In Feb. 12 IssueBy Wade Daffron, Columnist
Oh, I'm gonna fool you on this one…
This column is NOT about the Green Bay Packers, or the Super Bowl.
It's about a much more important event-this weekend's Government Cheese Reunion Show!
I'm sure some of your are going, "The Who-What-Huh?"
Let me explain.
If you were a student at Western Kentucky University in the mid 80s-early 90s, you had to know about Government Cheese.
Government Cheese was "the best dag-gum band in the whole dag-gum air force." (Bonus points if you can figure out what movie quote I just butchered. OK, it's Andy Griffith from "No Time For Sergeants.").
The band consisted of four, young lads from Liverpool (just checkin' to see if you're paying attention), who were as diverse as possible, but yet somehow meshed perfectly at the first beat of a drum, or thrashing power chord from a dirty guitar.
Although some may claim they "never heard of 'em," the "Cheese" is quite legendary.
Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter/Zen Master Tommy Womack even wrote a book about the band. (And I hope it will be made into a movie some day.)
This weekend, the band will reunite in Bowling Green for a not-to-be-missed, sold-out show.
As my luck would have it, I will miss the show. (Long story…)
But I have my memories.
I was a freshman when I had my first tast of Cheese.
I was walking to my bowling class (Oh, stop it…) inside Downing University Center.
I noticed a band was setting up inside.
Although I was running late, I stopped to watch as the band clumsily tuned, and giggled into their microphones.
"ONE, TWO, FREE, FAW!"
The spastic-looking singer, Scott Willis, leaped high into the air, and the band all crashed into the first song with a sonic boom.
They blazed through a couple of songs (I think "White Lies" by Jason & the Scorchers was one of them), when a "university official" in suit and tie came running toward them waving his arms.
A brief discussion ensued, I saw Scott sheepishly shrug, then Tommy pull of his guitar…and slam it to the ground.
ROCK & FRIGGIN' ROLL!
I was bitten and smitten.
I had seen a real…live…band, a ROCK & FRIGGIN' ROLL band, and even an on-stage tantrum.
Needless to say, I was a "Cheese Head" from that moment on.
My friends and I followed the band as they moved from playing frat parties to local clubs, and then out-of-town venues.
Word of their awesomeness spread like wildfire.
I collected the concert flyers, bought their records, and probably made them miserable at shows when I would stand in front of the stage and scream obscure songs for them to play.
Among the highlights of my life was hearing them do SRV's "Texas Flood," and a portion of Zep's "Rain Song" at a particulary rowdy concert at the old, Bowling Green haunt, Picasso's.
One often hears the term "soundtrack to my life," but I can honestly say the Cheese provided that for me.
Their song "Rebecca Whitmire" made me, for the first time ever, consciously attempt to move my clumsy body in a rhythmic motion.
"Fish Stick Day" helped me learn social skills by running onto the dance floor to interact with real…live…humans.
Many days I would blow off steam by speeding (oops) down the then-Cumberland Parkway with "Oh Yeah" blasting through my Pioneer TSX auto speakers.
Their music spoke to my generation-songs about loss, songs about the one that got away, songs about not fitting in, songs plain, unabashed goofiness ("Camping on Acid"-need I say more?).
Cheese on record was great.
Cheese live, was…WONDERFUL.
Scott developed his own style of stage aerobatics and high-pitched yelps. Tommy had the "angry guitarist" thing down pat. Drummer Joe "Elvis" King (Remember his as a disc jockey at KDF 103, I think?) was, at times, a Keith Moon-like machine, and bassist/vocalist/songwriter/sharp-dressed man, Billy Mack Hill, coaxed impossible, bouncy notes from his four-string weapon.
A Cheese show was an event, a happening, a gathering of fools and friends.
I'm still star-struck from having Scott Willis bounce up next to me at the urinals at Picasso's one night.
"Hey," he said, and nodded.
I resisted the urge to shake his hand since we were both, you know, well, at the urinals.
My friends and I got to watch the Cheese do a soundcheck one night where they played tunes not often featured in their shows.
The soundcheck ended with Scott riding his bicycle around the stage to work off nervous energy.
The guys in the band were always approachable and patient with uber-fans like me.
It was shocking to actually see them sitting in class sometimes.
I mean, heck, they should be on TV, and on the radio, and stuff.
They actually did have a video on MTV for their song, "Face in the Crowd."
I remember when it was filmed, and when it was "supposed' to air.
Some still dispute whether it actually was ever on TV, or not.
The Cheese eventually drifted apart, and each member has enjoyed success in their own.
I was intrigued when I learned last year a "two-CD retrospective" on the band was going to be released.
The groundswell began.
Soon, rumor turned to truth regarding a possible reunion show.
This weekend, the "boys are back in town."
Watching videos of rehearsals for the upcoming show, I noticed the occasional glances between the guys as sparks ignite, and they fall into a tight groove.
I've seen it before, and I'm glad to say that back in the day, when I was young, and they were young, and life just seemed a little easier, "I was there."