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Shake, Rattle and … answer!
Music trivia at the Union Barrel Works
Question: What happens when you mix live music, trivia and beer?
Answer: things get rockin’!
And that is exactly what happened at Union Barrel Works on Tuesday, April 22 when Peter A.R. Hall, better known as Kiwi, brought his unique form of trivia to the brewpub in Reamstown. I swung in just as the games were starting and pulled up a seat at the bar, ordered a beer and prepared to be schooled in 1950s music trivia.
Kiwi, who holds monthly general knowledge trivia contests and is a regular entertainer at UBW, decided to take trivia to another level. In this format the majority of the questions come played on the piano — live.
Kiwi gives a brief setup to the song, plays a few bars, and tasks contestants to come up with the song title and the original performer/writer. We’re talking about popular songs like “Maybellene” by Chuck Berry or “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis, and some lesser known hits. Coming up with the original performer or writer seemed to be a tricky part for the more than 20 people playing in the bar area. Did you know Elvis didn’t write “Jailhouse Rock?” The history making hit was penned by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the songwriting duo that also wrote “Hound Dog.”
“Shake, Rattle and Roll” is a big ol’ mess, written by Jesse Stone (a.k.a Charles E. Calhoun) and originally recorded by Big Joe Turner. The record hit success with Bill Haley and His Comets.
After a round of about 10 songs Kiwi gathered up the answer sheets and tallied the results. Afterward he went over each answer to the cheers of the successful and the groans of those who missed. After a couple rounds the top two teams, or individuals, with the highest scores walked away with a $20 gift card to UBW. After the third round, the team at the bottom got a free beer! So, it does pay to lose, sometimes.
If you’ve never been to UBW, know that brewer/owner Tom Rupp is an avid fan of malt, so there are a lot of traditional beer styles coming from the taps. One of my favorites is their kolsch; it’s a smooth, clean beer with great malt flavor. Probably the most popular UBW brew among beer fans I know is Wobbly Bob. The dark lager is rich and big with flavor; it also (as its name implies) packs a wallop.
Just because malt makes great appearances here does not mean there aren’t plenty of beers for the multitude of hop heads floating around the craft beer scene. The pilsner is light and features great flavor from Saaz hops. Hop Knockers is a big I.P.A. featuring three heavy strains of hops, but the beer manages a good balance of maltiness too.
Next time I get to UBW I’m bringing a crew of ringers for music trivia. I can’t keep up by myself. Kiwi says he will do the live music trivia “about every three months, so probably August” will be my next chance to either walk away with $20 or a free beer.
Michael C. Upton works as a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure, covering subjects ranging from funk punk to fine wine. He invites your comments and suggestions at facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.