In the 1980s, six local boys headed out on the road to taste the life of rock and roll. For three years, Jim Blocker, Marc Kramer, Rich Arbuckle, Christian Heaford, Dennis Weidemann, and sound man Dave Brecher toured the Midwest as On the Brink. Two and a half decades later, the lads are giving it another go as the Saturday evening band at Festival of Trails.
The reunion idea sprouted in Detroit last fall, but has been slowly taking root for some time. Several years ago, bassist Jim Blocker discovered that the new company he worked for had a program where employees would get together and play music.
“I got my guitar out of its case for the first time in seventeen years. Sometimes my new friends would ask about On the Brink. Last September it dawned on me that it had been nearly twenty-five years, and if we were ever going to play together again, we’d better make some plans. With a little coaxing from the corporate band I decided to call Dennis and pitch the idea.”
Within a week, all of the original members were on board except Rich, who lives in Arkansas and couldn’t find time off. His spot will be covered by Rick Dunlevy, drummer for several popular regional bands in the 1980s.
“I couldn’t believe our luck to get Rick,” says Dennis. “Not only is he a great drummer, but he was out playing the same time we were. It feels like 1987, except for a noticeable shortage of band hair.”
With everyone spread out and holding “real” jobs, finding practice time is tough. Jim is in Detroit, Dennis in Wisconsin. Rick manages a condo building in downtown Minneapolis, and Christian tunes pianos in Fargo. Three weeks ago, they all converged in Cedar Falls, where Marc is a computer network consultant. For three days, they locked the door and worked their way back into a groove.
“The first night of rehearsal was a bit of a train wreck,” notes Rick, “which after so long, I would expect. But by the end of the weekend, everyone was comfortable. It’s going to be a great gig and I can’t wait to play.”
“Some things stay the same,” laughs Christian. “Marc’s animated guitar playing still causes us to crack up. It’s wonderful.”
The band will rehearse again the week before the Festival, honing many old songs and throwing in some “new” old songs as well. How is playing today different from the old days?
Rick: “I remember the big hair on the girls and colorful clothes. People today don’t stay out as late, but they seem to appreciate the music just as much.”
Marc: “I lived for playing out, but was bored living in hotels. It’s still my labor of love, and I can afford better equipment!”
Jim: “Smokeless bars and lighter gear.”
Dennis: “We’re married to the groupies.”
Christian: “What do you mean, old days?”
None of the six remembers how they got the name On the Brink, perhaps an indication of the passing years, but that’s who they’ll become once again on June 15. With the gig just around the corner, Jim offers a final thought on the impending reunion.
“The band members have really gone out of their way to make this happen, and I think it says something about the character of La Porte City that they are drawn home after so many years.”
On the Brink will play on Main Street Stage from 8 PM-Midnight, Saturday, June 15.