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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!

28 January 2008

Smoke Free in GC

Sorry I never took the time to write about the New Year’s Eve gig with Röck Böttöm at Rumors in Wood River, IL. Two things happened: I didn’t really have the time, and I didn’t really have the gumption. Not unlike Deron, I seem to occasionally lose the drive to spread these stories. It seems like most of the people who read it on a regular basis were there anyway.

In spite of it all, I had a really good time. I got to play with some great friends, many other friends came by and said “Hi” or sat in with us, and I got to spend some time in public with the Lovely and Gracious Dawna. The night went long, of course, and she ended up succumbing to the unbelievable amount of smoke that accumulated in the bar after they locked the doors at 02:00. So, we had to exit earlier than many would have preferred. I again offer my sincerest apologies to everyone this affected. With the new Illinois indoor smoking ban in place, I’m sure this is no longer an issue for those of us who don’t smoke.

Thus was the entrance of the new calendar year.

Friday, 25 January 2008
Deron contacted me a couple of weeks ago to tell me that they had a gig booked the day after Steve’s birthday, and wanted to know if I would play it with them. “Absolutely” was the only correct answer. That would surely be a blast. He then told me that they also scored some dates at Eddie’s in Granite City, two of them being the weekend before the birthday gig. I agreed to do those as well. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with these guys. As they seem to have now picked a permanent replacement for Chuck, this would soon be coming to an end.

At the first gigs I played with them at Schatze’s just before the Holidays, they had commented that I was not as loud as they had become accustomed to hearing. This came up again at Rumors. So, this time I would have a fix for that. I left the small Ampeg BA500 combo at home and broke out the big rig; the Ampeg SVT4PRO amp and SVT610HLF cabinet. I was going to throw at them 1400 watts of 6-string bass through a speaker enclosure the size of a small refrigerator. They would surely hear that.

I arrived at Eddie’s around 20:30 for setup. Everyone else had their stuff on-stage and ready to go, but all were gone except for Jeff still connecting the PA and lights. I plugged everything in, tuned the bass, and pounced on the thing. New strings, plenty of power to spare, and the always fantastic tone of the Fishbone bass...I was in hog heaven. I stood on the stage for the next half-hour just playing with the volume low, just enjoying the sound. It served as a pretty good warm-up, too.

Everyone else arrived with about 10 minutes ‘til go-time. We chatted a bit while Deron fussed at his guitar. His lovely fiancé Becca asked me where Dawna was. (I love doing this) I told her in quite a manly manner that Dawna was at home cleaning the house and baking cookies, like a good woman should be. She gave me the most priceless incredulous look, not knowing if I was serious. Deron snickered, and I lost my composure, too. I confessed that she had her kids this weekend, and would not be coming. When I later told Dawna about this, she laughed and said to tell Becca that she would indeed make me some “special” chocolate cookies.

Once everything was tuned and checked, we were on our way. The crowd was a bit sparse at first, but picked up quickly after we started playing. We had a major problem with low-frequency feed back that seemed to dog us for most of the night. No one could figure out from whence it came. We dealt with it, but only barely. It was quite annoying.

During the second set, a couple of Casanovas started flirting with the hot band chicks. Normally, there’s really nothing wrong with this. It’s one of the hazards of being on-stage while the hotties are on the dance floor. You learn to deal with it, and so do they. I usually find it quite entertaining to watch Dawna shoot them down like poorly-trained Libyan fighter pilots. This was the normal situation, too, until one of them got a little too touchy-feely with Becca. She eventually shooed him away, though. Deron mentioned at break that he may have to beat the guy. Later, as everyone was standing on the dance floor talking, this guy apparently tried his moves on her again. Deron took a strong exception to his touching her yet again, and went after him. It was broken up quickly, but the skinhead and his buddies got the message: If you’re going to mess with someone in the bar, don’t make it the biggest guy in there...or his girlfriend.

The last set turned into a near free-for-all, as we ventured off the “normal” RB setlist and into more of a Knucklehead moment. We started whipping out stuff like Metallica and White Zombie, and the crowd loved it. I heard a couple people ask for Tool, so I launched into Sober, which was another KH staple. I fully didn’t expect Boozy to jump in on cue, yet there he was, and we actually played the damned song to the end. That was fun. That’s always a fun bass song.

