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Progressive Travels

The haphazard chronicles of a professional musician and his relentless pursuit of an otherwise boring life.

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Location: St. Jacob, Illinois, United States

If it ain't Baroque, fix it!

22 July 2006

Distant Admiration

15 July 2006
BenWahBob found ourselves back at Baha Rock Club in St. Charles, MO for the standard once-about-every-six-weeks gig. I rolled up a bit earlier than normal – which was actually on time for a change, as opposed to running in the door at the last minute and setting up just in time to start playing. I actually got “Rock Star” parking – right at the front door. Sweet. Set up was a breeze, as usual, and I had time to chat a bit with the fellas before we played.

The sets were pretty much the standard fare BWB sets. The crowd was a bit sparse at the beginning of the night, but began to pick up as time wore on. By eleven o’clock or so, there was actually a pretty good crowd in attendance. One table off to the right of the stage was populated by a bachelorette party, who seemed to be letting nothing interfere with their good time. It seemed to be infectious. Any time you have a bunch of attractive young women running to the dance floor all night long, it will tend to have that sort of effect. Everyone seemed to be having a pretty good time, so I guess that’s all that really matters.

When I have time, I usually try to sneak outside in-between sets to call Dawna. She was at home with Samuel only this time, as Derek was with his father all weekend. We had gone to his fortieth birthday party Friday night, and Derek elected to stay with him for most of the weekend to visit with a cousin he doesn’t often see. Anyway…as I was stepping out to make the call, I overheard a group of people arguing just outside the club. I was walking away to get some quiet when I started to get the gist of the conversation. It was a guy – probably in his late 20s or early 30s – yelling at a group of four or five women. I stopped and turned in my tracks when I heard him threaten to beat the (insert expletive here) out of all of them…right there on the spot.


Now, if there is one thing I could never tolerate, it is exactly this; a man bullying and threatening violence against women. Naturally, I strolled right back and into the middle of this little party to offer my services. I told the goon that whatever the problem was, he needed to take it somewhere else. Well, alcohol being the fuel of idiocy that it is, he got immediately into my face and started casting expletives toward me. I tried to explain to him that he didn’t appear to understand the situation into which he was now hurling himself, and all he needed to do was to calm down and quietly go away. He continued with his verbal onslaught, citing some garbage about “all his boys” as he pointed to the club door. I was starting to loose my normally demur composure. I actually found myself with my finger in his face, ranting something about “his boys” picking him up at the hospital if he didn’t run like a scared little girl. Fortunately for all involved, Jim came storming out the door and interjected himself into our little budding fracas. Cooler heads eventually prevailed, and I agreed not to hurt him as he agreed to go away and stop threatening women. Jim told me later that the guy was a regular at the club, and had once before been barred for a year because he is an angry drunk. He was also amazed, as he had never seen me so mad about anything. Well…if anything gets me going, that’s it. I am glad, though, that I didn’t have to go to jail over that insignificant slug.

So, I went back inside and finished the night like nothing had happened. That’s one of the beauties of Zen; when it’s over, it’s over. On to the new moment.

At the end of the night, we tore down as usual, got paid as usual, and Dale disappeared as usual. He had taken down the banner, laid in out on the dance floor to roll up, and then left it there while he went to the bar to pay his tab or something. When he finally returned, he found it still on the floor, but now mangled and torn in several places. Ouch! Bobby didn’t appear to be too happy about this, citing the fact that it was a $400 banner and that he must be just made of money. Dale was beside himself. He had left the banner on the floor and it had gotten destroyed. Bummer.

It wasn’t all dark memories from the weekend, though. I discovered I have a secret admirer. Someone sent an email through the BWB website alluding to such affect. Carlos forwarded it to me, and razzed me about it quite a bit. I told Dawna, and she was bordering in being a bit catty about it. I couldn’t tell if she was serious or not, though she claims it was all in jest. Hmmm. Perhaps. I have had plenty of experience with that, unfortunately. Most girlfriends/wives say they can handle the female attention showered upon us, but when it happens they loose their minds over it. My ex-wife used to nip at my heels for weeks over some other woman even talking to me. Virtually every girlfriend has done pretty much the same. I think Dawna knows I would never cheat on her, but I guess only time will really tell how well she handles it.

