Ed Obeda, Curtis Obeda, Hip Linkchain, Frank Bandy and Rich Kirch
I was living in Chicago making frequent trips back to the Twin Cities for gigs when I met Ted Wilebski in the Fall of 1982. Ted had opened Wilebski’s in 1979 and was looking to get into presenting national acts but he wasn’t actively booking music in the club besides an occasional biker band. Of course a lot of bikers liked blues and somehow one of my old buddies, Al Harris, from the first band I was ever in (the Mudsharks) ended up playing a gig at the club and telling Ted he knew a guy (me) currently living in Chicago who had all the musicians’ phone numbers. Ted was very interested and we stopped down to see him and ended up negotiating a tentative deal to bring up somebody next month in order for Ted to have a little time to promote the show. I ran through a list of people I had recently played with and Ted picked Hip. I don’t think he knew anything about Hip but he liked his name and actually turned down Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Dawkins and Sammy Fender before I got to Hip! I believe he turned down Hubert and Sammy because I had booked them in town during the previous few months and I told him Jimmy would be more expensive than Hip so even then Ted was on the lookout for a “deal”...

I headed back to Chicago on Monday and called Hip and he was happy for the gig, the only problem was that he was about to start a tour of Canada in a couple of weeks and his band wasn’t free the weekend before they left. I called Ted up and basically told him the schedule wasn’t going to work out but Ted said he didn’t need a whole month to promote the show and asked if I could put together some local guys to back Hip so that’s what we did. Hip and I drove up together on a Thursday and stayed at my parents' place. Thursday night we had a rehearsal where we drank a bunch and listened to a few cassettes but never bothered to play a thing. We played Friday and Saturday at the club with a borrowed PA but we never thought about lights. When we got to the club we realized the only lighting in the place was some harsh overhead lighting (completely unacceptable) and the very dim wall sconces. We didn’t care how dark it was and the people thought it was great as I believe quite a few things went on in the dark that would not normally happen in a club (especially in the balcony). The shows went well, Ted was hooked on bringing up guys from Chicago and in short order I moved back to the Twin Cities to regularly work at Wilebski’s (including hosting the Sunday night jam). Hip made a few other appearances and both Hubert and Jimmy were brought up within a few months. Sammy only played the grand re-opening of a club I used to frequent on Rice street, J.B. Ladd’s (AKA the Torch) but here is an old Sweet Potato review of the shows.

On Sunday around noon Hip’s band, Twist Turner, Right Hand Frank (Frank Bandy) and Long-Haired Richie (Rich Kirch), showed up to pick up Hip for their Canadian tour. We invited the guys in for brunch and Hip was very pleased and excited to show everyone what he had discovered earlier that weekend - the garage door opener.

A couple of days previous we were sitting around the dining room table having breakfast and Hip asked my Father “what that box thing was.” My Dad told him it as the garage door opener and Hip thought he was putting him on. Dad said, “go ahead, press that button” and you could see the garage door go up. Hip was amazed! “How did you do that?” he asked? Dad replied it was done with radio waves or something and Hip said he understood, that we were “walkie-talkie-ing somebody out in the garage to open the door”. No we told him, when you press the button it tells a little motor to move the door up or down and no one else is out there. Hip sat there for a while pressing that button making the door go up and down laughing with amusement everytime it moved. Then he jumped up and went out and inspected the garage to make certain we weren’t hiding anyone out there. Then he yelled into the house to press the button while he was in the garage so he could see the thing move without anybody’s help. The door went down while Hip was standing alone in the garage and you could hear him laugh. Then he tried to open up the door by hand and, of course, it wouldn’t budge. He shook the door to try and raise it one more time then started pounding on it yelling that he was stuck...HELP! HELP!!!

We quickly hit the button and he scampered out of the garage saying it was a trap. I walked out and showed him the button that looked like a doorbell located next to the door that would open it if he was ever “trapped” again. Once he realized the garage wasn’t going to “get him” he went back to being amused by the opener and sat at the table for quite a long time pressing that button and cackling with glee everytime that door moved.

When his band arrived he arranged them all around the dining room table and told them to look out the window. With a great deal of fanfare he pressed the button and the door went up. He looked at the guys awaiting their response and finally somebody said, “Hip, it’s a garage door opener”... The guys all got plates of food and instead of returning to the table where Hip was still playing with the opener they sat around the fire realizing just what a long trip this was going to be.

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