HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Monday, March 23, 2009

E MAILS -- VOICES OUT OF THE PAST TRIP GOOD MEMORIES

Recently I have been in contact with Chris Coyer by e mail. He sent me a URL that led me to comedian Rodney Carrington's video singing "Show Them to Me", a clever ditty that he wrote specifically to get young ladies to lift their sweaters and expose their chi chi's to him in concert.

Chris complimented me by saying that the tenor of the song reminded him of my style of song writing. I, of course, was flattered. I was having difficulty placing Chris as the name did not immediately ring a bell -- I could tell that he knew me from performance but I couldn't tell from where, so I checked the area code that he included with his send: "703" and after much searching, found it to be the Las Vegas area.

So to sound like I was somebody who actually knew what I was doing, when I replied I asked him how things in Vegas were.

Today I got this message in reply to "where do I know you from?":

"Saloon @ Butler Square, Improper Fraction, and Ground Round (couple of locations). I managed the latter two and owned the Saloon @ BSq.

I was probably responsible for at least a dozen bars hiring you from time to time, way back when dirt was almost as young as we were."

Chris

This tripped a lot of memories for me which I will now relate.

I remember working at the Improper Fraction, a little peanut bar/restaurant just off the University of Minnesota campus. As I recall, I could see the old Gopher stadium from the sidewalk out front.

The Improper Fraction was a great little joint to work; an intimate room with a small stage against the windowed wall. I call it a peanut bar because every table came with a complimentary huge bowl of salted-in-the-shell peanuts. The management encouraged the patrons to shuck the peanuts and throw the shells on the floor. Of course, all that saslt led to a lot of beer drinking.

I have a vivid memory of a young college woman coming into the bar with a very large hand bag and dumping the entire contents of the bowl of peanuts into said bag.

The Improper holds another special moment for me. It is the only club I ever worked where the audience lit up a joint and passed it around the room during my show. And yes, I did inhale.

Now the Saloon at Butler Square was a whole different situation. It drew a cross section of business people and college agers and things could and did get pretty wild and crazy in there.

One of the really outstanding features? It was in a mini mall. When you came through the main doors, the entrance to the Saloon was down a ways on the right. On your way to the door you passed what appeared to be as mirror. What you didn't realize until you first went into the Men's room to use the urinals, was that mirror was actually one way glass! When you positioned yourself at the urinal, you were looking out a window on the mall! Well, that's what you thought anyway!

After that first experience, it was always fun to walk past the outside mirror side, stop, peer in and down, laugh and point, in hopes that some poor bastard was using the urinal at the time.

Nights I played at The Saloon, I had guests sit in that came in quite regularly. There was one guy (sorry dude, your name escapes me now) who did as mean vocal to "Rockin' Robin" and everyone looked forward to that.

My friend Ed Treinen came in and played blues harp almost every time I worked the room. On nights when jazz violinist Randy Sabien was in town, he would sit in and do a set with me, which was always great fun.

Mostly I drank too much and ended up at a White Castle at 3 in the morning! Thanks, Chris Coyer, for writing me and opening up the well!

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