August 2010

It’s 4:30 on a mid-summer Tuesday afternoon. A black pick-up pulling a white van trailer turns into the park and backs up to the bandshell. The production guy gets out and with his crew of a woman and a kid, barely more than a toddler, and start unloading sound equipment. As they begin setting up another guy pulls up and starts to help them. Soon after the band starts arriving. First the guitar player, then the drummer, the keyboards, the bass player and horns arrive together.

 It has begun to be a flurry of activity at the bandshell when more vehicles arrive, off loading Ez-ups for the Pay It Forward booth and the CVBS booth. A couple of the guys helping at the bandshell peel off to help set up the booths. Pay It Forward sets up their popcorn machine and wait for some power to get things poppin’. The CVBS booth starts to take shape with T-shirts & signs hanging, caps, CD’s and posters on the table. A sign goes up for “Water $1.00” A banner is hung at the back of the bandshell announcing “The Chippewa Valley Blues Society”, another at the front of the booth “”.

A couple people head out to the curb at 1st Ave. as the 9 Degrees ice cream guy backs in with his trailer and unloads his ice cream wagon. He has both his wife and son helping him tonight and is advertising four different flavors of ice cream and two types of cones. The people at the curb hang signs, facing both north and south, proclaiming “Tuesday Night Blues”.

A guy pulls up on a sharp looking deep red Harley, parks, and opens up the electrical shed. Another guy rides up on a custom built electric chopper, dismounts and the pair of them start running out thick black power lines into the trees just as the girls from Famous Dave’s pull in under the trees with their very noticeable van. As the guys continue to roll out the heavy cable the girls set up their EZ-up and tables, laying out the buckets of forks, napkins, buns & menus and then the roasters for that, oh so tasty, barbecued pulled pork, just as the guys get the power out to get it all plugged in.

The sound guy has the band starting sound checks. He moves to the stage to make adjustments. Gets the drummer comfortable.

Now, as you look around, you notice a few people filtering into the seats. If you look farther out, past the edge of the park, to the side streets that feed in, you notice more, then more people parking, then moving in to the park. They start slow, only a few here and a few there. They come moving through the trees in twos and threes. Almost like phantoms.

Now more vehicles are pulling up, including “The Weenie Wagon”, with his mouth watering cargo of bratwurst and hot dogs, condiments of special hot sauces and of course ketchup & mustard. The girls selling jewelry are getting their booths set up as the guitar and bass are finishing their sound checks and the sound guy makes sure the monitors are balanced for each of the musicians.

Now more people are filtering in and the sound is set up and the sound guy starts a feed with some Sonny Boy Williamson to entertain the growing crowd until the show starts. The evening’s sponsored non profit shows up and sets up a donation and information table near the CVBS tent while some of the Tuesday Blues committee fan out and pass out this week’s Tuesday Bluesletter with info about the band. Tonight’s bio is about Howlin' Wolf, some info about next week’s band and some sponsor information. All the regulars make sure to get one.

As a new vendor, Turks Head Coffee Shop sets up his table with fresh made smoothies and gourmet ice coffees the Bluesmobile arrives from Durand, announcing all down Water Street “Live music at Owen Park tonight!”.

The crowd has grown to near 500 as the lead in is started introducing the sponsors, the Chippewa Valley Blues Society and tonight’s band. The atmosphere is absolutely festive as the crowd mills among the different booths and tables. Then the band kicks in and it is another Tuesday Night Blues in Owen Park. Everybody is rockin with the beat of blues, boogie, rock and funk. There might even be a reggae beat tossed in. The crowd responds with shouts and applause. What a great way to break up the week on a beautiful summer night with some  high quality music down by the river in Eau Claire. Come join us and experience this midweek music fest.

Hope to see you there!