By Carl Gitchel, September 1, 2019
It’s weird how a blog post can now seem kind of old fashioned. But in this day of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al., it sure does seem to be a dated form of Internet interaction.
I’m cool with that. The depth of a longer letter sure beats the snippet driven world we now live in. Thanks for reading along!
I wanted to take a few minutes and update the status of The Dawg Bones. We’ve been humming along for two years now and recently we’ve been getting noticed by a number of additional venues. I think we’re about to “break out” and start finding an expanded rotation of places to play.
Steve, Todd and I have had a ball playing together on this project. For Steve it’s a return to his roots—he’s been performing this style of music for most of his life. Todd is learning a lot about music he didn’t have a lot of previous exposure to, especially the classic country we play. He’s enjoying the discovery process.
(And I should give a shout out to our frequent sub on drums, Zach Brassington. Todd’s busy schedule means we would have to turn down a lot of work if we didn’t have Zach available. Although his primary form of music is a lot more “intense” than what The Dawg Bones play, he grew up on our repertoire and does it well.}
I’m kind of in the middle. On a new instrument I get to bring to life music I’ve been listening to for over fifteen years. The great thing about this music is the wealth of material at our disposal. There is no way we’ll ever get to it all!
For “old” music we find a lot of new stuff
Hardly a show goes by where we don’t try something we’ve never played before. And a lot of those “experiments” end up in our subsequent set lists! Mountain Dew, Suspicious Minds, Sunday Morning Coming Down, Battle of New Orleans, Ring of Fire (with that damned kazoo!)…all came from the crowd (or spontaneously from the mind of Steve Oasen!)
From trial and error and audience feedback I think we’ve found our “sound.” People really seem to respond to the mix. The appeal of the early rock-n-roll, classic country and rockabilly is unmistakable.
I know we’re hitting a stride when I look out and see lots of folks singing along. That’s a great sign. But it’s also encouraging when we get a good reaction to the abstract things we try.
Me and Opie (by Nashville’s BR5-49,) PBR (Hillbilly Casino,) and our Balls Medley are as close to “originals” as we’re likely to get. But everywhere we’ve played things like these we’ve gotten a good response. Or as I say to the guys, those songs get us a lot of “eyes,” meaning much of the crowd turns to look up at us and pay closer attention.
Yeah, we’re attention whores…
Some groups are designed to be in the background. A string quartet at a cocktail party. A guitar/harmonica player at the family reunion. An accordion band under the park shelter.
That’s not us.
From my days of leading small run-out groups of UW Band members to my years of fronting The Red Hot Horn Dawgs, I have been happier being the center of attention than sitting in the background. We like to just let ‘er rip—warts and all!
Not everything works perfectly, and that’s okay. That’s one of the charms of a live performance. Like Forrest Gump said, “You never know what you’re gonna get.” We prefer that to a group that plays the same show, every time, everywhere. It keeps our shows more fresh for us, and more entertaining for the audience.
Oh, yeah, it’s about entertainment
You can play all the music you want but it’s hard to engage with an audience if all you do is play song after song after song. I have learned from some of the best that you gotta talk about what you’re playing. Or you’re just going to be an expensive beer drinking jukebox.
Whether it’s Mike Leckrone in front of the UW Band, Sinatra at the Sands in Las Vegas, or a band playing for tips in the honkytonks of Nashville, you have to talk a little about what you’re doing up there on stage. Or people will treat you as a back drop and not the entertainment.
What we’re up to
In addition to some of our regular haunts like Marcine’s and Fisher King Winery, we have been to the Hop Garden, the Hop Haus, Rex’s Innkeeper, and Boomer’s 5th Quarter! We have return engagements already on the books for most of these places and are working on more.
But new places are asking for us as well. In the coming weeks we’re going north to the Necedah area to play a car show at The Old Finley Tavern (9/21.) In November we will be one of many bands to play a fundraiser at the VFW on Cottage Grove Road (11/2.) On November 16 we make our debut at The Thirsty Beaver in Beaver Dam! and next summer we will play one of the prestigious weekly car cruises at the All Stop in Lodi (7/30.)
So as you can see, this Great American Music thing is working well for us and we’ll keep busy at it for the foreseeable future. For those of you who have come out to see us: Thanks so much for your support! It warms the cockles of our hearts (which I think is immediately behind the left ventricle,) to see you out at our events. If you have yet to catch a show: check out our schedule—it’s usually free to get in, what do you have to lose?