The Blue Grouch, Rail Splitter CrossFit, and The Hotstepper

Posted by on July 10th 2018

The Blue Grouch, Rail Splitter CrossFit, and The Hotstepper

It started out just like any other night. Following an almost deadly heated performance in Decatur on the 4th of July, the band returned home for a Friday night show in the beer garden at the Blue Grouch. The mild temperatures were a welcome reminder that if you don’t like the temperature in Illinois just wait around because it’s going to change drastically.

The Blue Grouch Pub

The band pushed through their first set to a smaller early evening crowd seated in the shade around the perimeter of the beer garden. The beginning of set 2 had a little more buzz, but it was around the halfway mark that The Hotstepper showed up.

Now let me explain for those of you who don’t know. The Hotstepper was a term coined by the band in its previous incarnation called Closing Time which refers to an individual who shows up to a dance floor and single-handedly gets the party started. This dates back to a Closing Time show when the band was playing to a mostly dead crowd at Marly’s Pub when a man walked in during our performance of Ini Kamoze’s “Here Comes The Hotstepper” and brought life and about 50 people to the dance floor.  The same thing happened in Bloomington when a young man armed only with intoxication and a pink balloon stormed the dance floor of Daddios and brought along with him a crowd that closed out the night. The Hotstepper can be anyone and show up anywhere.

On Saturday night, this anonymous individual showed up, gave his endorsement by shaking everything his mama gave him and then some, and brought along a Normandy-like invasion of dancers to the stage. By the middle of set 3, the entire beer garden of the Blue Grouch was packed with singers, dancers, old friends, and new fans of the band. This may have been our biggest show at the Grouch to date, and in spite of a long week of shows I think the band could have played all night. Pushing the boundaries of time and noise ordinances, Fun DMC closed out with a quiet, solo guitar arrangement of “Sweet Caroline.” In typical Robert Reynolds church-like fashion the end of the gig felt more like the closing of a worship service than a concert. Our crowd stood shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, swaying side to side as they eventually took over the lyrics and drowned out the band. The Hotstepper disappeared into the night as the band packed the last of the equipment back into the trailer. He is gone for now but his spirit remains.

RowRaiser at Rail Splitter CrossFit

You would think we would have learned our lesson, but on Saturday morning at 8:00 AM the band was found at Rail Splitter CrossFit. And not because I have convinced any of them to join after all these years. The band was to perform at the annual RowRaiser, a fundraiser to benefit the Illinois Special Olympics where teams of 10 row a marathon, (42,192 meters to be exact). The event began in the driveway of a local chiropractor, Dr. Mike Jones of Jones Chiropractic and has grown more and more each year. This year there were over 200 rowers. In spite of the short night and early morning, the band put on an energetic performance for the athletes and their cheering section. The event was accompanied by several food trucks including RedBud Coffee, Robert’s Seafood, and the SnoShack.

This week much of the band is spending their evenings leading worship at Lake Springfield Baptist Camp followed by a wedding at Arlington’s on Saturday. You can catch us next weekend on July 21st at the annual Chatham Sweet Corn Festival.