I Sang with BTO!

They’re quite talented, but modest—away from a concert stage, you would never guess what it is they actually do for a living.

I have been to the mountain top....

I mean it—I’ve just gotten back from seeing my buddies in BTO ("Bachman-Turner Overdrive":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bachman-Turner_Overdrive) perform at a big concert over in St. Petersburg, Florida, and I got to sing onstage with them!

I’m not lying. I really did get to sing onstage with them. OK, maybe it wasn’t with all of them, but there were actual witnesses who will testify that I did sing with two of them. Hmm...I’m sensing that some of y'all may be doubting me. So instead of pleading like an attorney who’s opposing Perry Mason, I’m gonna go back to the beginning and tell this story with honesty, dignity, and forthrightness. Maybe then y'all will believe that I got to sing onstage with the best damn band in the world.

For starters, for those of y'all out there who are new to this column, my favorite rock band is BTO. From the early '70s on, I've loved their heavy, hard-rockin’ sound. BTO was a man’s band. There were no window-treatment designers in it, just four regular guys who simply walked onstage, cranked it up, and played some of the best rock music imaginable. Several of their songs have become classics, hits like “Roll On down the Highway,” “Let It Ride,” “Takin’ Care of Business,” and “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.” Simply put, BTO was a band a guy could admit to liking without having his male-chromosome count being questioned.

A few years ago, on account of my first book, I was fortunate enough to meet Robin Bachman, BTO‘s drummer. After that, I started attending most of their southeastern U.S. concerts (yes, they still play some gigs each year, and yes, they still sound great) and subsequently became friends with the rest of the band. There are no finer guys than Randy Murray, Blair Thornton, and Fred Turner. They’re quite talented, but modest—away from a concert stage, you would never guess what it is they actually do for a living.

As a result of that history, I was in St. Petersburg this past weekend for "Ribfest":http://www.ribfest.org/. BTO was playing Friday evening, so when I left work Thursday evening I drove down and met them so that I could see the show. We all hooked up Friday morning, and Jan Janvier—BTO’s road manager and a great guy to boot—informed me that there was a sound check at 2:00 p.m. and that I was on the guest list.

All of us went over to the concert area at 2:00, and I sucked in a little air when I saw the large stage and amps. This was big-time rock ’n’ roll, and I was grateful to be a part of it. Randy and Blair proceeded to plug in their guitars and then adjusted their volumes and stuff. Fred tinkered with his bass, and Robbie tuned up his drums.

And then it happened: Randy looked over at me, and...

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