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Remaking the scene: Keeping live music ... alive

Morning, UP

August 25, 2012
RENEE?PRUSI - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

It was probably when someone standing near me said, "This is just like Spanky's was" that the wave of nostalgia struck.

It was last Saturday night and after my work shift had ended, I made my way to My Place Lounge at the Holiday Inn in Marquette. That's where this year's 80s Scene and Reheard event was happening.

And happening it was. The joint was jumping with tons of people enthusastically enjoying the reunion of some of the best bands from the 1980s, with all proceeds going to Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Marquette County.

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After talking to a few folks I know, I stood at the bottom of the two steps that lead up to the bar and tried to take it all in.

"Are you here to write about this," someone asked.

"No, I am a civilian tonight," was my reply but as the evening progressed, it seemed a must to try to capture the experience in words.

Spanky's, for those too young to remember, was the predecessor of My Place as the Holiday Inn's lounge. Spanky's was a popular site for me and my peers to while away the hours.

Being from that odd group of Michigan Baby Boomers for whom drinking became illegal for a few months once the legal age was upped to 21, it was a weird thing to recall going to Spanky's and then not going to Spanky's in the course of my youth.

That's because, from my 18th birthday in 1976 until mid-December 1978, it was legal for me to drink alcohol. Then for almost nine months, it was not legal, until my 21st birthday arrived in the autumn of 1979.

In those "illegal" months, I stopped going to Spanky's but got right back in the swing of the place when I was home on breaks from Central Michigan University, where I was finishing my senior year of college, and then after, when I moved home after graduating.

Frankly, until someone uttered the word "Spanky's," that whole time had been pushed into the recesses of my brain. Kind of a weird memory, I reckon.

A lot of my memories from the 1980s are best left in the recesses. But not the musical recollections. It was in that era that I became a live music fiend and the bands that played the benefit last Saturday were each part of the reason I did.

What must be emphasized, though, is the evening was not about how good these musicians used to be. It was about how good they still are. They rocked, pure and simple. Trout Revenge, Blind Ambition and The Queen City Rockers all performed wonderfully.

It was a night to celebrate talent, not from the past but in the present.

Watching the dance floor fill, seeing people bobbing in their chairs to the beat of the music, that was heartening. Live music fiends are still around.

We just need to get them out and about more often. What I remain nostalgic for are the times when live bands could be found in Ishpeming, Negaunee and Marquette almost every night of the week, back in the days when musicians were paid well enough to make a living at it and the crowds hung on every note.

That's a scene I'd like to be reheard, not just for a special weekend, but all the time.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is rprusi@miningjournal. net.



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