When I stepped into Pomerantz Hall at the Pearson Lakes Art Center last Tuesday night, I did not know what to expect. Two couples I know had heard him on their southern winter travels and persuaded him to come to Okoboji to do a show. I respect their knowledge of music and good performance, but that was the extent of my knowledge going in.
Bat turned out to be a gifted guitarist with a good singing voice and lots of personality. His show was fun from beginning (7:30 p.m.) to end (9:50 p.m.). He took no intermissions and only stopped singing and playing long enough to switch guitars when he broke two strings rendering that first instrument quite useless.
Pomerantz Hall was packed. More chairs and tables had to be set up. The audience ranged in age from a pre-teen to early 90s. We all had a great time and sang along to nearly every song he played. It didn’t matter that he played Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, John Denver, Roy Clark, The Beatles and everything in between.
It was amazing to us that we all seemed to remember the words to such television theme songs as "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Adams Family" and "The Monkees."
Bat was masterful at getting the men, who usually are not quite as vocal as we females, to form his "Okoboji Men’s Choir." They sang along with volume and enthusiasm.
We didn’t mind going from "Country Road" to the Carpenters or on to "Great Balls of Fire." We transitioned easily from one theme to another.
He favored us with an original composition "Ridin' Alone" along with the story about why he wrote it. It was a lovely song and I would enjoy hearing it again.
It was not a surprise that Bat broke one and then two strings on his guitar. He doesn’t stroke when he plays, he beats on that guitar with an amazing skill, whether playing it in front or behind his back.
Since he was alone on that stage, we didn’t see how he could attempt to perform "Wipe Out" but we soon found out when he had us drum our tables. We ended up being fairly good drummers to that song. It was fun to do.
Our enthusiasm seemed to peak when we sang with so much gusto to "Under the Boardwalk" that we managed to impress ourselves.
Bat is the consummate performer. He has talent, stage presence and a wonderful sense of humor. I know he doesn't perform in this part of the country usually but I do hope he returns to the Pearson Lakes Art Center someday. When he does, we will need a bigger room.