When the announcement that People’s was going to close first came out lots of message board posts and e-mails were being bandied about with folks planning extravagant trips back to the ol’ alma mater for a heck of a Memorial Day weekend send off to every Cyclone’s favorite bar. I ignored most of it thinking that with the race that weekend(1) it wasn’t something to spend any time worrying about. However, I was sitting in the Indianapolis Airport on Monday morning when it dawned on me that I was already planning to be in Ames Monday through Thursday of the bar’s final week. I excitedly called Austin to see if he was still allowed out on weeknight’s now that he’s a dad – luckily he was! I checked the buzz(2) online and found that Boner (Tony Bohnenkamp) was doing dueling piano’s on Monday night!(3)
We went out about 9 PM and we were some of the first people in the place(4). We ordered a pitcher of Michelob Golden Light(5) and settled into a high-top table(6). We were amazed to see that not only was it dueling piano’s with Boner and Jared Hall but they added a bass guitar and drum set. We later learned it was Jon Locker (bass) and his brother Will Locker (drums) of The Nadas(7) and Town Crier, respectively. On the subject of The Nadas, it’s very weird to me that I haven’t seen them – or Hello Dave for that matter - play in more than two years. What’s it take to get someone from the Iowa bar tour to make a stop in Indianapolis? Anyway, back to the show, ...it…was …awesome. I’ve seen the dueling piano show a couple times and Boner’s solo piano act once or twice. Each time has been great but the addition of the other instruments really made the night.
Boner came over and chatted with us a couple times and told us about the new bar that he opened in Des Moines – the “Grand Piano Bistro”. It sounds pretty neat and I hope to check it out when I’m back in Iowa next month. He also told me to say hello to Hope for him(8).
Tony started the night by announcing it was the official kick off to the saddest weak in the history of Ames(9). Those words actually stuck with me the rest of the night. I caught myself at times just staring at different random paraphernalia on the walls of the bar trying to imprint it on my memory. I’m not sure I needed to – I’ve spent enough time in that place over the last ten years. At one point, Austin and I both named off our top five memorable(10) nights in the place - it wasn't tough to do. At another point I considered composing a poem about the experience. It seemed like the appropriate thing to do to mark such a night. Of course, I didn’t. I haven’t composed a poem since second grade and I imagine if the Mich Golden hadn’t been $3/pitcher all night the idea would have never crossed my mind.
It was an appropriate “last call” for People’s and I. The staff turned the lights on early, the band refused to leave and I had to mooch cash of my buddy all night since their credit card machine didn’t work(11). I’ll certainly miss the music, I’ll probably miss the beer, and I might even miss the food. I know I’ll miss the bar.
1. Our first Indy 500, yeah! 2. “What buzz? The internet buzz. What the f’ is the internet?” 3. It is on. 4. Apparently “Tea Night” isn’t the draw it used to be. 5. It’s still a novelty to me. 6. Choice seating. 7. They used to play in our basement. 8. I’m not sure if I did or not so I figured I’d type it in here to be safe. 9.The week after the Elite 8 loss to Michigan State certainly contends. 10. This implies that we can remember the night – there could well be much better nights that were completely lost due to Ames Teas and/or mugs of beer. 11. I bought him tacos afterwards to make it square.