It's a Friday morning, 3:30 AM, and I'm getting out of bed. As the
shower tries to clean the sleep out of me, I'm sort of reminiscing.
A few years ago, back in college, on a Friday morning at about 3:30,
I would be just getting ready to head to sleep, or maybe pass out is
a better term, after getting liquored-up covering bands in our local
pub. Those days back then were the start of this crazy place we call
Entertainment Ave!; me and The Dude on the Left writing about bands
for beer money. Anyway, while most of the midwesterners are having
sweet dreams, myself and some thousandish people are dragging
ourselves out of bed a little earlier than planned. It's not to go
stand in line for lottery tickets, and it's not because we are
dedicated employees and want to get to our jobs way early. Nope,
it's to head to Skyline Stage on Navy Pier in Chicago for Jonathon
Brandmeier's Summer Kick-Off Broadcast. Me, I'm psyched for summer,
especially with the piece of crap spring we had here in Chi-town.
What better way to build-up to summer than a morning of a Black
Sabbath tribute band, Ronnie "Woo-Man" Wicks, Michael
Brandmeier and his band, maybe the world's youngest Frank Sinatra
impersonator, and my personal king of summer, Jimmy Buffett.
For those of you internet folks who found this place searching
for Jimmy Buffett, right now you're probably asking "Who the
hell is Jonathon Brandmeier?" Well, Jonathon Brandmeier, a.k.a.
Johnny B., hosts a morning radio show here in Chicago on WLUP (97.9
on the FM) and AM1000 (1000 on the AM). For how much longer, I don't
know, especially with the crazy radio games, trades, and
re-positioning just totally messing with my morning radio, but as of
Friday he was still "Johnny in the Morning" for me.
Sometimes once a year, sometimes more, he takes his show out of
the studio and to banquet halls and stages around Chicago (and
sometimes around the world), to let a few thousand people see the
folks who entertain the listeners each morning. Me, I've taken it
upon myself to let the rest of the listeners, and the rest of the
world, see these people too. So, sit back, relax, and let your
internet browser take you through a radio broadcast.
It's now 6:00 AM, I'm positioned for photos, and I brought Trash
along to handle some note taking. The crowd is calm, it's already
almost 80 degrees and humid, and out come the Stormtroopers to open
the show. In their traditional eastern German style military garb,
the circus that would be a morning show has begun. Out runs Johnny
B., the crowd livens up, and War Pigs, the Black Sabbath tribute
band, is blasting away. In strolls Buzz Kilman, Harry Teinowitz, and
Piranha Man from Pakistan for the traditional blessing. But a
blessing isn't enough to open this show, it's time for the National
Anthem, and who else but Rachel Barton, violin virtuoso, takes the
stage, in a Pantera t-shirt and all, to get the crowd started.
Now, it's time for some guests, and out comes Milt Pappas, ex-Cub
pitcher, who Johnny B. still thinks he can hit off of. Joining Milt
was a young dude named Joey, known for his boycott of speaking
during the Cubs recent losing streak, and what would a Cubs theme be
without Ronnie "Woo-Man" Wicks. Conversation comes around,
and it's time for some batting practice. Joey didn't fair too well,
but Johnny had to try also. Johnny, stick to radio and leave the
baseball career at home. Even with a wiffle ball and plastic bat,
Milt showed why he was famous in baseball and Johnny wasn't.
Finishing out the little Cub segment brought another band called The
Cleaning Ladies playing their look at the future, "When the
Cubs Win the World Series." It was time for a little break,
some commercials as it would be, and the mayhem in the morning was
slowly getting underway.
|Ronnie, Buzz, Milt, and Johnny B.
Now, for those of you who don't know, Johnny B. is from a town
called Fon du Lac in Wisconsin. You're thinking "Yea, I heard
of that place, but why?" Well, the next guest might have been
the reason, and his name is Don Gorske. He's been plastered all over
the news lately, and not because of some mad killing spree. No, Don
is the Big Mac king of the world, or at least the only guy who has
kept track. Every day, rain or shine, except for a couple three or
four days in the last tens of years, this dude eats Big Macs.
Expecting tons of fun to roll on stage, Don Gorske brings his
thin-framed physique instead. He very well may have the diet plan of
the next century, and I'm sure McDonald's couldn't be happier. Don
is closing in on 15,000 Big Macs and has gotten a little help with
some gift certificates to get him there, all the while maintaining a
thin frame that I wish I didn't have to work so hard for.
|Buzz and Don Gorske
Well, in keeping with the Fon du Lac theme, the next musical
guest brings the likes of Spid Pieper with his guitar and harmonica,
to the stage for a great version of the fishing song and Buzz's
Shanty song. Buzz Kilman then does the news like Buzz does, Harry
gets the boo's during his little stand-up routine, and he is exiled
to the dunk tank for later. It was seven in the morning, the bar was
now open, and Trash says "Excuse me, I must visit the bar and
have a reason for blowing off my day job." Her notes got a
little sloppier as the morning went on, but I digress.
