Friday nights have always been our night of choice.
Performing music, that is.
Sharing our talents on a Friday evening has been part of our history going back more than thirty years.
In the summer of 1972, while juniors in high school, Carl and I met an enigmatic yet very charismatic fellow who had a profound impact on your lives. He mentored us as we set out on our long musical journey that was to become a lifetime of Rock & Roll. Attempting then to master guitar and bass at work on the weekends, we had already studied music for years as students in the Chippewas Valley school band (playing trumpet and trombone respectively). That experience soon had us playing horns in the iconic band Superman; the brainstorm of the mystical poet/musician Gary Miller. Superman played covers and original music with a rare fire and creativity, but hardy ever in public. No matter, at that particular time and place, the public would not have understood it anyway. Our stint with Superman though short-lived, gave us a lifetime of experience in the grueling world of rock. Miller soon moved to Texas with his brother/guitarist, Ray, with whom he eventually formed the indie juggernaught, The Texas Flesh Gods.
Later that same summer, Carl and I took another step in our musical maturity, as an opportunity for a live gig presented itself. After word reached us that some local musicians were looking to add a horn section to play with the mystical band, The Id, we enthusiastically answered the call. A legendary summer “happening” resulted in what was known for years around Mt. Clemens as simply: Cody’s Party. The Id was an Mt. Clemens, home-grown band that was to be the embryo of many amazing local players to come. While the Cody’s party was indeed our very first gig, it was not a paying gig. What we gained that night was a real education in what live music could do. Money would come later.
After graduating in 1974 from high school, we played some graduation parties and did some recording that summer. We practiced more on guitars and gigged in the fall while playing with the likes of Wayne Craycraft in his own spin-off band. We played several events with Wayne, whom eventually went his own way to spin off his own business.
While Carl went off to college at Michigan State, I joined with some students from Macomb Community College that shared a common love of my same musical heroes in the group, Emotion Ride. We played bars and events for that first year before changing the name and some personal to form Sanctuary.
We now had the freedom to do whatever type of music fueled our artistic fires. Carl joined us on most weekends to play keyboards and guitar. We entertained at bars, pubs and bowling alleys primarily, but found a musical home in Algonac. When Adam allen left the band to strike out on his own, the remaining four, including Carl, (who had by now graduated from college), formed a new band.
Back in the early 1980’s we were playing in a four piece band called simply, The Boys. We played bars, weddings, private, civic and corporate events and shows. We played everywhere and we were very good at what we did.
Our strength was playing music most other bands couldn’t. Symphonic rock, pop, country, Beatles, Beach Boys, Queen and anything in between. And most everything written in four part harmony.
During that time, a lot of our friends hung out at their favorite local bars and smaller clubs. They would eventually ask us if we could play at some of these venues. So Carl and I worked on playing with an entirely different type of instrumentation.
Our goal was to play songs either more simply, or just the two of us, as a full band, as two guitars, keyboard, drum machine and bass pedals. It took me a while to learn to play bass with my feet but eventually everything was in place for us to begin playing regularly.
The first place ever played regularly was, Vinnie’s.
At Vinnie’s we played every Friday night for more than four years. We worked extremly hard there to craft our two-man sound. Vinnie’s was a hit for us, both artistically and personally. There was a time when you could go in and order a Bob and Carl burger! Honesty. And no, it wasn’t extremely cheesy.
A lot of our friends from work at, JC Penny’s and Ford Motor Company would stop by and share their evening with us. For many years it was nearly a ritual.
Friday was the day we transitioned from the end of the long work week, to the beginning of the days everyone looks forward to; the week end. Saturday nights might have been for fighting, but Friday nights were perfect for Carl and I.
We played at Vinnie’s for a good long time, until things happened in the family who owned and operated it. At which point, we moved on to another fine dining establishment,
The Ryan Roadhouse.
