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    Lee Wilson
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
This story is an original work of gay fiction. None of the people or events are real. While some of the town names used may be real, any other geographic references (school, events) are purely fictional. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is completely coincidental. This story depicts sexual situations between adult males. If reading this is illegal where you reside, or you are not at least 18 years of age, you are reading at your own risk. This work is the property of the author, Lee R Wilson, and shall not be reproduced and/or re-posted without his permission. Story ©2024 Lee R Wilson.

Roadie In Love - 5. Auditions and Replacements

The next morning, Eric and Kevin were up early. Kevin got his keyboard, Eric got his acoustic guitar, and they went back up to the room and played two songs a few times each, until it was time to head to the conference room for the meeting.

"You could tell it's not a bass guitar, although it's probably close enough to satisfy the fans. I suspect Allen will get us a substitute bassist, but in a pinch, I think you'd do okay. Let's get down to the meeting."

Kevin started to put the keyboard down.

"No, bring it. If there's an issue with a replacement, you'll need to play for everybody else. It's not just my call to say let you fill in."

"Oh. Everybody?"

"The rest of the band, Jason and Allen Pierce, the promoter."

Kevin was just as afraid of what was coming as he had been with Chris. When they got to the conference room, Eric had Kevin sit in the back, unless and until he was needed. Jason had a question on his face, but didn't speak it. He knew Eric would say why Kevin was there if and when the time came.

Jason led the call from this side. The promoter also had two other people on his side of the phone. "Hi Allen, Daniel, we're all set on this side. Care to introduce the other person?"

Allen replied, "Sure, Jason. She's Alexandra Plano, one of the session musicians at the studio Silver Arrow Records shares. She's a fan and knows your music, so would be a good fill-in. Daniel's here because we may have to cancel a few dates until Alex is available. There's another week of recording she's involved with right now. Jackson's out for sure, Houston is probably a no-go, and Dallas is a maybe."

Eric spoke up, "Hey, Daniel. We may have another solution for the near term."

Everybody in the room looked from Eric to Kevin.

Daniel Edmunds replied, "I'm open to suggestions, canceling shows isn't something I like to do, even just opening acts. It's too short-term to get another act to fill in. What's on your mind?"

"It's kind of a ZZ Top solution."

"You have an Elwood Francis? A spare bassist/guitar tech?"

"Not exactly. One of our road crew, Kevin Lewiston, has a keyboard. In his down time he plays Cary's and Mike's parts to our songs. I sat with him and played a couple before we came to the meeting. It's obviously not a bass, I thought it sounded pretty good though. For a couple shows, we may be able to get away with it."

"Is he there now?"

"Yes. Come on up here, Kevin."

"Hi everybody."

"Jason, is this the same Kevin that my son had a problem with?"

"The one and the same."

Allen interjected, "This is awfully strange. I don't know..."

"Isn't it worth a listen? I have a guitar, Cary can sing along, you guys can get an idea what he sounds like before saying no, can't you?"

Allen spoke up, "Hold on a minute while we discuss it."

They muted their side and spoke for a couple minutes. Finally, Allen announced their decision.

"We'll take a listen. But obviously we can't make any promises after one or two songs."

"That's fair. I did 'Enemies Never Survive' and 'Is This All There Is?' with him upstairs, so we'll do those."

Eric played the melodies, Cary sang, Pat tapped the table, and Kevin played the keys. After the songs were over, they waited for a reaction from the other side, who were muted once again. The wait was almost ten minutes, even longer than the two songs.

Finally, Allen responded, "I'll book another conference room and fly down tonight. You guys won't mind going through the whole set once or twice tomorrow, would you?"

The band looked around, nodding; only Kevin was visibly shaken. Jason announced, "Yeah. I can get the crew to bring the instruments in tomorrow."

Allen was satisfied, "If it works, we'll plan on Alex for Albuquerque, and go this route for the next three dates. If it doesn't sound good enough, we'll just have the Crowes play without an opening act for two of the three shows. I'll be in touch, Jason. Any questions from that end?"

