At a pub in Seattle, the band on stage launches into the churchy opening riff of “Take Me To The River.”
The popular cultural expressions of beer and music, rooted in the ribald drinking songs of continental Europe and the British Isles, have certainly been turned up several notches in the New World.
The rendition is more Talking Heads than Al Green. And people in the crowd nod and cheer as they begin to recognize the tune and lock into the rhythms being conjured by bassist Craig Hartinger and lead guitarist Dave Alexander. Then, suddenly, the silver-haired singer, Tom Dalldorf, strums his Telecaster and twists the song in a completely different direction.
“Don’t know why, I love beer like I do/Order one, I wind up with two/Love the lagers, long as they’re true/Needing a beer, what I’m going through/Take me to the Brewpub/Rock me in the mash tun.”
Another comic moment from the man who has become known as the Weird Al of the beer world, doing his beer-parody covers such as “Homebrew Hand Jive” and “Hop This Town.” Dalldorf is editor/publisher of The Celebrator Beer News. And the Rolling Boil Blues Band, which he founded in 1994, has become a fixture around beer events like the Craft Brewers Convention and the Great American Beer Festival.
Other than Dalldorf-the-lyricist, Rolling Boil has no permanent members. But there’s never a shortage of talent when it comes to volunteers for the band’s gigs. And the revolving cast of players are all in the beer business. Hartinger, for example, is marketing manager for Seattle-based specialty beer Importer Merchant du Vin, and Alexander is managing partner at the famed Brickskeller beer bar in Washington, D.C.
Dalldorf, who got started in a late-’50s rock-and-roll group, the Exotics, says his band is just one reflection of the surprising number of craft brewers who have some sort of music connection.