The End of a Gig

Suzanne Cloud
5 min readJun 4, 2021
Photo by Cooper Baumgartner on Unsplash

“I got your number from Tyrone. Can you fill in this Friday? I need a drummer just for the first set.”

The scratchy voice on the other end was undeniable. It was Chico. Of course, Tim accepted. Immediately. He’d been feeling feverish and a bit draggy, but this was Wednesday. He’d be fine by Friday.

Tim hung up and stared at the unfamiliar number on his cell and instantly added it to his contacts. He’d finally gotten the call he’d been waiting for probably all his life. Every Chico Baker record release in print resided lovingly in his bookcase built especially for vinyl. Audiophiles did those things in the 70s. Every velvety kerplunk of the needle on a favorite record was the perfect start to a listening experience.

Hands down, (dumb pun), the best jazz pianist Tim had ever heard. Chico’s substitution chords on old standards took the listener to surprising places and urged on by the sympathetic responses of his bassist and drummer, the places filled out slow or fast to infinitude. Just a trio that could take you to the stars and leave you there.

But by Friday morning, after gulping down Coricidin all week, Tim felt worse. Getting out of bed to just brush his teeth was a major undertaking. Blinking dizziness, body aches, no blanket was warm enough to ward off the chills. No shower could stop the sweat.

“This can’t be happening. The chance of a lifetime. To be on stage with Chico Baker in a few hours and FUCK! I feel like shit.”

Tim took the afternoon to rest a bit, maybe get a second wind? But this weariness was nothing like a typical morning after-the-gig, the long, night talking about music for hours. He fought the impulse to sleep the day away. Texts collected on his phone. He only answered a few.

“Why haven’t you texted me back? This isn’t like you.”

“My skull feels like a cement block. Miserable.”

“I called you. You never called me. Still on Coricidin?”

“Been sleeping all day. I think it’s @ the point where it can’t get worse!”

“Maybe you should go to a doctor.”

“Ssshhhh…”

“Please! It could be something serious.”

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Suzanne Cloud

Writer, historian, jazz singer-songwriter, PhD American Studies. Author of Images of America: Philadelphia Jazz and the play “Last Call at the Downbeat”