Archive for Wednesday, March 29, 2000

Fiddlesticks and pizza pie

March 29, 2000

It's all a matter of letting the good times roll.

"The most fun that you can have with your clothes on is playing country music," Bill Clark, 67, Overland Park. "I would rather play bad for free than to pay to listen to good music."

But talent is not the overriding factor for Clark and a group of about 25 other musicians. They do it to have a good time. As long as they have fun up on the stage, that is all that counts.

Clark and the rest of the gang play what he calls traditional country music, at Doc & Brutie's Pizza in Basehor and Doc & Brutie's Pizza-Q in DeSoto. Every Wednesday, a mixture of musicians tunes up at one of the two restaurants from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

These musicians started out as a small group playing in a back room at a Bichelmeyer Brothers Grocery in Basehor.

One day Daryl King, Basehor, stopped in at the grocery store to talk to Mark Bichelmeyer. He asked him if he could use an empty room in the store to play music. Enough people's curiosity eventually was piqued, and more and more musicians filtered in to play country music together.

Eventually, the room seemed too small to keep things going. So they spilled over and started playing at the Basehor Doc & Bruties in fall 1998. Eventually, this group became too large once again and by then the DeSoto restaurant became interested in recruiting this older group of musicians to play at its location.

"We like to be able to share the talent in front of a group," Garry Bichelmeyer said. "It is one thing to play in the basement of your house. Then, it is another thing to be out playing. It is a whole different experience."

The majority of the group is made up of retired men. But, women and youngsters have had a chance in the spotlight too. The group of musicians that plays at the two locations range in age from 10 to 85.

Bichelmeyer's description of the music is a little bit different. He said it is blues, mostly country and some faster bluegrass music. They also play some '50s and '60s rock, before the time of the Beatles, and modern country music.

Many of the participants venture out to listen to music. They attend bluegrass festivals, country festivals and contests and various other music contests. Some of them are also members of the Kansas Oldtime Fiddlers, Pickers and Singers.

Clark jokingly said they would make a lot of money if they were paid for the audience to be able to leave.

"We have a lot more guts than talent," Clark said. "The talent ranges from very little to a lot."

One of the guys was what he called a "professional musician" when he was in college. Greg Hermon, 56, Gardner, has played the guitar since he was 12. When he was 19 or 20, he played at bars to make a living.

"I saw that I was not going to become a star, so I got a real job," he said. "But, I kept music as a hobby. Now, I do it strictly for fun. It is fun to make music, but it is more fun to be a part of it."

Though the group plays for fun and not money, there is a tip jar for the audience to reward the musicians. Most of the money goes to charities and the rest is used for musical equipment.

The musicians combined their talent Feb. 20 and began putting together a recording of their music. Hermon, knew some people that had the equipment to use for the recording.

The recording, made by the musicians who play in Basehor, has about 14 people on it, varied throughout the 15 songs recorded.

"The recording captures the essence of the live thing on Wednesday nights," Hermon said. Continued from page 10A

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