And from Olean I hurried on westward, I am-scrayed, ski-daddled– what have ya– on over to the Lakeview in “Mayberry,” Mayville, NY. Again, my expectations low. Justifiably so ; We came here right on the heels of “Ten Days on Tour,” an experience I thought would change my life and there we were, watching ourselves on TV at The Lakeview with maybe twenty people there. Not that the Lakeview is a big place, twenty people and it doesn’t feeel empty, but still it’s twenty people. We’re on TV. Nationally syndicated TV….I think twenty people saw that show, and that’s a liberal estimate.
And If twenty people seems like not-a-lot, consider that I have played the Lakeview to NO one. I mean NO one, not even the bartenders. At one of my Sunday afternoons there two summers ago, It was suggested that I play out on the patio (at least until the Bills game was over) and I did And it was a nice enough late summer day when I started and I think the plan was that maybe some bikers might stop by if they saw me playing out on the porch and that might have worked ‘cept the weather turned ugly and there I was on the patio, playing in the rain, soaking-wet, to the passing traffic. It was about the best example I can give of “this is so beyond-lame that all you can do is laugh about it,” And I did if I remember correctly. There I was in this god-awful weather and I was like “this looks like Ireland right now…” and I ordered up a Guinness from Inside and started singing Irish stuff: Pogues, Flogging Molly’s, Traditional stuff and after awhile a few cars stopped––probably mostly out of curiosity– and by the end of the afternoon I was under the awning sitting at a table with some folks who had a cottage across the lake. Playing them whatever they wanted to hear..they invited me over to the house for dinner (I didn’t go) and threw a couple hundred bucks in tips at me and the day ended up being a victory and one I’ll never forget.
Regardless. I drove a gazilion- miles-an-hour from Olean to Mayville to try and make the gig on time and I get there at about 4:45 for a 5pm start and there’s a few cars in the lot and maybe forty people inside waiting for me…they’re not just there coincidentally. I know this because I walk in and its “where the hell ya been?” and I’m like “I’m not late, yet..” And there’s a few of my regulars: Kat and Dawn from Erie are there, Pug from-the-bar is there, the Dunkirk people are there.. Randy Hofgren is there. “Dude, isn’t this show a lil OLD already?” But I’m happy to give the Swede an excuse to get out of his man-cave on a Sunday.” And Elaine is out with him so I’m figuring there’s your designated driver..Randy is going to misbehave (this later proves to be a correct assumption). And I get set up and Coach and Teri show up and Stacie St. George and Missy Coyle show up and the two-Nancy’s-from-Erie show up and I’m walking to the Mens rooms and this fella walks up and say’s “hey man, I’m the guy who re-soled your boots,” and thus I made the acquaintance of Tony “short-shoes.” And I get to playing and everybody is havin’ a good time and making noise and the beer is flowing and the Jager starts coming and I have to put the brakes on when they’re lined up in front of me “Dude’s I’m driving.” And Keith and Heather show up some other folks with familiar faces whose names I don’t know show up and I’m thinkin’ all I ever wanted to be way-back-when is to be that guy who has that show that is the “thing to do.” Keith Urban had that way back when I first moved to Nashville. Before he was famous. He played Jacks Guitar Bar once a month and If you were hip you didn’t miss it: It was “the thing to do.” The Warren Bros had that at the Bunganut Pig: “We ain’t the best band in the world, but ya gotta admit we are FUN.” It’s a hard thing to build. And there I am in Mayville, NY– looking at the room that– on a Sunday afternoon (make that a Sunday evening) when the Academy Awards are on–is FULL. And it’s just me and my guitar and the place is rockin’ and the girls are dancing–Randy HOFGREN is dancing–and when it’s time to call it a night and let everybody watch the Oscars on TV the tip jar makes it around the room and comes back with some tens and twenties in it and it’s “Hell with the Oscars McGraw. You ain’t done playin’ yet!”
And between the nice people in Olean and my friends who came over the hill to the Lakeview I came home with some cash in my pockets (a good thing considering I’d have to invest in a new snow tire, a new spare and some maintenance on my trailer the next day) and the very satisfying feeling that maybe I’ve finally gotten to that point in my so-called-career where maybe I’m not rich or famous but my show is “the thing to do.”
It was a great day. Thanks Kat and Dawn, Coach and Teri, Randy and Elaine, The two Nancy’s, the Dunkirk people, Keith and Heather, Pug, the snowmobilers and Ice fisherman, Stacie and Missy, all those familiar faces who’s names I don’t know…you’re why I do what I do.