The first thing that hit me was that the signs, as well as the conversations I heard, were in French and Arabic—no English!—at the airport. The desert landscape outside the city reminded me of Arizona more than Illinois. There is a third-world feeling. At the hotel, the check-in was easy and most of the staff speaks some English. Lynn Hilton, the piano player who referred me to this gig, showed me around.
As a musician, receiving a tip of five 20s is nice, but there’s something special about finding a $100 bill in your tip jar. Sometimes it is to request a special song, or sometimes I’m asked to play longer. The most fun is to have a $100 bill in your tip jar at the end of the gig and not know where it came from!
In June, 1989 I had the opportunity to produce my first recording session. I already had some experience as a hired session musician on commercial jingles, yoga chants, and songwriters’ demos. I had the idea of producing my own session singing and playing with jazz musicians performing blues standards.
I was geeky and very naïve, but slowly learning. I played all the jazz and pop tunes from memory, so I was easily able to watch the dancers. Boston’s puritanical laws allowed only limited nudity, no bare nipples. But when the dancers turned their back to the audience to make costume adjustments, we could see pretty much everything. A black dancer could spin her boobs in opposite directions (nipples carefully covered). Amazing!