A recent encounter

I’ve gone to a lot of concerts in my time. If I had to count them all, the number would certainly be over a hundred. One of the reasons I went to so many shows is that I worked in radio for many years, and would often receive free tickets whenever an artist would come to town. In fact, it got so commonplace for me to receive free tickets that during my radio years, I would have to see an artist REALLY bad in order for me to pay for a ticket to see them.

Of course, since I left radio, free tickets come my way less and less, and the days when going backstage and meeting performers certainly isn’t as commonplace as it used to be. That’s why Friday night was a bit of a thrill for me, and if you’re of my generation, I think you would have gotten a kick out of it as well.

I have been a major fan of Marshall Crenshaw since I played his first album in the early 80’s. I have just about everything he’s ever recorded, even some rare stuff.  His formula of mainstream power pop is exactly the kind of music I enjoy most, so I’ve followed his career for years. I’ve had one or two opportunities to see him live, but it just never worked out for some reason.

I have also been wanting to see a show at the Castle Theatre in Bloomington since it reopened as a concert venue last year. The Castle has been in downtown Bloomington for years, and I used to go there when it was simply a movie theatre. Two notable occasions stand out in my mind at the Castle. First off, my friend Scott and I saw the X-Rated classic “Debbie Does Dallas” there. Secondly, when I was in college, my brother and I went to a movie there and the place caught fire during the film. We stood out in the street for awhile, watching all the firemen going in and out, and finally decided that they had things under control and we weren’t going to watch it burn to the ground…so we left.  

So when the Castle announced that Marshall Crenshaw was going to be there with the Bottle Rockets, I knew I had to go. I called my brother, and he agreed to come down from Wisconsin, and my friend Ed agreed to join us as well.

When Friday night rolled around, I went out for a couple of beers to get me started, then met up with Randy and Ed for dinner, and another couple of beers. By the time we got to the venue, I was ready for a great show. We got there pretty early, and I started to see many of my friends there, which made the evening all that much more fun. On my way to the restroom before the show, I ran into a friend who introduced me to the owner of the Castle. We chatted about Crenshaw for a bit, then he hit me with this: “You sound like a pretty major fan. Can you keep a secret?” I assured him that I could, and he said, “The last song Marshall is doing tonight is “Surrender” by Cheap Trick, and Cheap Trick’s drummer Bun E. Carlos is going to come out and play drums with him.”

I couldn’t believe it! I’ve always been a major Cheap Trick fan as well, so I was really pumped! Of course, I told Randy and Ed about it as soon as I got back to our table (I’m usually REALLY good at keeping secrets) and we were all excited as the Bottle Rockets played the first part of the show (EXCELLENT performance). Then there was about 30 minutes between the Bottle Rockets performance and Marshall taking the stage. While we were standing there talking, I saw someone walk from the backstage area to the back of the theatre, and just lean against the wall by himself. I looked closely and saw that it was Bun E. Carlos himself. I told Randy and Ed “That’s him. I’m gonna go say hello.”

I simply approached him and said, “Bun E.?” He said, “Yeah, how’s it going?” I told him who I was and we had a nice little 5 minute conversation about Cheap Trick, what he was doing these days, and of course, I hit him up to help me with my book. He was very cool about it all, and agreed to email or call me this week.

Sure enough, after a fantastic performance by Marshall Crenshaw, backed by the Bottle Rockets, they came out for an encore. They introduced Bun E., and played the Cheap Trick classic. It was a night I won’t forget for a long time…even more memorable than “Debbie Does Dallas”.

If you live in Central Illinois, check out the Castle website and find a show to attend. It’s a beautiful venue, and a great place to see a concert!



About groovyrick

I live in a small town in Illinois with my wife and three kids. I am a part-time musician, part-time writer, and full-time dreamer.
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4 Responses to A recent encounter

  1. Wow, I’d have given anything to have seen that! And how cool that you were able to talk to Bun E. and he’s going to help out with the book! You must have been flying high after that! Great post!

  2. Beth says:

    Can’t wait to read some of that book!

  3. Michael Gold says:

    I loved your story. It’s exactly the type of personal concert experience we hoped the venue would illicit. On behalf of everyone at The Castle, come back anytime!

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