A few years back two pals and I had a band called The Firecreek Band. Not a great band, but mobile, huge repertoire, and an easygoing familiarity that kept egos in check and brawls to a minimum. We were together darn near twenty years, on and off. Side projects would split us up for awhile but sooner or later the call to action would come. Lots of interesting times with those boys. We played a lot! My friend Tom, whom I met while I was playing with the aforementioned Freewheelin, checked out in '98. Way too young. He used to come see the band....yadda, yadda......Firecreek was hatched.
But this isn't about Tom, or Firecreek, but about confidence. In the early eighties we were lucky enough to get a two month gig in Bermuda. Ever been to Bermuda? Perfect. Expensive.....but perfect. We were playing at a place called The Robin Hood Pub. John Lennon used to hang out there while he was living in Bermuda working on Double Fantasy. The title comes from a flower in the Bermuda Botanical Gardens. Many a break time we'd sit in the "John Lennon " booth and.....contemplate. The movie "The Deep" was filmed there. The manager of the pub got a gig working as a gofer on the set.....and picking up Jacqueline Bissett every morning. I wish I could tell you more about that. Nick Nolte would get snockered and sit on the front steps of The Robin Hood and cry. Yeah......good times! My point........ah....confidence.
Right around the time we were playing there the Men At Work song "Down Under" came out and was huge. A guy who would hang out at the Pub soon started bartending there and we got pretty close with him.....a real likeable sort. We'd be messing around with "Down Under" and Grant would kind of be singing along and we finally convinced him to get up and sing it on stage with us. Hell, everybody else was! The first time he snuck up and hung around the back of the stage with his back to the audience...barely audible. But he got a great response 'cause everyone loved him. We were playing six nights a week and the Grant thing would happen almost every night. It would start with one or two people doing the "Grant Chant" and soon the place would be rockin' and we'd have no choice but to kick it in. The Robin Hood was more of a locals place but the cruise ships would dock two blocks away and baby give me a roomful of happy tourists egged on by happier Bermudians to make the night move. Grant was a phenom. Enter....confidence.
Grant would let the first couple of half hearted "Grant Chants" go over his head and just keep serving. When the chant hit its stride at some point, an unspoken thing would happen between us and Grant. We knew it was time and "um..dada...um da....um dada." But Grant.....MAH MAN!!!!!!!! First he'd put on his shades. Then he'd walk...no....strut to the stage......slowly......., snatch the mike off the stand and command the front of the stage as the crowd would go wild! Some comments to the room, maybe an intro of the band and.... Elvis meet Sinatra meet David Lee Roth meet....Grant. So what happened? Feedback. Large, spontaneous, sincere feedback. I have a picture of this scene and I taped our last night there so now I have proof and you know what? It ain't all that great....but you really had to be there. 'Cause there...it was great. We encouraged him, the crowd encouraged him....the other bartenders weren't that crazy about it, but they rolled, and Grant became one with his confidence and did it, man.....and did it well!
It's amazing what a pat on the back, some positive reinforcement (sure...a little alcohol may have been involved), and confidence can do for a guy. You think you can.....you can! Most of the time, anyway. The lesson? Encourage!!!!! I don't know where I heard it, but I have, taped to my kitchen cabinet, the words, "The greatest risk is taking no risk at all." It's kind of become my mantra in the last few years. You know that feeling you get when you should have tried something..... and you didn't. Not for me, man. You rock, Grant!!!! Now pass me that vegemite sandwich.