Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Giggin' with Trooper


I got the call a week or so ago "You wanna open for Trooper?"...I responded, "you had me at wanna". I used to be in a cover band in the early-mid 90's and the lead singer is still doin' his rock and roll duty and gets the odd opening act for some of the bands rolling through his neighborhood (we did an opening gig for Kim Mitchell a few years back).
This time, there was a problem. I didn't have an acoustic guitar. My old one met an untimely death in the back of a van (it was only in a gig bag and the neck was snapped off). So...I had to buck up and buy a new one. Since I plan on teaching the boy, I figured I better get a half decent one since I plan to keep it for the rest of my life. I hit the best places in town and let me tell you, in a time of recession, retail outlets need to up their CUSTOMER SERVICE. Here I am, a guy who is GOING to spend money and sales people ignored me. I went to a place where I knew people in the past and have bought many times. I wandered into the acoustic room and was greeted by a guy. 'good start' i thought. The dude helped me out for a bit and grabbed me a couple guitars to play. I asked the usual questions (at least showing I wasn't a novice...so, don't screw with me). I started to ask about price and the dude left. So I sat there and played. While I was playing another possible 'buyer' started asking ME questions about acoustics. I helped him out and gave him the low down on styles, prices, makes, etc. I started to wonder where my sales dude was as it had been about 20 minutes.
THEN, another dude walks in and say "you know we're closing in 5 minutes?". I was a bit shocked and told him "I'm waiting for the sales dude that was in here"...he shrugged and came in and started cleaning up. The guy I was helping thanked me for the help and left (the new sales dude didn't bat an eye at him...wtf?). So...since the five minutes were up, I packed up the guitar and chatted with the new guy, dropping the names of the people I knew that worked there (trying to get a reaction out of him...it didn't seem to do anything other than annoy him slightly). He walked me out (I didn't see other sales dude). All I thought was, these douches lost a sale.....dummies.
So I drove over to their competitors, who were still open for an additional 3 hours. I was greeted as soon as I walked in. I walked into their acoustic room and was followed by one of the sales guys who waited until the right time to ask me what I was looking for. I quickly told him and we went through the 'I know what I'm looking at so don't try to sell me something stupid' stuff and also the 'does the sales guy know what he's talking about'. Both were good. We worked through a few guitars and I found the one I liked ! DONE ! SOLD ! BAM ! Commission for the dude who gave me good service !
Listen people ! In every business, good customer service will get you repeat and continued business and money in your pocket, no matter if you're selling me a guitar, a pint, a car or a house !
I packed up on Thursday to hit the road with the intent of learning the songs on the way (by listening to them of course)...once I was 20 min into the drive I realized my CD was screwed...stupid Vista...so I only had the songs on my laptop which wasn't good for listening on the road.
I arrived with enough time to run thru the songs once and then head out for a pint (it was a runaway).
Gig day, we rehearsed the songs again (tunes from The Band, Barenaked Ladies, The Hip, Neil Young, Blue Rodeo, Stompin' Tom, and a couple others...funny...I can't remember which ones they were). We figured they were pretty good and we headed off for sound check at 3:30. We checked at 5:30......
Doors opened at 9pm and we weren't sure what time we were going on. We asked the bar owner and he figured 10:30 (sheesh, that's my bedtime). Trooper was on at 11:30 (yikes).
We hit the stage (the place was pretty big with two levels and the stage was a good 5-6' from the dance floor...there were at least 2-300 people there all groovin to hits of the 80's) at 10:20 and cranked out the tunes. I was impressed. We fell back into it like we hadn't stopped playing (a couple missed notes from me but nothing the crowd would notice). Even the sound guy, who's rare with the compliments, told us we sounded great. That and the cougars hitting on us afterward gave us the validation we so needed ! (ha).
Trooper came on blazing at 11:30 and had the crowd rolling with what could have been the entire playlist from Hot Shots...the only one I didn't recognize was a 'new' tune....let's jut say, this won't be a Canadian classic.
We met the guys after the show, drank their beer, ate their food, and hung out for the rest of the night.
I had the opportunity to go to their show on Saturday in Calgary for the Grey Cup Riders party (comp'ed tickets, beer, back stage) if I helped them drag swag and merch back to Calgary but that would have meant me getting up the next day at 5am (EF THAT!).
All in all a good show, a good weekend, and good guitar lost it's cherry...and we were there for a good time, not a long time, the sun don't shine everyday (see what I did there ?)
I hope there's more shows in the future.


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