There used to be a music venue in Winston-Salem called Ziggy’s, and while I lived in that city there were frequent radio advertisements for the upcoming acts. Over those several years, some pretty big names performed in the small club. I didn’t see a lot of musical acts there, but occasionally I found money in my meager budget to enjoy some live music. During the warm months, the place was a hothouse. The sweaty audience desperately cooled their foreheads with cold bottles or stood near the open back of the venue in hope of a stray breeze. When fall’s frosty weather arrived, everyone crowded down near the stage and huddled together for warmth. Heaters at the back provided scant warmth and their noise interfered with the music. It was still a lot of fun.

Ziggy’s is closing (or maybe has closed) this month. After a move to another location, long after I had relocated to Raleigh, they went through some financial and legal issues that spelled the end of the venue. (There’s an article here in the W-S Journal.) I have fond memories of seeing some local musicians perform there, as well as a couple of bigger names. It wasn’t far from where I worked at Wake Forest University’s law library at the time, and my shift ended at 10pm, just in time to make it to Ziggy’s for most of the shows.

Ziggy’s is most memorable to me as the source of two, totally true, stories. I drag them out and dust them off from time to time, especially if I meet somebody from Winston-Salem who is familiar with the club.

After seeing Southern Culture on the Skids one evening, I decided to clear out early before traffic got too terrible. Ziggy’s location could make it difficult to leave once a concert ended. The street could become a parking lot as everyone tried to get to their cars at once. The parking lot for the club stood on a paved incline, and as I unlocked my car door I was greeted by blinding lights in my eyes. I stumbled backward a bit with the shock of it, and gravity pulled me downhill toward the street. The officers asked me to walk around to the rear of the vehicle and keep my hands visible. They proceeded to put me through a sobriety test, and it was clear that the younger policeman was a rookie, perhaps being trained by his older counterpart. I had nothing to fear, being completely sober, but I had some difficulty with the test. Standing on one foot, on an incline, while touching my nose and answering questions was a stiff challenge for me, even sober. As I became aware that I was failing the sobriety test, my nerves only made me increasingly appear intoxicated. I felt for sure that I was going to go to jail and decided to request a chance to blow into a breathalyzer if the test went much further. In the end, they let me leave, and I laughed about it on the way home.

Another time, I went to see Jump Little Children when my wife and I were still dating. I had heard little of the group’s music before she introduced me to it. She attended high school with the band members, before they went on to garner some fame. A lot of people turned out for that show, and the crowd was a bit younger than us. Apparently my wife’s geeky friends had transformed into heartthrobs through the power of their music. Occasional squeals from teenage girls erupted around us. The band really was very impressive on stage, and I slowly lost myself in the music, only to be jolted when somebody grabbed my elbow and yelled: “Dude!” He was nobody I recognized. “You’re that guy, man,” the second, nearly-as-stoned young man declared. I had no idea who he or his friend thought I was until the first guy said: “Ferris Bueller!” Over the music, I tried to convince them that they were mistaken, but they wouldn’t be swayed. Finally, I admitted that they had indeed recognized me, Matthew Broderick, and I would appreciate their discretion before I was mobbed by autograph seekers. They thankfully agreed, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the concert without interference from paparazzi.

My life is normally blessed with boredom. I’ve had few brushes with The Law and seldom been mistaken for celebrities. This makes me think that there was just something about Ziggy’s. Who knows what might have happened to me if I’d attended concerts more often?