There’s a fantastic Facebook page called Bandwiches. As a member you can upload pictures of your food supplied for musicians by clients. I think it started out as a page for musicians to vent their frustrations about the inadequacy of the food. I have certainly had my fair share of “token gesture” food. Sometimes we will be fed with a multipack of crisps and garage forecourt Ginsters sausage rolls. There are times when you get a pot of hummus and five carrots sicks between eight members of the band and the two sound technicians, and it seems that more often than not, at high end hotels, they consider a tray of sandwiches made up the day before with dry curled up crusts and a few handfuls of bitter salad leaves thrown in the middle, ample food for the musicians and what really grates is that the true client is properly being charged an astronomical price for this and they are completely unaware.
Once we had a Pukka pie and chips bought for us from the local chippy which was amazing. However, they bought it hours in advance of us arriving and although they had the foresight to keep it in a warm oven, they failed to remove the white polystyrene trays which melted and merged with the food. Of course we picked off the plastic and ate around the carcinogenic nightmare!
Another memorable experience was being offered cheese and crackers as pre gig sustenance. We were quite excited by this but were disappointed when the Jacobs crackers and cheddar cheese had a cloying effect, extracting every last ounce of fluid from our mouths and leaving us unable to talk or swallow. It was horrific and hilarious at the same time as despite the discomfort, we would laugh at each others reactions and bellow out clouds of cheesy wheat dust.
The cheese and crackers was a recurring theme and in a small town in Oxfordshire we arrived famished. Double Meat was so hungry that he immediately tucked into to the cheese board, heading straight for the mozzarella balls. These turned out to be very posh quenelles of butter. I made the exact same mistake years later at another gig. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a mouth full of butter or oil, but the signals from your brain are immediate and intense. It tells you in no uncertain terms to spit it out.
This sounds like I’m being ungrateful. There have been times where we have been completely spoiled with food and drink and clients often really look after us. Even with the mediocre food, who am I to complain at free food? Okay, so it is stipulated in the contract (and that is what usually riles us as musicians) but there aren’t many jobs that include food and drink as payment. In fact, the Bandwiches page has a slogan: #TIASTFU - Tuck in and shut the f*** up!
It’s a great reminder to be grateful and I use it all the time. I’m reminded of an episode with Good Times which involves food from a client. We played a function and in the interval we were invited to join the queue for the buffet. The queue was long and when we eventually exited the left to right trestle table system with our food we had just two minutes to wolf it down and get back on stage. Double Meat and I opted to sneak our half eaten meals back onto stage as we knew that we could hide it behind the stands and drop down out of sight to finish off the mini sausages, quiche and chicken satay skewers. Good Times however, used the two minutes to devour the whole plate. He was still chewing as the first song of the second set started. To his credit, he didn’t miss a beat and managed to hamster the food into his cheek pockets whilst blowing the trombone. I don’t know what his conservatoire brass teacher would have thought of this embouchure technique but it seemed to be adequate enough for our slapdash band. All was going well and then the Duke gave Good Times the nod for a solo. Good Times prepared himself by taking a deep breath but his mouth was a bit too close to the mouthpiece and the first note of his solo sounded like the Disney scene where the elephant gets his trunk squeezed. The rest of his solo was taken up with him bursting into a coughing fit and then extracting a large chunk of masticated food that had lodged in his trombone. He’d sucked the food in and it had hit the back of his throat.