The Big In Iowa Memorial Day Weekend Reunion Show – May 29th, 2016


Left to Right, Bob Burns, Jeff Wilson and Rick House

My old band, Big In Iowa, reunited last Sunday at the Old Crow Bar in Middletown, Ohio. Did you miss it? No worries, thanks to some friends/fans, we have some footage we can share with you.

Our first set was our sensitive acoustic 3-piece set. Our second set was our “sold our soul to the devil” set with Bob Kennedy joining us on keyboards and John House on the bass guitar.


We remembered some songs better than others, and those we didn’t remember can be chalked up to modern jazz.

We had a great time firing up the ol’ Big In Iowa machine again and it was especially cool to see everybody. Until next time!!!

Special thanks to Rodney Owens, Paul Coyner Sr., and Jennifer Craig for capturing some footage for us.

Warts and all, here we are in our natural habitat having a good time with some old friends.

~ Bob

Going Up the Country








Engine 883


Miss You


Cinnamon Girl


For more videos, be sure to check out Big In Iowa’s YouTube channel.


Joe’s Phonographic Coorespondence with Ben via a 78 rpm Record – 1949

I acquired this 78 rpm record a couple of years ago at an estate sale. I was always curious as to what was on it, but I didn't have a turntable that would play 78s. Until now!

I acquired this 78 rpm record a couple of years ago at an estate sale. I was always curious as to what was on it, but I didn’t have a turntable that would play 78s. Until now! It’s a two-sided 78 rpm record recorded on a Presto acetate used in the Presto direct-to-acetate disk recorders.

I normally enjoy discovering rare musical recordings, but I especially love it when I come across a personal voice recording such as this one. It’s great to be able to peek into somebody’s past and get a small glimpse of their history.

After a bit of internet sleuthing based on information Joe gave on the recording, I was able to determine that he worked at the Mills Recording company, which is now at a different address and still in business today!


Mills Recording Co.. has been in business since 1939, and the original location mentioned on the record (161 N. Michigan Blvd.) served singers such as Andy Williams and Bing Crosby.

Joe made this recording for Ben after having a great night with him. I’ll let you listen to the record for the rest of the story. I know homosexuality has been around since the dawn of man, but it’s not common to come across a little nugget like this one from the 1940s.


The “Big” studio Joe mentions at 301 E. Erie St with the Hammond and Pipe Organs was the location of The United Broadcasting Company, which became the United Film and Recording Studios in 1953.

Stay tuned for my next post. It’s an unrelated Christmas voice recording that was sent to Mr. Winter several years after this record was recorded.

Looking At Somebody Else’s Past Can Be “Reel” Fun: Viewing Old 8mm / Super 8 Home Movies

10678810_10152701384192792_190573864378975308_nI bought a like new Bell & Howell 8mm / Super 8 projector for $5.00 at a yard sale. I had no need for it, but at $5.00, I couldn’t resist. The woman I bought it from was in her 80s, and she got a good laugh when I asked her if it would play DVDs. I think she thought I was serious.

Initially, I thought I might try to make some money and sell it. Then I thought it might make for good eye candy on a shelf in my office. Then I had a brilliant idea. Why don’t I find some film and use it as a projector??? So that’s what I did. I went to eBay and made two purchases.


My first purchase was a small reel of 8mm film. The seller had not previewed the film and there was no label, so it was a complete mystery. My second purchase was two seven-inch reels of Super 8 film that only had the years marked on the canisters. 1970-1971 & 1971-1972. So both purchases were a complete mystery, which I found very intriguing. I guess you never know what you could end up with. Hairy 1970s porn, satanic rituals, or maybe even footage of what happened to Jimmy Hoffa…

You have to wonder how reels end up separated from the people who filmed them. I suppose it’s either due to estate sales, or that people lack projectors and just end up disposing of this outdated format. Whatever the reason, it’s a shame these little bits of time are locked away for nobody to see.

So that’s why I decided that for now on when I come across 8mm/Super 8 film reels, I’m going to free them from their tin sarcophagi and post them on YouTube for all to see.

