Muckrakers return to roots

Jocelyn Robinson

On a rainy Friday evening, students crowded into the dimly lit Happy Inn restaurant waiting for the Muckrakers to take the stage.

While a lucky few got front row seats, others stood at the back of the room straining to catch a glimpse of the band, who formed in the dorm rooms of North Hall six years ago.

The show got off to a rocky start when lead singer Rob Carpenter had difficulties getting his guitar to work. After attempting to fix the problem they decided to go on with the show minus one guitar.

“I was a little bummed, but it allowed me to be a little nuts and run around,” Carpenter said.

During the show the crowd enthusiastically sang along with the band, clapping and cheering after each song.

“They’re my favorite band,” said Louisville junior Sylvia Reed. “We aren’t going to miss a Happy Inn show.”

The band played a variety of songs, including “The Rap Medley,” a mix of old rap tunes which included songs by Sir Mix A Lot and Vanilla Ice.

Louisville freshman Daniel Trujillo said he was surprised that the band played rap songs.

“It showed their flexibility,” he said. “I always considered them a rock band, but they did rap covers. It was pretty good.”

During one song Carpenter got the crowd moving, teaching them his three step method of dancing – for those who can’t dance.

The first step, sway back and forth to the music. The second step, move your hips. The third step, do something with your hands. Eventually the crowd started jumping up and down, as they sang along at the top of their lungs.

The Muckrakers were formed after Carpenter and lead guitarist John Ruby began a band.

They started playing at the Happy Inn while they were still a two man band.

“None of the bars in town wanted a two man band,” Carpenter said. “We wanted a place where underage people could watch us play and a place where we could play, period.”

Ruby knew bassist Brian Meurer and drummer Dave Sparks from Louisville, and they joined the band about two and a half years ago.

The newest member of the band, guitarist Micah Gerdis, has been playing with the Muckrakers for about six months.

Although the band moved to Louisville three years ago, they still make it back to Western for various concerts and the occasional Happy Inn show.

Meurer said that it was good to come back.

“I think we’re always amazed that people come out,” he said. “All the students we play for here know all the songs and sing along. We have a really solid fan base here.”

The Muckrakers ended the show as they always do, playing “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul and Mary first and then “Carolina in my Mind” by James Taylor. During the last song, the crowd linked arms and swayed back and forth.

Meurer said that playing at the Happy Inn brings a feeling of nostalgia for the band.

“This is where we started,” he said. “It’s a lot like coming home in a lot of ways.”

Reach Jocelyn Robinson at [email protected]