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Top 10 Comebacks When a Bar Owner Asks You to Play for Free

(Image credit: Shane Speal)

You’ve practiced your ass off. You’ve prepared a live show you’re proud of. Now you’re facing a bar owner who has the audacity to suggest that you perform at his venue for free. To this, we offer these 10 comebacks:

1. Sure, I’ll play for free, but you also have to give away all your drinks and food to the customers while I perform. You know, for the exposure. We can put each other on the map!

2. Didn’t your mother ever tell you that you can die from exposure?

3. No. Let me pay you. For giving me my future!

4. Yes! That’s exactly what I’m looking for—exposure at a bar called Gary’s Wet-n-Whistle in Peoria, Illinois. Look out, Grammys! Here comes me!

5. Sure! I always wanted to whip out my private parts during my shows. That’s what you mean by exposure, right?

6. Thanks for this opportunity! I always save my most adventurous concerts for “exposure” gigs. We’re planning on a three-hour rendition of Sun Ra’s "Space is the Place." Make sure you have an experienced sound man and a lot of mics.

7. I’ve always wanted my live album to encompass the awesome acoustics and vibe of your bar, the Ass Shanty. I’ll bring the mobile recording unit with me. I can see it now—Live at the Ass Shanty!

8. Yes, this dive is most definitely Stone Pony-esque. Should I sign your wife’s boobs now? Or do we wait? Your call.

9. I tell you what—why don’t you cater a party at my house for free?

10. No!

Got a great comeback of your own? Post it in the comments below or on Facebook. Special thanks to fellow Musicvox guitarist Dave Finkel for help with this column.

Shane Speal is "King of the Cigar Box Guitar" and the creator of the modern cigar box guitar movement. Hear the music, see the instruments and read about his Cigar Box Guitar Museum at Speal's latest album, Holler! is on C. B. Gitty Records.