The first small reel I bought turned out to be some home movies from an older group of friends in Canada. Nothing crazy here except the part where they walk out of bar. Could they have had a few beverages? ***GASP*** At one point in the film, a sign for Gaspé, Quebec is seen with another sign in the background for Hotel Vibert’s. There is also some footage of Percé Rock. The film ends with a sign from the city of Brampton, Ontario.

The two seven-inch reels come from what appears to be a tight knit family. The thing that strikes me the most in these two reels is how happy this family is. And it doesn’t seem like an act for the camera… It seems genuine. The reels contain footage of some equestrian training, family gatherings, cigarettes, cocktail parties, dinners, goofing around, fishes caught at Pompano Beach, Florida, a slumber party, and much more. There is a scene where a couple starts making out at a party for about three seconds, but that’s about as salty as this film gets.

The children in these two films are now in their 40s and 50s and my hope is that they’ll somehow stumble across this video. It seems like something somebody in their family would really treasure.

While there is nothing overly exciting that occurs in these films, I think they’re a fascinating peek back into time. The clothing, the jewelry, the furniture, the cars, the smoking, the lack of smartphones, computers, video games, and flat screen TVs…

Clean Your Grooves, Man (An Inexpensive Way to Clean Your Records)

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Let me give you a little disclaimer before I get started. I’m not an expert on cleaning records. I’m just a guy that likes to dig through crates and find interesting records I can enjoy.

Many of the records I find in crates are filthy and need a good bath prior to going for a spin. Not only does this make the records sound better, it prevents further damage. When you play a dirty record, the needle grinds the dirt deeper into the grooves damaging them.

So what’s the best way to clean them? Well… If you’ve ever searched the web for the proper way to clean vinyl records, you know how frustrating it can be when one self proclaimed expert swears by something that another expert says will reduce a record to a pile of goo.

I’ve read about expensive cleaning solutions, record cleaning machines, wood glue, Pledge, Windex, Goo Gone, lighter fluid, and more!

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The one method I kept coming across that seemed quick, simple, inexpensive, and effective is the method I finally decided to try.

Mix the following in a spray bottle:

  • 5 parts distilled water
  • 1 part 91% isopropyl alcohol
  • 1 dime-sized squirt of Dawn liquid detergent in a spray bottle.

Spray the solution carefully on your record (avoiding the paper label) and then run a stiff bristled paintbrush across the record clockwise. Then do it again counterclockwise. When done, dry with a lint free microfiber cloth. Repeat if necessary.


I found this Beach Boys 45 on the bottom of the shelf at the thrift store with no protective cover. The B-side even had chewing gum stuck to the label! I’ve heard of bubblegum pop, but this is ridiculous! Anyhow, the point is that the record has seen its better days and I thought it would be a good example. Hear for yourself.

Before Cleaning

After Cleaning

Before Cleaning

After Cleaning

Keep in mind that some records are beyond rescue. In this example, I was able to dramatically improve the listening quality of the record, but in other cases the damage is just too great.

Perpetual Morning Earworm

Elvis CostelloI think everybody has fallen victim to an earworm at least once. You know… you hear a song (often one you don’t like) and you keep on hearing it all day long after the song has played. Well, I have an earworm, but it’s a tad different.

First thing every morning when my mind is still fairly clear, I hear the chorus of a song in my head. It’s as if I have my brain set on default to play the chorus when my body goes into sleep mode. It’s not just something I noticed recently. It’s been going on for years, but I can’t recall when it started. I became aware of it in the mid 90s. As far as earworms go, I hit the lottery because I actually like the song.

It’s the chorus of Elvis Costello’s “Temptation”

You’re just itching to break her secret laws
As you go from claws to clause
Give me temptation

It’s no secret that Elvis (Declan Patrick MacManus) based this song on Booker T. and the MG’s “Time is Tight”, so technically I have two great songs stuck in my head every morning.