I thought it was kind of neat (how corny does that sound?). I never really took advantage of the status thrust upon local entertainment celebrities which seems to allow women to cast themselves at us with reckless abandon, so this is kind of new to me. I recalled back in the late 80’s handing out cards for people to fill out for Nassty’s mailing list, and receiving a modest share of female compliments. There were also a few directed through Those1Guys’ website a few years ago. But, for the most part, I seem to have a tendency to scare women off. Everyone seems to think that I look mean and mad all the time, when in reality I’m probably the happiest person you’ll ever meet. I mean, come on…I get paid for music! I get to build pipe organs during the day, and build rock music at night. How much happier could a life possibly be? Anyway…this didn’t seem like one of those band-tart situations, just someone expressing her gratitude for what I do. And I truly appreciate that, Laura.

The drive back to St. Jacob that night was filled with the sounds of the Spock’s Beard CD Day for Night, which is replete with harmony vocals and great songwriting. What a truly great band.

13 July 2006

Another Chapter

Yes…I am leaving BenWahBob. Rumors of this have apparently been running rampant for some time now, not unlike the time leading up to my departure from Knucklehead last Fall. I guess it really wasn’t a great secret. I’ve certainly made no attempt to conceal the fact that I would be spending more time pursuing the myriad original music projects on my extensive collection of back burners. In fact, it was spelled out pretty clearly in the blog explaining my departure from Knucklehead. I notified the other members of the band about a week ago, and the search for a replacement is underway.

They took it pretty much in stride. Not surprising, really, as over their 12 or so year history there have been more bass players in BWB than drummers in Spinal Tap (sorry Deron, had to use that one). Carlos said he was surprised I stayed as long as I did, and Bobby said he knew I was leaving for some time (thanks, Tom). At least there are no animosities over the departure. These guys are way too professional for that kind of baby stuff. I’ve seen many bands over the years lose members in a hail of verbal garbage. That was not the case with Knucklehead, and does not appear to be the case with BWB. It has been a great pleasure and honor to work with true professionals all these years; great musicians and great people.

The book is not closed on my music career, though; quite the contrary, in fact. The past 24 years of playing in smoky bars for drunks has been but a primer for things to come. I will now commit every fiber of my being to composing, recording, and performing all of the music I’ve had swirling around inside my head for all these years. So, visit the website for updates on the progress and availability of the various projects and/or send me an email to get on my email list so I can notify you when things become available.

07 July 2006
I waited entirely too long this week to write this account of the past weekend. Unfortunately, many of the funny/silly/obnoxious things that occurred have probably slipped my mind. We played at the Budweiser “Party at the Park” at Fairmount Park Friday night. I slipped out of work a few minutes early to avoid having to rush to get there on time. It worked out perfectly, and I arrived about 17:45. As I rolled my equipment into the building and up to the stage area, Dale’s lovely wife Chris came walking up to me, threw her arms around me and cried, “Don’t quit!” Wow. “Uhh…OK, I’ll stay…” I think I stammered. As she grinned and started to walk away with her food, I stated that I was quitting again. She ran right back over and we repeated the whole scene. I told the guys that I should have quit this band years ago. They seemed to enjoy that as much as I did…well, almost.

Once we got past all the hugging and crying, and ate some excellent nosh, the doors were opened and the crowd surged through uninhibited. Well, not exactly all that, but they did stream in at a fairly steady rate. Friday nights there are usually pretty well attended. This one, though, was a little less than capacity. I’m told there were about 1500 people in the Park, but they must have opted to stay outside and enjoy the nice weather, as it never really got too crowded in the Black Stallion Room where we play.

