The warmth in the cold

This morning I learned of the passing of a friend. I learned of his passing the same way we all learn about everything these days – via Facebook. I was rather stunned and more affected by the news than I thought I would be. Jon Weiss always treated me well and I always had the utmost respect for him. Ironically, this bar owner from Appleton, WI died from liver cancer.

For the last couple of weeks I had been planning on purchasing and downloading a compilation CD put together as a fundraiser for Jon and his family. I had the webpage open on my iPhone so I saw Jon’s caricature everyday whenever I opened up Safari. The likeness is uncanny and it made me smile. For some reason, this morning, when I first opened Safari and saw Jon’s caricature staring back at me, I decided to finally click ‘purchase’ and make my small monetary donation to Jon and his family.

Then later in the morning as I am working on an issue at work for a coworker named Jonathan, I get the disturbing news of Jon’s passing. I am always fascinated by the coincidences I encounter in everyday life and these two things definitely struck a chord with me.

Jon owned the Maritime Tavern in Appleton and for countless years it was the premier music venue for a large number of local bands and bands that were touring through the area. I haven’t been to the Maritime since early 2005 (wow – those 8+ years sure sped right by) and in the time since I was last there Jon made countless improvements to his bar to make the bar physically more appealing to musicians – but the one thing that the bar had way back when is what is really needed to build a world-class establishment like the Maritime – a person at the helm that gives a fuck about the music and more importantly the musicians. Jon Weiss embodied all that is good in a bar owner.

I played at The Maritime countless times between 2002 and 2005. I was a member of The Creeps and besides our regular weekend gigs at The Maritime, we were the house band for the Wednesday night jam nights that Jon hosted at his bar. And goddamn those were some of the best and worst gigs ever! The Creeps always had a great core group of fans but the Wednesday nights could be hit or miss; I mean it’s the middle of the week for crissakes – staying out late on a school night requires a special kind of person – a special kind of VERY DRUNK person to be exact. Oh the times we had….

The Creeps circa late 2002 @ The Maritime

The Creeps would start the evening at Tony Ramone’s house down in the basement rehearsing some new cover tunes and the odd original tune might get thrown in as well. This band played a lot of gigs and rehearsals together and was incredibly tight. The set list was hard rock and damn fun shit to play (“Shall we open the night with ‘Seek and Destroy’?” “Fuckin’ A we shall!”) After a good sweaty rehearsal the band caravanned over to The Maritime to set up for the weekly jam fest. Jon would be there to welcome us all in; needless to say we all had a drink in hand before any of our gear was even out of the cases. Oh the generosity of Jon took its toll on our health!

And speaking of gear that the band used, guess where we had our stuff stored? Right in the basement of The Maritime! Jon was the epitome of cool and allowed us to store our PA, speakers, and drums down in the basement! How awesome is that?! Name me one other bar owner that would be cool with having a band’s gear stored at his place.

Jon was even cool with us when The Creeps brought in some new subs (speakers for low end) that literally rattled the rafters at the Maritime. Shit fell off of the walls and the ceiling! Did Jon fire the band? Complain? NO! He had a good laugh about it along with the rest of us.

Jon - cleaning up the basement after The Creeps literally rattled plaster off the walls.

The Maritime was a great place to hang out even when a band wasn’t playing; again, that was because Jon was so uber cool. Many a night would be spent at that bar drinking, chatting, watching TV. It was comfortable. It was a home away from home for many locals. I remember going there for nightcaps and good times on my 30th birthday; it felt like the right thing to do. Fuck, we’d even go there before or after playing gigs elsewhere just because the vibe that Jon embedded in that bar was so awesome.

The Maritime was the warmth in the cold, the A/C in the summer, the gathering place for friends, and the premiere venue for local musicians to play. Jon built an empire just by being cool.

How cool was Jon? Just go on Facebook and you’ll see the outpouring of love for him. I don’t think anyone disliked Jon. How many people can you say that about? How many people can you say that about in the music business?!


So long, Jon. You were a good friend to many and set the bar so high for club owners I don’t expect to ever see anyone else come close matching you.




