We arrived in Boston to a heavy drizzle and I wished I had a warmer coat with me. It had been late summer last week and now it was seacoast New England autumn. Watt met us at the airport with his hatchback and Christian retrieved his van from the long term parking lot. None of our gear came back with us, not even the Ovation. We’d sent it all to Chicago in trucks with MNB’s stuff. Watt joked around with us in baggage claim and told us he’d take us all to Chinatown if we were up for it. We were.
I rode with him while the others went with Christian. The windshield wipers tried vainly to keep the heavy mist clear. Watt cursed and hit the accelerator like a true Massachusetts driver and we slipped into the toll lane furthest over. “The weather’s been like this ever since you left.” We crept up to the toll booth–Watt asked for a receipt.
“It’s getting cold in the Northwest, too.” I clutched the edges of my sleeves and blew on my damp fingers. “One of these days I’ll learn to pack.”
Watt drummed his fingers a little on the steering wheel but the radio faded as we sped into the tunnel. I sensed the conversation had reached that point, as it always did with anyone connected with the industry, where the chit-chatty part was over. “So, what’s the deal?” he asked.
“Pretty much as you called it. They’ll either buy out our contract or buy you.”
“Have you decided what you’re going to do?”
“No.” I indicated the backpack in my lap. “I brought their contract with me, and I need a lawyer to look it over. In fact, I was hoping you could recommend someone.”
“Entertainment lawyer?” He said with a sing-song.
I smiled. “No, Watt, a divorce lawyer, seeing as how this is a custody battle between you and BNC.”
“I know just the guy. Remind me to write his number down for you when we get to the restaurant.”
“Okay.” We emerged from the tunnel and looped under the twisted elevated highway known as the Central Artery, headed south into Chinatown and began circling for parking. I noticed we had left Christian way behind. While we drove around I repeated my surmise that it might be better for CR’s other bands if we left them. He shrugged and said we could talk about it more after we had a look at their contract. I decided once again that Watt was an alright guy.
The rest caught up to us right after a gaggle of waiters seated us at a big round table replete with spinning serving tray in the middle. Watt ordered anything that anyone expressed an interest in “and a lot of white rice.” We avoided any more serious business talk while we ate, telling him about the shows and touring and gossiping about the local music scene. It was as if we’d been gone for months, not days.
At almost midnight Michelle yawned. “Well, guys, I’ve got to go to work tomorrow.” Her eyes lit on me. “And so do you.”
“Jeezus, you’re right.” We’d both taken a week vacation for this little jaunt. “But… I’m only here for a few days.”
Watt slapped me on the back, crow’s feet wrinkling around his eyes as he laughed. “Guess what, Daron, it’s time to quit your day job.”
“Holy fuck.” The idea hadn’t even occurred to me. Christian was chuckling, too. “I guess I’ll go in and tell Rich that I…” got a gig. “I can’t do my shift next week.”
“As long as you pay your rent,” Christian warned, still laughing.
Watt picked up the tab and wrote the number of the lawyer on the back of one of his business cards. I was reminded that on his cards it didn’t say he was the owner, or president, of Charles River Records, but Janitor. Watt was definitely an alright guy, and we probably weren’t ever going to work with him again.
Covered by three women with ukeleles:
I suppose every industry is cut-throat in its own way, but I always shudder when I think of the entertainment industry and its wheeling and dealing.
See, the thing is, at least everyone in the music industry cares. Cut-throat, yeah, but in a passionate, rather than cold, way. Call me crazy but I find that weirdly more comforting than if it were *only* about the money. People get into the music biz because they love it.
Of course me and love have a love-hate relationship so maybe I’m really not qualified to say anything…