Tom Heinl: He's a learned man, able to make a Bloody Mary out of ketchup and Schlitz and a musical instrument out of a three-gallon gas can. Better still, Heinl is a comical reminder of Oregon's other, much woodsier, much redder, side.
It's part parody when you consider his Eugene area upbringing, but that's the beauty. Using the mic stand to lean on after a few tracks, Heinl gazed at the many guitars, shakers and pedals that occupied the stage. Without hesitation, he grabbed his metal gas can and started his own private jug band.
Things usually turn out for the better when an act is self-introduced and that's precisely what Heinl did. Wearing a beard that looked more like shag carpeting than hair, he told his tale of past fame and fortune as the poster boy—alongside 800 pound grizzly bear and friend, Old Ben—of Hamm's beer. The tall tale fetched more authentic laughter than Weird Al's entire career.
Heinl marched through his menu of hot-button issues, from threesomes to hippie cops to kids on leashes, all to the gentle strumming of his country guitar. Audience members literally changed their bar orders as a result of his beer-in-hand, patio friendly style. It was the kind of entertainment you'd expect at 3 am in a basement house party, framed by the sounds of crunching cans and knee slaps.
The main event, Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs, took the stage before a crowd that had been worked over like kneaded bread. And though mightier in talent—playing an old school brand of sassy softrockabilly—there's something to be said for the common man, the populist, the one with his sleeves rolled up.
Tom Heinl is a fan of the simpler things, like cheap suds and backwards humor. And when you take a seat and pull your jacket off, you probably are too.
All photos by Mark Stock