Carlos had mentioned that he had a bit of butterflies going on as a result of his not being able to go over some of the songs in the days leading up to the gig. I didn’t really think too much of it until we got well into the first set. He was dropping stuff left and right; notes, chords, phrases…you know, heavy stuff. Wow. It was pretty neat watching him come apart right before my eyes like that. He probably didn’t think so, but I enjoyed it. Of course, it’s not like I didn’t have my share of stuff dropped as well. Frankly, we were just awful that set. Even our sound man Randy was looking at us like he was wondering who we were. It must have been quite a sight.

We got it together shortly after that, and the rest of the night went pretty smooth. I did get to see someone with whom I went to high school, Troy Moore, and the rest of his family. I don’t think I’ve talked to him since, oh, probably May 1984 at graduation. Since he’s been living in Florida, I guess that kind of makes sense.

Tear-down went pretty quickly, and I was off to my solitude in St. Jacob. I listened to Nicolo Paganini’s first violin concerto for the drive home. I know it’s not prog rock, but it was pretty progressive for its time. That’s got to count for something. And actually it wasn’t really solitude to which I arrived at home, as Dawna was there waiting for me; lying in my bed, reading a book I had just finished earlier that week.


08 July 2006
I left home for Rusty’s in Edwardsville, IL with plenty of time to get there at the prescribed time of 20:00. We were to be using Bobby’s system, as well as his new light rig. Excellent. I didn’t have to cart out my lights either this time; just a bass amp and a bass. I stopped at McDelay’s in Troy, IL for a quick burger to scarf on the way. The newbie at the window screwed up my order something awful – a #2 with a Dr. Pepper…not terribly difficult, and certainly not worth $8.32. She finally got it straightened out after a couple of attempts; I got my food and went on my way. Now things would be running a little tighter than I would prefer. As I exited from I-270 onto IL-159, I got behind a line of cars with a gray minivan in the lead. This particular pace car driver decided that the idle speed if 20-25 MPH would be more than sufficient for the duration of the distance to downtown Edwardsville. Now, I am a rather vocal proponent of driving within the limits established by law. One would be hard-pressed to find me exceeding any posted speed limit. It’s just the way I am. This, however, was grating me to no end. I came once again to an all too familiar conclusion: I should be allowed to legally kill certain people. Thin the population. Cull the herd. But, no…my weapons yet sit idle. I’m working on it, though.

Everyone else was running late, too, so I didn’t feel too bad getting there at 20:30. Bobby was just getting his drums set up, and Carlos and Dale arrived shortly after me. Load-in and set-up went pretty smooth. The manager approached us during load-in and commented about how he hoped we were better luck than the previous night (played by a band called “Run Forest Run”), as no one was there all night. Great…another paid practice.

It started out pretty slow, and was looking like a repeat of the previous night for them. Bummer. He had two barmaids and a waitress doing basically nothing. It did start to pick up a bit as the night wore on, though, but never really was jumping. There were a couple of nearly-blue-hairs at a table directly in front of the band who stayed for most of the night. Dale dedicated Last Kiss to them, which seemed to make them just giddy. There were quite a few college-age kids coming and going throughout the night, but no one seemed to stay too long.

During one of the later breaks, as we were sitting at a table talking amongst ourselves, a thirty-something woman walked up to the table, introduced herself to all of us, grabbed Carlos’ hand, and pulled him out to the dance floor. As he was looking back to us for help, we just grinned and waved. She was trying her best to get him to dance with her, being all serious and everything, and all he was doing was silly-dancing. After a few attempts to get him to dance seriously with her, she finally took the hint and walked back to her table. We are such asses sometimes.

The rest of the night was fairly vanilla. We did play a Rush tune, though, so that was all good. We packed up the equipment in pretty good time, and headed to our respective abodes. Mine was actually quiet this time, with no Hottie in my bed. Bummer.

I had been listening to more Paganini on the way there, but opted instead for the Circus Maximus CD The First Chapter for the drive home this night.