By Jaime Lees
By Roy Kasten
By Melinda Cooper
By Jeremy Essig
By Roy Kasten
By Daniel Hill
By Chris Kornelis
By Gina Tron
That's right. You're wondering why the Beatle is so omnipresent in your world? Simple. He's out all the time. For 1,000 nights in a row he will have seen some sort of musical performance be it a concert, a club date, a folk show or a gospel get-down. A thousand nights in a row away from home. A thousand nights spent avoiding existential dread. A thousand nights obsessively documenting his musical experiences. A thousand nights in a row out on the town. A thousand nights dancing, dancing, dancing.
If you're new to the area or haven't been to a show in St. Louis in, say, the past 20-odd years, and you don't know who the hell we're talking about, Beatle Bob is a guy who (duh) goes to loads of shows and dances his funny dance (next time you see him, note that he often dances in 5/4 time). He's the semiofficial human mascot of the New Orleans Jazz Fest and the grand marshal of some pop festival in LA, and he is achieving the sort of American renown reserved for the most eccentric and endearing of citizens. Many St. Louisans, of course, are annoyed by this fame they say, off the record, that he's most famous for elbowing his way to the front of shows, carving a large spot in front of the stage by shoving and bullying dance-floor neighbors and endearing himself to bands at the expense of fellow concertgoers. To these people, we say ... well, you've got a good point.
But, still, this is quite a feat.
And if you're thinking of calling the judges for some rule-clarification, Beatle Bob has constructed his own set of rules for what constitutes a fair night out: "These are full shows. If I write it in my diary, it means I stayed for the full show. Some nights I may see one full show and then head to another club later and only catch a half-hour of a show, and I won't count that. I'll put that in italics as something I've seen, but none of that counts as seeing a full show."
Alas, Bob failed to achieve the elusive double whammy, the one that has been on the record books since the legendary Astaire Al both went out 1,000 nights in a row and danced every night. That was 1949. A different world, different times. Bedtime was 9:30 p.m., so all shows got over around 9 p.m. Bob's the first to admit that he's fallen short of that remarkable feat: "I don't dance at all the shows. I'll see something at the Focal Point, a singer/songwriter, and I'll just sit there and enjoy the melodies and words." And if anyone assumes that keeping Bob from dancing would require some sort of restraint (or restraining order), he's quick to respond when asked whether it's hard to keep from dancing: "No. People ask me that all the time, and it's not hard for me to not dance. I'll tap my foot along to the beat, but it's as easy for me to sit there and enjoy the music as it is for anyone else."
Of course, we're going to have to take Beatle Bob's word that he's on the up-and-up about this; because he's alone in these endeavors, who's to say that he didn't stay home on Monday, Feb. 3, 1997, because there was a huge snowstorm, bus service was shut down (even more miraculous is that Bob has accomplished this feat without the aid of a car) and, well, there just wasn't anything going on? Of course, no one wants to snatch the spring out of Beatle Bob's step, so we'll take him on his word that he's telling the truth about all of this.
The best show he's seen in that time? The Kaisers, at the Hi-Pointe last year. The local band he's seen most often in that time? "Either the Civiltones or Swing Set. It's not necessarily that they're my favorite St. Louis bands though I like them both a lot. It's more that they open for a lot of bands that I have seen, so I've seen them a lot, too."