On this nondescript Wednesday evening, Red Collar was to perform at Lindberg's. It was a fill in show. They weren't even supposed to be there, but fate brought them to the edge of the middle of nowhere.
Mark Bilyeu of popular local band Big Smith opened the night with a talented and entertaining set. My friend Brett and I came in during the beginning of Bilyeu's set. He entertained the sparse crowd with bluegrass, old rhythm & blues, and alt country songs. I listened casually as I watched the Cardinals game, which was just getting started in L.A. The Cards got out to a 2 run lead and Adam Wainwright looked unhittable until the 7th inning. By that time, Bilyeu finished his set. A DJ was spinning his rockabilly and old r&b records by that time. The bartender very briefly changed the TV to the Weather Channel. It said we were in a thunderstorm warning and tornado watch. My buddy and I looked at each other and kind of gave each other the same quizzical look. Then we looked to the monsoon outside. Sideways rain and not infrequent lightning danced outside. We hadn't noticed before, but now we thought about trekking to our cars in this piss poor weather. As we looked away from the meteorological commotion outside, Wainwright gave up a solo homer. The game ended up tied by the end of the 7th.
Red Collar humbly took the stage. They sound checked and knocked into their first song. Now, you'll have to forgive me because I just very recently started listening to this band so I can't really give you proper song titles, but rest assured: this band brought it. As sheets of rain relentlessly beat against the windows at Lindberg's, Red Collar brought equal intensity. Jason Kutchma led the way as if he was conducting a hurricane. Guitarist Mike Jackson never stopped his kinetic rhythm. Beth Kutchma kept some tight beats on bass and drummer Jon Truesdale is as talented a drummer as you'll find. The band's songs pierced each listener at the venue. Driving rain, relentless beats, and flashes of lightning and greatness illuminated. During the song "Pilgrim" I saw through a window a streak of lightning strike across the empty sky. It was a goosebumps moment.
The room was moving. Here's the kicker: there were six (myself included) standing close to the stage and about eight people sitting at the bar or working the sound.
With such an anemic turnout, the band could have given a quick, minimal performance. But they played the house as if it was packed to the gills. After the initial set, local talented musician Jeb started the "One more song" chant. Jason asked, "One more song? How about we do two?" All six to eight of us erupted. Jason explained that he was trying out some solo work. He performed Tom Waits' "Better Off Without A Wife," with altered lyrics that were meant as a tribute to his wife Beth. The band closed with "Used Guitars" (I think) (Confirmed!).
During the set, the rain slowly died down. I looked back to the Cards game. Ryan Franklin just saved his 31st game of the season in a 3-2 game.
Jon and Jason both promised that the band would come back in September. Here's what you need to do. Contact the band and demand that they tour within 200 miles of your town. I know how it is when you live near podunk. You only travel far when it is a band you know and you trust will be worth the gas. As someone in your shoes, you'll have to trust me: if this band tours near you, go see them.
Here's a couple reasons why: