I don’t know what got me thinking about summer jobs. When I was in my early 20s I had a pretty memorable one in the lake region of northern Michigan, near Traverse City. I was pretty much staying with my girlfriend in New York at the time, had a cheap apartment in Philly where my stuff resided at the whopping rate of $150 a month, and was supposed to have been commuting to New York on weekends to a shitty job selling oriental carpets, while pursuing a musical dream that never materialized in the City of Brotherly Love. In reality, I was spending all my time with this girl, who was quite a handful. She was taking off to stay at her grandmother’s cottage by a lake, and I was not about to be without her for a whole summer. So I quit my job and went with this 19-year-old heartbreaker for a blind adventure. All my friends called her Danger. Let’s just leave her identity at that.
Arriving in Michigan, I needed a job. Danger took me with her to this giant old converted barn-like building that had been turned into a thrumming nightlife spot called The Cabbage Shed. The owner, Jim, who had restored this old 19th century general store / warehouse, was a great guy, if not the most thorough checker of backgrounds. I walked in and announced that I was a bartender from New York. In reality, I had set foot behind a bar only a couple of times, and that was to pour draft beer into plastic cups at some dive on the Upper West Side. So, when my first customer ordered a Gibson neat, I was stumped. I picked it up quickly, though, and ended up being a bartender in NYC for the next 5 years or so, until I started playing music full time.
Speaking of music, the Cabbage Shed was also a live music venue. Added bonus! A lovable stoner named Gus, who lived upstairs and held some kind of job at the cabbage shed, was a singing guitar player, and had put together the Elberta Blues Band. The drummer, if I remember correctly, was Ed the Goat Farmer. This was not a band of pros, but they were a lot more experienced than I was at the time. I had to get a piece of that action. So before too long I worked my way into a featured guest harmonica player role. I would be behind the bar slinging drinks, when Gus would call me up to the stage. I would run up and play a couple of harmonica solos, and then run back behind the bar. It was fun as hell, and I was hooked.
I can’t recount too much more about my adventures that summer without turning this into a sordid affair. But, they were quite memorable. That was probably the best summer job I ever had. Please comment and tell us yours.