I am not a bar person, at all. If there’s good food to be eaten, I’m there- so a place like the Yard Arm is fine. But a place which exists pretty much just for the booze is just not my kind of place. They’re too loud, too dark, too smoky, too rowdy. And if there’s live music in a bar, 9 times out of 10 it’s one of those ear-splitting rock bands whose music would sterilize every cat within ten blocks of the place. So you get the gist of my attitude about bars- I am not a fan.
So what was I doing in George’s Tavern last night at about 10:00? Not listening to string quartet music and sipping a milk shake, that’s for sure. No, I braved this north side hot spot in order to catch a few minutes of our friend Kurt Oian playing with his band for the last time. (Today, Kurt headed back to his native Texas, where he will begin teaching school in the fall.) I don’t remember what his group is called – probably something like Flat Tire Tomatoes or Wretched Excess – but I have to say that they are pretty darn good. I’m mean, they don’t play Mozart . . . but for what they do and who they are, they are good. And by far my favorite thing about their music was Kurt’s energetic work on the harmonica. He was really really good, and made me sad that in all his years in Racine it never once dawned on me to use Kurt and his harmonica at Holy Communion. (Not that I know anything about writing harmonica parts, but I would have been happy to learn.)
Anyway, I can’t say that I stayed nearly as long as my wife did along with some our friends from the Racine Theater Guild – but at least I dipped my toe in the waters for a few short minutes and I am glad I did. I owed Kurt that much after all of the fun we’ve had with him over the years – after the shelves he built us for our basement – after helping us get our garage in order – after doing such fine work at the RTG over the last six years – after being our favorite house sitter – and mostly, after being our good friend. Friendship sometimes means opting for harmonica instead of Handel – and being absolutely happy to do so.
pictured: Kurt’s band in action. Kurt is the guy on the far right.