A promising young American artist’s London debut threatens to
implode – at the hands of a fellow (and famous) American singer-songwriter.
this is a good one! My first record, Miles
Away, was released through One Little Indian Records in the UK. On
the day of the release, I was scheduled to do a 30-45 minute set at the
Borderline in London.
So, we got a five piece band together, practiced, and got ready for our first
trip to the UK from the US!
the time got closer and closer for our departure, we were growing more and more
nervous about the Borderline website calendar stating nothing about my
performance. It only mentioned that a guy by the name of Mot Llessur (some
names have been changed to protect the idiots. If you really need to know the
true identity, use a mirror) would be playing a show that night. After
questioning that, i was told that I would be opening for Mr. Llessur.
this time, the girl that One Little Indian put in charge of setting things up
seems to have disappeared off of the face of the earth. Out of coincidence, we
noticed that Mr. Llessur was going to be playing at a local venue close to our
home, a few weeks before the Borderline gig, so we thought we would check it
go to the gig, watch Mr. Llessur’s show, and at the end introduce ourselves,
and tell them that we are scheduled to open for him at the Borderline a few
weeks later. Mr. Llessur seemed a bit confused by that and stated that he
thought there was a different opening act, but went more than out of his way to
say that it did not matter to him and that everything would be totally fine
with him, no matter who the opener was.
Llessur seemed like a wonderful man, commenting several times about how
beautiful I was, blah, blah blah. We exchanged CD’s, hugs and goodbyes, and it
seemed like we had a great protégé/mentor and fellow American to make the big
first trip to the UK
a little more comfortable.
We arrive at Heathrow, the last incoming flight of the night. As we are
carrying our bags and guitars to the checkpoint, we are asked for our work
permits. Work permits? We knew nothing about that. We were then told that since
we were there to work, we needed work permits before we could leave the
airport. About this time, some of the band members started getting a bit
mouthy, and the British security let us know right away that they were not
going to take any American bullshit. After pleading and begging and telling
them that we were more than likely not going to make a dime from this single
gig, they did some background research on us, and decided to let us in,
however, warning that if they see anything on the TV the next day about some
new American star breaking out hugely in London as a result of the show, that
we would be in trouble! By this time, we had become somewhat buddies with
security, but something told me that they meant what they said.
The next day (or maybe the day after that), off to the Borderline we go. We
arrive early to an empty pub. We anxiously begin setting up our equipment not
knowing if the tour manager will end up showing up to give us some guidance. We
move forward, not really having any idea of what we are supposed to be doing:
no tour manager; no One Little Indian; period. Then enter Mr. Llessur! He walks
over to the table where some of us are sitting with a big smile on his face. It
was like meeting with a long lost friend. We more than likely exchanged a hug,
and I was probably told how beautiful I was again. Then, Mr. Llessur asks me
how the show went? Show? What show? “I have not played yet. I am playing
before you.” Mr. Llessur then loses a bit of his smile and says he’ll be
right back. So, we all stand there totally confused about what just happened.
the meantime, the drummers are talking and decide that mine can share the kit
of Mr. Llessur’s drummer. All his bandmates seem like cool guys and we talk and joke with them.
Then, Mr. Llessur enters again with a ferocious look on his face, and all hell
commences to breaking lose! I don’t recall all of what was said, but do recall
white foam in the corners of his mouth and some wonderful droplets of spit
flying through the air as he begins stating that he does not care how beautiful
I am or if I can sing better than Lucinda Williams; that he hates opening acts,
and that I can play for only 15 minutes. That if the show goes a second past
that, he would personally pull the plug, and that he didn’t care how many
fuckin’ Little Indians were there — there would be blood on the walls!
then bullied his bandmates a bit about being nice to us, and about blew his top
a second time when he learned that his drummer was sharing his kit with my
drummer. His bandmates just stood there looking rather embarrassed and a bit
frightened by their boss’ behavior, but it seemed apparent that this was not
the first time they seen him go off.
By this time, I have no desire to play any show, and still no one from One
Little Indian has shown up. After what seems like forever, one of the office
ladies from the label shows up. She was a very cool lady and actually took us
out on the town the night before. She had been in the music business for a long,
long time and was quite toughened-up and strong. When we told her about the
situation with Mr. Llessur, she smiled and laughed a bit and said it would be
OK. But she had not just seen the devil himself like we had!
then grabs my manager, and they head to a back room to the office of the bar
owner, a very tall bald man — very kind, but also seeming a bit intimated and
nervous. It was obviously because he had already been confronted by the wrath
of Mr. Llessur. He then tells my manager in kind of a nervous “screw-Mr.-Llessur”
tone to go ahead with the performance as planned. My manager is very reluctant
to follow this advice, especially when he is told that the bar owner will be
leaving for a soccer (football) game in a few minutes, and will not be around
to be part of the blood spilling.
this time, the lady from One Little Indian courageously says that she is going
to go find Mr. Llessur and have a talk with him. She had not met him, and had no
idea of what he was capable of. But she was a beautiful, great-spirited woman
with a nice British accent, and should have no problem sweet-talking some
American redneck. Against our best advice, she enters the lion’s den.
more of the One Little Indian tribe shows up, including the owner Derek. We do
our best to explain the situation to him, but he takes the situation rather
lightly. After a few minutes the One Little Indian lady reappears. She is
completely overwhelmed, distraught, with tears flowing down her face, at the
same time trying to reassure us that everything was fine, and that we could
play a 20 minute set, but then need to get out of there.
We now went from feeling sorry for ourselves to feeling incredibly sorry for
her. It was like she has seen the devil himself, and that he showed her no
mercy. She did state that she had never met a person like that, who had either
no soul, or heart, or maybe both. She was so upset that I am not sure that she
stuck around for the show, or if she did, she left immediately after our set,
escorted by a co-worker.
we play our first $10,000, 20-minute London
show, and my first real nervous breakdown begins… but I still love you, Mr. Llessur!
Jen Gloeckner’s latest album Mouth Of
Mars is now out on the Spinning Head
label. Put down that mirror and head over to her official website where you can
hear it streaming now, or visit her at her Facebook page. Make sure you tell
her you heard about Mr. Llessur through BLURT…