Kevin had questions, but a semi trailer couldn't have dragged them out of his mouth at that moment. Upstairs it was just a wacky idea. Now it's just too real for him to contemplate.

He found his voice when the other end disconnected.

"Are you fucking crazy? I can't play in front of thousands of people."

Cary said, "It'll just be us tomorrow..."

Jason spoke up, "Today and tomorrow. As soon as Allen lets me know which room we have, I'll have the rest of the guys bring the basics in."

"Today and tomorrow is fine. I know all you guys. If I fuck up, it's no big deal. In an arena? I'll be shitting my britches."

"Nah, it'll be fun. How many kids get a chance at something like this, even for three shows?"

"You believe in me way too much, Eric."

Jason's phone dinged, after a minute he shared, "Allen says we can have this room the rest of the day and tomorrow. You guys keep twisting Kevin's arm and I'll go coordinate the gear."

After some more discussion, Kevin promised to do the rehearsals these two days, secretly praying Allen won't be satisfied. He didn't realize that most prayers aren't answered. By lunchtime, the road crew had the room set up with the minimum necessary equipment, and enough chairs for the fifteen of them, sans Kevin, to watch the festivities.

After the call, Kevin went back up to the room to go through the songs one more time. That and he needed to calm himself down. After lunch, everybody was settled in. Kevin started out a little nervous, but started to feel better after he faced away from most of the "audience." They went through each of the eleven songs in the set once, as if it were a live show. Mike sat close to his amp, which Kevin was plugged into. For the most part, he was smiling, knowing it sounded different, but it wasn't awful. At one point, he suggested Kevin drop his part down an octave. The second time through, they skipped three songs, since they sounded pretty good on the first run. The number of songs re-played dwindled after every mini-set. By dinner time, Kevin was exhausted, and the others felt like it had been a recording session, but were satisfied. As the repeats grew smaller, more and more of the crew were leaving, but not before giving Kevin thumbs up signs.

Kevin ate with the band for dinner, as was usual when they weren't setting up.

Mike gave Kevin a big vote of confidence, "You really did well, Kevin. It was apparent it wasn't a bass guitar, but you hit the notes, and it sounded better after I had you take it down an octave."

"Yeah, Mike, that definitely made it sound better. Even to my untrained ears. I gotta ask you all to be honest. Do you really think we can pull this off without me getting booed off the stage, or worse?"

Mike reiterated, "You already heard my opinion, yeah, I think YOU can do it."

Cary and Eric both simply agreed. Pat added a little more, "It took some getting used to, being so comfortable working with Mike, but as we kept going through the songs, more and more I was able to forget it wasn't Mike."

Smiling, Mike joked, "Oh sure. Some young kid shows me up and you want to replace me. Some friends you all are."

Cary took the joke one step further, "He'll never replace you, Mike. He wouldn't fit into your clothes."

Mike's response to that was a single-finger salute. The group continued to give Kevin support throughout the rest of the evening. By the time they turned in, Kevin thought he was feeling okay about filling in for Mike.

Back in their room, Eric queried, "Do you have any condoms, Kev?"

"No, why?"

"I just thought maybe you deserved a reward for your efforts today. You know, fuck your favorite guitar player."

"I... I don't think so. I mean, we have a good relationship as it is. If we do that as a reward for something, it, I don't know, cheapens it. If and when we do that, I'd want to make sure it's for the right reasons."

"There's that speaking your mind characteristic I love. Other guys would have jumped at the chance, even ran out to the nearest store and walked back into the room naked and wearing one."

Kevin laughed at the thought of doing that himself, "As much as I'd love to Eric, I want to wait a while. My first time didn't go as well as we had planned, and it's difficult to get past."

"I'm sorry to hear that. But lots of people struggle through their first times."

"No, it's not that aspect of it. It's the fact that a little more than a week later, he died. We never got the chance to see if would be better or worse a second time," Kevin sniffled a little.

"Oh, wow. I knew your boyfriend died, like you told me, but that timing had to have been horrendous."

"Yeah. Like I've told you, it was the first piece of shit that started falling on me this year."

