Southeast Missouri State University student publication

The only truth in this town, and where has the music gone?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

“If you want to know what Cape Girardeau sounds like, I point to them.”

That’s what one guy said of The Big Idea’s impact on our riverfront community. The Big Idea is a three-piece americana outfit that has been gigging the region for some 11 years. Will Montgomery plays a foot-operated high-hat cymbal in addition to lead guitar, and Tommy Main’s heavy strumming banjo, accompanied by a stomping-pedal bass drum, makes for a Celtic-punk take on bootheel bluegrass.

There must have been a couple dozen people at The Rude Dog Pub that night, mostly friends of the band. Their retired bass drum hung on the wall behind them.

Earlier that evening I’d caught former Nitty Gritty Dirt band picker John McEuen and the String Wizards at Bedell Hall for a Saturday night of Ozark bluegrass and wandered down to the Pub alone around 10 p.m. to hear more banjo. A few days later, all I had to show for it was a Coors Light coaster I commandeered as a notebook.

I’d been sure of just one thing that night, and written it boldly on the coaster: “the only truth in this town,” —The Rude Dog Pub and its consistency to host live music.

I made wagers on the endurance of Ragsdales’ new open mic and jam night, which premiered last week. The lineup of performers was solid and ran for more than four hours, but someone familiar with downtown ways told me it wouldn’t last.

“It will be gone in a month,” he said. “They come in waves and there’s hype for awhile, but it dies out.”

Being an optimist, I heartily disagreed. But we did agree that The Rude Dog Pub has been the warm home for live music in this strange town since 1996, and will likely beat on until after the machines take over.

It’s dark, cluttered and smoky; the culmination of rock-gut friendlies and stony-grungers who thrive on Jager Bombs, canned beer and heavy bass lines. It’s a one-in-a-million establishment that doesn’t really give a damn.

Detroit Dave said there’s an ebb and flow of live music in this town, and that I believe it. In part for the plight of Mixing 10. It had emerged as the premiere venue in downtown Cape but due to a leaky roof, the doors are now closed.

Throughout the fall, the stage was loaded with popular St. Louis metal bands, some national indie acts and a boatload of local talent. The No Cover Show that Mixing 10 hosted in November was the type of show not soon forgotten — at one point in a set from The Scatterguns, lead singer Josh Tomlin of the local southern band tore off his telecaster and lept into the mosh pit.

That show was a result of the efforts of local musicians — Guy Morgan and the FT Crew, The Scatterguns, BEEF, Tim Godlove and The Big Idea— under the mysterious leadership of Red Claw Promotions, who worked the magic behind the scenes for the artist-driven event.

Well-known groups like Hawthorne Heights and the Spill Canvas headlined there with openers who had something to prove. Sleep-in-the-van, ham-sandwich-and-cigarettes touring bands, like Super Whatevr from Fresno, California — stoked to be on stage for another night of dancing and velocity. They connected with the crowd and raised the ante for the bands that followed.

The next event slated at that venue, Red Claw Promotion’s CGMO Rock Show, relocated to The Hangout on Broadway for a Feb. 17, $3 all-night original southern punk rock show.

The Scatterguns and Guy Morgan and the FT Crew will round out the lineup with Dyami Cluney and the Second Hand Spirit and Gary Robert and the Community. “The show must go on,” growls Red Claw Promotions.

My coaster-notepad also indicated the date of The Big Idea’s next show at The Rude Dog Pub. Feb. 9 they’ll be returning to the hallowed vestibule with the Cara Louise Band, a group they’ve known and played with for years.

I didn't learn much that night but I did walk away with at least one incomprehensible only truth: The Rude Dog Pub will have live music on the weekend. And I reckon that is rock ‘n’ roll.