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Milkmen schedule one final delivery.

Byline: Dash Paulson The Register-Guard

When rock 'n' rollers the Milkmen played Eugene and Springfield in the early 1980s, they were one of the best-known bar bands in the area.

After playing 201 shows over two years, the group went its separate ways. Now, 30 years later, the Milkmen will reunite Saturday at Mac's Restaurant and Night Club for a one-off show featuring all five original members.

In early November, four of the musicians met for a rehearsal in the living room of Milkmen guitarist Randy Haines. Haines, 65, said the reunion show is happening because they all ended up living back in Eugene or Salem and their original publicist, Cyndee, is now married to Haines.

"She kept bugging us about doing something. Eventually we were all in the same area again, so it made sense."

Fellow guitarist Henry Cooper, 57, who went on to win multiple awards for his blues work, said the 1980s was a great time to work in live music in Oregon.

"You had to play at a certain level, but if you could, then you could get work," he said.

In 1974, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission legalized live music in taverns, Cooper said. Previously, bands could play only in bars with hard liquor.

Eugene and Springfield taverns, especially the ones near campus, booked musicians most every night to draw in customers.

"A bar band's sole purpose is to help people enjoy their night," Cooper said. "It's about excitement."

Long hours

The Milkmen started in October 1982 as a collaboration between Haines and Cooper. They recruited drummer Boyd Small, sax player Frank West and later Michael Miller to play bass.

"The mark of a bar band is playing four, maybe five hours in a night," said Miller, 59, who later played in the Paul Larson Band.

Miller emphasized that those long hours of jamming were the fun part. Before performances, they had to do their own setup and then tear down and pack up afterwards.

"Sometimes we'd play 9 to 2 a.m. " Miller said.

The Milkmen played fast dance rock, blues and roots standards with strong blues guitar riffs. It's music for taking someone by the hand and having a dance or sipping down a beer while talking with friends.

The band played in vehement opposition to the '80s "hair" music.

"We were rockers," Haines said. "We didn't go for that."

The Milkmen were big fans of ZZ Top, the Blasters, Los Lobos and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

"We were playing for people who hated MTV!" Miller said. "We are probably one of the few '80s bands that can look back and not feel silly about how we looked."

For two years, the Milkmen survived and thrived in the local bar band scene.

"We used to call it the 13th crawl," Miller said. "We and all our friends would be playing at the bars."

The Milkmen regularly played at Taylors, back when it was owned by the Taylor brothers; Duffy's, a tavern on the corner of 13th and Alder where the campus Starbucks now stands; the Erb Memorial Union, back when alcohol still was allowed on campus; the then-new Hult Center during the first Eugene Celebration; and Max's, where Haines has a regular Wednesday gig.

Max's "hasn't really changed at all to be honest," he said.

Overexposed and reunited

Cyndee arranged their shows, and the band became regular features on 13th Avenue.

"It got pretty businesslike," Haines said. "It hurt us somewhat. People could see us anytime, so we started only getting half or three-quarter crowds."

After a while, the band life and especially the constant performances at the same venues took its toll. The Milkmen disbanded.

Haines formed a new band called the Electric Flies. That group included Miller on the drums and lasted until 2003.

Cooper toured with rock pioneer Screamin' Jay Hawkins and the Falcons in Europe before moving to Seattle. Frank West moved to Portland, then Seattle with his family and moved from sax to keyboards.

Drummer Small moved to Portland. He was later inducted into the Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame before moving to Amsterdam for 10 years and then returning to his hometown of Salem last year.

Together again, members of the Milkmen are prepared to bring back some of their originals and best- remembered songs on Saturday.

Follow Dash on Twitter @DashPaulson. Emails to dash.paulson@registerguard.com.

Concert Preview

The Milkmen Reunion

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Mac's Restaurant and Night Club, 1626 Willamette St.

Tickets: $5
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Title Annotation:Music; The popular 1980s bar band is reuniting for a Saturday show at Mac's
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 14, 2014
Words:752
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