Our friends from Ivory Tiger rolled in at the end of the night. They had finished their gig at Porky’s in Wood River and stopped in to see the circus that is Eddie’s at 02:30. Naturally, they came up and did a few tunes with us. A bunch of people made their way to the stage, and eventually I was delegated to a small corner next to my amp. We finished off with some manner of big rockin’ tunes, and called it a night.

As I stood around socializing (yes, I actually do that sometimes) with Geo from IT, we were approached by a couple of young ladies apparently bent on snaring a man. They started groping on each other and kissing each other, and generally making fools of themselves, all in the name of trying to impress us. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to burst their little bubble, and so I did. As I chuckled and shook my head, one of them asked if we “wanted any of this,” to which I replied, “Not hardly.” They looked at me kind of incredulously and asked again, saying they couldn’t believe I wasn’t interested. I told them that they apparently haven’t seen what I have at home...well, she wasn’t technically at my home, but you get the picture. They went away after that. I have little tolerance for fake lesbians. Go play your silly games somewhere else...I have neither the time nor the inclination to participate in your farcical little ruse.

Rick Schroeder of Just Mr. made an appearance as well. He didn’t come up and sing, but we did get to talk a bit at the end of the night. After convincing him that I have never played with a certain former band of his, he razzed me about the night I went rubber-side up on-stage at Sharky’s in Collinsville, IL while playing with JM (his fault, not mine).

I eventually collected my share of the monetary compensation, put away my bass, and headed for home. As I’ve been on a bit of a Rush kick lately (yeah...surprise, surprise), I opted for my favorite album Hemispheres as my soundtrack for the drive home.

Saturday, 26 January 2008
In slept about half of the day on Saturday...or so it seemed anyway. I arrive at Eddie’s later than I had planned, but still ahead of anyone else. Deron rolled in shortly after me, and the rest followed him. I even teased Steve about not being the last one there, as Boozy was apparently now the late-arriver. We started off the night only a few minutes late. Not long after we started, so did that annoying rumble. Jeff went over and kicked his amp rack or something, and it went away, never to return (actually, he just tapped on his crossover...but that doesn’t sound as cool). He also later asked me if I could turn down a bit. I just smiled, and told him I could turn down or up, whatever he wanted.

The crowd was better at the start of this night, which is usually the case at Eddie’s. I have to note another thing about the crowds. It’s quite interesting to look out and see a virtual sea of Röck Böttöm T-shirts at their gigs. The “Röck Böttöm Nation” really seems to step up and support this band. That’s very cool.

At one of the breaks, I was approached by a woman who looked vaguely familiar. She grabbed my arm and told me that she had seen me play with Just Mr. when I was sitting in for Ted May. She then proceeded to relate the story of seeing me fall down on the stage at Sharky’s, and then she giggled.

Why does everyone think that was so funny?

You see...Rick got his mic stand caught on a drum mic cable and...oh, never mind. When she said she was glad I didn’t get hurt, I told her that I had indeed hurt myself. I went down against Damon’s keyboard stand and on top of my bass guitar stand. I had some seriously sore ribs for a few weeks after that. It didn’t do my back much good either. She giggled some more, and excused herself to go back to her friends. I suppose that is to be my legacy with that band.

The guys from Ivory Tiger came in at the end of the night again, and helped us plow through a bunch of songs that had us playing until almost 03:00. We sat around afterwards chewing the proverbial fat (sorry, Dawna...a little injun lingo there), and I didn’t get my stuff torn down and loaded until after 03:30. I heard Deron mention something about tacos sounding good. Bastard! I stopped at QuikTrip for gas, and ended up two cars back behind him in the Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru. They were slow as molasses, and it was about 04:00 by the time I got my tacos (2 for 99¢) and was headed home. I haven’t had JB tacos in a long time, especially at 4am. I cranked up the Symphony X CD New Mythology Suite for my driving music, and was home and in bed just past 04:30. Needless to say, Sunday was a waste.


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