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Marc Boon credits kids for a fresh outlook on being a bandleader

Marc Boon & the Day Drinkers
Courtesy Marc Boon
Marc Boon & the Day Drinkers

Longtime Central Illinois musician and bandleader Marc Boon said his latest ensemble The Day Drinkers started organically.

A chance encounter with longtime professional drummer Don Stahl of Fairbury got the former Hip Pocket leader back in his home studio with bassist Chris Briggs and keyboard player Ray Wiggs, both of whom had played with Boon for many years.

Boon says they recorded as much as possible as Briggs was very ill with cancer at the time, with his week-to-week condition prevented him from studio recording as much as the trio wanted. So, Boon said they recorded as much as possible when Briggs was able to. When it became obvious that Briggs may not be able to play upcoming gigs, Boon said he turned to Jeffrey Walker, another bassist he had been working with recently.

“Jeffrey was so cool about everything because he knew Chris was ill, but we still had gigs on the books,” said Boon. “So, we were trying to bounce back and forth. And if Chris was healthy enough, he played the gigs. If he wasn't feeling good, Jeff would say, I'll have everything down and ready for you. And he was always ready to go. We were done at a gig, and I had gotten a text from Chris, it said, ‘I don't think I'm going to be able to do the 11th.’ And so I said (to Walker), ‘Man, that's a week away. Can you be ready for all that? Oh, yeah, I'll be ready for that.’ And it just was one of those gigs where it felt like one of those Hip Pocket gigs where we weren't really down on the stage, because it just went so well. And Chris’ spirit was with us. He had called me that morning and said, ‘You know, hey, give him hell. But, you know, I have to sit this one out.’ And I knew that was pretty much gonna be it.”

Though Boon has yet to officially release an album with The Day Drinkers, he has put three of the recordings — all covers — on the band’s website. First up is the Larry Carlton song “Friday Night Shuffle.”

“That was the second song that we came in and record it, and Chris is on this one. If we finally do make a project out of this, Chris will be on the first one that we do. All the ones that we did and can finish up with Chris. The next part of the project will be the other things that we're playing now,” said Boon.

He added the Carlton song has been one of his favorites for years, saying the instrumental gives the engineers a chance to dial the band in.

“And it's just so up and swinging and grooving,” said Boon. "And I was just like, I would love to do this song. And that's the other cool thing about it, man. People started kind of coming out of the woodwork because I would ask them, ‘Hey, you want to be a part of this project and come play on this record?’ ‘Absolutely.’ Three cats from St. Louis came out and played horns on it. And when the horns hit that first section out of the studio, I was just amazed and said yeah, this is this is the song to do because they're just amazing people.”

Another song posted on the website is the Doobie Brothers “South City Midnight Lady.” It’s from one of their most popular albums, but not one that was all over the radio back in the day. Boon said he’s been a huge Doobie Brothers fan since the 1970s, and the harmonies are what particularly grabbed him about this song and others that hit him a certain way, including David Crosby and Crosby, Still, Nash & Young.

“Once again, we got time … we're in the studio. What do you want to play? Not what do we have to play? What do you want to play? And I had watched Patrick Simmons (of the Doobie Brothers) playing the song and I'm going, ‘I see what he's doing there.’ So, we tuned it down a bit because I don't have quite as high a voice as I used to. And I started playing with the guys. I went, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ And then I started thinking pedal steel. And Jerry Erickson, aka ‘mutton head’ is one of the finest musicians I've ever met in my life. That pedal steel started playing and I just freaked out. Pedal steel has always been something to me. It's country music. But man, it lends itself to so many other things … Buddy Emmons and people like that who could play jazz with it, really struck me. So once that happened and we were starting to put the harmonies in, we put the strings in and everything else. And when we play it live, people recognize it, like you say, it's kind of a B song. But many years ago, we listened to the entire record … once we had the money to get the entire record. And there were little bits and pieces that would kind of catch your ear but the harmonies in that and then that spacey, or the psychedelic rock thing that happens in the middle of it also was fun to be able to do,” explained Boon.

The song also has an impact on Boon lyrically, saying his wife CJ is who he thinks about when playing and singing "South City Midnight Lady."

“At some point along the line, I've just found all these wonderful songs that make me think of CJ because she has enabled me to be able to do so many things in my life and just backs me up. When you have a partner like that says, 'Yeah, I understand why you have to have another guitar' (laughs). She told me that she understood why I had to have another guitar because they all sound different and have a different tone to them. 'I guess I understand but do they all have to be Martin's?'” he laughed.

The reunion of Hip Pocket in 2017 was the last time WGLT spoke with Boon. At the time he said losing three friends made the decision to reunite the band an easy one. "I think at some point along the line we get into a stage of life when we take account of stuff," said Boon then.

Five years later, Boon was even more visibly relaxed. Still working long hours on music, but with this project, letting more things happen naturally as much as making things happen. He again credited his wife CJ, who brought children in the union, something he had never had.

“And that that squares your head around a little bit differently,” said an emotional Boon. “When you're a little bit older in life, and all of a sudden you're faced with being a father figure. I mean, that kind of ... and being the way that I was I don't think necessarily was a great thing to be able to do around kids. I was a selfish person. If you have to be in music, and you don't want to have kids there has to be some selfishness in there. But that melted the selfishness away. I didn't want to have kids and not be there for them ... to be on the road or to be working all the time. But this all changed my mind. I mean, yeah, they came along with the marriage but what an amazingly wonderful thing that was.”

Marc Boon and the Day Drinkers play the Connie Link Ampitheater in Normal Saturday, October 1 at 7:00 p.m.

Jon Norton is the program director at WGLT and WCBU. He also is host of All Things Considered every weekday.
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