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Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005 05:30 pm

Paying for bass playing

John Sauter needs a little help from his friends

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John Sauter
How do you get a bass player off your porch? Pay him for the pizza, silly. John Sauter picked up the bass guitar when he was 14 years old. Over the next few years, he scored backing gigs with such Chicago blues greats as Otis Spann and Sam Lay and rock & roll legends Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. He also worked steadily with Corky Siegel and was a full-fledged member of Mitch Ryder’s band. During the late ’70s and early ’80s, he landed a high-profile gig with Ted Nugent, covering bass duties for the Motor City Madman both live and in the studio. Since then Sauter has stayed busy, always playing the bass for some band or another. For years he backed Springfield Shaky, and lately he’s hooked up with his old pal John “Catfish” Evans of Decatur. In June, Sauter sustained a stroke that left him unable to play music for several months. It also left him with huge expenses for recovery, mountains of medical bills, and all the usual financial strain that comes with loss of income. Being a self-employed musician, he had no health insurance, retirement fund, or pension plan or even much stuffed under the mattress, for that matter. Didja hear about the musician who was worried about his savings? He still had several drinks to go to reach his 401 keg. If you’re wondering whether you’ve ever seen Sauter (nicknamed “Polar Bear”) perform, believe me: If you did, you’d remember. He’s the skinny guy with the tattooed arms, flailing on a standup bass like nobody’s business. Once in a while he’ll pull out a bottleneck slide for a zip-and-dip on the old doghouse — to my knowledge, he’s one of the few bass players to use a slide. Sauter says he’s feeling much better and doing what he can. We can expect a gradual return to full-time playing over the next several months. Send donations to John Sauter, 984 W. Packard, Decatur, IL 62522. What would happen if you gave a musician a million dollars? He’d keep playing until the money ran out.
Friends, fans, and fellow musicians are holding two benefits this weekend at the AIW Hall, 2882 N. Dineen St. in Decatur. The first show, 8 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, features Charger, the River Bottom Band, Mr. Natural, and Honest Pod. The second show, Sunday, Nov. 6, begins at noon and goes “until the end” with music by Springfield Shaky, the Soundations, Triplex, the Groove Daddies, and Anti-Everything.

The late, great Johnny Cash is the subject of a four-part program on WUIS (91.9 FM), 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, Nov. 7-10. Cash, the Legend incorporates commentary and music to tell the tale of Cash’s life, with the artist’s career divided into four periods: “How Great Thou Art,” “Ring of Fire,” “The Man in Black,” and “The World Needs a Melody.”

Alan Smithee, a California band on the rise, has critics and fans conjuring up comparisons to Train and U2. The traveling band is obviously working the bigger-than-life rock-song emotions quite well. See the Next Big Thing at Marly’s Pub (9 W. Old State Capitol Plaza, 217-522-2280) 10 p.m.-midnight Thursday, Nov. 3. Then you’ll be able to say that you saw them back when they were still playing bars. No word on where in the heck they got that name, though.

I hear that something called the 2005 Music Marathon is going on this weekend, but because nobody tells me anything, I don’t have any specifics on it. All I know is, someone said that seven bars are involved, and I think you get to ride a bus (I hope so) and go from bar to bar, listening to different bands, without paying separate cover charges. Then again, it may not be that at all. I suggest that you ask around or look for a flier in your favorite nightclub. Some of the bands and clubs involved, so I’m told: Ultraviolet at the Curve Inn, the New Goat Ensemble at the Underground City Tavern, Early Warning at Third Base, and Rockhouse at the Four Seasons. Sounds like a hoot — kinda like a pub crawl or something.

Happy two years in the bar business to Reier Deloney at Mojo’s (225 E. Monroe St., 217-544-3400). Anyone who has had anything to do with the business knows the time and energy consumed in operating a nightclub. Here’s to many more years of music, fun, and alcohol sales. Posamist, which held a regular Thursday-night gig in the early days of the bar, makes a comeback for the celebration, 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Nov. 3.
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