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Things Heat Up at Uncle Steve's

August 12, 2011

As the song goes, some like it hot, and evidently quite a few have liked things hot at Uncle Steve's over the last several weeks, otherwise, they wouldn't have come into the building, which you probably know hasn't had air conditioning for the last fifteen years or so.

I should also add that we haven't had central heating here for that long either, but we haven't really needed it. On cold winter nights, when there are lots of people packed in, the collective body heat is usually enough to warm up the place quite well. And after everyone leaves, Norm and I turn on our little space heater in the kitchen area, and that's usually sufficient to keep us comfy.

But summer heat is another matter, since this building turns into an oven on hot days, and at night the old roof and attic seem to retain the day's heat and send it downward into the rest of the building. So, some nights it seems like it must be ten or twenty degrees hotter in the building than outside, especially if there are a lot of people crowded inside. You can sweat buckets when it's like that, and lately every night seems to be that way.

If you've been reading my updates, you'll remember that Norm and I got some money a few months back to make some necessary improvements to the club. So, maybe you are wondering why we didn't fix the heating and air conditioning. The reason is that we already have enough trouble paying for the light and water bills, in addition to all the other expenses associated with keeping this place going. Can you imagine what the electric bill would be like with central heating and air conditioning? I don't even want to go there. Plus, if it were TOO comfortable here, I can name about a dozen folks, you know who you are, who would pretty much take up permanent residence at the club and never leave. And yes, I know that Admiral Porkliver lived here for a long time, but that's a special case, as we should all know.

Anyway, that was a lot of information about stuff that has nothing to do with music, so let me write about what I'm supposed to write about here.

Our number one act at the club this summer has been Tripping Travis and the Psychedelic Mindblowers, who have proven to be pretty consistent about showing up every weekend, and have also come up with a lot of new material. Plus, I should add, they've improved upon their older tunes by adding new parts to them, stretching them out, etc. They gave a July Fourth concert called "Oh See Can You Say," which according to them was their tribute to the Grateful Dead, although no songs by that band were played. During the concert, the lead singer, Travis, announced that he had become a SNERT in order to save America from the beany weenies. After the show, I asked him if SNERT was an acronym, but he said it wasn't. I asked him to describe what a SNERT was, and he told me that if I wasn't tripping, I wouldn't understand. To be continued.

The big surprise of the summer was that an actually great band -- and I mean a really great band, no kidding -- showed up to play here. I'm not talking about a great cover band, or a great band in the sense of appealing to a small, select group of enlightened listeners. No, I'm talking about a band that might actually get a record contract and go somewhere. Now, I know that Admiral Porkliver went to the Czech Republic, but that's a different kind of going somewhere. I think you know what I mean.

The group is called Mobius Trip, and they're from Denver, Colorado. They have a tour bus and a very good set of sound equipment. They even have two roadies that unload their stuff and drive their bus. True, they're not particularly famous yet, but that could change, that could change.

Mobius Trip was not even planning to stop in Bratwurst at all. As their lead singer, Marc Castleberry, explained to me, they were driving from a concert in Cincinnati, Ohio to another one in Richmond, Virginia, when they got a call that the Richmond concert had been postponed for one day. So, there they were in the middle of southeastern Ohio, pretty close to Bratwurst, and they didn't know what to do to kill the time. They decided to stop to eat lunch at the strip mall in Duckworth, and it turned out that they went into Little Caesar's Pizza where Tripping Travis was working. Well, of course Travis tells Mobius Trip about Uncle Steve's, and they figure, why not, let's play there, it will be like a rehearsal or practice or something.

Well, it so happens that word got back to Catherine, who contacted a group of friends at nearby Adlai Mortensen College, who have actually downloaded some of Mobius Trip's tunes and really get into the group, which you can hear quite a bit on FM 89.5, the college's student-run radio station. Soon, a bunch of people had showed up at the club, and Mobius Trip realized that they would be expected to put on a bona fide show instead of just rehearsing. Fortunately, they rose to the occasion.

I'm really not sure how to describe the band's sound, except to say that they are a very tight, talented, and professional outfit. When the show was over, I was speechless, I was so blown away. I asked Bert what he thought, and he said that it was time for me to shut down the club forever, because after Mobius Trip, nobody would be any good in comparison, except maybe for the Rocking Dudes.

Catherine really went after Marc Castleberry after the show, but to the guy's credit, he tried to get away from her. Cody Ferguson of the Psychedelic Mindblowers, more than a little drunk, then tried to pick a fight, accusing Marc of stealing his girlfriend. Catherine then attacked Cody, saying that she was free to date whoever she liked, and declared right then and there that she was resigning as president of the Cody Ferguson fan club. But after Mobius Trip left, Catherine and Cody made up, and the fan club meetings have resumed.

My good friend Joe Minsk showed up too late to catch the concert, but he did catch the hysterical fight between Catherine and Cody, which he posted to Facebook, much to their embarrassment.

Catherine threatened Joe by telling him that if he didn't take down the video, she would tell his girlfriend Elaine about the time he tried to cheat on her with Catherine. Unfortunately, this accusation is completely true, so Joe had to take down the video.

Fortunately, however, Elaine doesn't read my website, so she won't find out about how Joe tried to cheat on her. At least, one time when I asked Elaine if she had been reading my updates, she told me that she didn't know where to find them. Alright then, don't the rest of you go telling Elaine anything that she doesn't need to know, if you know what I'm saying.

Another act at Uncle Steve's worth mentioning is Dr. George Feldspar, formerly an assistant professor of basket weaving at Adlai Mortensen College who didn't get tenure and was recently forced to foreclose on his home, and who has played a couple of shows here in the last month or two. He decided not to burn down his house after all. He is now living with the Rocking Dudes and helping to tend to their rutabaga garden in exchange for sleeping on the couch in their living room. He's decided to grow a beard and has stopped cutting his hair. He looks pretty cool these days, but he's still playing a lot of corny music on his banjo.

One night, one of his former students approached him and apologized for ripping him on a student evaluation. She said she felt partly responsible for him losing his job. Dr. George shrugged his shoulders and remarked that what comes around goes around and then walked off.

The rebuffed student then told me that she took back what she said about Feldspar, that if she could rewrite the evaluation she'd make it even more negative, what a jerk.

When he got up on stage to play she booed, and yelled out, you were lousy as a professor, but you're even worse as a musician.

The prof then totally lost it, smashed his banjo to bits Pete Townshend style, grabbed the microphone, and screamed at the student, you know what, I don't have a job anymore, so I can tell you exactly what I think of you right now.

You could have heard a pin drop while he paused for several seconds.

Finally he spoke, and said in a low voice, you can't basket weave worth a damn.

Then, he picked up the pieces of his shattered banjo and walked off stage to a thunderous round of applause. Well, everyone was clapping except for the student in question.

-- Jake Silverman

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"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...