Crusin’ Celebrates the 4th on the 3rd!

June 29th, 2021 by Max Allan Collins

On Saturday, July 3, from 7 PM till 10 PM, Crusin’ – my classic rock band (‘60s and ‘70s and a few originals) – will be appearing at Proof Social, a really terrific wine bar at 208 W 2nd St in Muscatine, Iowa. We will be performing on the patio – the same area where we gave concerts for Muscatine’s Second Sunday series for a number of years. We will move inside in case of rain.

Crusin’ 2019 – M.A.C., Steve Kundel, Bill Anson, Brian Van Winkle

How this came to pass is a story in itself. For a number of years, Crusin’ has performed for the Missipi Brew in Muscatine on the Fourth, and we were booked for this year, as usual – an outdoor concert leading up to the fireworks. But at something of the last minute, the Brew decided not to open on the Fourth, for various reasons including staffing issues.

Crusin’ only plays a few gigs in our “season,” which is summer through early fall. I only booked three appearances this year, and the Brew was one of them. So this was a big disappointment. But when I mentioned to Proof Social owner/manager Chance Kleist that our July 4th date had fallen through, he immediately booked us for Saturday the 3rd.

Proof Social is a superior venue and I hope folks in Muscatine and in Eastern Iowa generally will come down (or up, as the case may be) (sideways, too) and see us.

For those who don’t know much about us, click on MUSIC here at We need to update the article a little, but other than that it will give you the right idea. We are (fairly) recent inductees into the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and are about as pure an example of the garage band approach and ethic as you’ll find. Both guitarist Bill Anson and I have been playing in area rock bands since the mid-1960s, although until about four years ago we’d never been in the same group.

Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction concert: M.A.C., Kundle, Anson, Van Winkle

If you follow these update/blogs you’ll remember that our beloved bass player Brian Van Winkle passed away not long ago. Now we have Bill Anson’s son Scott on bass. Scott and his dad have been appearing together as a duo and trio (with Anson brother Dave, a fine guitarist in his own right) for years. Scott also traveled with Crusin’ for the past several years and ran sound.

The July 3rd date is sort of Scott’s first gig with us. I say “sort of” because he filled in at our previous appearance – the last one before the Covid break – at a private function when Brian couldn’t make it. Scott is a terrific bass player, even though at the last rehearsal I had to explain to him that the Zombies recorded “She’s Not There” before Santana. And here I thought Bill had raised him right….

This may be as good a time as any to reflect on why a 73-year-old man is still playing rock ‘n’ roll, especially when – unlike Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney – he still has to haul his own shit.

I had thought this year would likely be my last performing, but Covid put Crusin’ on an unexpected fourteen-month hiatus. The plan had been to record a farewell CD over the winter and promote it and play originals off it this year. But though we’d started rehearsing the originals, and even playing some of them out in 2019, those plans hit the shoals, and not the Muscle ones.

So we won’t be recording until our current performing season is over, which means next year could be the year we go out with our CD.

All of this depends on how things go – am I still having fun, and am I physically up to it. If I had someone to haul my stuff and set up my keyboards (a somewhat complicated process), where all I had to do was walk out on stage and sing and play…sure. Glad to do that till I drop.

But the reality is hauling, setting up, tearing down, is the price we pay for our thrills. When I’m asked what we charge, I reply that we play for free, but it will cost you to have us, yes, haul, set up, and tear down.

Not complaining. It’s just a real physical toll, and kind of always has been…but at my age, it’s a bigger consideration.

However…and I’ve said this here before…what a lucky sod I’ve been and am. Arguably, there’s been little growth. After all, when I was thirteen I loved “tough guy” mystery fiction and rock ‘n’ roll. By seventeen I was actively pursuing both as potential professions. By twenty-two I was making a living (of sorts) doing both.

And still am.

I may be repeating myself telling the following story, but that’s a privilege (and unavoidable aspect) of age. At my 50th high school reunion, a very good friend of mine – who I hadn’t seen in years – took me aside for a kind of intervention. He was and is a bright, funny, fun human being who I as a young man wished I could be like. In some ways, I still do. But he spent his career as an attorney working for a bank – he made good, maybe great money, and had a rewarding interest in swimming (he’d been a star athlete) as a sideline that gave a richness to his life.

He was worried that I was still working, and working so hard. He had retired to the golf course and vacations and cruises. And here I was, still Crusin’. I had difficulty explaining that I am blessed at having been able to pursue my passions while earning a living at them. That I got paid, essentially, for doing my two hobbies – telling stories and playing music. He just couldn’t quite grasp it.

Now only for a brief span – in college and again in the mid-‘70s – did I earn money as a musician in any meaningful way. Mostly it’s been a hobby that alternately pays for itself and provides pocket money. But writing has been a real profession. I’ve done well and worked hard doing it, but I know…trust me, I know…that I have been very, very lucky.

I even think I’ve been lucky not to hit it big with, say, Nolan or Quarry right out of the gate in my career. To stay in business, I had to do different things, create a lot of different series, write work-for-hire like movie novels and TV tie-in novels. I had to write comics and non-fiction and short stories and film scripts and trading cards and collaborate with other talented writers (like Barbara Collins, for instance) and…well, that all made me a better writer and widened my sphere of experience. I can envy a Robert B. Parker for hitting a home run at the beginning of his career, but I wouldn’t trade my cultish success for his name-brand success because I like having had the opportunity to do so many things.

And I owe it to luck.

And to readers.

So thank you. If you’re in the Muscatine, Iowa, area on July 3rd, stop by.


5 Responses to “Crusin’ Celebrates the 4th on the 3rd!”

  1. Thomas Zappe says:

    “Music as a hobby that pays for itself” pretty well sums it up. In earlier years I didn’t have to spend a lot of money to entertain myself since I could just take my sax and sit in with any number of players around St. Louis. After college I even toured with a big band and played in New York for a while before moving on to other things.

    Fortunately, for my own sense of self identity, these other things left me time to play some gigs on the side so that at age 72 I have never stopped performing music in some setting or another the entire time. I even made a little money. I figure that I averaged enough $$$ per gig to cover the cost of dinner. Much cheaper than owning a boat and something a person can do even when their knees are pretty bad off.

    This July 3rd I’ll be playing flute and alto sax at St. Jude church with a feature spot on AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL.

  2. stephen borer says:

    Always ‘preciate these behind the scenes looks at bands !

  3. Dan Collins says:

    A man for all seasons. Thank you for a work ethic that is amazing.

  4. Rob Fiedler says:

    MAC has been playin and I’ve been listenin the same length of time.” We were much younger then” to coin a ohrase

  5. Craig Childs says:

    Where can I hear your band’s recordings of “Theme from Ms. Tree” and “Louise”? I read about those songs in your foreword in Ms. Tree: Skeletons in the Closet. Are they available online somewhere?