"I like you a lot Kevin. I'm willing to wait until you're ready. But when you are, you'll have to tell me. Even without it being a reward, I'm at the point where it's inevitable."

"I got it. Today was tough for me, mentally. Is it okay if we just kiss and cuddle tonight?"

"Sounds like a perfect way to end an emotional day."

They undressed for bed, kissed, and cuddled as planned. Kevin only beat Eric to sleep by a couple minutes.

***********************************

The next morning, the extended band, Jason, and Allen had breakfast together.

"You look pale, Kevin. Didn't you sleep well?"

"Sleeping wasn't a problem, Mr. Pierce, now that I'm awake, I'm scared again."

"We're all friends here, call me Allen. Jason told me you essentially joined a rehearsal yesterday and did a great job. I don't think you need to be scared."

"Probably not so much for today, but if you green-light me filling in for Mike, Tuesday isn't going to be nearly the same. I think I've played for another twenty or twenty-two people in music class a couple times, but we're talking ten thousand and more."

"One thing about playing for a large crowd, Kevin, and I'm sure all four of these gentlemen would agree with me, it's a lot harder to hear any complaints over the noise. Cheers, yeah. But the scattered boo, or something worse, is literally lost in the noise."

Kevin wasn't convinced, "Unless half the crowd boos."

"Well, there's that. I have an idea how you can put that behind you right away."

"How?"

"How would the rest of you feel about changing the order of the set?"

The reasoning didn't hit Kevin right away, but Mike jumped on it, "Open with Dagger in the Back?"

"Exactly, Mike."

Kevin slowly realized where that was leading. 'Dagger in the Back' opened with a bass solo, followed by a short silence before Pat joined in, "Put me in the spotlight right away? I don't know."

"Yeah, Allen. Even better; I explain that Mike had an accident and we're starting a new trend, having a bass piano instead. Then literally putting the spotlight on Kevin."

"Sounds perfect. There's one more step before that's possible. I need to hear the whole set a couple times. And if we want to get the room set up soon enough for me to head back to the airport for a five o'clock flight, we should get hopping."

"The room's still set up from yesterday, Allen. We can go now. I even asked the Hotel to put up one of those signboards, or whatever they're called, saying we start at ten. The road crew will be there again, and with any luck, a few curiosity seekers will pop in."

It was nine-thirty-five.

"That was an excellent idea, Jason. Kevin can get independent feedback. Let's go, so everybody can make sure everything is ready."

Kevin had a panic attack when he saw the sign:

Sunday July 28
Deja Vu Auditions New Member
10:00 AM
Lower Ballroom

His panic level jumped a few notches when they walked in and there were nearly twenty people there: more than half of them strangers.

"Trial by fire I guess."

Eric slapped Kevin on the back, "Just like yesterday, you're pointed at me, not facing the audience directly. I feel good."

"I knew that you would, now."

"There you go, keep that humor level up high, and the fear way down, James Brown."

After a little warming up, gathering waters near enough to everybody, they were ready. Like the shows will open, they had Kevin take the lead. There was indeed some applause before Pat kicked in. Those that didn't applaud, smiled or tapped their toes. Very few there knew who Deja Vu was, but they enjoyed the mini-show nonetheless. By the time 'Is This All There Is?' completed, the room had nearly fifty of the fifty-four allowed by the fire code. Most were standing, so the band got an impromptu standing ovation.

The band looked at Allen. Nodding, he shared his decision, "The people have spoken. I have to admit, I had my doubts. The two-song sample yesterday sounded okay, but today... I'm sure it will work. I don't want to do it for the entirety of Mike's convalescence, but for the next three shows, like Eric said, I think we can get away with it."

The band was happy, Kevin, not much, uttering not quite under his breath, "Fuck."

Allen continued, hearing Kevin's exclamation, "Since you all are still here, it will be a long drive tomorrow, but I think we should give Kevin the opportunity do go through it once more, after lunch. We'll keep that session closed, including only folks associated with the band, although, I suspect a lot of the crew will pass on a third listen."

Cary replied, "You're the boss. Let's go get a nice lunch somewhere, maybe Kevin will relax a little, and we'll do it once more."