The Ryan Roadhouse was located at fourteen mile and Ryan road in Warren Michigan. It was owned and operated by a wonderful woman named Neelu, who offered great food at a great price. Along with the food and incredible service, she had some of the best groups in the city entertain from her stage.
And, us. Well, no one’s perfect.
Friday nights at the Ryan Roadhouse were some of the best memories we still treasure to this day. There was something new every week as the restaurant was centrally located near flourishing neighborhoods, the Warren tech Center and lots and lots of bustling commerce. When we took the stage, we never knew what to expect. Other than the fact that we could count on friends stopping by to visit us. Some nights at the Roadhouse were legendary!
Neelu sold the restaurant in the early nineties, and we were once again without a permanent musical “home”.
. . . Until three ladies who worked together at JC Penny’s made their combined vision a reality around 1997. Their dream was a little bar/restaurant/ that had up-scale food and entertainment. When Kokomo’s finally was opened, they called on us to offer our talents on an . . . you guessed it, Friday night!
So we found another home for Friday after Friday, season after season. New Year’s eve 2000 found us right there as we ushered in the new millennia. The patrons had it all when they came through those doors; impeccable food, a fine dining experience, and exciting entertainment. Kokomo’s was a wonderful experience for us. Our years there helped us hone our skills and find a new level of professionalism.
Sadly, the three gals found that their endeavor was too far ahead of its time in downtown Mount Clemens. “Upscale” was not even a common phrase back then; so they eventually succumbed to the inevitable financial realities of their location.
For roughly the next ten years Carl and I played many many events and yet never really had a regular place to call our own.
Sure, we played every memorial day, every fourth of July and each and every labor day at Great Oaks Country club, but nowhere did we play a regular gig on our regular Friday night. Each St. Paddy’s day, we were at usually three different locations, but one of them was always Clancy’s.
Year after year, we played civic events, grand openings, malls, gazebos, parks, fund raisers, parties and corporate events; but nothing regular.
In the summer of 2012, as Carl and I were on our way to a funeral home, we drove through downtown Mount Clemens for the first time in a very long time. As we ventured up Market street, we could not help noticing a brand new facelift to a very old building.
Carl and I had been there many times in the past decade but not in a long while since it was called Chrissy’s Lounge. Now, there was a new look about it. Actually, a new old-world look about it. A very, very Irish look about it. What stood in the same location that once occupied Chrissy’s was now The Three Blind Mice Irish Pub.
Walking inside, I asked the three gentlemen at the bar if they knew the owner, (and of course, they did). Because . . . those three gentlemen were the owners. Tony, Jake and Brad!
I asked Brad a few questions that summer day, and got a bit of a tour as well. I asked him if this was going to be a real Irish pub. “It was.” he said. I asked if they were going to have entertainment? “We are, he said.” I gave him our card and told him they needed to have us play there. He said that they didn’t have an opening date yet, but would certainly consider it. It was a very good meeting.
A couple of weeks later, I received their call, to invite us to play at their soft opening. That first night was perfect for us, as we truly fell in love with the entire vibe that is The three Blind Mice.
That first year and a half, we played mostly every Friday night. We held court downstairs while a bevy of fine musical acts entertained on the big stage upstairs. We met many people who frequented the pub during those years, and still see some of their faces, now some three years later.
Of course, Friday night is the perfect night for us. We try and play every other weekend, as our schedule allows. Every night is different. Every night is enjoyable. Every night is fun.
What keeps us coming back, is what keeps most of the patrons engaged: the music. What we have learned over the years is that people, no matter where they are from, still have a deep and affectionate love for the classic songs we play. The music is the real star of our shows.
We would like to think that we have learned the art of entertaining over the years. How to sing, how to engage an audience with passion, and how to interact and read the crowd.
Our goal is to give back to the people that give of their time to us; a truly enjoyable experience.
We hope to be there for some time to come, sharing our love of our art, our passion for entertaining and our Friday nights.