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IN THE FALL OF 1973, base camp for the Glass Packs was set up Kent State University, where we lived in between day trips to Bowling Green, University of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Case Western, Akron . . . and a place called Alpena Michigan - the real land of the midnight sun -- perhaps the northernmost outpost of civilization in the original 48 states. Of all the out of the way American Legion halls, gymnasiums, speedways and rural roadhouses that put the letters on the marquee "One night only from San Francisco -- Butch Whacks & the Glass Packs", Alpena deserves honorable mention. At the end of a six hour drive in the bitter cold mid-afternoon November darkness of Northern Michigan, we were treated to the shock of our young career as, instead of another dimly lit gym, we were led to a brand new community college theater facility with real lights, AV students who knew how to work them, state of the art sound, and plush theater seating with a huge stage. Here in the middle of nowhere were some of the nicest folks we ever met who saw one of the best performances we ever gave, as we hit on all cylinders with room to work and heat.

Now to get to these exotic places, say for example Art's Bar & Grill in Boulder, Colorado, (review) required a lot of driving. By this time, we had acquired our own 18-foot truck and a full sound system, wardrobe and prop cases, drum risers, monitors and P.A. speakers, and light gear -- we were a regular road show. Every road show needs a crew, and we had a great one -- a light and sound crew - actually the same crew, but we couldn't have done it without them. They made the same $60.00 a week as the rest of us and drove all night to set up before we arrive. So this saga would not be complete without sayin' "Boy Howdy" to that truck drivin' man, now insurance exec, Mad Dog (MD 20-20 -- the Midwest equivalent of Schlitz Bull tall boys) Mike Boele, Butch and Gary's' friend since grade school and the guardian of our gear; as well as Perry Leonard who left us to join a young Jimmy Buffet, to design and work lights for the Coral Reefer Tours for more than a decade thereafter. These guys were dependable and skilled.

At the end of the tour we played for the second time in two months at Kent State. The first time was pleasantly crowded, but this time it was the first Cal Berkeley frat party (see Chapter 1, page 3) we ever played all over again. Apparently there was with nothing else to do for miles for a couple of thousand college students, packed in the warm cafeteria to share the evening with us. After two sets and several encores, we ended with "All Summer Long", and the Mighty Quinn roared an invitation to the entire crowd to come back to our dorm for a party. And they came.

We returned home to the newly christened Great American Music Hall where we had played once a month for the four months preceding the October departure for our Midwest College Tour. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, apparently, as not only was our show sold out, but there was a line of people around the corner past the Mitchell Brothers Theatre on the corner hoping to get in -- to the Music Hall, of course. Something happened while we were away. Butch Whacks & the Glass Packs was now a real act, no longer college kids clowning around. From then on the words "sold out" consistently appeared beneath our name on the marquee of the Great American Music Hall.

Although the set list was basically the same from night to night, each show was different; every performance added something to the one that preceded it, not always good. But when it was good, it stayed in the show for the next night. And that is how the show you see today was formed, night after night of trial and error, winging it, falling flat, winging it and getting away with it.


  © 2005 Butch Whacks & the Glass Packs