On Christmas Eve 1996, St. Louis legend Beatle Bob
set out on a mission with no end in sight. His goal? Attend a live-music act every day of his life.
Now, 13-and-a-half years later, Beatle Bob is approaching a major milestone: his 5,000th consecutive day of witnessing live concerts. To celebrate, the 57-year-old Beatle Bob (a.k.a. Robert Matonis
of Overland), is hosting a concert of his own on August 10. The event -- billed as Beatle Bob's 5000th Show Bash
-- takes place at the Blueberry Hill Duck Room with some of his favorite local bands: the Trip Daddy's, Hudson & the HooDoo Cats, and more.
Recently, Daily RFT
caught up with Beatle Bob to discuss his record, his bizarre dance moves, how he gets to concerts (he doesn't drive) and just how long he thinks he can keep up his dizzying pace. Our interview follows...
Daily RFT: So how did this begin?
Christmas Eve '96, I went to see Brian Henneman (of
the Bottle Rockets) at the Hi-Pointe. In the mid-80s I started going out
quite a bit and by '96, I figured I only missed about 36 to 40 days the
entire year. So, I saw that it wouldn't be that big of a stretch to do
it every day.
What compels you to do this day after day?
just a fanatic about music. It energizes me and helps me forget all my
problems. Sure, not every night has great or dynamic music, but as long
as I can leave with a smile on my face. That's all that matters. Explain
to us your dance moves.
Well, my major move is to kick my
right leg back like I'm bowling while at the same time throwing my right
arm forward like I'm tossing dice. Any idea how many
thousands of people you've kicked in the shins over the years with that
No. But I do feel bad about it and always tell people
that it's totally accidental. I try to shorten up my moves and do less
leg movements when the space is crowded.How do you keep track
of what shows you've seen?
I keep a diary. Also, I'm a real
stickler for what counts as attending a concert. For me, I have to see
at least 90 percent of the entire show. That means if a concert has two
opening acts, I'll usually have to see all the performers play --
perhaps missing just a few songs at the beginning or end of a show.
Though sometimes I'll leave earlier (or arrive later) because there is
another band playing across town that I really have to see. What
have been some of your favorite concerts?
I love it all. On
Sundays, when not much music is playing, I'll head down to Hammerstones
or 1860s in Soulard for some great local acts. I also love festivals.
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. I've been honored to serve as an
emcee at Bonaroo and Lollapalooza.
How do you see so many
shows without a car?
I have a driver's license. I just hate
to drive. I'll get rides from friends. Sometimes if we're driving a long
way, I'll volunteer to get behind the wheel for a portion of the trip. I
just don't like city driving.And what do you do for a
I work for a Catholic ministry called La Pasado. We
help immigrants get green cards, that sort of thing. I can do it mostly
from home.Do you have any regrets with going out day after
day? Has it cost you relationships, perhaps a family?
consider the people I meet out at clubs to be almost like family. I get
to know the bands. The people working the bars. There's a real
camaraderie there.Is there a Guinness World Record for what
You know, I don't know. A friend of mine is looking
into it.How long can you keep it up?
My health is
good. I don't drink -- never have. I don't smoke or do drugs. I'm a
strict vegetarian -- darn near a vegan, except for cheese. So I think my
body will let me do it for a long time. Ultimately, though, what
matters most is the music scene. As long as it stays good, I think I can
keep it up for a long time.
P.S. Look for a Beatle Bob iPhone app coming soon! The app will have Beatle Bob's concert suggestions for dozens of U.S. cities.
P.P.S. For more about Beatle Bob, check out this 1999 Riverfront Times feature
-- back when Bob was approaching his 1000th day of consecutive shows.