The sky was menacing on Saturday at Leftapalooza, and I was trying to write a beer festival story without actually writing about a beer festival.

A Grateful Dead cover band had the hippies dancing. I listened for a second and kept walking. I had already missed The Who cover band. I was disappointed I wouldn't get to see the Primus cover band for reasons I'm not entirely clear about and relieved I was missing the Sublime cover band. It's been 24 years since "40oz. to Freedom" came out, and I'm still sick of that album.

I spoke to one of band competition judges, a drummer in an Allman Brothers "tribute band." They prefer that over cover band. He told me all about what makes a good tribute band — stage presence, knowing whether or not it's a good idea to perform shirtless, nailing those "signature bits" of famous songs that people in the crowd will be listening for.

I told him about the time I saw Phil Collins on TV performing "In the Air Tonight" at his son's school and how the drummer nailed the solo. He wasn't impressed. That's not a very technical drum part.

"Yeah," I said. "But it was a 9-year-old kid."

He agreed.

I went looking for a quote from someone drinking beer. How do I make that interesting? She insulted rich people in town. That'll work. Thanks.

I saw two cops — one I knew, one I didn't.

"Officers," I yelled out. "There are people here drinking in public! You have to do something!"

"Ha hah," said the one I know. "How are you, Mr. Bear?"

"I'm good. This event wouldn't have worked in my home town. There would have already been a shooting. Maybe two. And it's only 2 p.m."


"Did you see the guy break the guitar?" he asked. "It took him a couple of tries. He broke it over the amp."

"That was awesome," the second cop chimed in.

"It was The Who, I assume."

"I'm not sure," the cop I know said. "I'm not real sure who The Who is."

"Really?" I replied, incredulously. "I can't believe you don't know who The Who is. What bands do you like then?"

"I'll take Queen and the Eagles."

"Oh, I love Queen!"

"I put it on in the car for my kid and his friends, and they liked it."

"Oh yeah. Anyone who says they don't like Queen — at least one song — is lying. I got into them because of 'Wayne's World.' 'I see a little silhouetto ...'"

"Yeah," he said, smiling as he recognized the lyrics. "That's a good song, too."

"Hell yeah, it is."

He started to say something else, but a middle-aged guy in a straw hat walked up and hijacked the conversation. Sometimes I wonder if I'm invisible. I nodded and walked to my truck.

During the drive back to Boulder, I felt kind of sad I couldn't just write about talking to cops about Queen.

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