Illinois state Rep. Mike Tryon’s band to play inauguration concert

Opening for Chicago blues singer Buddy Guy and country music star Toby Keith at the Illinois inaugural concert Jan. 12 will be … state Rep. Mike Tryon.

The Boat Drink Caucus – a band made up of Tryon, fellow Republican Rep. Chad Hays and Democratic Sen. Don Harmon – will warm up the crowd before Guy plays, and will play another set before Keith takes the stage. The band plays tropical-style music along Jimmy Buffett lines, as well as classic rock.

The band made an impression at Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair because Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner’s people called them and asked them to play the inaugural, Tryon said. All three lawmakers play guitar, but they will add a drummer and other musicians for their inauguration appearance.

“We played at the state fair, and I guess Rauner heard us – it’s the kind of music he likes,” Tryon said.

Boat Drink Caucus, named after a Buffett song, got its start several years ago. Tryon had been in a local band called Pirates Over 40, but couldn’t justify being in Springfield all week and playing on the weekends.

Hays, of downstate Catlin, approached him about playing in a band after his 2010 election, and Harmon, of Oak Park, heard about the band and wanted in as well.

Unlike the General Assembly, the Republicans hold a two-thirds supermajority in Boat Drink Caucus, except when Democratic state Rep. Rob Martwick of Chicago joins them.

“It’s definitely bipartisan,” Tryon said.

The concert is scheduled from 8:30 p.m. until midnight at the Prairie Capital Convention Center. Tickets are $125 a person, which includes food and beverages, for the standing-room only event and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets for the event can be purchased online at