So how did this band get started? I get asked this from time to time, so here it is; for the record.
In June of 2011, I was on vacation with my wife in Australia of all places. South of Melbourne by about 45 minutes in a condo that we found out upon arrival was in wine country. After visiting the Winter Wine Festival that day (and passing a sobriety test on site before leaving...Australians really think ahead), we had made dinner in the condo and were enjoying some of the local wine, meats, and cheeses and looking over the landscape. It had been 3 years since I had been in a previous band with Brad Riverdahl (our drummer). In that band, I was not the singer, I was solely a piano player. I said to my wife, "You know, I think I want to be in a band again and this time I think I want to be the singer. For my 40th birthday next year, instead of a birthday party, let's put a band together and set up a show." Her response was immediate and sincere. "Then do it. I'll do what I can to help." Little did she know that she would be listening to band practice in our house once a week for the next ten years.
My first call was to Tim Konn. He had been our bass player before. Tim is a great guy, a great bass player and has a fabulously unique personality and sense of humor. He plays an upright bass and it's so much fun to watch. Once I knew he was in, I called Brad Riverdahl. This is our 3rd band we've played in. I knew he would do it, especially if Tim Konn was playing. It was time to write some songs.
The first song I wrote for that show was "Good Time Tonight." It's still one of my favorites. We've never played a show without that song. I was in the process of writing "The Dixon Willies" in Aug or September when I floated the idea to Michael Brown of jumping on stage with us for a song. He was a friend that I had met through my former neighbor. I knew that Mike played acoustic guitar and had spent some time playing open mic nights. He was enthusiastic. I had never heard him play before so I had him come over one day and went over The Dixon Willies with him still thinking it would be a one song thing. He picked it up in about 10 minutes and said "What else do you have?" He never stopped playing with the band from that moment and has been an integral part of The Bare Hambones ever since.
We had everything but a lead player, so we tapped into the 'previous bands' vault one more time and got Johnny Wilson on board for the night. We opened the show at The River Rockhouse (formerly Chord on Blues and presently the Polyanna Brewing Company) in Saint Charles on Oct 26th, 2012. We played 10 songs and I've always been appreciative of the many people who went that night to see us play. What a great birthday party! A recording of that show exists somewhere, but I'd be way too embarrassed to even listen to it now.
After that night, Tim Konn and Johnny dropped out. They enjoyed playing the show, but for their own reasons, couldn't commit to being part of the band going forward. So I put an add up on Bandspace.com for a bass player and lead player. It took us a while to figure out the lead instrument, but we landed a huge part of the band in bass player Tony Kubicek. He had relocated from Milwaukee to the Chicago area and was feeling out the area to get involved in playing live music. Loved him from the first song. He had listen to Good Time Tonight and came prepared to play it...wow was he good! I didn't even check with the other guys, I told him that day that the spot in the band was his if he wanted it. Tony majored in music and is trained as a jazz guitar player, but prefers to play his Modulus 5-string bass. What he adds to this band is indescribable. And Tony's level of expectation for the band has always pushed us to be better and better.
About four months later, and after having 3 or 4 guitar, mandolin and banjo players over for practice, we got Mike Marshall in the practice space to play mandolin. We knew right away that we had found our guy. He plays a great mandolin, handled lead and rhythm like a pro, and he and I did plenty of song writing together too. He and I worked together on Time For Kicking, Last Days, You Have No Idea, and Must've Been the Cocaine. He came up with the music for all of those songs. We enjoyed working with Mike Marshall for years.
In 2016, we released our first album, "Time For Kicking." We had the release show at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora. And again, we really appreciated how many people came out that night.
In April of 2019, Mike Marshall let us know that he was moving on from The Bare Hambones. We've always liked Mike and still wish him the best.
Leading up to that, Tony had found a lead guitar player by the name of Jeff Cali. Tony and Jeff had worked together at Aurora University and had been put together on stage for a work party. Tony came to practice and said, "You have to hear this guy play." So we invited him over. For me, listening to Jeff Cali play guitar is kind of like hearing what the instrument is supposed to sound like. Jeff has played for a long time, but so have all of us. It's not just the experience, the way he adds emotion to the notes he plays. In his own words, it's the stories he's trying to tell while playing a solo. It is the nature of those stories that have become the signature sound of the band. Don't believe me? Come watch us play live and try to not be impressed.
So here we are. Tim Larsen, Mike Brown, Brad Riverdahl, Tony Kubicek and Jeff Cali. 10 years later. Still enjoying that feeling when it's time to go on. Still writing. Still releasing music.
That's the story of how The Bare Hambones Came together.
And we 'aint done yet.