Now, as much as Johnny B. kept saying this wasn't a concert show, it
sure as hell had its share of musical guests, and up next came
Johnny's own brother, Michael, whose got a new CD out, and a band,
and blasted through "Right Back Where You Are." Trash goes
to me later, "It was good, but it sounded kinda 80's." I
came back, "You haven't been listening to the radio a lot
lately, have you? Guess what sound is coming back? Yep, melodic,
guitar driven rock and roll, and light pop." Seems like Michael
Brandmeier might be in the right place at the right time, with songs
with a message, easy to listen to, and a mix of rock and pop, who
Well, let's keep the music theme moving, kinda like foreplay to
the climax, with some bagpipers leading in the former King of TV
Medleys, Paul Goebel, and the new King, Arnold Lagos. Now yea, sure,
at the St. Patrick's Day broadcast, Arnold beat out Paul for the
crown, but for charisma and singing ability, Mr. Goebel sure works
the image better. He belted out a TV theme medley, even woo'd the
ladies, while Arnold tried his best to taunt the original king. It
wasn't working, Paul still seemed in control, but there was no time
for a re-match. Nope, it was time for some jump-rope.
Not much to explain here, check out the picture, and yes, that is a
dog jumping rope with his human family, and even Johnny B. joined
|The Dog Jumping Rope.
So, it was a little deviation from the music theme, but not for
long. Up and coming were treats from Rachel Barton, doing this
blasted version of "Paranoid" with her string partner
(this is truly amazing to hear), Julio Cesar Castillo, a tiny little
tyke singing the Mexican tune-age, Bobby DeNiro bluesing it up and
talking to me, Vlasta the "Polka Queen" jammin' away on
the accordion, Michael Brandmeier back on stage with Buzz on harp
and Johnny playing the congas, and some Sinatra.
Alright, Frank wasn't there, but Dakota Horvath was, and he was in
rare form. Blasting out a couple of Sinatra tunes, this little guy
has every move, a voice to match, and here's hoping puberty doesn't
kill his career. Complete with hat, suit, swooning voice, and
working the ladies, Dakota knew how to get the crowd on their feet,
and every time I see him I wonder what I'm doing wrong when I'm
singing Sinatra in a crowded bar. Could it be my little belly (I can
fix that), maybe my wardrobe (I can fix that), or maybe I'm too
tall? In any case, always a crowd pleaser, Dakota was kinda like a
little boost in the foreplay on to the main event.
The climax, the peak of happiness, what all men get and a lot of
women wait for, it was time for summer, and what better way to kick
off a summer and a Jimmy Buffett weekend in Chicago than by having
Jimmy play some acoustic stuff. Yep, all one needed to do was look
at the crowd and you could see the Parrot Heads had invaded, and
every mention of Buffett throughout the morning brought cheers from
those same folks who were up and ready at six, drinking at seven,
and on their way to their own states of mind by the time Jimmy made
it to the stage.
|Jimmy B. and Johnny B.
Johnny B., bowing to my God of summer, introduced Jimmy, the
crowd went wild, and it was time for some casual conversation, but
also some music. Jimmy talked a little about his being
"stationed" in Chicago for the next couple of weeks, bike
riding down Lake Shore Drive, his musical, "Don't Stop the
Carnival," a future internet concert from France, and a show in
Hawaii. But the people wanted Jimmy to sing, and low and behold
there was a guitar and mike stand calling.
Here's Jimmy Buffett, hanging out in some shorts, t-shirt,
baseball cap, losing his hair, and just kicking back. Having fun is
the name of his game, and maybe that's why guys like Jimmy B. and
Johnny B. can last so long - it's all about having fun. And have fun
they did. Jimmy played a little "Stumpo El Bando" and lost
(here's a hint to some of you going to see Buffett later this summer
- he didn't know "Captain America" or "The Lawyer and
the Asshole" - he might know them now, but they are probably a
good shot to win - tell him I told you to request them). He also
said "Shit." Yea, so what, many people say
"Shit," but not over the radio (hope the censors caught
it). He did some quick requests, Johnny B. resurrected "Buck,
Buck the Turtle," and a great version of "Banana
Republic" closed Jimmy's set, as well as Johnny's show.
The Security Dude
This was one hell of a way to kick off the summer, I'm just
pissed that I had to work. Yea, sure I was there, but I had to take
pictures, make sure I could remember most of it, and tell all of you
about these things later, but yea, that's my job. As for the
broadcast, Johnny kept saying it wasn't a concert, but you
know, it really sort of was. The other broadcasts I've been to have
had their share of musical guests, but a lot more variety acts. This
one had interviews, this one had musical acts ranging from heavy
metal to classical, and this one had Jimmy Buffett. I can always
look forward to facing my day waking up to Johnny B, now I can look
forward to my summer.
Well, Trash had a good time, I had a good time, the crowd had a
good time, and about the only person who didn't seemed to have a
good time was Jimmy, the "Wayne Newton" security dude.
Sure, I saw him laugh a couple of times, but mostly he had the
wonderful job of keeping people from rushing the stage. Well,
everybody's got a job to do, and he kept the crowd in check, so I
guess maybe he even had a good time too.
It's TWO BIG THUMBS UP for Johnny B's Summer Kick-Off - and it
would have been difficult to be anything but that. As I now look
forward to the summer, it's not without some fear because of the
impending radio station earthquake coming to Chicago. I just hope
that after the rubble settles, the casualties will be few and Johnny
B. will still be waking me up in the morning, just not at 3:00 AM.
That's it for this one, I'm The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!
More Photos From the Broadcast!
Man, Harry Teinowitz,
Joey, Ronnie, Milt and Johnny
and War Pigs
you talkin' ta me?"
Bobby DeNiro, Johnny B.
Julio Cesar Castillo, Vlasta, and
The Kings of TV Medleys
Brandmeier, his band
Buzz and Johnny B.
Buffett, 'nuff said!
B., Buzz, and Buffett.
More 'nuff said!
you were there you might be here!