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Mid Life Crisis marks a decade of music, friendship, fun

POSTED: February 24, 2011 1:00 a.m.

From failed equipment while performing on a flat bed truck, the occasional sighting of leather-clad guitarist Bill Hallowes, one instance of brief nudity and many more rock band stories, local rockers Mid Life Crisis have seen it all.

"Our first show my wife bought me leather pants at the mall and all the guys in the group dared me to wear them, so I did," Hallowes said. "I've got them and if they still fit I'm gonna wear them (Saturday).

It's been 10 years since Mid Life Crisis, a group of Gainesville businessmen, have come together to play their brand of rock ‘n' for the Gainesville community. This weekend they will celebrate the anniversary with friends, family and fans in Gainesville.

The most interesting and heart-warming achievement for the group is that nearly all of their performances at local venues and benefits were for charity. The group has been a part of raising more than $500,000 for charity over the years, according to Mid Life Crisis drummer Henry Troutman.

Local charities that Mid Life Crisis have played for include the Gainesville Ballet, the Gainesville High Theater Department, Eagle Ranch, Interactive Neighborhood for Kids and Challenged Child and Friends, among others.

"It just shows just how generous Hall County really can be for special fundraisers, the bulk of that money has gone to Challenged Child and Eagle Ranch," he said.

Between family duties, work and busy personal lives, the nine-member band doesn't get too many chances to play together. Making special appearances during the show will be vocalist Donna Weaver, Perry Troutman (the daughter of Henry Troutman) and Jimmy T.

Band members include lead vocalist and guitarist Allen Nivens, Troutman on drums, vocalist Michelle Alexander, bassist Karl Reising, Holt Harrison on harmonica and guitar, guitarists Ron Bracewell, Mike Gottsman and Hallowes, and Ed Waller on keyboards.

Three sound men have been with the band over the years. The first two were attorneys Chris Walker and Mickey Neidenbach, who died unexpectedly in January. The current sound man is local musician Brandon Gaines.

"How it started was Ron Bracewell and Holt Harrison were playing guitar together and heard me play drums and asked me if we could sit down and play a little bit," Troutman said. "So we're the three original members. Then we added Karl Reising who is our bass player and after Karl joined us Bill Hallowes joined us. Then from there I can't remember, I guess Allen Nivens came next. I believe Ed (Waller) came in next and Michelle was our last member."

Once the band was compiled and they had been just playing for fun, they decided to throw a party for family and friends so everyone could see what the musicians had been working on.

"The very first time we played live for friends and family in a private setting was in the Martha Hope Cabin and it was in the fall of 2000 and we called it ‘Chicken Stock' ... and we had about 50 people come and listen to us. They thought we should go out and play somewhere and it's kind of how it all started," Troutman said.

Quickly the musicians began a following. Shows at local venues were the next step.

"The first time we ever played out was ... in February '01, and then the second time we played out in a bar was sometime in June '01, and it was all downhill from there," Troutman said.

Nivens, the youngest member of the band, said that over the years he has been so happy with the friends he has made and the fun they have shared.

"It's been a super experience, something that I realized recently ... that I am so much more thankful for it now than I was then," he said. "I'm 35 years old, so I was 25 then. And at that point, I was doing a whole lot of music and this was just one more thing. But priorities shift and family and work, the music time becomes that much more important.

"It gives me eight really good friends that I probably wouldn't have otherwise."

Hallowes, Nivens and Troutman agreed that the journey is not over for Mid Life Crisis.

"I think we'll be doing the same kind of thing (in 10 years). We'll limit ourselves to two or three events a year and probably be civic-oriented events with the occasional bar or restaurant gig in there," Nivens said. "Hopefully in 10 years, we'll still be relevant. That would be awesome."

Added Hallowes, "We'll keep it fresh. We're always playing for 150 people we know, when I look out into the audience we know all the people. It's kind of like when the Grateful Dead get back together, everyone comes out."



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