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The Final Gigs at Scott Street Steak & Pub

I've tried to write this entry several times now. The first attempt came across as poorly written eulogy for a funeral. "She was a good Pub, lots of great memories. She will be missed." The second attempt was like a coach trying to rally the team together, "We've seen some great bands here, it has been an honor to share the stage. The Pub may be gone, but the music and memories will live on..." Rubbish.

Much has been written about the way the Pub was closed down by CSI: Wausau. [To check out press/blog coverage, scroll down or click here.] All I have to say is that somewhere, someone could have picked up the phone and said, "We're closing you down at midnight, be prepared". I guess that would be too easy... it is a bigger statement to have officers enforce a vague interpretation of a licensing issue.

By random chance, I was scheduled to play the last Thursday night the Pub was to be open. I knew from the outset, that this would be no ordinary show. The 'Last Thursday' at the Pub, [even without music] would be an event. At one time, Scott Street was the place to be on Thursday nights. Sure, over the last few years this has been less of the case, but the 'Last Thursday' would surely bring people together. It did. The Pub was packed.

Musically, the night started out completely odd. First of all John (my bass player) was running late. To the rescue, Roger Bardo (who played on the "Out of Fashion" CD) was in attendance and had brought along his (fret less) bass. Never mind the fact he had to run through Robbie's acoustic amp, nor had he performed with us in over three years (nor had he ever played with Will Heisler for that matter), Roger was welcomed to the stage with barely enough time to tune up. Welcome back! This was an unlikely reunion of the original Trio (Roger, Sean and myself), with Will as the fourth 'Trio' member.

Roger was on from the first beat, it was amazing. We played a full set, and the house was full of guests. During set breaks there were performances by my Dad, "L Charles", Andy Lannig, and the return of Pub favorite Les Nillissen. Cool Hand (which for this week would be Rob Piehl, Mohawk Matt, Sean McCue and I) also performed. Long time friend and Cool Hand/Doc Holiday/Jim Carlson Trio drummer Brian Miller also performed.

The second set saw the return of John on bass. Like many "And Friends" shows, the stage had guests joining for a song here and there. Les, Rob and Andy all were on stage during the second set. There were more guests than time, which was unfortunate. For those of you who did not get a chance to play, I sincerely apologize.

June 30th would be a memorable night. The last night the Pub would be open. There was really no schedule, but the Trio (this time a 3 piece: John, Sean and I) kicked off the night of music. There were many acoustic acts, Steve (Furtle Turtle alumni), Mutt (Corpse Show Creeps) and Matt performed sets. Lower Class Citizens cranked up the energy and played a great 'in your face' punk/rock set.

I was asked to play a final solo set before Cool Hand and CSC. It was nice to be the last solo performer at the Pub. The final song I played bass, joined by Tyler 'Tito' Vogt, Jim Morrissey and Sean McCue.

I've played a few shows with Cool Hand, but I must say, this show was by far the best we've played. The line up was the same as Thursday (Rob, Sean, Matt and I). Matt sang a song and played my guitar, and I once again played bass...[like a rhythm guitar player would play bass]....that is. The set went by quickly, it was an absolute blast.

No sooner than we were done, the Five-O was closing us down. [There were a ton of people pulling our gear off the stage - nothing quite like the sight of my Marshall cab 'crowd surfing' to the door.]

The Pub was officially closed.

It shouldn't have been this way. The Corpse Show Creeps were supposed to be the final act, which would be fitting. The Creeps had made Wausau a frequent stop on their tours, and were part of a movement that had revitalized the Pub. I was looking forward to relaxing and watching their show while basking in the Pub's final moments.

Special thanks to the The Pollack Inn who rose up to the occasion of hosting the final hours of the Pub's closing party. Within an hour, they had the tables cleared, found some bartenders and the Creep's were performing to a full house. The scene was cool, CSC on the floor, Rob and Dan protecting the mic stands. It was like a photograph from the early days of punk....raw power, the band and the audience were one.

So it is over. Scott Street's closing certainly didn't go as planned. The Pub had been fighting to stay alive for two years, only to have it's final hours stolen by the bureaucracy who benefit from the closure.


James said…
Mr. Carlson, it was truly an honor to join you on stage for your last song at Scott Street.

J Mo
Virtualsprite said…
I wish I could have been there. I feel honored that I once had the privelege of performing on that stage with you. It must have been a hell of a night and I think the place deserved better.

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