John Mayer has been shamed lately for his explicit logorrhea, and perhaps rightly so, but when he played Little Brother’s on the eve of success, he was quite polite and gracious.
I had one brief conversation with John in the parking lot after the show. But in that short talk he thanked me and my staff for our genuine hospitality, said that it was one of the best places he had played and that everyone working there had treated him and his band with respect.
I was speechless that a guy on the verge of real success in this crazy music business would take the time to show such gratitude, and speechless is something I rarely am.
He may have overshared about some big-league starlets, but when he was in the bush leagues, about to get the call up to the majors, he showed real class.
Hey kids… Pop quiz!
What show sold out the fastest in the history of Stache & Little Brother’s?
Nirvana? The Ventures? Tiny Tim and Camper Van Beethoven?
No. Nope. Nada.
It wasn’t “Jim Beam presents Lucinda Williams and Joe Ely,” Smashing Pumpkins or Sun Ra either.
Daughtry. In seven minutes. Yeah, that’s right, the American Idol also-ran Chris Daughtry.
And you know what? That success couldn’t have happened to a better guy. Believe it or not, dude man has a heart of gold.
Yes, I’m a cynic too, but the guy was at the top of the charts and he still thought he owed it to some of the little guy night clubs who had helped him get up there. We lucked out because he needed a connecting date between those guys, and the band wanted a chance to pull their act together in front of small crowds before working up to major venues.
Ben Hamilton, my talent buyer at the time, doesn’t watch TV and didn’t know who Daughtry was.
I thought it would be the biggest headache ever, far worse than dealing with Bob Pollard’s Budweiser-pounding entourage, some local open-mic hip hop artists or that troll in Nashville Pussy.
And Daughtry’s business people were absurd, asking questions like “what’s your marketing strategy?” well after the high-speed sellout. We had to compromise on numerous production issues, which was not at all unusual when the act was accustomed to playing on much larger stages. Still, we had to remind his people that he wanted to play there – an independent mid-sized club with limitations that network television would never encounter. They neglected to ask us in advance to hold back a large number of tickets for their guest list.
Consequently, I expected big hassles from the road manager. That wasn’t the case. Anything I had thought was bound to go wrong was painlessly resolved on the day of the show. And Chris himself couldn’t have been nicer.
He wanted to shave and the men’s room mirror was covered with stickers, so he went into the women’s room. Shortly thereafter, my better half, Tracy, who had just arrived to pick me up for dinner, ran in there while my back was turned. She was startled when she found the pop star grooming, and he said “Hi there. Go ahead. Don’t worry, I promise I won’t listen,” and started humming a tune.
His longtime bandmates and crew were also easy and not unlike the majority of underground rock bands.
The crowd, however, was filled overwhelmingly with women who apparently don’t get out much and didn’t seem to know how to act at a concert. I’m not sure where they learned that if you voted for a contestant on a performance television show, it somehow gave you propriety over him and all other people in the general area, like bar staff, doormen and stage personnel. They requested that Chris dedicate songs to them in return for their tireless telephone-dialing efforts. Some of the crowd showed up at 9 a.m. and made a general nuisance of themselves all day.
Regardless, once again, the old book cover adage about judgment applies. Not everybody that hangs with “dawgs” wakes up with fleas.