When we all look back at our birthday parties of years gone-by many mixed memories can rush toward us with the speed of a rescue panther. Many of us remember birthdays with large animatronic mice schlepping nasty cardboard pizza, or having some sort of obnoxious hat thrust upon our heads whilst strangers sing sweet, out of tune birthday lyrics in a plethora of different languages. Occasionally our birthdays are marked with the simple passing of the day into night but for Bret Michaels his birthday was incredibly different.
March 15th, 2012 marked another day of celebration of the birth of Bret Michaels (solo star, frontman for a little band called "Poison") and to celebrate Mr. Michaels and his solo band celebrated in the grandest of fashions... He played for a packed house at the Mississippi Moon Bar. Yes I said the Mississippi Moon Bar, the quintessential gem of music in Dubuque, IA. Any readers to this blog will surely remember about the times I have waxed poetic about the Moon Bar and the excellent line-ups they generate.
Michaels is not a fresh face at the Moon Bar, in fact I can say with certain positivity (wow, I said that) each of the last three years (my brain is mush, it is probably more). For me at least, this year was different I attended the show (it was the second time I had seen him this very short year). Having seen Michaels on New Years Eve in Springfield, IL I had expectations of what I would see and hear. Although I had said expectations, I wasn't sure if the show he performed in Springfield was because it was New Years Eve or if it were as my wife exalted "like that every time". As the show began it became evident that indeed Michaels was "like that every time" and in all honesty I expected exactly that.
This show started with an energy that is synonymous with the previous shows I had witnessed. It was truly amazing when I realized I was seeing the exact performance I had seen in Springfield happen right before my eyes in Dubuque. Once again the band played flawlessly and his music had a quality unlike his (perceived) work with Poison. Under the tutelage of Michaels and his band the songs had a dirty, raw edge to them and although I'm sure many didn't notice the "edge" I would bet they could care less.
It is obvious that Michaels band is excellent and I think that inasmuch as people in the crowd are there to see Michaels, the band is there being just as entertaining. Names of band members can define a band as much as their band name (or genre for that matter). As an example if I mentioned the names Darrell Abbott, Vincent Abbott, George Criscoula and Gordon Sumner many might not recognize them as anything other than a list of someones co-workers. But if I were to tell you that each of those people were known by the names "Dimebag" Darrell, Vinnie Paul, Peter Criss and Sting well those names sound more like performers and musicians. So if I were to tell you that Michaels band had band members were affectionately called "Lucky Chucky" and "Dirty Ray", what would you expect the band to be like.
Michaels band is exceptional. Each member is reminiscent of very specific performers (at least for me), through talent and on-stage persona. As I talked with "Dirty Ray" (aka Ray Scheuring) I mentioned that he reminds me of Robert Trujillo (former bass player of Suicidal Tendencies and Metallica - current). His performance was quite impressive to me when I had seen him in Springfield as he had a severe injury to his leg just ten days before the show and last night I learned that he had been walking without his cast for just about a week (before the Dubuque show). What I saw from Dirty Ray was this thrash like bass player with a nasty edge and his bass prowess much like that of Trujillo shines through in the music he performs.
"Lucky Chucky" (aka Chuck Fanslau) is of the caliber of drummer that is not only a gifted musician but also this larger than life drummer who has antics and the stage presence of the late John Bonham. Its fun to watch the Lucky one as he plays drums, the facial expressions alone are enough to have a magnetic effect once you realize he is doing them. Couple that with his antics as he plays and the driving force behind the drums becomes the engine of the machine.
Metal is a genre (I do consider this iteration of BMB to be metal) that requires a guitar player that can take the music and ramp up the energy of the band and the crowd to unimaginable heights. With Pete Evick on guitar Michaels has his "other" C.C. Deville. Evick is an amazing guitarist and just as fun to watch live as Deville. Evick has Lucky Chucky like expressions and through the constant smile that resides on his face, he makes his profession to look like he is having fun and not some cumbersome, boring gig.
Not to be forgotten in the grand scheme of BMB is Rob Jozwiak, the keyboardist who seemed to be the "Invisible Man" during the performance. Depending on the location in which one was at in the Moon Bar Jozwiak was obviously there but he couldn't be seen as easily (I had a great view of him actually) thus the "Invisible Man" reference. BUT, Jozwiak was obviously there and his skills on keyboards was obvious on everything he performed. The ability of any performer to garner a spot on a band like BMB is a testament to his skill and Jozwiak is definitely firmly entrenched in his part.
Bret Michaels celebrated his birthday in Dubuque, Iowa playing to not just fans but also as Michaels referred to the crowd as "friends". Through the confines of the Mississippi Moon Bar and through the crowd of friends one heck of a birthday party took place. Michaels was given a gift worthy of any performer but at the same time he "re-gifted" each person in the crowd, a gift of devotion and appreciation.