High Grade Horse and the Endless Open Mic Night

Remember how Sunday night I spent two hours watching “Falling Skies” because my cousin-in-law composed the music for it and we have a rule here at the Report that we always support our friends and family in the entertainment business because you never know when one of them might become famous and let you sponge off them for life? (OK, I might have left out that last part.)

Well, thanks to that foolish rule I was out late last night for the premiere performance of High Grade Horse at Llywelyn’s Pub in St. Charles.

Now I’ve known High Grade Horse since they were known as Less Pants More Banjo. A name I still prefer, to be honest. In fact, in an unscientific poll of two of my friends, we all agreed that Less Pants More Banjo is a better name. High Grade Horse? Is that some hippy drug slang I’m not familiar with? ‘Cause trust me, I’m not going to Google “High Grade Horse.”

High Grade Horse consists of four people I don’t know and Tim Brashares. Tim is an old friend and former coworker and one of the nicest — and mellowest — guys I’ve ever met. He’s also a valuable member of our trivia team.

But that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that he’s married to Yellow, and I couldn’t get anything done on the Executive Committee without Yellow. At least, I couldn’t get the EC Holiday Dinner done, and that’s about all the EC does anymore.

When Tim first told me he was learning the banjo I was like, “Really?” because Tim didn’t strike me as a musician and then about a year later when he told me he was in a band I was like, “Really?” because to go from not knowing how to play the banjo to being in a band that quickly is pretty impressive.

But enough about Tim. This isn’t the Tim Report. Stevie initially told the show would begin at 10:30 p.m., at which point I was not interested. At 10 p.m. I set the DVR to tape “Daily Show/Colbert,” brush my teeth then climb into bed and read comics for the next hour while The Wife goes through her nightly getting-ready-for-bed ritual. I have to stay up until The Wife goes to bed because if I go to sleep first I might start snoring and then she would never get to sleep. If she goes to sleep first, there’s a chance she’ll sleep through it.

Then Stevie informs me the show starts at 10 p.m. and now I’m thinking, well, if they start promptly at 10 (and what band doesn’t start promptly at the assigned time?) and do 45 minutes then I can be home before The Wife has finished her  nightly getting-ready-for-bed ritual and all I will miss is my comic book time. And I would be willing to give that up for one night for Tim and Yellow.

I arrive promptly at 10 p.m. Tim comes over and we chat a bit. He doesn’t appear the least bit nervous, but when does Tim ever appear any way but mellow? By 10:10 I’m getting annoyed that no one’s moving toward the stage. At 10:15 two guys, neither of which is Tim, take the stage and begin playing.

What the hell? No one told me there was an opening act. This was not on the bill. Something I may not have mentioned before — when I’m dragged out of my home and away from my comic book collection late at night under false pretenses, it makes me grumpy.

Since I’m now not fit to be around, I go for a walk. Walking Main Street St. Charles on a Tuesday night is quite interesting. Why are people out bar hopping on a Tuesday night? Why are people out after dark, period?

At 10:45 I make my way back to the pub, hoping the Horse has trotted onto the stage. Instead, there’s some new guy at the mic. A second opening act? What is this — Lollapaloza? Now not only am I grumpy, I’m feeling sleep deprived. I go out to my car, which has more comfortable seats that the metal chairs on the patio, and sit. I’m thinking I can take a nap, but no such luck.

At  11:15 it sounds like Part 2 has finished, so I make my way back to the pub. Now there’s a woman with a guitar at the mic. Oh. My. *******. God. Stevie sees me and makes the mistake of coming to check on me.

“Where have you been?”

“I’m not fit for human companionship right now, so I went away.”

“I’m sorry. They said 10 o’clock. I don’t know what happened. You can leave if you want.”

“I can’t leave now. I’m committed at this point.”

“I don’t like it when your grumpy.”

At this point photographer extraordinaire Ryan Prewitt comes over. Stevie wisely backs away and Prewitt and I start chatting and getting caught up and before you know it, the third act has left the stage.

Finally — at 11:45 p.m. — Ladies and Gentlemen: High Grade Horse.

High Grade Horse, or HGH as their groupies call them, or just Horse as I like to call them, have a kind of country-rock/bluegrass/Americana vibe going. But then I’m no good at labeling music so I could be wrong. They didn’t have a drummer, which makes me think bluegrass, and they had a mandolin player and banjo, which also makes me think bluegrass, but they weren’t really bluegrass. I dunno, do we really need labels for everything?

They have a couple of singers — one for each sex — and they worked through a couple of originals and some covers that I didn’t recognize except for the Beatles tune.

By 12:15 in the A.M. the show was over and I met with Yellow for the post-mortem. We agreed that the bums at Llywelyn’s had bumped the band to the last because they had the largest crowd of supporters and figured they could sell more drinks that way.

At any rate, I thought Tim and the gang did a good job and I wish them well. Maybe some day High Grade Horse can get a gig as an opening act for some major talent.

And then they can play FIRST.

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2 responses to “High Grade Horse and the Endless Open Mic Night

  1. Why am I feeling that this awful experience was all my fault…

  2. FYI … it is safe to Google “High Grade Horse” now, because your Report comes up, Ron. And don’t let him fool you, Stevie. I am sure he was having a great time despite his grumpy demeanor.

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