Well, I beat my record Saturday in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, by playing in two open mics/jam sessions, in this tiny country in the Gulf. I was all set to pulverize my record by playing in a third jam session on Sunday night. But then it all went wrong.
I had heard about the jam session at Rocky’s Café when I was at the Dublin Club in the Ramee Palace hotel and I asked about other jam sessions or open mics. I had been told it was a little like the same jam session that I wrote about last night, at the Dublin Club. But when I got to Rocky’s Café, which is near the Dublin Club and Bennigan’s, I found a completely different environment, and little by little it all fell into disarray, and I decided to leave without playing.
Here’s what went wrong:
– arrived to warm reception by security guards outside who saw my guitar and said, “Here for the jam session?” “Yes.” They let me in. No problem here…but…
– enter reception and a greeter sees my guitar and says: “Here for the jam session?” “Yes.” He watches me enter the bar… then comes and grabs me and says, “You can just check in your guitar and then come out and get it again when you play.” I don’t want to leave the guitar at the coat-check, as I want to tune it and keep it near me, and I complain a little that it is full of: Wallet, Zoom video recorder, telephone, reading material – Mojo, Uncut, etc. -, spare batteries for recorder, jacket and one or two other things. To no avail, I remove them and put on jacket and pile full the pockets of the paraphernalia and enter the bar again.
– look at menu and ask for lamb chops for around 5000 local whatevers. “You like lobster?” “Well, yes.” Waiter points to the lobster and it costs 24000 local whatevers. “No, lamb chops, please.”
– “To drink?” “A beer.” “Huh?” “A big one.” “Oh, ok.” So next thing I know, a waitress, instead of bringing me a “pint” of beer – my meaning of “big” – brings a jug containing about five pints, or five litres of Guinness, which ever amount is bigger. I nearly fall off my chair and send her away with the oil barrel of Guinness and tell her to bring a pint, but she’s not happy at all. Next comes the waiter returning to nearly threaten me and tell me I asked for a big beer. “Yeah, but not that massive thing!!!” He pretends he does not understand what a pint of beer is when I explain, until I start to go and show him one on another table. So he accepts….
– at the break I go to the band’s singer and ask about the jam, and she sends me to the guitarist. He asks what song I want to sing, and I say “Mad World.” “Don’t know it, any others?” “Wicked Game.” “Don’t know it.” I explain that I would like to play my guitar and sing, and he says I can use his, but that they don’t like playing songs they don’t know. I say I’d like him to play lead with me, and that the songs are really easy. He says, “I’ll speak to the band and see.”
– as I see them prepare to go back up on stage – I thought – I go back into the reception to take my guitar. Now the man behind the reception tells me I cannot bring my guitar into the pub. “But your colleague told me I could do it before I play!” “No!” “OK, I’ll tell you what, I’m going to leave. You win.”
– I return to tell the guitarist I am not going to play, I hate the place and the people running it, and I’m leaving. Turns out he’s from Quebec, we have a great little chat, he offers me his guitar to play. He’s a great guy, and I have no complaints about the band – as they seem very cool indeed.
But I still had a bad, bad impression of Rocky’s and although it did not happen during the time I was there, I was sure I would be accosted at some point by one of the 15 or so women hanging around the bar – as they had visibly been doing with the 80 or so men at the tables….
So, no, not my favorite evening, and I was glad to get out of Rocky’s. Still, I’m sure it all just got off on the wrong foot. But I do, I do very much hate open mics or open jams where you are not allowed to bring a musical instrument into the bar where they take place.
In the meantime, while you think about that tale, check out my Bahrain installment of my quickly developing World Wide Open Mic Guide: The Thumbnail Guide to Bahrain Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music.