When I was in the play, a man named Ed was the assistant director. He has a sound board, and 2 digital cameras. He and his wife, Ellen, record events, and Dan and I have teamed up with them to create an act combining comedy/magic and karaoke.
Saturday, Apr. 24, was our first scheduled performance. It was at a cabin/camping grounds lodge near a small town. There was a large main building, and a food service room with a covered porch. They had an assortment of small cabins in various locations on the grounds.
They were hosting an Arts & Crafts festival and were happy to have another activity (the karaoke) to entertain the customers. It was a day to remember (and learn from)…
When we called them, they enthusiastically wanted the karaoke, and said they could put us in the amphitheater. Amphitheater! That sounded good. Okay.
Saturday morning dawned rainy. Not good, but we’d had a few rainy days where it slacked off and the rest of the day was dry, so we hoped this would prove to be the same.
We arrived, and were directed to the amphitheater, which turned out to be over yonder a way from the main arts and crafts area – a medium-small covered wooden stage down the hill at the bottom of a hollow. (At least it was dry inside.) Not promising, but Ed and Ellen drove over there. Dan and I stayed in the hearse at the top of the hill, waiting for the rain to slacken. It didn’t.
The karaoke equipment was in Ed’s van, and he was determined to unload it and have a practice run, rain or no. So he and Ellen started unloading. I had a card table and a few other items to bring, but even though the rain was lighter, it was still dropping. I was not going to carry stuff over trudging through the wet, so I waited.
It finally turned to mist, so I brought the table and items up the loading ramp to the stage. The stage was high enough that steps were needed to get down to the audience. There were no steps, but there was no audience, either, so no problem there.
In the meantime, Dan had driven the hearse over to the gravelled parking area by the food service room, and was given permission to set up under the covered porch, since any grassy area was, by now, too soggy to park on without getting stuck.
Meanwhile, back at the “amphitheater,” we discovered that one speaker distorts sound, and Missouri mud is sticky red clay. I went through my songs. I was very relaxed, because no one was there. Four people were at the top of the hill, looked down briefly, and moved on.
After I had gone through my songs and we’d adjusted everything we could possibly adjust, it was time for lunch. We’d brought food with us, so we ate and talked. Lunch over, we sat and talked. And waited for the rain to stop. And waited. We finally decided it was time to pack up and go home. We did have reservations about Ed being able to get the van up and out of the hollow, seeing standing puddles of water and rivulets running down the hill, but decided we’d figure it out.
The van has front-wheel drive, but even so, it wasn’t going hill-climbing. The tires spun. The mud flew. There was a small area of gravel on the dirt just before the loading ramp, so I told Ed to back up to that. He’d have a small level space of gravel for a bit of traction, then to turn the wheel left and travel parallel to the hillside. The trees were fortunately spaced far enough apart, that he’d be able to wiggle his way over to the gravel road. And thus to freedom.
Well… along comes a fellow in a Jeep. Dan had told him that we were over here, and he’d come to see if we needed help. He told Ed NOT to drive along the hillside, but to follow him DOWN the hill to the bottom (through standing water), then run UP the opposite hill which was as steep as the hill he was on now. I’m sure he meant well, but he seemed to fail to realize that HE was in a JEEP, and ED was in a VAN.
Ed followed him down the hill, and tried to run up the opposite side. I didn’t see it all, but the upshot of it was, he couldn’t make it up the hill, slid down, and ended up in mud up to his rear axle. He wasn’t going anywhere, now.
Ellen climbed to the top, calling their auto club. She was informed that, since they were off the beaten track, it would cost $102 to get a tow truck with winching facilities out there. OUCH!! The man with the Jeep (and another guy) called a local winch/tow driver, and he quoted $60, so Ellen canceled her club call.
Happily for us all, the driver arrived soon, attached two cables to the van and started reeling it up the hill like a fish. Presently the van was on level, gravel ground. We all left for home, in good spirits.
Not the best spirits, however. Ed and Ellen had paid $30 for the location and electricity, and $60 for the winch/tow. Expenses, $90 (not including gasoline.) Profit, $0. (Thankfully Dan made a little money.) A less-than-auspicious beginning for our karaoke venture, but valuable lessons were learned – not the least of which was, Never Under-Estimate Missouri Mud. The Karaoke Fiends will return!