My name is Grimm. I write songs and stories, am shit at self-promotion & sell records, WHICH YOU CAN buy at your fave online music retailers like itunes or amazon or alsO amazon or BANDCAMP..
Find my dumb jokes and sweary jibes at public figures on MASTODON..
If you still have a Facebook account, why, but here is me There.
In late 2003, my dad got pretty sick, which compounded the already welling disaster of my mom's Alzheimer's, and I blew up my life and early the next year washed up on the shores of Iowa after 20 years. I decided to find a place in Iowa City, close enough to be on-call for them and still be in something resembling a city, which to me, more than anything at that time, meant walkable bars with shows and touring bands coming through, and maybe - as back then I still had the yen - a place or two to play myself. It all happened fast and frenzied, remaking a life, it felt, nearly out of thin air and I can't really effectively communicate how abrupt and alien-y and out-of-sorts-ish stranger-in-a-strange-land this whole thing was.
The first person I met in Iowa City was Rob Russell, who spun my band's records at the U radio station, and Rob took me for a beer at The Mill, where I would meet the second person I met in Iowa City, Trevor Lee Hopkins. I would spend a absolute TON of my life in The Mill over the next seven years, and do an also-quite-large amount of shenanigans with Trevor.
He ran sound for shows in The Mill's back room so, as wayward drifting music guy, I dropped him some CDs of the old band. But in my early days in IC, I kept going back to The Mill because Trevor turned out to be sort of a tip of the iceberg of a multivariate bunch of weirdos, brainiacs, dorks, musicians, artists, prospective lawyers and drunks that were the Mill crew, who were alternately, person-to-person, brilliant in some ways and dumb in some ways and fucked up in many ways and hilarious in even more ways. So of COURSE that's where I went.
For shows. Or just to drink and talk shit and be the grizzled funny old dude. And yell at Bulls or Hawkeye games on that shitty old console tv in the corner of the front room. After a while, it got to be the place where you just popped in when you were downtown just to see who was there or on-shift. Some months later, Trevor took over booking for the bar, and, if you stopped by and dropped into the chair in that impossibly cluttered back office, stacked with CDs and cables and god knows what else, he would HAVE to play this new album for you because he loved this band and had just booked them for a fall show but "you gotta hear these guys."
My dad healed somewhat but he stopped going to Iowa Hawkeye games, but he kept his season tickets, and since somebody needed to go to those games . . . "Hell YEAH, I'm going to the Haaks game," Trevor said upon being presented opportunities to utilize Lou Grimm's tickets to the Hawks game. So at some point, instead of yelling at tv broadcasts, Trevor and I would meet at The Mill to pre-game before schlepping over to Carver-Hawkeye and faithfully watching Steve Alford's shitty teams suck. At one point he showed me how to sneak a small flat (flask-size) bottle of Jägermeister into the arena, get a fountain Coke and then pour some of the fountain Coke out in the men's room and cut it with the Jager and it still just looked like a fountain Coke. When the games ended we'd go back to The Mill to nightcap it and bitch about Steve Alford, who was, and likely remains, an asshole, or to catch the rest of whatever show was there that night.
We celebrated Loebsack's first election in the back room at The Mill, which seems meh now but felt like my first big WIN as reminted Iowa citizen, and holy shit, when they called the 2008 election for Obama, the relief, the elation, the actual community love in that room felt like it might blow the fucking roof off the joint. When the city flooded and we all felt isolated and impotent for days upon days, we tried to figure out what we COULD do so we organized a fundraiser for the county United Way. And, of course, the shows Trevor put in there over the years - IC had other rooms, of course, some great ones, but the back room at The Mill, with it's dive-y stank mixed with the scent of, yes, admit it, you dicks, pretty fucking good pizza, was the go-to, half-proper-rock-venue/half-dive-y-Midwestern-tavern for mid-level name bands, for your local faves, sometimes for just obscure touring bands whose CDs had wowed Trevor Lee Hopkins in the back office as he rooted through piles of things. Once I got a new band together, Trevor even threw us some opening slots and, even though I never seemed to find a footing in Iowa, we got to open for Dave Alvin and one amazing night even played a few songs with Jason Ringenberg as an ersatz Scorchers, which had 22-year-old me inside 45-year-old me freaking the fuck out. Trevor snuck my CD onto the jukebox upfront and sometimes late at night, after the shows, he'd cue up "Outfit" by Drive-By Truckers fully goddamn expecting that we would both sing along with it.