So, is this unique only to me? Not just to have an earworm, but to have the same song stuck in my head every morning for years? Am I alone here?

I guess I  got off pretty lucky as far as earworms go. Could you imagine having this nugget stuck in your head for years?

A Jellybean Flavor Only Homer Simpson Could Love: Draft Beer

Aerial View of Jungle Jim's

Aerial View of Jungle Jim’s

I live in Southwest Ohio and have long been a fan of Jungle Jim’s International Market. The store is larger than some airports I’ve been to, and they cater to specialty items. Say you wanted to add an exotic flavor to your meal with some Ugandan Fire Moss taken from the backside of a Mountain Gorilla, they’d either have it in stock, or they’d be able to get it for you. If it existed of course…

I normally shop at Jungle Jim’s for their amazing domestic and international beer variety, but this time I dropped in for something a little different, albeit beer related. I follow Jungle Jim’s on Facebook, and a post arrived in my feed last week about something very intriguing. Jelly Belly draft beer flavored Jellybeans.

Deschutes Black Butte Porter

Deschutes Black Butte Porter

Upon arriving at the store today, I had to stop by their sample bar and try some real beer first. My favorite sample was Deschutes Black Butte Porter. It’s a delicious creamy porter with a nice roasty chocolate finish. I highly recommend it. But back to the jellybeans…

Draft Beer Jellybeans

Draft Beer Jelly Beans

After sampling my beer, I walked over to their candy section. If you have a sweet tooth and a hankering for nostalgic as well as current candy, you’ll be in heaven.

I found the Draft beer flavored jellybeans nestled between the Tabasco and Classic Cocktail flavors. There is an entire wall of flavors, but they don’t come cheap. $7.99 a pound! So, I grabbed a bag and only dispensed about 15 jellybeans. They were a nice golden color as you’d imagine any respectable draft beer flavored jellybean would be.

Draft Beer Jelly Beans

I plopped just one jellybean in my mouth in case it was awful. Trust me, I’ve tried some horrible jellybeans. Onion, pizza, earwax, and bacon are just a few that come to mind. Upon first taste, it was very mild, so I plopped another 4 or five in my mouth. Surprisingly, it wasn’t horrible. It tasted like your average light American lager with a cup of sugar poured in it. Unlike the bacon flavored jellybean, I wasn’t running for a chaser afterwords.

With that said, I have no desire to ever try them again. But I would imagine if Homer Simpson had a favorite jellybean, this would be it. Next to the donut flavor that is…

Tabasco Jellybeans

Tabasco Jellybeans

photo 2Oh, and yes, I tried the Tabasco flavor. It was hot enough to make my nose run, but if I want something hot and sweet, I’ll stick with my wife.

No word on when they’ll have the Ugandan Fire Moss flavor.

Waiting on a Friend (Bob’s Cafe 2002)

This was recorded live on 4/16/02 at the now defunct Bob’s Cafe, located at 666 Hooven Avenue in Lindenwald, Ohio.

I had a short-lived open jam there with Jason Erickson in 2002. This was just a rough impromptu version of the Rolling Stones clas

sic, “Waiting on a Friend.” After listening to the tape, I thought this song stood out. I thought it had a nice laid back lo-fi feel to it.

If the address isn’t strange enough (666 Hooven Ave.),

behind the building on the other side of the alley is the Ruppert House. James Ruppert murdered 11 members of his family there on Easter Sunday 1975. It holds a spot in history as the deadliest shooting inside a private residence in American history.

Putting aside the creepy neighborhood history and satanic address, the bar was actually a pretty fun place to hang out. I had been hanging out there since the late 80s and my Mom and Dad recall it being a pretty swinging pizza joint in the late 60s.

Bob's Cafe as it Appears Present Day

Bob’s Cafe as it Appears Present Day

The owner shorted us on our money one night after a jam, and I vowed to never return. Never did… While the crowds we drew with the jam were never optimal, my band Big In Iowa would absolutely pack the place. Their loss.

I drive by the old bar quite often and it’s in shambles. At least we have our memories of what used to be.