The drummer starts the song with four quick beats on the snare and a crash of a cymbal. His rhythm is even and on time, and the bass and the guitar come in, rounding out the musical trio.
Christian Henry is hammering out the drum line to “I Fought the Law,” his favorite song. The lyrics are in jest though; he hasn’t fought the law. In fact he hasn’t even finished kindergarten yet.
He is the percussion section for The BUBBAS (Boys Using Bass Beat And Song), a Columbia family band that finds unity nightly through music.
They gather after dinner every night to “jam” in the basement of their home on Katy Lane. Their studio is adorned with exotic wooden animals, a stuffed big horn sheep and leopard print curtains — all contributions from the Henry’s oldest child and only daughter, Paige. Although she is not part of the band, her presence exists in the decorative setting in the studio. She is an interior designer in Columbia.
The importance they place on family is conveyed by the entryway to their studio. Pictures of family and friends literally cover three walls of the basement leading the way to their own music Mecca. Memories are important to the Henrys. Melinda Henry, the mother, says she hopes they are creating memories that will last a lifetime by providing the kids with the opportunity to play music.
Although the BUBBAS practice every night, they don’t have ambitions of becoming rock stars, at least not yet.
The Henry’s elder son John-Michael, 11, says he plays just because it’s fun, but his 5-year-old brother Christian loves to perform for a crowd.
“I want to play in front of the courthouse, where there are seats and a big crowd,” Christian says.
“I want them to love and appreciate music,” Melinda Henry says.
“Music should serve as a creative outlet for them — a way for the boys to express themselves,” Patrick Henry, the father, says.
They play an array of good-time tunes, including artists from Elvis to Credence Clearwater Revival to the Temptations. Their song list includes 40 songs, and is still growing.
Patrick Henry’s musical roots were grounded listening to his younger brother Kevin Henry, who played guitar. Through him, Patrick eventually found himself in a rock ’n’ roll band singing and playing rhythm guitar occasionally.
C. Rock City was an eclectic group of weekend warriors who thrilled crowds at Bullwinkles, known today by young patrons, fraternity brothers and sorority sisters as the Fieldhouse. Patrick Henry says they helped revive the live rock music scene in Columbia coming out of the disco era in the late 1970s.
Patrick Henry was working on his Ph.D. and teaching English part time at Hickman High School while jamming with the band on weekends. C. Rock City covered the likes of Bruce Springsteen, the Young Rascals and the Rolling Stones.
In 1985, tragedy struck C. Rock City, and its music was put on hold.
Kevin Henry died in a train accident, and Patrick Henry put down his guitar for good — or so he thought at the time.
“My brother’s death took the wind out of my sails,” Patrick Henry says. “I had no desire to play anymore.”
The birth of his second son, Christian, and Christian’s natural love for music inspired him to pick up his Fender Stratocaster again and form a new band — a family band.
John-Michael began to play the bass and sing vocals, and the trio was complete. After practicing in the studio nightly, the kids wanted to take their act on the road. They entered the Boone County Fair and started lengthening their practice sessions to two hours a night in preparation for their first gig.
“We really crammed for that performance, but it paid off,” Patrick Henry says.
They placed second at the fair and fell in love with performing for a live audience.
“Christian really enjoys the Twilight Festival, and he has begged to play there for the last two years,” Patrick Henry says. The Henrys applied for a slot at the festival in August this year and waited eagerly for a response.
They got a call three weeks before the festival, confirming their slot. In three weeks they expanded their song list from five to 30.
“Everybody just loved them,” says Sandi Strother, assistant director of the Downtown Columbia Associations. “We were certainly impressed by the crowd they drew.”
“The Twilight Festival was the first time I had played in front of a crowd in 23 years,” Patrick Henry says. “I was really proud that the kids made it through the whole two hours.”
John-Michael and Christian’s natural interest in music should have come as no surprise to the Henrys. Music has been a significant part of both Melinda’s and Patrick Henry’s families for generations.
Patrick Henry’s father was a piano player who could play by ear.
Melinda Henry’s father, Lisle Moore Jr., is a trumpeter and band director in Fulton for Shepherdfield’s Community Band, a 100-piece band that recently completed a tour in Georgia, where it played for Habit for Humanity.
John-Michael is beginning to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps by playing the trumpet in the school band.
Melinda Henry plays piano and sings with the band, occasionally. She is modest about her ability, but her husband says she is talented. When she is not playing with the band, she gives advice about tone, pitch and rhythm to her sons.
She actually made her first stage appearance before she was born.
Her father and mother, state Rep. Danie Moore, were attending Central Methodist College in Fayette when they discovered they were going to become parents.
“We were surprised but elated,” Danie Moore says.
Lisle Moore Jr. was a senior music major, and Danie Moore studied English and French, which she later taught for 28 years.
“Lisle says baby was going to need shoes, so we had to make some money,” Danie Moore says. “Lisle formed a band with some of his friends, and they were getting paid by the head at a performance one night, so he included me as a female vocalist.”
Danie Moore had never sung solo before, but her rendition of “What Now My Love” in French went off without a hitch.
They named their daughter Melinda, after a song the band performed.
Christian and John-Michael’s uncle, Lisle Moore III, writes original scores for Hollywood films. He wrote part of the score for the winter games in Salt Lake City and recently composed the score for “Fly Boys,” a film starring child actor Jesse James and Stephen Baldwin.
When the family gets together for the holidays, it is a musical celebration.
“Christian has always called his older brother Bubba,” Melinda Henry says. “When we entered the Boone County Fair we had to have a name, and the band agreed ‘The BUBBAS’ made sense.”
Recently it has taken on even more meaning and become an acronym — Boys Using Bass Beat And Song. The change was inspired by their “moving” performance on top of a trailer pulled by Lisle Moore Jr. as part of the Lincoln University Homecoming parade in Jefferson City on Oct. 11.
“Someone asked me what BUBBAS stood for, and the acronym just made sense,” Patrick Henry says.
The parade was the BUBBAS’ biggest show to date. The Henrys got to entertain thousands with their tunes and even personalized a few songs for Lincoln University. Patrick Henry wrote a song about Lincoln’s history, performed to the tune of the blues classic “I’m a Man.”
“I think they are fantastic,” says Ida B. Simon, vice president of Institutional Advancement at Lincoln University. “It is refreshing and delightful to see a faculty member from within the community so engaged with university-related activities.”
The band is looking forward to its next gig.
“Playing in the band is therapeutic,” Patrick Henry says. “It’s a way to relieve stress and do something completely separate from the rest of our lives.”