There was this one gig where a ménage à trois spontaneously erupted on the upright bass. It was during an extended jam-band version of "Get Born" when I hear a particularly funky bass solo coming from stage-right. I glance over to witness a threesome, bowing and tapping out a psychedelic groove.
I suppose this obscenity shouldn't have been so surprising. That's the nature of hootenanny. You never know what's gonna happen next. And we've learned to expect the unexpected. Little did we know, however, a not-so-pleasant surprise was just around the corner, and that this show would mark the end of an era for the Bodarks.
But what better way to round out 10 years of Bodarkin' than at our Annual Birthday Bash, which we've done every February since 2013 to celebrate the launch of the band (more about that here). Since we prefer to revisit our old stompin' grounds on such occasions, we celebrated #10 at our home pub #TheCelt, the crown of McKinney's downtown square. A sea of folks who've been showing up since our first gig in 2012 (more about that) sardined into that upstairs pub.
And some old Bodarks came out, too - buddies who've been a part of our lineup through the years. These guys rotated on and off stage for different sets as we dipped into tunes from all four of our albums. And when Lucas Weiss, our current bass-spanker, relinquished his instrument to two of his predecessors, Robert Carter and Brian Kelleher, Shelly jumped in, and that's when the "incident" occurred.
Like so much about a hootenanny, and life, that incident was entirely unplanned and unexpected. As was the lovely woman who grabbed our tip bucket and strolled through the crowd for some greenery before dancing her way back up and doing a face plant on stage. I really hadn't planned to go table surfing out into the audience during "Circus" either, but, thanks to the birthday whiskeys served by the gracious Celt staff, that's where I found myself, fortunately without the face plant. Oh, but face plants have happened.
And that's why the Bodarks have made it a whole decade - an eternity in band years. By expecting the unexpected. Adapting and embracing those surprise moments - some serendipitous, some, not so much. We've lived by the mantra, "Adapt or die." "Pivot or perish." And, "The show must go on."
That sort of flexibility ain't always been easy. We've almost called it quits a couple of times through these ten years due to all manner of obstacles. We've played our way through shit-shows with the flu, or shows so cold we couldn't feel our fingers on the strings. We've played to empty seats, and we've played to hecklers (more about that here). We've played venues that wouldn't pay up. We've been booked for venues that closed down. We've shown up to venues to find other bands in our place. We've been "booked" for gigs that we were never told about. We've been cheated out of contests we should've won (more about that here), and almost disqualified from another (more about that). We've been hassled by the police, and one of us has been arrested (more about that). We've been lost in the back woods of Arkansas (more about that), and sleepless in rural Kansas (more about that). We did the ol' "pandemic pivot" when our schedule got COVID-cancelled (more about that here, and here). We've been black-listed from bars, and kicked out of...well...Target (more about that). We've train-wrecked too many songs to count, including some that got recorded (more about that). We've had countless equipment failures and broken strings. And we've lost friends along the way (more about that).
We Bodarks have also had disagreements among ourselves, as brothers and sisters do. Not clashes of ego like some bands, but different priorities and such. And of course, life just happens. You know, like, babies (more about that). So, "Adapt or die!" Like this one gig where two of our players couldn't make it. So, after that, we learned to be amoeba-like and to play as duos or trios, and we got ourselves a deep bench of stellar backup Bodarks, like Patti Steel (more about her). To this day, no one really knows how many members of the Bodarks there are.
Well, adapting to the latest challenge is gonna really test our bendability. A few days after that Birthday Bash-of-all-Bashes at The Celt, I got a dang cancer diagnosis. It will require some pretty heavy work on my mouth and throat, and a bit of reconstructive surgery will be needed, along with speech therapy. Then, hopefully, that's the end of it.
God willing and the creek don't rise, we'll be back in the saddle by summer, and I'll be singing, "Yippee Kiyay" without any impediment beyond my usual whiskey-bent slurs. And, as we'll be making the most of our down-time for some recalibrating, I suspect you'll witness a new style of Bodarkin' next time you see us.
Who knows? Expect the unexpected, and just roll with it.
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Because "Maps ain't made by those who stay behind."