To be in business you have to be open to customer feedback—the good, the bad, and the ugly. I first learned this lesson almost four decades ago when I was performing at an outdoor venue at Santa Monica High School, just outside Los Angeles, with Uncle Crusty & the Venice Canaligators.
S.M. High (no jokes please) frequently had lunch concerts in their Greek amphitheater and hired the Canaligators for some local color. But it didn’t occur to us that our usual repertoire of country-blues-and-boogie, which went over so well with our street audiences of bikers and winos, might not go over so well with a middle-class teenage audience.
The first indication that something was amiss came during our second song ("Nasty Boogie Woogie") when we noticed projectiles headed towards the stage. First it was apples. Then baloney sandwiches. Soon an assortment of garden vegetables. But the best was saved for last: ripe avocadoes!
I tried to assure the band that the kids in the audience may have assumed, based on our funky garb, that we were starving artists and that they just wanted to share their lunch with us. But my band mates didn’t buy it, and we beat a hasty retreat. The good news: we went back to Venice with enough salad material for a week!
The business lesson? Be open to customer feedback. And don’t forget to duck.
Read more about Uncle Crusty and the Venice Canaligators here.