Dave Begel is a big guy. Heâ€™s of imposing stature and imposing reputation in this town. Heâ€™s got opinions, a strong voice and he doesnâ€™t back down easily, though he's not shy about admitting when heâ€™s wrong (at least to me).
But when he made his solo debut on stage at Linnemannâ€™s on Saturday night at his 70th birthday party, we saw the other side of Dave Begel. Sitting with his acoustic guitar, he was understated and he was self-effacing. There was nary a trace of the bluster that he can blow into his columns.
He reminded us that in addition to his hulking frame, heâ€™s got a hulking big heart, too.
He played maybe eight or 10 songs â€“ by the likes of John Sieger and Phil Lee, but also a cover of "Help Me Make It Through the Night." Despite his warnings to the contrary, Dave did a great job, rendering the songs quietly, passionately and in his own style.
Maybe I was wrong, but when he introduced a song for his wife, Susan, I thought I even detected a tear. Luckily, top-notch lensman Dave Bernacchi was there, as he was able to capture the range of Begel's emotions during the performance.
His family and friends came out â€“ and hooted and hollered after every tune â€“ and I was pleased to see a few Milwaukee notables in the audience, too. After Dave finished his set, Sieger and his brother John were joined by ace drummer Bob Schneider (and also John's son Sam) for a few tunes, including a nice version of the Everlys' "Bye Bye Love."
Later they added lefty bassist â€“ and Journal Sentinel columnist â€“ Mike Juley, who played in a newsroom band with Begel in the early â€˜80s. They even coaxed me to make my debut playing the drums standing up (I apologize if I offended).
I didnâ€™t get to talk to Dave, really, at the party, but we did share the stage for a few songs and as any musician knows, that was really communication enough.
Happy birthday Dave. Donâ€™t make us wait another 70 years for the next gig.
Happy Birthday Dave! And here's to many more. Have a Healthy, Happy and Fun 2014. (Photodavie.....much better) :) ...and if Dave does go on the road, I have a feeling you'll be signing up as either his Tour Photographer or just a Roadie.
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