VAN DYKE: Cheese and the City
Yes, it is true. I joined the Cheeseburgers. The legendary Jeff VanKanegan decided to retire from the band at the end of 2012 and I was tapped to take over in 2013, a daunting task to say the least. Jeff is a very good player and one hell of a nice guy. When I first met him, he reminded me of one of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan. I am not sure why. I guess they kind of talk the same and have some of the same mannerisms. Jeff was very gracious to me and willing to help me out any way he could. I got to play some of his very cool basses and it was a blast getting to hang around for his last bunch of shows. I do not consider myself to be anywhere near the player Jeff is, but I will do my best to try and fill the shoes of a gifted musician, artist, teacher, and friend. Mr V, they do not come any classier than you.
Joining an established band is a bit of a challenge for someone who is not used to playing four hours at a time every weekend. To fill that much time takes roughly 40 songs. Luckily, I was familiar with most of the songs and had played 20-25 of them before. I worked on a list of around 50 songs for a few weeks, we had some rehearsals and finally had our first show last Saturday at the South Side Boat Club. The first show is where everything is out on the table. You know almost immediately if it is going to work or not. I had played two or three songs with them before, but this was the whole thing. Since I am old now, I do not really get nervous about shows, so at least I didn’t have that to deal with. I also know that I am much more critical of myself than anyone else ever has been, so it was easy to relax. The guys in the band have been great to me from day one and that really made for a fabulous time.
The most important thing in a successful band is the ability to coexist. You have to be able to accept that not everyone sees everything the same way. Everyone has their own belief system and you have to focus on common ground and not differences. It is very much like the idea used to create our government, except of course for the fact that it actually works. Sometimes you have to play a few songs you do not like very much in order to get to play one you love. A lot of times, you think you do not like a song until you play it live. That goes the other way too, though. Some of the best songs ever written are an absolute bore to play. But, if the people like them and respond, it is worth it. Also, you can make up for the boredom by clowning around and acting a fool, which is something I recommend everyone do every once in a while. A good laugh is as much of a treat as one of those cupcakes with the bacon on top from Krazy Cakes. Go get one, they are phenomenal.
It’s going to be cold this weekend, so you need to be in a warm place. Just such a place is the fourth annual Local Area Musicians Charity Fundraiser which is going on Friday and Saturday at Turner Hall. This event is organized by Mike Gilbert, one of the coolest guys around and a great bass player. The fun starts around 6 p.m. Friday with bands playing from 7 p.m. on. The lineup is Somewhere In Between, Busey’s Helmet, Nocebo, and Against All Odds on Friday. Saturday, the fun continues, starting at noon with bands starting at 1 p.m. in this order: Cadillac Ranch, Nowake, Harlot, Further Ado, Part Time Gypsys, Big Deal, Young Gunz Band, LOGOS, and Man the Machine. Only $7 to get in ($3 for kids), but I suggest rounding it up to $10 ($5 for kids). You don’t need all those singles anyway. All kinds of cool stuff going on. It is for a great cause and you can look into it here, at www.leapsoflove.org. If you can’t be there and want to make a donation, just buzz Mike Gilbert on facebook or leave a comment and I will hook you up.
Also, be sure to come check out the Cheeseburgers at One Feb. 1. I will be the guy with the big smile on my face. That’s right, I will be dressed as the Joker from Batman. Just kidding, maybe …
— Don Van Dyke
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