Before they all left, three men, all somewhat older than the boys in Deja Vu, walked up to Kevin. It took Kevin a moment to realize who they were.

“Kevin, right?”

“Um, ya-yeah.”

“I’m Chris Robinson, my brother Rich, and this is Sven Pipien. I just wanted to say how impressed I was. We only caught the end, but if you do play in Jackson, we’ll be listening closely.”

“Wow, thanks.”

Sven spoke up next, “Yeah, man. You made those ivories sing. There were points in time where it really did sound like a bass.”

Rich was nodding.

Kevin smiled wide, “Thanks, Mr. Pipien. That means a lot coming from a real pro like you.”

“Hey, brothers in the same business, you can call me Sven.”

“Okay. Thanks again Sven.”

“No problem. Good luck.”

The three of them walked away, Kevin was speechless for a moment.

“Holy shit. The Black Crowes thought I was good.”

Eric added, “You need to have more confidence in yourself, Kev.” This comment turned out to be prophetic.

The seven of them went out for lunch, and afterward, the band ran through the set once again. Everybody felt it sounded better every time. Allen caught his flight back home. Kevin decided to work with the crew, breaking down the temporary setup. He didn't want them to think he was trying to abandon them. Kevin also grabbed dinner with a few of the crew, further keeping the attachment strong. It was his usual group. Danny, Joe, and Greg Thompson joined Kevin.

Greg, the one that knew Kevin the least, had a glowing review. "That was amazing, Kevin. I never knew a keyboard could sound that much like a guitar."

"Most of the smart ones these days do. Mine has eight-hundred-twenty voices and eight octaves. I'm not as good, because of the complexity, but I can get reasonably close to Cary's sound, too."

Danny added, "Damn. If the guys ever decide to write songs with a keyboard part, you won't be a roadie anymore."

Kevin held his hands out, "No way. I'm not that good, and I'm not sure I won't freeze Tuesday night."

Joe's turn, "Well, either way, you sounded really good these past two days."

"Thanks, guys. I'm just happy they didn't have to skip dates because of Mike's injury. As long as I don't fuck up the first show."

***********************************

Kevin was in the dressing room with the rest of the band Tuesday evening, nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Any noise would make him jump and let out a little scream. Cary came up to him.

"Here, drink this, but don't tell anybody."

"What is it?"

"Scotch. It's only a little bit; maybe it'll take the edge off a little."

Kevin smelled it, he'd only ever had beer, and once vodka before, "Ewww, who drinks this shit?"

Cary kept pushing, "Tonight, you do. But if I catch you drinking again, you'll pay the consequences."

Kevin swallowed what amounted to half a shot of Scotch, "Oh, Christ. You don't have to worry about me ever drinking that shit again."

"Okay, next time we'll try Rye, or Bourbon."

"Fuck no to both of them!"

Cary smiled, "Glad to hear you say that, bro."

Jason stuck his head in, Kevin hid the glass behind him, "Ten minutes, boys. Finish up and start moving."

Thirteen minutes later, fashionably late, they were all walking onto a darkened stage. Kevin took his place at stage right, where Mike usually stood. A spotlight hit Cary at center stage.

In a horribly fake southern drawl, Cary started, "Hello Jackson! How y'all doing tonight?"

Cheers arose from the crowd.

Back in his normal New England voice, "Awesome. Hope you're ready to rock. You folks are in for a little bit different show than our usual. Our bassist, Mike Taylor had an accident four nights ago, and will be missing a few shows."

Boos this time.

"Wait, wait. Don't have a cow. We've got a temporary bassist lined up, but she won't be available until next Tuesday. So in the meantime, and a first for Deja Vu, maybe for anybody ever, one of our road crew is filling in. But he doesn't play bass, so that's the unique aspect. We'll start with 'Dagger in the Back' tonight."

Cary's spotlight went out, he muted his microphone and told Kevin, "Whenever you're ready, bro."

