The song’s tempo shifts and
the outfit slides easily into
a softer sound.
Impeccably nuanced for a bar band.
R. used to own the joint; but he sold it.
He would neither confirm nor deny this.
He heard him directly asked twice, separately, and all he would give up is:
I work here.
He returns nightly.
He emerges from the back of house with a
fresh bus rag. He flaps it,
like a matador,
before folding it into a small square.
He does not even give up
He magically produces a broom and dust pan to
sweep the carpet.
They don’t make ’em like that anymore?
Hardest working man in show business.
The smell of cologne breaks through, suddenly.
I breathe it in deep. Try to see the source.
That was a fun song: the singer says, tuning his guitar.
He and the fellow on keys banter between songs. Long enough to be ready for the next song. Not too long.
The bass and drums do not laugh along or smile.
The funky bassist.
There is a reason he is front and center.
He has no mic. He does not solo.
Nothing is the only part he overplayed.
He is perfectly on point. Tight.
A self-indulgent guitar solo becomes necessary at his command.
The guitarist announces the set break.
We now pause for this brief station identification: I think.
Guitar and keys wander out the back door
to the smoker haven.
Bass bums around with the crowd.
The perfectly understated drummer (rarest of the rare) escapes my awareness.
I look up at the screen above me and am informed carpet is being liquidated.
I stop looking at the screen.
The bassist is the first to return to his position.
Standing in his spot. Waiting.
The drummer appears moments later. Seated at his station.
The bassist sits down on an amp and starts playing along with the song on the jukebox.
/gotta have that funk/
You got it: I think.
He plucks a quick harmonic, wrapping up, as the guitar and keys return to the stage.
Stands back up, he takes his place between the two.
Guitar and the fellow on keys banter. Long enough to be ready for the next song. A bit closer to too long this time.
Tuning strings, the singer says: all right. We are gonna play the same set for you all over again…you guys look like you’re having a good enough time that you won’t even notice.
Hell, half of ’em probably don’t realize that you are a cover band: I think.
Deep cuts selected.
Covers of covers.
An undercover, cover band.
Clearing empties and wiping away the sticky of slightly, sloshed beer spills,
R. stops by my table.
He calls me by first and last name.
When did I tell you that information, sly, observant one?