Sound mix: fair's music includes an unlikely duo
ELKHORN What do you get when you combine the buttoned-down Walworth County Deputy District Attorney Joshua Grube and the free spoken Whitewater defense attorney John Dade, with a newgrass/bluegrass proficiency and a blues rocker’s chops?
Find out tonight when the pair will be playing on the Park Stage at the Walworth County Fair, beginning at 4 p.m.
Grube, 35, has been playing guitar since he was a college student, but soon realized law school was a better route to financial security.
He still plays professionally with longtime friend Owen Murphy, in a bluegrass duo, Old Farm Dog. The group performs everywhere from private get-togethers to farmers markets and other venues, like the Steele County Fair in Minnesota.
Old Farm Dog even released a self-titled album on Aug. 1, on which are a few songs Grube wrote.
Grube said one of his joys onstage is watching his daughters, ages 6 and 2, dance to his music.
The deputy DA conceded there aren't a lot of bluegrass players in their mid-30s, but said he's drawn to the genre.
"I appreciate the technical proficiency of bluegrass players, their ability to play the instruments well," he said. " We’ve been influenced by all sorts of musicians, but we fit squarely in bluegrass."
In the courtroom, Grube deals regularly with some of the worst behavior humans can dish out to each other, including crimes of murder, child abuse and sexual assault.
"Music is a healthy way to reduce the stress," he said. “I make public speeches every day, I argue over serious crimes. This is entirely different. This is a lot of fun.”
That's one thing Grube and defense attorney Dade, 61, agree on.
“Neither Josh nor I help people decide how to spend their lottery winnings," Dade said. "We're dealing with people who are distressed to the foundation of their lives, acutely experiencing human misery. And playing music in some respects evokes pure joy."
Dade started playing music in 1972--actually dropping out of college to be a professional musician--and has sat in on sessions for everyone from Merle Haggard to David Bowie (who, while in Milwaukee on tour, rented time at a local studio to work on an album called “Live in Philadelphia”).
For the last 12 years, Dade, who plays his cherished 1967 Gibson Dove, has been with local group the Bartabs.
Dade, too, eventually decided on law as a profession, becoming, as he described it, "a weird sort of defense attorney—I actually enjoy (jury) trials."
But he won't give up the music.
“I have to do that," he said. "It’s the other side. It’s like Dr. Evil saying to Mini-Me, 'You complete me.'”
Dade has been playing with Grube for about nine years.
The introduction started when Dade was sitting across the aisle from Grube in a courtroom. Just before closing arguments, Dade explained, concentration is key--attorneys generally have a few minutes to collect their thoughts, firming up the key argument they're counting on to sway a jury.
On occasion, Dade has leaned close to a prosecutor's ear to whisper, "Let's sing our closing arguments," hoping to shake his opponent's concentration.
Dade's request generally elicits strange looks.
Grube's reply was, "Sure."
"Now it's me that's getting my concentration shook a bit," Dade said.
Dade's sure fairgoers will find their musical pairing an experience.
"I’ll tell you something about Josh and me. He is a bluegrass player, his genre, where he comes from. I’m old blues rocker. When we play together, we mix those two and become something that’s none of that. We mix it up and don’t imitate anybody else."
If you go
Who: Josh Grube and John Dade
When: 4 p.m.
Where: Park Stage, Walworth County Fairgrounds, 411 E. Court St., Elkhorn