A little bit of trivia: the only time I ever played my Pork Pie drum kit on a gig was at The Maritime for a Thanksgiving Eve show with The Creeps. Of course, Jon was there with a free drink and a compliment for the band.

More trivia: I had one of my broken cymbals hanging behind the bar. That always made me feel like a rockstar.

Roadie Needed!

Roadie Needed!

Greetings potential roadies! If you want a career that guarantees a 6-figure income with lots of room for growth you should NOT be reading this ad!!

If, however, you are hardworking, have a strong back, can follow extremely simple instructions, and suffer from an irrepressible work ethic, I have the right job for you!

This Could Be You!

In short, you will be helping out a drummer that has some aches and pains. I have a bad back, bad knees, shoulder problems, arthritis, and a few other conditions.

I need help moving and setting up my drums. I can play them just fine (not really; it hurts) but I really can’t do the set up portion any longer.

I will pay cash and if I get free drinks at a gig I will be more than happy to give them to you.

I have a walk-in trailer that I transport my gear in. My entire kit fits on two carts. Everything is super organized and stands don’t even need to be broken down for transport! How easy is that?!?!? If my body didn’t hurt all over it would be easy!

What will make you a great roadie for me are the following skills/traits:

You can handle your drugs and alcohol (preferably you are sober);
You know a little something about music;
You have some basic knowledge of drums;
You are dedicated;
You are reliable;
You are not in a co-dependent relationship!

I only need you a few nights a month – mostly Friday or Saturday nights. Most gigs would be from 8pm till 2am (standard gig times at bars).

Really, you only have a about 30 minutes of work total: 15 minutes setting up and 15 minutes tearing down. What you do in between set up and tear down, I don’t care! Go home! Eat dinner! Watch a movie! Go out on a date! Take a nap! Or hang out and watch the band. It’s up to you.

Now at this point you’re asking yourself, “Why don’t the dudes in your band help you set up?”. I don’t have an answer.

So Easy A Guitarist Could Do It

I recently hired a roadie. This is new for me. I have always handled setting up the drums myself however I have reached a point where it can be more painful to do a gig that it is fun. Enter Gabe, my friend and roadie. With his help I am enjoying gigs and I will retain my ability to perform for years to come.

I have a bad back. I know that this is not extraordinary in itself as many people suffer from back pain however in my circumstance it isn’t muscular in nature but rather degenerative disk disease. So it hurts to sit and play and it really hurts to move gear around and set it up. I have always prided myself on doing my own work and while it seems a luxury I do feel like a bit of shmuck needing help.

To help Gabe be the best roadie he can be, I put together some notes based on my vast experirience I have of roadie-ing for myself. It seems like a pretty simple thing really: set up the drums on the stage. However, like most musicians, I like to have my instruments set up within a comfort zone; meaning that tolerances between say, two cymbals, needs to be 4-6 inches, but if it is not within that 2 inch zone I feel like I am playing a foreign drumkit. Multiply that by 5 cymbals and 5 drums and you can see how little variances can add up to real annoyances.

In the past I have written about the virtues of being adaptable and I am still a huge proponent of that philosophy; regrettably, I get very little opportunity to practice what I preach and beat the fucking daylights out of someone else’s drums. I am talking about a cover gig that lasts around 4 hours and I need things to be within their normal range so that I can play in an efficient and ergonomic way (for me).

With the below diagrams and lists just about anyone can set up and tear down the drums.  I have all stands either marked with tape, paint, memory clamps, or permanent pen so that there is no guesswork involved in getting the correct heights for stands and such.

General Order For Set Up:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cymbal Stands
  • Rack Tom
  • Cowbell
  • Lights
  • Cymbals

General Order For Tear Down:

  • Cymbals
  • Lights (Bottom Up List: Controller+power supply; foam; rolled and secured cables; foam)
  • Drumstick Case
  • Throne *(fold legs only; seat stays attached)
  • Cowbell
  • Hi Hat Stand *(disassemble; clutch stays with rod)
  • Floor Toms *(make sure that mallets are cinched in place)
  • Snare Drum *(place in case with throw-off towards seam and strainer side down)
  • Rack Tom
  • Cymbal Stands
  • Bass Drum


I’ve already streamlined this as much as possible; any further shortcuts actually make more work for us.