Photos by Shirley Birr; click to enlarge.
Many of you remember the “I Love Kelly Lake” dances, and might have attended some of the 15-or-so dances since ’96 at Romy’s Kelly Lake Holiday Inn on Sunday nights of Labor Day weekend. Kelly Lake’s Bob Piontek and I had the same idea to bring the ‘dances’ back to Kelly Lake; dances we remembered at the Holiday Inn when we were teenagers. Our very first dance, however, was in ’96 at the Round Roof.
We decided to incorporate a benefit for the late Kelly Lake’s Dave Dorow at the Round Roof, with the help of the Kelly Lake Sportsman’s Club and Whitetails Unlimited (a pet-project of Dave’s, who was instrumental in organizing Whitetails Unlimited here at Kelly Lake).
Bob and I got to work… I started promoting, while Bob knew some classic rock musicians, incorporating them to make up the band—soon becoming known as the “DOWGS (acronym for “Drunken Old White Guys”).
There were many different players, including special female guests, Pam and Hootch, along with Brian Adamson, Dana Erlandson, Jimmy Conrad, Kelly Lake’s Jim Hannon, 5-time Grammy nominee, musician and songwriter, the late Todd Buffa, our usual drummer, “Biggs” (Romy sat in one time for a song, “Last Kiss”, on drums; Romy did a great job!) and others—so many one-stop appearances, I can’t recall—and, of course, Bob and me. It was all meant to be fun—about half of the dances were for benefits—and bring back yesteryear to Kelly Lake dances.
Thus, giving those who weren’t around or don’t recall the background, it brings me to a sad moment about a friend I met and made in ’96, our usual lead guitarist and lead singer for the DOWGS, Mike Haight, who died this morning, November 28th, after a ten-year battle with cancer; he passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Bubs moved up to Kelly Lake a few years ago and lived on Birchwood Lane, making his home here across from Round Lake; he loved the area, fishing and friends. We had great times onstage and off; I did some fishing with bubs, pontooning, getting together on our deck for song and merriment… along with other things he enjoyed very much about Kelly Lake and his friends.
Two years ago at the Kelly Lake Rusty Nutz Car Show at Lee Lake Tavern, both Bubs and I did a couple songs with the new DOWGS (Bob Piontek still plays with the new group). Though surgery had weakened his singing ability, he sang and could still play a mean lead guitar. It was a blast being on stage with Bubs again!
Shirley’s scanned some old photos going way back to ’96 we’d like to share when we became friends with Bub’s. Words can’t express the friendship and fun we had, and how Bubs enriched our life with his music, laughter and fun. Perhaps the photos can.
I’ve included more photos of our, good-hearted, loyal and missed dear friend. The photos are tangible memories, along with one of Bubs’ guitars he wanted me to have that I just tuned and played tonight (he’s playing it (the black one on stage above), to go with the intangible memories we won’t forget with our good friend, Bubs. Music was magic with Bubs on guitar and vocals; he loved music; he had a distinctive style. Rest in peace. Rog and Shirley.