The Weekend

I had a fabulous weekend, though it was all mostly concentrated into Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

I joined this country americana band, DRIVEWAY THRIFTDWELLERS, a while back (June?) as their bass player. They had booked a gig up north at the Minocqua Brewing Company in Minocqua WI on Friday August 2, long before their old bass player moved to San Francisco and I joined them as his replacement.

I had played with them once already, at Summerfest on July 4. I learned almost half their song repertoire for that. But I still had a lot of schooling to do to nail all the rest of their songs for this August 2 gig. In retrospect, I could have simply used the musical charts with chords and lyrics at the show. I was told I could and the venue was pretty chill. But I wanted to commit everything to muscle memory and not have a crutch. So I practiced hard to learn everything I needed to for the August 2 show. I worked hard and it paid off.

But I did not work nearly as hard as my drummer buddy, Jon, who had to learn the ENTIRE song repertoire in about a fortnight. That was impressive. He pretty much nailed his parts at the show.

Jon is not the regular drummer for DWTD, but he is a pro and he agreed to sub for drummer Rob for this road gig. I met Jon at his house in Madison on Friday afternoon, about 2:30 pm. We loaded gear and road tripped on up to Minocqua WI. It's kind of a commercialized resort town with a bunch of lakes. We got there about 6 pm, loaded in our music gear, and then ate dinner, compliments of the brewery, who also gave us free beverages all night.

I appreciate a music venue that treats the performers the right way. In Madison WI, the music venues treat bands kind of shitty by comparison. They are always trying to short change bands and put all these terms and conditions on everything, so it isn't even worth jumping through the hoops to play at Madison venues and the local music scene there is suffering as a result. Bands really need to get out into the countryside, like DWTD did on Friday, and play for audiences who are craving live music because good bands don't come through that often.

Driving 3.5 hours for a gig is OK if the gig and the venue are high quality. Minocqua Brewing Company was such a venue.

After the show, we did some acoustic jams in the bar, without amps (except for the electric bass, which had to be plugged in). A couple of the bar patrons stuck around to hear it and I think we made some new friends and fans. When we got tired, the bar owner said we could camp out in the back yard of the brewery. It was a nice cool night, so that is what we did. No tents or anything. It turns out this was risky. The brewery grounds have an automated sprinkler system. Luckily, they did not turn on in the morning.

What did turn on though was loud music from two sources. The brewery cleaning staff arrived about 6 AM to do their work, and they cranked up the music in the bar so that it could be heard outside. On top of that, there was some kind of charity fun run in the park adjacent to the brewery and they started playing music on a PA system about 6 AM too.

So we all got hardly any sleep. But we went and got coffee as soon as we could.

My whole family came to Minocqua on Friday night, passing through on the way back from the U.P. of Michigan. They were tired and did not stay for too much of the DWTD show, but it was good to see them. I met them for breakfast at their motel in the morning to say farewell before they headed back to our cabin in Shell Lake WI. I only ate a yogurt with them, because the band planned to go out to a northwoods greasy spoon called the Black Bear Bar and Grill for breakfast.

After the band ate, Jon and I parted ways with the brothers Knudson (Jon Knudson: acoustic guitar; Ryan Knudson: pedal steel). They, sadly, had to go to a funeral. Jon and I road tripped it back to Madison WI, exhausted in the way only good rocking can exhaust you.

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