Monday, January 05, 2009

The Minotaur with a Steel Plate

"Hey, get me a coke . . . "

That was the cordial greeting I received the first time I met Joe Vento. I was subbing on a gig, he was eating dinner, I introduced myself, and that was what he said. No more, no less. No, "Hi, glad to meet you, welcome to the band. I'll be through in a minute here."

And the evening went downhill from there. His claim to fame is that his accordion stopped the bullet that would have terminated him with extreme prejudice in the military (I don't think he was being shot at because of his playing, but I can't guarantee it).

Now, years and crotchety, crusty years later, he has a dilapidated big band that plays Wednesday eves. at Los Hadas Mexican Restaurant in Northridge.

He conducts this band with a baton.

A woman dressed in her finest plumage--she used to be some kind of dancer--flits and cavorts fitfully in front of the bandstand.

He tunes up the women, but not the men.

The fourth trombone part is played by a man with an amplified bassoon.

A high school kid in the trombone section made a mistake, and Joe humiliated him publicly.

I mentioned Joe Vento to a trumpet player friend, and he said, "Everyone has a Joe Vento story."

If someone calls me to play Los Hadas on a Wednesday night, I know whose band it is, and I'm always busy. There are certain labyrinths I refuse to venture into--I know the minotaur already.


Post a Comment

<< Home