Monday, July 26, 2010

Remembering the Fair

One of things I have always enjoyed about Wisconsin is how easy it is to escape. A short drive out of the city puts you in vastly different environment. You can go from city living to the farmland within 30 minutes. Drive 3 hours and you hit the North Woods and different way of life.

On Saturday I headed out to Waukesha for the county fair. The only reason anyone from Milwaukee goes to Waukesha is to see the headliner at the fair. It works out well for music fans as the county fairs battle with each other, Summerfest, and local venues to bring in a band people want to see. Sometimes a band will play multiple venues within a month which means you hit the jackpot.

Thus was my adventure to the fairgrounds. One of my favorite bands was back in the area. Night Ranger was a late fill for Summerfest and now they would be in Waukesha less than a month later. I just needed to spend some time watching pigs fight and sheep be judged. And a band with a guy who sounds like a chick.

Really, I watched some pigs fight the other day. Though he just had his ass handed to him one pig just didn't want to admit defeat. As the other pig pinned him to the pen, he kept trying to get one last bite in. After a couple jokes about wagering on the fight, someone finally came along to break up the brawl. Still the beaten pig wanted another piece from the winner and took more time to calm him down. Heck, I was expecting the pig to have a heart attack and become some one's ham dinner by Sunday night.

After the glory that was an impromptu pig fight, we found ourselves wandering around the rabbits. That is when I noticed the sheep judging. Not every day a guy from the city sees sheep being dragged around a pen. Hard to believe that kids still live for this. The thrill of having their animal be named the best so they can go on to the State Fair competition. Apparently there is a sheep/fashion show thing going on as the kids were wearing clothing made from the wool of their animals. Whatever gets them going, but I think the kid who wore the Packers jacket and carried the football won because of the clothes, not the sheep.

We waded through the soggy grass for the show. The ground was still soaked from the torrential downpours on Thursday. Lots of mud in places where the beer trucks had driven to supply the tents. I guess there is a downside to a beer delivery after all.

The band Head East opened for Night Ranger. You know these guys, one hit wonder, Never Been Any Reason. You may know they wrote a song that Rainbow made into a hit, Since You've Been Gone, but no one cares that they sing it. Hell, I swear there was a chick in the band singing part of the Never Been Any Reason song. I was surprised to see that it was all guys. I didn't know that a guy could have a career singing like Melissa Etheridge.

Night Ranger had a good show. I liked it because it was different from the Summerfest show. Different playlist. Different interactions between songs. No "na na" song talk. They went a different course which is not the safe path they usually take. This weekend they ended up doing an Ozzy thing with former Ozzy guitarist Brad Gillis. Played some Highway to Hell once again. And finally, ended the show with Rock in America.

But one thing was consistent. They had a lot of fun on stage. They don't go through the motions like some bands. They give each other the room to do what they do best. Play. Just one of the reasons I have always enjoyed the music.

One nice surprise from the show was the heavy, crunchy version of the song Night Ranger. They really laid into this one. The guitars were hammering the chords like it was going to be a thrash version of the song. I had never heard them play any of their songs with that intensity. It was amazing.

And for the record, all that Waukesha mud comes off quickly with some water and a toothbrush.

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