Friday, August 1, 2008

"Uncle Johnny's Tips for Musicians" (Scene) August 2008

Update: This entry is from my column that originally appeared in the Northern Colorado entertainment magazine The Scene. While I'm not doing this column anymore, I'm still as involved as I can be in the Fort Collins area music scene in general.

This edition’s topic: Hotel Life

I’ve been practically living in hotels for around twenty-five years. My nightly accommodations run the gamut from splendid historic European establishments to filthy dives that my friend Jared calls "touch nothing" motels. And in between, chains like Comfort Quality 8 Inn, varying immensely in both "Quality" and "Comfort." I implore you or your tour manager, research. Some are fine at $49 but I’ve run horrified from places in the $100 range, wanting to douse myself and my belongings with rubbing alcohol. The reviews at and other sites are a Godsend of recent years. Here are a few more tips to make your stay in Dullsville, Ohio a little less stressful.

1. You DID WHAT?! Hotels will often give your room away if you arrive late. Of course, being a musician, you will often arrive late because you GET OFF WORK AT 3 AM! Have reservation numbers ready to shove under their noses, and check in pre-show whenever possible.

2. Become The Things In The Lobby! Most desk clerks are efficient and courteous. When they are not…. I’ve learned to deal with self-important, big city hipster hotel staff in my own way. Scenario: The smarmy clerks are fawning over a long line of resplendently dressed business types and ignore the (ugh)....musicians with guitars and backpacks. You are late for an interview and/or sound check. Be what they fear most! Become...THE THINGS IN THE LOBBY! Start by peeling a banana. Lie down en masse on a pile of your gear and bags. Put your feet up on the faux leather ottoman. Feign sleep. Don’t get thrown out, just be the friendly, smiling eyesore. You’ll be in your rooms in minutes.

3. The Sharp-Dressed Man. Living out of a suitcase, I occasionally arrive to find the iron was stolen and never replaced. Hanging clothes to steam on the shower rod gets you soaked clothes. I hang my things behind the shower head using my own roll of packing tape and plastic hanger. I emerge looking like I stayed at the Hilton.

4. Knock Knock...houseKEEPing! (Dealing with sadistic hotel maids.) I know these people have unpleasant, low-paying jobs with slave-driving bosses. Give them the benefit of the first. Most are sweet hard working folk but some are uncaring and laugh at the "Do not disturb" sign you placed on the door at 3 a.m. They yell to one another outside your door at 7. They rap on it every 5 minutes, loudly chirping that one phrase like a screwdriver in your ear, even after you try to explain that you got to sleep 4 hours earlier and prearranged a late check out. First, call the front desk. If you are ignored, all bets are off. When the maid comes to torture you again, be ready! If you are not already naked, become so immediately. If your hair is not already a tangled mess, make it one. Distort your face into that of a homicidal maniac and yank the door open wide, roaring and staggering like a wild animal with a tranquilizer dart protruding from its neck. The last time I employed this tactic the offending maid crossed herself and muttered “oh no!” as she scurried away. I slept like a baby till noon.

Uncle Johnny, over and out.