Kevin nodded but took two deep breaths before he started with the opening notes. As agreed, he was facing sideways, and the spotlight hit him after the first bar. Six bars later, Kevin stopped, his spotlight fading. Quite a few cheers were sounded. Another bar later, the spotlight hit Pat, and he played alone for four bars, and then the stage lit up completely and the rest of the band joined in. Mike was a little behind Kevin and off toward one side, so he could sing harmony and Kevin wouldn't need to be concerned with anything but his playing. When the song was over, the crowd's cheers were just as loud as usual after their opening song.

Cary prodded the crowd, "I guess you didn't think that sucked!"

Three songs later, Cary introduced the band, "As I intimated before, we're Deja Vu, and I'm Cary Targon." Cheers. "Above and behind me, Pat Dillon... To my left, my little brother, lead guitarist, Eric Targon... Nestled in between our keyboard bassist and Pat is our regular bassist, singing harmony tonight, Mike Taylor... And our newest member, at least on a temporary basis, on the keyboards, and substitute bassist, Kevin Lewiston."

The cheers for Kevin were a little louder than the rest. Kevin stood up, took a step to his right, faced the crowd, and bowed. The rest of the show went off without any complaints, although Kevin did miss a few notes that nobody other than the band seemed to notice. Two nights later in Houston went just as well. The intros were a little different, but Kevin still performed well. Still not perfect, but well enough. Then came Dallas.

Dallas was different than any of the other shows, as it was a small music festival. Besides Deja Vu and the Black Crowes, three other bands took part: Government Mule, Blues Traveler, with Lynyrd Skynyrd as the headliners. When Kevin found out they were playing in AT&T Stadium, with an SRO capacity of one-hundred-five thousand, more than five times either Jackson or Houston were, he panicked. After a sound check on Friday, the only time he left the hotel room was for meals. Deja Vu, being the least known act, were the openers for the mini festival. Sixty minutes before show-time, Kevin was still holed up in the room when it came time to leave for the stadium. Eric was trying to convince him to go. Kevin wasn't having any part of that.

"Come on, Kevin. You did great in Jackson and Houston. You'll be fine."

"Those were around half the capacity of my hometown population. You can fit three O'Fallen, Illinois' in here. No way. I'm sorry. Fire me if you have to. I'm not going."

Another ten minutes of convincing, Eric finally got Kevin dressed and moving. Kevin's performing strike was apparently over. With a start time of three PM, he couldn't even hide in the shadows. He walked onto the stage with the others. Today there was to be no specific pre-concert introductions. Kevin was standing there at his keyboard. Thirty seconds passed.

He turned to Cary, "I can't do it. Sorry."

Kevin ran off the stage. A moment later, having no choice, Pat started the song with drumbeats. The show went okay. Fortunately, nobody was there to specifically see them. A disaster was averted. That came later.


Next up - "Las Vegas or Bust?"

As in 'Don't Blame the Band,' song titles used in this story, aside from 'Is This All There Is?' are used with permission from my poet friend.
Copyright © 2024 Lee Wilson; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

7 minutes ago, chris191070 said:

Poor Kevin, thrown in at the deep end. Fortunately only the festival that he couldn’t perform for, stage fright hit him hard.

Like you said, thrown in at the deep end. Panicking probably wasn't much of a stretch. We'll see what happens next soon, eh?

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12 minutes ago, weinerdog said:

 

So John Densmore and Robbie Krieger are OK?......So sorry about that

Groan emoji

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So, Kevin has some understandable performance anxiety in front of an audience of 105,000. I think he can be forgiven, as long as this performance anxiety doesn't  extend to the bedroom.

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48 minutes ago, Paladin said:

So, Kevin has some understandable performance anxiety in front of an audience of 105,000. I think he can be forgiven, as long as this performance anxiety doesn't  extend to the bedroom.

He'll need to give an encore performance in the bedroom.

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7 hours ago, Paladin said:

So, Kevin has some understandable performance anxiety in front of an audience of 105,000. I think he can be forgiven, as long as this performance anxiety doesn't  extend to the bedroom.

I hope no-one will be disappointed the next time in someone's bed.

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6 hours ago, chris191070 said:

He'll need to give an encore performance in the bedroom.

Would it really be an encore, since the initial performance was skipped? Maybe a replacement?

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