started again, the gig took off. "The crowd was so crazy, clapping, we played an extra three songs," Gene said. "They didn't want us to go away."
The musician has been lead guitarist and songwriter for two bands over his career. He formed the Ripple Road Band first, a trio made of guitarist, bassist, and drummer. They played hard blues but were not afraid to blend genres, adding a twist of Latin or R&B vocals. More recently, he established Charm and Fiction, a blues band all his own. Gene is the one constant of Charm and Fiction, playing lead guitar, singing, composing songs, and is joined by different musicians when needed. Gene will admit that he's had his fair share of musical clashes with band members in the past, he is constantly drawn back to the stage, no matter the challenges.
"If a gig goes right," Gene said, "at some point, you slip under the influence of the crowd, their reactions, and you go crazy." At one gig in New York with the Ripple Road Band, he had one of these moments. A couple was sitting at a nearby table, clearly deep in the music. The guy had a Corona beer on the table. "I took this bottle of Corona beer and started to play with it as a slide!" he explained. "At first, he was like ‘What the hell are you doing with my beer?' but when I started to play with the beer, he started clapping." Once he finished his part, Gene did return the beer.
To be concluded in Part 3 next week!