In short, last night was amazing, and surreal, and amazingly surreal.
I'd been at the Silver Dollar Saloon for a couple hours setting up the performance area for jazz trio Third Wind, comprised of Dustin Degoiler (vox+guitar), Emily Watkins (vox+guitar), and Valerie Evans (vox), and getting the bar stocked with PBR by the time the first few people trickled into the basement bar of Mr. Bob's.
Mr. Bob's main floor features a U shaped bar and a couple of pool tables with a stage in the northwest corner of the building. Beyond the U bar is Mr. Bob's backroom where they have a dance floor and a DJ on the weekends.
The basement bar has remained mostly dark, with few exceptions like during Aquafest, for the better part of 30 years.
Last night the lights turned on and the speakers turned up for what turned out to be (that's a lot of turning) a night to remember.
As more people found their way down the stairs and into the shag carpet and stone walled bar become jazz lounge, decorated with tea candles and hanging lights the band finished setting up and sound checking.
Then something I've never seen happen at Mr. Bob's happened.
As Third Wind began to play their first notes of the set, the entire bar fell completely silent. Not a word was spoken, nor a PBR cracked. There was an entire world outside of that room and it seemed as if none of those in attendance could be bothered by it. Not a soul made a noise. All attention had been zeroed in on the three musicians under the lights.
Dustin may have sensed the stillness of the moment as well, and reminded folks after the first song that they were free to talk amongst themselves. The world moved once again. It was almost as if we all stopped to catch our breath together.
As the band played on, with wonderful renditions of The Girl From Ipanema, Tears In Heaven, and a playful cover of Justin Beiber's "Love Yourself" the crowd continued to soak it all in.
A comment I heard often throughout the night was "Is this really Rice Lake?" and "This doesn't happen here." But it did, and we experienced it together.
“I say, play your own way. Don’t play what the public wants. You play what you want and let the public pick up on what you’re doing – even if it does take them fifteen, twenty years” – Thelonious Monk
Photos courtesy of Carl Cooley, Kordell Lopau, Whitney Schultz.