Lawmakers' band playing Rauner inaugural with Toby Keith, Buddy Guy

  • A band made up of three state lawmakers is set to open Bruce Rauner's inaugural concert Monday.

    A band made up of three state lawmakers is set to open Bruce Rauner's inaugural concert Monday. PHOTO courtesy of Mike Tryon

  • State Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park, right, state Rep. Mike Tryon of Crystal Lake and state Rep. Chad Hays of Catlin make up the Boat Drink Caucus.

    State Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park, right, state Rep. Mike Tryon of Crystal Lake and state Rep. Chad Hays of Catlin make up the Boat Drink Caucus. PHOTO Courtesy of Mike Tryon

 
 
Posted1/11/2015 12:29 PM

Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner starts his term Monday promising to "shake up Springfield."

But first, a shaker of salt.

 

The Winnetka businessman has replaced the stuffy black-tie inaugural balls of years past with what his campaign promises will be a rollicking concert with country superstar Toby Keith and blues legend Buddy Guy.

The opening act: Three state lawmakers who were inspired by Jimmy Buffet to name their small bipartisan band the Boat Drink Caucus.

"There were always several different types of caucuses of legislators that advocate for things. There's a Republican Caucus, Democrat Caucus, Diabetes Caucus," state Rep. Mike Tryon, a Crystal Lake Republican, said. "I think Chad threw out, 'We should be The Boat Drink Caucus.' We thought that was probably a good idea."

"Chad" is state Rep. Chad Hays, a Catlin Republican, who with state Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, makes up the trio.

The band's tropical rock could put Illinois residents in a slow-paced, island state-of-mind before Illinois faces a hurricane of budget questions in the coming months.

Lawmakers and Rauner have answered questions for months about how -- or if -- a Republican governor and Democratic legislature will work together.

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"The bipartisan nature of it, I think, is welcome here in Springfield," Hays said. "Not only is the band bipartisan, but whenever we play, the crowd is bipartisan. We've heard from people that this is what it used to be like in Springfield years ago, people got together and there wasn't such a divisive nature of everything."

As a Parrothead since his college days, Tryon is a seasoned Buffett fan. He played with his prior band, Pirates Over Forty, taking its name from Buffett's "A Pirate Looks at Forty."

While the band takes its name from another Buffett song, "Boat Drinks," the Boat Drink Caucus also considers The Eagles, Eric Clapton, The Beatles and Keith Richards as influences.

The Boat Drink Caucus has been stirring it up at Springfield establishments including The Globe Tavern, Butternut Hut and Boones, so the inauguration will be its largest crowd yet.

With the uncertainties about what the new governor will do, members of the Boat Drink Caucus are glad they at least have musical tastes in common with Rauner.

"We heard that we play the kind of music that he likes, so we think that's refreshing that we have a governor that likes the same kind of music that we do," Hays said.

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