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Marquee of the Bo Diddley and the Butanes show The first time Bo and the band performed together was with drummer Greg Shuck on the old proscenium stage known then as the Extempore at the Cedar Theater during Cedarfest. Bo appeared out of nowhere a few minutes before showtime dressed in what looked like a bus driver's uniform. He greeted the band softly, grabbed a wad of bills from the promoter, led us onstage and began to play, leaving us to listen, catch on and join in. In between shows Bo regaled us with stories from the "old days." I've since found out he has a vast collection of Chuck Berry narratives but we steered him from Rock & Roll to personal questions.

Bo gave a great account of growing up on the South Side and told us his first instrument was the violin(!?) and that at one point his mother had said he'd never amount to nothing but a purse-snatcher. He mentioned he'd done a lot of things in his life but he was extremely proud to have never snatched a purse! Both shows went very well and after the final song the crowd refused to leave chanting BO...BO...BO...The promoter came backstage, told us Bo's contract specifically stated no encore, and asked if the Butanes would go back out as it seemed there was no other way the crowd was going to leave. As we were walking onto the stage Bo joined us asking: "Do you mind if I play too?" I told him he wasn't allowed to play with us unless we could play “Crackin’ Up.” I started playing the song, the band came in and Bo walked over and told me he had forgotten how the song started. I gave him the first line and away we went. I even sang the vocal group backing part much to Bo's amusement. We sat backstage afterward and he laughingly told me I "wasn't no Jerome!" He poured me a few drinks from his bottle of Grand Marnier and slipped away with a newfound date.



The second time the Butanes backed Bo Diddley it was with drummer Robb Stupka at the Cabooze. Larry Sahagian (former frontman with the Urban Guerrillas) had just taken over the booking of the Cabooze from St. Croix’s newest resident, Charlie Campbell, and this was one of his first major shows. Larry picked Bo up at the airport and Bo immediately said he needed to pick up a few things and then eat some liver and onions. Larry drove him over to make his purchases and then took him to the Uptown bar/Keys restaurant where Bo ate a satisfying meal of - you guessed it - liver and onions. Bo also ended up with a large quantity of some of something which, I believe, explains why he had so much more fun on stage with us than usual that night.


After fine versions of a shuffle ("That Woman Is Crazy,") a Bo classic ("Diddley Daddy") and a slow Blues (Christmas Is Cancelled,") it was the fourth song of this set (a jam the band named “Bo Diddley Is A Rum Drinker”) that stunned longtime fan Tad Selzer. “The Butanes playing Reggae” he was heard to exclaim! This started his quest to buy the band Piña Coladas - no easy feat in a dive like the Cabooze. A few songs later Tad proudly deposited Michael Howland’s version of an island classic at the edge of the stage. Containing things like cheap white liquor, very little fruit juice and peach schnapps (!?) the cocktails were barely palatable but enjoyed by the band nonetheless.

Bo’s constant “tuning” allowed him time to figure out what he should play next and allowed the band to consume mass quantities. Bo played long after closing time and that almost killed Larry. He kept pointing to his wrist and pointing offstage while Bo proceeded to play chorus after chorus of a fifteen minute medley of doo-wop songs. As the song finally came to an end Larry looked relieved and quit pointing. Bo took that to mean he should/could start up again, regaling the crowd with an almost twenty minute version of "Bo Diddley Put The Rock In Rock & Roll." Keyboard player Steve Kilbride thought we were playing two sets so he did not imbibe accordingly and was last seen running off the bandstand to the men’s room as the final notes rang out. Soundman Mike Ronkainen managed to quickly clear the bar at the end of the overlong night by the crafty use of a Dwight Yoakam CD. (It worked on me!)

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