andrew king pic 1It’s hard to believe that anything could be better than cover bands, karaoke and gravy, unless it’s a Nickelback cover band that leads a karaoke version of “Call Me Maybe” re-titled “Call Me Gravy,” as they’re making gravy, but, as incomprehensible as it may be even within the realm of quantum physics, Andrew King insists that the new Bix Beiderbomb Presents MAY be even better than that.

MAY be. He’s not making any promises or guarantees.

So, if your to-do list for the week includes downing cheap beer, laughing at cheap comedy, being surprised by cheap thrills and stories and getting a cheap jolt out of potentially ticking off local jazz aficionados, well, the Bix Beiderbomb Presents gig is just the ticket for you.

The show, which takes the place of the Bix Beiderbomb Comedy Open Mic, is a free-flowing amalgam of… well, anything that might happen when someone steps in front of a live microphone. It could be comedy, it could be storytelling, it could be gravy recipes… we’re not sure yet, and neither is King.

“Well, having come to the conclusion that if I continued to run an open mic I would self-destruct I took a step back to see what else I could do,” King said. “I have a nice intimate room in the upstairs of a centrally located bar in downtown Davenport (Boozies has always been good to me), I have my own sound gear, and the freedom to do whatever I want on Friday nights. Artists have studios- I have a room with crooked tables, duct taped chairs, and an aura of fried cheese. Might as well get experimental and put on some shows.”

So, what can people expect?

“To laugh, hopefully,” King said. “Wait —  scratch that. I saw a billboard recently that said `Expect the Unexpected.’ Let’s go with that. They must know what they’re doing, paying hundreds of dollars for something people drive past.”

And It also continues to boast a name that’s caused a little bit of a stir due to its parodying a certain legendary musician.

“Yeah, the Bix Festival people were not very happy about the name, in fact they really hated it, but we explained to them that it’s all in good fun and we mean no disrespect,” King said. “We were looking for a name and Scott Hart came up with that, and it’s just genius. It incorporates the concept of bombing on stage along with a really recognizable local figure. It just fits.

“It really didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me that people would be upset about it,” King said. “I mean, there’s a big race named after Bix and I don’t remember him doing any marathon running. Bix was a performer, he would play on stage at places like Boozies, so it makes more sense to have a performance series named after him. Especially since the two disciplines – stand-up comedy and jazz – are two of the only performing arts that were originated in this country. So, again, we meant no disrespect for Bix, we have an incredible amount of respect for him, and we think if he came to a show he’d probably actually like it.”

So why ace the comedy open mic?

andrew king pic 2“I was just tired of it,” King said. “I was tired of it before the talk show. Hosting/running a comedy open mic is like working community service. As the host you’re always on first and ergo have to take the bullet of attempting to warm up a crowd (if you’re lucky enough to get one), you have to keep track of everyone’s time, have backup material prepared in case a comic kills whatever energy the room has miraculously mustered… it’s horrible. It’s also hard to justify paying for promotion for an open mic. Also you’re at the mercy of local performer availability, they may have done a mic the night before and don’t want to go out tonight or they have an early appointment or they’re lazy. That also ties into disincentive for promotion. Why spend X amount when you have no idea what your lineup is going to be? It’s just.. guh… I’m happy to be done with it. Oh and did I mention you barely get a ‘thank you’ for coming in early and setting everything up for as close to an ideal performer experience? I don’t regret making the first weekly comedy mic in the Q-Cs and doing it for over two years. I learned a lot, but I would regret doing it any further.”

King feels somewhat similar in regard to shutting down another of his revolutionary and creative concepts he recently completed – the “After Hour” live talk show. Born of another inventive concept of his, Rozz Talks, which was likewise a live talk show, albeit dedicated to one guest, the “After Hour” ran for a year in the Rock Island Speakeasy. For those who missed out on it, it was a hilarious and interesting live talk show, a la “The Tonight Show,” with a wide-ranging array of local guests culled from the entertainment community. It was fun, cutting edge and innovative, but it was also a ton of work and energy, King said, and it was time to close the curtain this spring.

“A variety of things happened (to make him decide to end it),” King said. “Audience turnout was stagnant. The show was expensive to produce. I was losing my sound guy to Daytrotter. Those things along with having done it for a year… it was just time. I very much consider the show a success and am grateful for the cult following we had but I could only justify losing money for a year.”
So what else is King working on?

“I have a few little things I’m looking forward to contributing to QuadCities.com, thanks again for the invitation, there’ll be some interviews and some other stuff I’m not ready to reveal yet,” he said.

No promises on whether or not any of them will involve cover bands, karaoke or gravy, but there’s no harm in crossing your fingers, chucking pennies into a fountain or burning incense in ancient ritual for that to happen. After all, hope springs eternal.

Bix Beiderbomb Presents is sponsored by QuadCities.com.


Bix Beiderbomb Presents
9 p.m. Fridays
Boozies, 114 W. 3rd St., Davenport
No cover, but donations accepted

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written almost 30 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.