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Haymakers Salute Veterans, Children On Live At Art Church

Jeff Tuttle

Wichita's Haymakers will celebrate the release of Live At Art Church this weekend with a Sunday afternoon gig at The Brickyard.

The CD collects some of the group's most popular live favorites and spotlights the longstanding musical relationship between founding members Tom Page and Dustin Arbuckle.

The band recorded a show at Art Church in Malvern, Iowa. It's a venue that both Arbuckle and Page say they enjoy returning to while on tour with the band.

The pair recently discussed two of the album's 10 songs.

Interview Highlights

I wanted to talk about a song on the new record that you wrote, Tom. "Lights Along Broadway."

Tom Page: It's a tribute to veterans that I've known and loved and that we've known and loved. Both of us are sons of Vietnam veterans. I was having a taco over at what is now El Patio at Central and Topeka. You may notice that there's a big red 6 in the parking lot there. At one time, that was Bill's Big 6 Burgers. Bill was a Bataan Death March survivor, and he had kind of a shrine to his group of veteran buddies in there. He would talk about it. If you asked him questions, he would tell you all kinds of things.

Bill was this colorful character, and I was thinking about him and that kind of just took me down the explosion of memory material on various veterans. So I created a kind of a conglomeration of modern guys who I went to high school with, college with, who were in the Iraqi conflicts, and then jumped back a notch and made a composite of various Vietnam veterans that I'd been around. Then, because the legend of Bill was so alive in my head at the moment, I thought, "Well, for World War II/Korea, we'll just use Bill."

Dustin Arbuckle: This is Tom's song. I didn't write it. We've talked about it, and I think my dad was part of that conglomeration of Vietnam vets. I remember all the heavy stuff, all the heavy conversations with my dad. He would talk about [the war], but then he wouldn't want to. It didn't take long, I was pretty young, to not want to ask about it because I could see what it did to him.

From that piece, we go into a song that's different in mood and pretty much everything else, which is "Hiram's Real."

DA: When my son, Hiram, was probably about a year old, in the neighborhood of that, he was just starting to get up and try to walk, trying to surf along the couch, keep his hands up on the couch or the chairs and kind of edge along and steady himself. He was doing that [on] a Sunday afternoon or something, and I had one of my harmonicas out. I just started playing this little melody for him. He really enjoyed it. He was having a lot of fun with himself learning to walk and grown and everything and getting a little soundtrack done personally for him. Just watching him grow and the wonder of that age with every new step is so real, so palpable. It was really inspiring that day. It's a simple melody; it was a fun, simple kind of fiddle tune almost. We practiced a few nights later, and I showed it to the guys, that I had this little riff. We built the tune around it pretty quickly and easily. It was fun. It came together really nicely.

TP: I think so. I feel like the chords came out really easy. And the only real change from what you had was [that bassist] Dr. [Mark] Foley suggested, what we'd call the pirate part now.

DA: The pirate part, yeah.

TP: Just where the, you know, Hiram storms the kitchen.

DA: Yeah, where Hiram storms the kitchen and the bass just goes [bum … bum …]

TP: Yar!

DA: Yar!

Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.