We are working on some new events...stay tuned!
EXCERPT FROM LOVE WISCONSIN
"I'VE BEEN A MUSICIAN LONGER THAN I'VE BEEN ANYTHING. I'M ALSO A FUEL TRUCK DRIVER FOR BRUEGGEN OIL COMPANY, WHICH I OWN. MY WIFE, JODI, DOES THE BOOK WORK. I TRY TO BALANCE IT OUT SO THAT I CAN RUN THE OIL COMPANY AND PLAY MUSIC."
If there’s any spare time, I love to watch my kids play sports and be involved in their school activities. I have four children and try to spend a lot of time with each of them. And if there’s any little inch of time after that, I like to spend my time up in northern Wisconsin because it’s beautiful up there.
Music has done great things for me. It got me to the Grand Ole Opry and a lot of great places. A few years ago, my family was having a holiday meal. I was talking with my sister-in-law and I told her that Michael Martin Murphey, the gentleman who sang ‘Wildfire,’ called me to see if I wanted to play the Grand Ole Opry at the old Ryman Auditorium. She asked, “Well, are you gonna play?” and I replied, “Where is it?!” She thought I was kidding her, but really, I had no clue — I wasn’t much into country then, though I enjoy it now.
Anyway, I did end up going down to Nashville and I played three songs at the Opry. I remember standing next to Blake Shelton, Eddie Stubbs, and all the guys down there. I also met the country singer Craig Morgan, but I didn’t know it when I first started talking to him. As we talked backstage, he asked me where I was from. I told him my home was in Cashton, Wisconsin. He didn’t know where Cashton was, so I asked if he knew Sparta. Well, he loves bow hunting, and he said he had heard that we had good deer hunting up here. We ended up spending an hour visiting and the whole time, I had no idea who I was talking to. All of the sudden, I hear Eddie Stubbs say “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the stage: Craig Morgan.” As he walked to the stage, he looked back at me and said, “Nice talking to ya — let’s get together after the show, I wanna talk more about hunting.” That was the most memorable thing about being at the Grand Ole Opry.
But music can also create bumps in the road. At the age of 18 years old I was running a band. You’d walk into a dance hall filled with people ready to see you, ready to dance…and everyone wanted to buy me a beer. I don’t think I had to buy a beer for about ten years, but you really have to be careful because that can get you. At that time, a lot of musicians were going full-time, but my Dad wouldn’t let it happen. He’d say ‘You’re going to wake up on Monday and go to work…because you need to.’ So that’s what we did. Many nights we would get home at four or five in the morning, change clothes, and go to the barn to milk the cows. After the chores were done, we’d change clothes again and play another dance. We’d go a couple of days without sleep. It was tough, but that built character and kept us straight.
As a musician, you’re gone a lot. You’re the first one to the dance hall and you’re the last one to leave. You’re on the road when no one else is. It can cause stress in a lot of areas. There was a time when I wouldn’t turn anything down…I’d play every job. I remember one time we went on a road trip and played Western Minnesota on Thursday, played Milwaukee on Friday, Western Minnesota on Saturday, and back to play in Milwaukee on Sunday. If I had to live my life again, would I do things a little differently? Now that I’m 56, I wouldn’t do that stuff anymore, but hindsight is 20/20. When I was young, it was party on.
A high point for me was in 2019 when I was invited to play for an Oktoberfest celebration in Guantanamo, Cuba, for our military troops. What an experience that was. The band had an escort and security on us all the time; they treated us like kings over there. We played two two-hour shows: the first one was for the military families: the husbands, wives, and kids. We played lots of fun stuff and got the crowd interacting. But, when those first two hours were up, they announced “Okay, children must leave,” and then shut the doors. They told the parents to come back after an hour break. Well, when an hour passed, it was game on! Out came the mugs, the dresses, the Oktoberfest uniforms…you name it. I remember standing on top of a table and playing for all the troops…we had a blast, it was tremendous. And, as we’ve been doing every time since that night, we finished our show with the ‘Star-Spangled Banner.’ This place that had four thousand people screaming and hollering went dead silent. I played it solo while the five fellas behind me stood on stage, crying. I get tears in my eyes even thinking about it.
When we went back home, our hosts took us by motorcade to get back to the ship. As we left, they stood out on the dock, waving and thanking us. That experience was one of those things that really hit home. My dad was a Korean War vet who took the military seriously. He had just passed away three years before, and it made me think, “if only dad could be here.