Box Office Concerts (1996? – 2014).
My job at the theater was OK. It was busy before the shows started, then a long break, then we would let those first shows out and repeat the process, two or three times a shift. The in between slow times were boring, and there was nothing to do. Then I got an idea.
I asked my manager, David Kimball, if I could bring up my standard guitar and play in the box during the in between periods. The Inwood was known for being a fun place to go to, and an innovative place to work. David thought it was a great idea. Box Office Concerts were born.
I was scheduled the same two nights each week, Tuesday and Wednesday. I’d play from about 5:30-6:00 before the first rush started for the 7-8PM shows, and then play another half hour from about 8:00-8:30 before the last shows started.
Things evolved. First I just played my standard guitar. Pet Dog Guitar is a 60’s standard Silvertone bought at Sears for about $50. Then I brought an amp. I had a small practice amp, about the size of a shoe box, that fit the ticket window perfectly – pure luck. I would hook up my mike to that, put it on the mike stand, strap on my guitar, stand up, stand back, and play and sing into the single mike.
People liked it. I got lots of fun press for both me and the theater; and the pictures, a man playing guitar in a glassed in box office, looked offbeat and original. Even the three original owners of the entire theater chain praised my Box Office Concerts when they visited from California.
My favorite audiences were kids. For many of those years there was an ice cream shop or a frozen yogurt place next door, and many families would be walking by with their desserts. The young kids would hear the music and always react the same. They would see me playing, freeze with their mouths open and their eyes wide, check with their parents to see if I was dangerous, and then begin to dance to the beat! I often had two, three, or more kids running around and swinging to the music while their parents watched, or clapped.
There was one mom who often walked her daughter Phoebe in a baby carriage in the evenings. Phoebe seemed to love to hear me play. And because I did it for 15+ years, Phoebe actually grew up during that time. I saw her mother recently. She said Phoebe is now taller than her and in high school.
My favorite adult response was one I got many times and it was always the exact same wording. They would hear me first, then discover me playing, and say:
I thought you were a radio!
Photos by DAVID McGHEE