I got the call this morning. Kris Wimar called me from T.J.'s in Downsville to tell me that "Dr. Joe", the Menomonie veterinarian, had told her to be certain to let me know that I was once again invited to join a very specially selected group of diners to attend his annual "Nut Feed" this coming Wednesday. He saves up all the fruits of castration over the year and then has a big feast of "Rocky Mountain Oysters - by invitation only!
Kris told me I could also bring a guest so of course my first choice would be Mr. Clay Riness because in the past Clay and I have shared some pretty strange food.
There was the time years ago when he and I shared the stage at the Stonecutter's Pub in Stone City, Iowa, the Brigadoon of the Midwest, as I named it so many years ago while performing there. We attended an after hours party just down the road from the pub and quaffed many Dubuque Stars, all the while playing buffoon off each other.
At one point Clay reached into a large open bag of Purina Dog Bone Biscuits and proceeded to munch one down, following it with copious amounts of brew. Not to be outdone, I took up the challenge and matched him dog bone for dog bone until the gimmick no longer got a laugh from the assembled.
The next day we parted ways, Clay bound for Coon Valley and I for Fall Creek. That afternoon, after arriving home, I retire to "the reading room" and mid way through excretion I hear my wife's voice from several rooms away: "IT SMELLS LIKE DOG POOP IN HERE!
My god! What an incredible nose!
Clay Riness is a renaissance man, indeed. If he decides to learn something, he learns it and becomes adept at it! He is an incredible finger style guitarist and although I have never heard him hold forth on a Strat, I would imagine he is also a hell of an electric guitar player as well.
At one point he decided he wanted to learn country-style fiddle. He even traveled to Ireland to study fiddle with the Irish fiddlers for a time. Believe me, he is a master at it!
Then he decided he wanted to learn how to fly fish for trout. His home in Coon Valley is surrounded by some of the finest trout streams in the state.
How good did he get at it? So good that he opened "Rocking Trout" - a trout fishing guide service and for several years he made his living showing the wealthy how to cast flies and where to put them to attract the big lunker browns and brookies that lay under the logs and eddies.
Then for a number of years he became a sales rep at Dave's Guitar in LaCrosse where he also gave guitar lessons. I think that's where I last caught up with him -- I was drooling over all the acoustic guitars displayed so lovingly at Dave's when I hear a familiar voice: "HEAG!"
Clay and I used to take off for Green Bay during football season. We would purposely choose a sunday when we knew the Pack was playing out of town, get into town on saturday afternoon, rent a room at the Midway Motor Lodge where we could see Lambeau from the window, and then head over to the best sports bar in America, The Stadium View, to scope out the best seating for sunday's game.
Here I must pause to tell you that just today I spoke with Clay by telephone and told him I was blogging about him tonight - he said to be sure to tell my readers about the fact that on the Green Bay trips Larry Heagle sleeps in the nude - and that the image is burned into his mind and has done permanent damage to his psyche.
Sunday morning we would be up and at 'em around 9:30 as we wanted to b e at the Stadium View when the doors opened at 10 to be certain we got bar stools right at the bar with the best view of the biggest screen in the house. We would cozy up next to some of those big boned Belgian girls of GB, order Bloody Marys with lots of Silver Spring horse radish. put a few away - then order a big bowl of Booyah - the soup du jour of Green Bay.
Conversation with the locals was lively until kickoff and then you would think you were actually at the game. NOBODY, BUT NOBODY talks when the football is in play -- only during commercials -- and then it's football talk -- and those Belgian girls knew their football!
Those were great sundays. We need to do that again!
I was glad to find out that Clay has gone back to performing his music once again. He is preparing for a concert in LaCrosse and already the room is nearly sold out! I have always admired Clay's ability at writing both great melodies and lyrics - you really should google him, find some of his music on line and down load it. "The Combine Boogie" comes to mind.
Sorry old Clay can't make the "Nut Feed" this year. Maybe next year!
Clay will be appearing in concert:
Friday, April 3rd, 2009 7:30 pm
Pump House Regional Arts Center
119 King St.
Limited seating! Reservations are strongly recommended!