The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 26, 2014

Getting started with a little help from George Thorogood

Thorogood introductions started early in life

Don’t you just love a fresh start?

I do. Which is why I’m happy to be coming to you from a different section of the paper this week.

If you hate my columns, please take this opportunity to make a mental note — heck, even write it down somewhere if that’ll help — that I’ve switched up beats a little bit.

Tanner Kent, our former Currents and Mankato Magazine editor who did an absolutely fabulous job on the beat and will be sorely missed, has moved on. I have taken his place. After nearly 20 years covering news — cops and courts, higher education, health care and nonprofits — I’ve decided to accept a new challenge. So to avoid my column about whatever cute thing my kids said yesterday, please note that it’ll be in this section most Thursdays. Bottom of the page.

My first day on this new venture was Monday, which is the same day one of the best emails I’ve ever gotten landed in my inbox. It asked a simple question: “Would you be interested in interviewing George?”

Who is George, you ask?

I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, some background ...

When I was a kid, my parents had a little cabin in the woods in northern Wisconsin. My childhood summer weekends were spent there, Lake DesMoines, a short hike from the “bustling” downtown of Webb Lake.

My friends and I would ride all-terrain vehicles, swim in the lake, pick wild blueberries, explore the wilderness, tell ghost stories. But the memories that mean the most to me are of sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows and — kids, cover your ears — taking my first sips of California Coolers and Schmidt Beer.

Because I’ve always loved music, everything we did had a soundtrack. My black boombox with the detachable speakers, dual tape decks and graphic equalizer got a workout. Propped on the railing of the deck, everything from Waylon Jennings to Grandmaster Flash and Furious Five echoed from that thing. And, of course, there was George. From “I Drink Alone” and “Gear Jammer” to “Bad To the Bone” and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” few artists provided the audio backdrop to my summer memories the way George did.

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