Incognito or on stage, who's shown up at the Noodle?
Every artist is a little bit different. Some travel with an entourage because they want everybody to know that they're who they say they are. Others dress down and walk in with a high school buddy, and unless somebody takes a good look at them, they can sit here all night long and not be recognized.
John Mellencamp has been in the place, but his band has been in here continuously in the early days. Larry Crane, his guitarist and co-songwriter, just played here a few weeks ago. But since Mellencamp didn't really drink he'd say, "Good gig guys" and then he would leave.
Some more famous people walk in and want to play, some don't want to play. Some of them want to play different instruments than what they normally play. Which can be fun, at times.
We had Gregg Allman come in, and he played the entire Allman Brothers’ show that they were playing the next night, other than he was playing the guitar and had someone else playing keyboard behind him. It didn't quite sound like the Allman Brothers doing it.
One of my favorite stories is of Kid Rock on Race Weekend. I didn't know much about him. He comes in, he's got his entourage around him, his long hair and his hat. He's in the back room with his group and all of a sudden he's like "I want to play." So I'm like, "OK, follow me." So we walked around and Gene Deer Band was playing on stage. I said "Gene, Kid Rock wants to play."
So Gene gives him a guitar and Kid Rock gets on stage to huddle up and talk real quick to see what they're gonna play together. Turns out Kid Rock, years ago used to play blues; that night he was on stage for more than an hour playing blues with Gene. Both seemed to have a good time.
That said, we treat everyone the same. If they want to come in and have a drink and listen to the music, great. If they want to play, great. We do ask the band that's already playing on stage if they're interested in having this person join them, and typically they say yes, but we give them the option.
Jason Bonham has been in a few times. I didn't know who he was, other people did, but I knew his dad from Led Zeppelin.
Back when Billy Joel came in in the '80s, before social media, he walked in the door and my doorman said to him "You look a lot like Billy Joel but you're too damn short." And then Billy Joel looked back at him and said "I am Billy Joel," and walked right by him. We didn't have a keyboard at the time, but his band played for a good chunk of the night because we had all their instruments. He came back the next night and we had quickly gotten a keyboard for him. His security wouldn't let him out of the bar, but again his band played the second night as well.
When some artists come through, they stay in a house we have especially for artists. Sarah Potenza, who was on The Voice, was here all the time until she got on the show. She and her husband will come through town and they'll stay at the house.
Indiana hosted the Governor’s Conference in 2002 or 2003. They out of the blue called us up and said they wanted to have a party here. We said OK. They said, "You realize you have to close it to the public, no one else can come in." We said OK. "You realize you've got to let us bring Secret Service through with bomb dogs." So they came through and searched the entire building.
There were about 35 of the governors along with their staff, all at once. I'm out front with two of my staff members [when] a yellow cab drives up and Gene Simmons from KISS gets out and tries to walk in. Secret Service stops him and says, "Sorry sir, we're closed for a private party." He's like sighing, and then he says, "I'm Gene Simmons." The Secret Service kinda looks at each other and says "Oh well, he kind of is." They took his ID and ran his ID and then after like 20 minutes they let him in. He walked into the back room, he's just sitting there, not really having a clue what the party is. Then a couple of the governors' wives noticed him and kept asking him to stick his tongue out. That was one of the funniest damn things in the world. Since then, he comes in whenever he's in town.