By DJ Dave Hoffenberg
Big Boss Sausage is not just something you can order on your pizza but also one of my favorite new bands to grace us here in Killington. You have two chances to see them and I highly recommend
attending both: Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 8:30 p.m., both at Outback Pizza on Killington Road. The band plays a wide variety of great tunes that will have crowds singing and dancing along. I had the pleasure of speaking with Mingo Lodge to learn about the band, Bigfoot, traveling in a school bus, and a whole lot more.
The band is made up of Mingo Lodge, guitar and vocals; Pete Lister, upright bass; Bobby “Wheels” Wheeler, guitar; Eric Waldman, keyboards; and Brian McCafferty, drums. The band describes its music at “Very engaging, uplifting, upbeat, introspective and crowd participating.” Lodge said, “I like to think of it as all-encompassing. It’s not a band performing for a crowd, it’s a crowd and a band performing together.”
There’s also a lot of humor induced by the band. Lodge said, “That comes out of spending a lot of time not being very skilled at your instruments. So, you ease attention through humor … It seems like the humor with the music lets people know that we’re not trying to blow their minds or impress them with all kinds of crazy scales of our skills.”
Lodge comes from a musical family and picked up the guitar when he was 16. His dad got it for him and he thought there was no way he was going to learn to play it. He said, “I picked it up to learn one song [Tom Petty’s “Refugee”] and then I just wanted to learn everything. I was randomly at a backyard BBQ, watching two guys play their instruments together and something just clicked inside of me. The thought of people playing together and that being their way of having a language and creating new ideas and inspiring people is something that just hit me. I ended up going to the School of Visual Art in Manhattan and was playing music all throughout going there. I questioned if that’s what I wanted to do and it’s funny, because I do more artwork now for the band than I ever did while in art school.”
The band has a film crew following them around for a variety television show they’re going to be pitching to some studios. Right now they’re in the process of making the pilot. Lots of musicians, poets, artists and actors are involved. Lodge said, “It’s kind of a culmination of everything we’ve done over the years with all the people we’ve met and all the time we’ve spent on the road … We’re taking everything we’ve done and put it into a TV show.” Over the years, Lodge has worked with a lot of people from the Discovery channel, people in sitcoms and radio commercials. “I have a Rolodex with all the people I’ve met over the years so I’m calling some up and letting them know what we’re doing,” said Lodge.
Lodge was on the TV show, “Finding Bigfoot.” He explained. “Where we live in North Jersey is a big mountainous region. There was this sighting of this creature, so the whole crew came out here. I worked with them for a couple of months and it turned into a full-time job. I was the go-between with the crew and the actors. It was really cool and a great experience. What’s funny is half my family claimed to have seen this thing. They were all involved in the episode, especially my aunt Ida, whose father told her if she ever said to anyone that she’d seen this creature, they would lock her up. She didn’t tell anyone for 20 years. When she found out other people had seen this thing, she went through the roof.”
Lodge runs an open mic that at first, he didn’t want to do, but now is glad he did. “It’s an amazing cast of characters. Each one of these people could be their own sitcom. When the crew and production staff were at my open mic, the producer told me that they should really be filming this stuff. That got me thinking about all the stuff we’ve done over the years that we could turn into a sitcom.”
Lodge said that the area he lives in is an amazing musical community. Everyone is making a living playing music. He is good friends with a favorite band of mine, Railroad Earth. He said, “Everyone plays together and we’re all kind of intertwined. The whole scene here is completely ripe. It’s amazing how many people are doing music and playing it, something we do every single night. Either musically or something to do with the music or going through equipment or getting vehicles so everyone can be on the road. Everyone plays with a bunch of different bands so it’s sort of like we’re all interchangeable. All we do is music and music related stuff.”
The guys from Railroad Earth were surprised that they’re able to do it without management or an agent. Lodge said, “ It’s like guerrilla tactics. You go into a town, tell people who you are and take out your guitar and start strumming. We’ve gone from Canada to Key West, Fla., back and forth six times in old school buses and broken down vans. We just get out on the road, start traveling and doing everything on our own. I don’t rely on anyone else. We have people helping us out, but it’s good to know that anything that comes up or needs to be taken care of, I can field any of that, and don’t need to rely on anyone else. It’s kind of like you’re scraping along but you’re doing it under your own terms. If we wanna go to Nova Scotia, we just hop in the bus and we’ll work it out when we get there.”
They recently played 11 shows in 10 days in the Adirondacks. At one of those shows, the mayor came and made a proclamation and gave them an award naming them the Official Band of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. Lodge said, “It was great to have the mayor there. I think about, ‘does it matter if you’re performing to 200 and they’re absolutely grooving with you?’ They’re on your train and they’re getting your same vibe. Do you trade that to play for thousands of people who don’t connect with you that way? I question that all the time. I wouldn’t trade it for the connections I have and the community I play in.”
Lodge feels blessed that he is able to do all this with such great people. He said, “I get to play with my best friends. These are all people I would hang out with whether I’m playing music with them or not. I look around on stage and I’m fortunate that these people are my buddies and I talk to them when we’re not playing music. To me that’s the pinnacle of it … They’re my family but they’re also the people I make a living with … It’s amazing how very few times there was any kind of argument, any kind of falling out or discrepancy. We do things very diplomatically and democratically.”
Lodge feels the crowd is as important as the band. He said, “I carry around a bag of percussion instruments so people can feel that they’re part of the band. They don’t have to sit there and just watch the band, they can be the band. When I look at shows, I look at it like we’re all there together. Let’s all celebrate. Don’t just sit there and watch what we’re doing, be a part of what we’re doing.”
Lodge concluded with, “Honestly I love watching the band ride the wave with the crowd, with everyone in the building, with the cook, with the waitstaff and feeling like we’re all bonded in this ship flying through outer space. You can’t deny that connection is there and when it happens, it’s like absolute gold. It’s like we’re all lifted and taken to a different place and it’s because of everybody not just because of the band or the crowd, everyone together. When that happens and you can get to the place you’re not concerned about: your taxes, your car breaking down, the problems with your family. You can just take that time to be someplace else. Watching people go through that and feeling that myself and being a part of that whole thing is worth every single bit of it.”