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Rock Bottom Remainders Reunite to Rock Wordplay

Stephen King playing guitar at Word Play 2019
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The Rock Bottom Remainders, a supergroup comprised of best-selling authors, brought a once-in-a-lifetime experience to the First Avenue Mainroom Friday night.

At The Loft’s Wordplay festival, authors and fans are set to come together in a grand setting.

The inaugural fest will encompass several blocks of downtown Minneapolis, featuring multiple stages both indoors and outside with vendors, booksellers, and authors from all over the country.

The festival kicked off with an opening night performance by the Rock Bottom Remainders. The band includes a rotating roster of authors who, between them, have sold 350 million books.

The Remainders have been playing together, in various incarnations, at lit festivals and charity events since the early 90s.

Members who performed at Wordplay include Stephen King, Mitch Albom, Dave Barry, Roy Blount Jr., Greg Iles, Mary Karr, Ridley Pearson, Amy Tan, Scott Turow, and Alan Zweibel, all of whom are also participating in the festival. 

Stephen King- Rock Bottom Remainders- Photo By SB

There was a strange feeling in the room, odd anticipation which resembled the usual pre-show excitement, but the vibe from literature fans seemed more dedicated, a bit more invested, like this was a moment some of the attendees at the sold-out performance had been waiting a lifetime to bring to fruition.

The band, for their part, came to boogie. Each member got a song or two on lead vocals, and the stage was filled with personas who have led the collective social voice of the last generation.

Stephen King was the elder power in the group, playing mostly old doo-wop tunes (the best of which was a version of Minnesota’s own Trashmen’s classic “Surfin’ Bird”).

Dave Berry was the bandleader, several times keeping the whole thing from going off the rails. Mitch Albom brought an over-the-top Elvis impersonation and gave Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” his all. Scott Turrow was the ham of the group, switching out various silly wigs each time he took the mic.

The high point of the evening was probably Amy Tan’s rendition of “These Boots Were Made For Walking,” wherein she donned dark shades, bondage-ware, fake tattoos, and whipped the male members of the band.

She also had a nice moment with her husband singing “Leader of the Pack.”

Obviously, the appeal of the night was more to engage in a spectacle, to have fun, and to be part of an experience that is truly unique.

The Rock Bottom Remainders help us to see our heroes as real people who have friends and hobbies.

The band takes a mythic figure like King and reminds us, for all his genius, he’s still just a guy who likes to strum a guitar every now and then. There is something comforting in that thought. 

Each of the band members will have their own presentation at the festival over the weekend, most of which can be attended for the price of a $10 wristband. Click here to see the details and find out about all the great opportunities at The Loft.

Written by Scott Bryan

Scott Bryan is a writer and adventurer. He has penned the books This Book Will Make You Go Crazy and Yellowville as well as the script for the independent feature film, Drunk. Now he goes to shows and runs the website


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