Updated February 10, 2023
Dodging a Brahma bull at a Seagrams 7 gig
By Ryan Thomson
On a cold winter morning, a couple of weeks after I had finished up teaching a course in "The Psychology of Music" at the University of New Hampshire, I found a classified ad in a Boston newspaper reading: "fiddler wanted for country band, auditions being held." At the time, I had been playing blues fiddle on electric violin in a local blues band along with a sax, guitar, bass, drummer, and vocalist. Our biggest venue up to that point had been the local American Legion Hall.
When I went to Boston to audition for the fiddle job, they also were auditioning electric lead guitar players. While waiting my turn to play, I got to jamming with a particular guitarist who was strongly blues oriented. He was a great player and we hit it off immediately, trading solos and exchanging riffs and by the time they called me in to play, he was asked in also.
We were both called back and hired and within a few days we were off to Nashville. Just prior to my audition the band that hired me had made it all the way to the national finals of the Seagrams 7 Country Band Contest. Although they had only made to second place in the nationals according to the judges, the president of the Seagrams company had preferred them to the winners.
Our Nashville agency booked us into a continual stream of week long gigs and after a month of rehearsing on stage in public at honky tonks in Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, and New York, the Seagrams company contracted us to play for a private party in Arizona. They flew the band out to Scottsdale for a weekend, putting us up at the Pointe, a fancy resort with unlimited use of the facilities.
We did a two hour performance on Saturday night at a western style theme park that the company had rented. In the middle of our gig in a large barn like building, the barn doors opened and in came a scantily clad "cowgirl" riding the biggest brahma bull that I have ever seen.
She seemed to have trouble directing the bull to continue straight across the dance floor to the doors on the other side. Perhaps the bull was distracted by our band which was in the middle of playing a song on stage. At that point the bull turned and wandered directly towards the stage. It didn’t look good to me. Our ground to a halt and I backed up in the other direction with my fiddle close in hand! Fortunately for everyone concerned, a couple of "cowboys" rushed in to lead the bull back out the way he had come.
Written by Ryan Thomson 1996
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