11.19.2016

CACTUS JOE at the Hop Garden Loft Last Friday Night - 5 Star Performance

Friday night I braved the deteriorating fall weather and drove down to Paoli WI to perform a solo acoustic show as CACTUS JOE at the Hop Garden Tap Room, a small microbrewery with a cozy little indoor tasting room. I arrived about 5:30 PM to set up for my 6 PM performance. That was probably premature, because it was a fully acoustic show (no electronic gear needed), and I am conditioned to always allow time for load in and setup.

"Hi," I said to the bartender behind the beer tappers after I stepped into the venue from the cold wind outside, an acoustic guitar and my merch bag in each hand, respectively, and another guitar clutched under my arm. "I'm performing here tonight, I think?"

"Yeah, you can set up upstairs," the bartender replied. "Things should start to pick up at six or a little after."

The room was pretty empty except for a group of people at a table on the upper level who were deep in conversation. I nodded a greeting and smiled at them as I reached the top of the stairs to the "loft" that overlooked the lower floor of the tap room. They didn't seem to care for my intrusion, but I proceeded to arrange my guitars on the opposite side of the room from them. As I softly tuned the instruments, I eavesdropped a little and determined that the people were in some sort of book club.

After I had set up, I still had a good 25 minutes before I had to start playing. I felt a little awkward about the book group because it was pretty clear any live music would be disruptive to their serious sounding discourse. Luckily, the group dispersed a little before 6 PM and even though there were a handful of them lingering about downstairs while they finished residual cups of craft beer, my first few refrains of rock-n-roll music sent them fleeing into the night. My gut feeling was accurate...they were not my kind of people.

And my kind of people were rare that night because my kind of people were at a birthday party for one of my kind of people in another part of town. Poor planning on my part. None the less, I rocked one of the best shows ever. That's easy to do when there's no one there to hear. About half way through my set though, GUPPY EFFECT guitarist Stefan stopped by and joined me for a few duo numbers. A couple local folks arrived and stayed until I got done playing, way past the time I was supposed to stop, and they said they thoroughly enjoyed it.

Stefan and I then proceeded to the aforementioned birthday party and had some cake before retiring.

I Ubered most of the day on Saturday before meeting Deborah downtown for Thai food and an art fair, at which we purchased some holiday and birthday gifts for people. I went to the gym and swam for 45 minutes later Saturday evening. Today is Sunday and we are going to Milwaukee for a day trip to visit Deborah's son Devon and see his new apartment.

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