On Sunday August 19, 2018 much of the music community of NE Illinois and SE Wisconsin gathered at Benders in Silver Lake, WI for a Memorial Jam in honor of the late, great William “Bo-Bo” Bobrowski (Billy Yesterday). This was no ordinary man. This was a man who served his country, a man who served his community and a man who could play the hell out of a set of drums. This was most definitely no ordinary man, and this was most definitely no ordinary memorial celebration.
In order to begin to understand the man and the event, one needs to take a look back at the history of Rock and Roll music in America at its very beginning. In the late 60s and early 70s, American Rock and Roll music was forging an identity. The country was represented by several geographical factions. In the west, the scene was Haight Ashbury in San Francisco with the likes of Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Joni Mitchell. In the southwest there was Austin, TX with Willie Nelson, Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs. “Southern Rock” was born in the southeast around Jacksonville, FL with The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tom Petty. New York was the scene out east with the likes of Lou Reed, The Lovin Spoonful and Kiss. And when it comes to the Midwest, the epicenter of the rock music scene was….wait for it…Waukegan, IL.
The rock music scene in Waukegan, IL would see bands like The Ides of March, The Buckinghams and REO Speedwagon play The Mouse Trap Club and The Wild Goose. This truly was the Midwest hotbed of modern day rock music. The great local favorites were The Tydes, The Riddles and the band with a freight-train for a drummer named Bo-Bo, Hot Mama Silver. The group Hot Mama Silver would rule the local scene for years and influence countless musicians that went on the etch the city of Waukegan, IL in to the Rock and Roll history books.
Fast forward some 50 years, to Benders in Silver Lake, WI to the memorial jam of Bill “Bo-Bo” Bobrowski and with all due respect to Chrissie Hynde, there was not a pretender in the house. The level of the quality of musicianship that took place at the memorial jam was unparalleled and that came as no surprise because the men and women at the forefront of American Rock and Roll were all there to pay tribute to one of their own. The very soul of rock music was on full display in that parade of music pioneers and it appeared no one had missed a beat.
Event organizer Mark Anderson summed up the events of the afternoon saying, “the huge turnout solidified what we already knew. Bill was an amazing friend and an influence to so many. We will all share something until our last breath, the influence of Bill Bobrowski.” The event was highlighted by an amazing version of Moby Dick and a version of Me and Bobby McGee that would have made Janis proud. Everyone on the stage may have added a few birthdays to their resume but every single musician was nothing short of spectacular proving that the Waukegan, IL music scene is alive and well and still rockin’. And that Bill “Bo-Bo” Bobrowski will never be forgotten.