After a few years, it started to dawn on me that, well, my band really wasn't bringing anyone in to help the gate or boost the headliner nd it was probably time to hang it up , but he still wanted to give us shows. So as corny and cliche as this sounds, this may be one of the cases where it's actually spot-on, because, yeah, Trevor believed in me even when I no longer did.
Paths diverge because that's how shit goes. We both wound up in Wisconsin for a spell. On these cliche journeys we all take some cliche bad shit always balances out the cliche good shit, but, undaunted, Trevor found his way back to love and joy and his infernal dumbass "I-O-W-A, Iowa Iowa Iowa" chants, and, of course, rock & roll. I have known countless musicians in my life and I can say, in every honesty, I have known no one who loved music in all its splendorous variety more than Trevor Lee Hopkins, and in different iterations, different venues, Iowa City, Neenah, Madison, Iowa City again, he always gravitated back to that love like water finding its level, back to making music happen, playing, organizing, booking, making so many other bands sound good from behind the board.
I drove back down to Iowa a few years back to witness he and Ash do the vows. And to see, after some of the shit he'd been through, the light in his eyes that could've lit the night sky, the happy was contagious, and I am, as some know, distinctly not a happy person. But it was like we had the best of all worlds on that one night because there was this amazing new part of his life that had just begun and, at the same time, it felt like the old Mill crew was back together, in the back room, after bar-close, all shit-talk and brainiac arguing and music nerdsomeness and hilarity, as if no time had passed.
But it had and it does.
I'm typing this because somehow Trevor, that major catalyst of that initially scary, sometimes fraught and sad and mortality-clouded and often fun-as-hell epoch of my life, is gone. I'm told. And enough people have said it, I guess it's true. Even though it should not be.
It seems impossible and wrong and absolutely NOT how anything should fucking be, and I've typed and erased and retyped this shit over and over for a couple days trying to do it right or appropriately or whatever, and I can't. And I goddamn hate doing this. I hate validating this circumstance by saying (or typing) it out loud. But, obviously, I have to because I need to record these things, these profoundly good things, and how absolutely fortunate I was that I stumbled into Trevor at this weird empty point where I knew nearly no one for miles around, and how fortunate he was to know so goddamn many people typing shit like this right now, and then, on top of that, to meet Ash and, through all this, good and bad, to make his passion into A LIFE, a life that was such that, if you did music in Iowa City across certain decades of time, you pretty likely goddamn well knew Trevor Lee Hopkins - and I need to write all this down in order to offset his abrupt absence.
Because that, that last part, remains unreal and I don't get it, but all that other stuff, that all happened. That we know for absolute certain. We were there with our bud when it did.
We DID all that dumb, fun, occasionally stupid and sometimes actually purposeful shit. We did it to optimize our intersections with amazing art, and to turn the nighttime into revels the way it should be, and sometimes because it was the absolute right thing to do, and sometimes because it was just the dumb shit you do because you're alive and daffy and trying to figure shit out as you trudge through it. That shit is done. We did it. And nothing, not death and not grief and not this awful fucking pain, will or can ever take the shit we did away from us.
Thank you for being my friend, even if I wasn't always worthy of it, and for every awesome stupid hilarious thing we ever did. Because it made my life and, more importantly, a lot of people's lives better for us, all of us, having done it.