Predicting Doom with George Hrab

This past weekend, I drove to Spring Green, WI, so I could join the Chicago Skeptics group on a tour of House on the Rock. As a supermegabonus to the fact that I’d be spending an afternoon at the House on the Rock with Chicagoans whom I do not see often enough, they were also bringing in George Hrab to play a concert that night.

For those of you who are familiar with Mr. Hrab, he is the drummer for the Philadelphia Funk Authority, as well as a rather accomplished solo musician and a podcaster. His solo and podcasting work are often of a skeptic and/or atheist bent, which has made him rather popular in certain circles, but I believe I’d be a fan of his music even if I wasn’t a skeptic. His music is chock full of challenging rhythms, interesting instrumentation, and, well, skill. It’s just the sort of stuff that’s in the middle of my personal taste strike zone.

I first met Geo very briefly at Dragon*Con 2007, but I got to know him and his work much better when I ran into him in Ecuador. (!) Yes, we wound up on the same Galapagos cruise together. Hell, we wound up in a parade together. Fun times!

But I digress. The point is, Geo was suddenly going to be in my neck of the woods, so I had to go visit.

The concert was at the House on the Rock Resort, arranged by the fabulous Jennifer Newport, and attended by a small-but-fun group of folks and a small avalanche of appetizers. Armed with a guitar, Geo performed for an hour or two. Then the crazy stuff started happening.

First, I got called up to fill in for astronomer Phil Plait (aka The Bad Astronomer) on Geo’s song, “Death from the Skies.” 

Photo by Jamie Bernstein


My only qualification for this job was that I’d driven the furthest in order to attend the concert (five hours). I didn’t even have time to shave my head so I’d be appropriate for the role of Phil Plait. Yet it went well! My inner nerd SQUEEEEEed for hours afterward.

After the official concert, one of the attendees, the fabulous Smashley of Mad Art Lab, brought out her saxophone. Smashley and Geo, who had never performed together before, improvised their way through hours and hours of jazz standards for our amusement. And then, after we got kicked out of the ballroom, we found a piano and they continued their impromptu after-concert. 

It was really damned cool.

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