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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!

06 February 2008

Beach Birthday

01 February 2008
Steve Hall, the venerable singer for Röck Böttöm, celebrates his birthday every year on 31 January. I’ve heard this year he is 29...ish. Strange. I would almost swear I recall him having a 29th birthday way back around the initial Knucklehead days. I could be wrong, though.

So, anyway, as this date fell on a Thursday this year, the party was scheduled for the day after. Röck Böttöm was booked at Club 111 in Pontoon Beach, IL, and this was billed as Steve’s Birthday Party. Normally, this would solicit a fairly large turnout. Unfortunately, a big storm blew through the St. Louis area the day before, dropping the temperature 50° in just a few hours and dumping about 8” of snow. Bummer. It’s Steve’s birthday, it’s my last gig with RB, it’s at a club that has been struggling to stay afloat, and now the weather took a dump on it. It was not looking like a promising night.

I arrived around 20:30, much later than I had hoped, but seemingly the standard anymore. I walked in to find the place much different than I had anticipated. I was in there briefly once many years ago, and the band (I don’t even remember who) set up over in one of the corners. Now, a professional stage covered 2/3 of the north wall, and they had a pretty decent house PA system. Deron’s stuff was on the stage but not set up, and Boozy’s kit was nowhere to be seen. Hmmm. Someone came up to me and asked where everyone was at. I had no answer. What I had forgotten was that everyone was at Pop’s lending support to Ivory Tiger, who had a gig there opening for a couple of tribute bands.

I loaded my equipment in and set it up on the stage. I got everything connected and ready to go. I hit the power switch and everything on the stage – in fact everything on that side of the building – went dark. Uh-oh. My gear had been in my truck since the previous weekend. Had condensation inside the amp caused a short? The soundman came up and reset the breaker, and then suggested that I plug into the other side of the 4-way outlet behind my amp, as it was on a different circuit. I did, and with some trepidation, hit the power switch again. Everything powered up just fine. I tuned my bass and after a brief sound check, proceeded to practice for awhile, rolling through some of my favorite Rush tunes that serve as great exercises in self-indulgence.

The rest of the guys rolled in eventually. Noticeably absent was Boozy’s drum kit. It was now 21:30, and there were no drums. This place apparently has a house drum set that they tear down when RB plays there. Boozy was planning on using the house kit, and the house was planning on him bringing his own. Whoops. They whipped out the kit and had it set up in no time. I think we were playing by shortly after 22:00.

It was, for the most part, a fairly normal Röck Böttöm setlist – well, fairly normal while I’m with them, anyway. There were a few departures here and there, like the insertion of Iron Maiden’s Two Minutes to Midnight. Lots of friends came out, too. In fact, lots of RB fans came out in spite of the weather. What a great following. Many of the regular faces from Eddie’s were there, too. One of the regular faces must have had one too many shots of testosterone, and some drama ensued next to the bar. Cooler heads eventually prevailed, and everyone relaxed and remembered how to have fun. It’s truly sad to see this happen time and again, and it’s almost always the same people. It’s not hard to see why people are hesitant to go see a band at an East Side bar.

For the most part, though, it turned out to be a pretty good night. The crowd stayed all night and the band played all night. I was puzzled, though, to see people smoking inside the bar...scarcely one month into the statewide ban. I was a bit disappointed, too. If I were a struggling bar owner, I would probably be unlikely to expose myself to the potentially large fines that this could incur. But, what do I know...I’m just a musician.

I packed up my gear at the end of the night, and headed back to crawl under my little rock. I took a cue from one of my MySpace friends Liz, guitar player for the LA area band Redeemer (formerly Hellsing), who had an Adagio song playing on her page. I hadn’t listened to these guys for some time, so I dug out their Sanctus Ignis CD for the drive. You gotta love symphonic metal.

If this blog seems a bit terse, it may be influenced by my current battle with this upper respiratory thing that seems to be sweeping through everyone I know. Not wanting to be left out, I spent as much time as I could around The Lovely and Gracious (& Infected) Dawna last weekend. If you have yet to contract this vile infection, I would recommend making every effort to avoid it.