Cover Band Soap Opera: Bar Owner Demands We Play 'Rocky Top'; Calls Us A-Holes When We Cannot

And now: The continuing ridiculous adventures of my Cincinnati rock cover band.

This is a simple story yet a good one. One of the first bars we ever played at was a real dive. I guess technically it was classified as a “sports bar,” and I suppose that category garnered more respect in the Yellow Pages than, oh say, “crap-hole.” We had all kinds of problems at this bar – all because of the owner, who was a nice enough guy at 9 p.m., but drunk as hell come the witching hour.  He was the type of guy who, when he talked to you, immediately gave off this vibe like “No young smartypants college boy is gonna tell me how to do anything!”


The first time we played there, he stumbled up to us and requested “some Rocky Top!” If you don’t know what this song is, you probably don’t watch college football nor live anywhere near the South. It’s a well-known southern song that the University of Tennessee has adopted as its football fight song. We told Mr. Bar Owner that, no, we don’t have any banjo players in the band at this juncture, nor did we even know the first chord of the song. He walked away murmuring something under his breath.  Anyway – whatever, things didn’t really boil over until the next show.

So we’re back at the bar a few weeks later and, hell’s bells, the bar owner zig-zags up to us and asks us if we learned the song yet. We say no. Then he says a new bride and groom just came in (what the hell they were doing there only God knows), and offered to spend an additional $300 at the bar if the band could play “Rocky Top.” It was an interesting scenario, but we still said the same thing: “Sorry, man – no can do.” It was somewhere around this moment that Mr. Bar Owner just blew a gasket and called us A-holes and idiots and other stuff along those lines. Somehow, we were never invited back to play. 

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