The musical group The Scukesters had just finished a set at P Lee’s Antiques & Memories in Pawnee Rock on Friday afternoon and was headed toward Great Bend when something went wrong.
“One of the scooters started running badly,” musician Bob Colladay said. Riding a Buddy 150cc scooter he calls Olive, Colladay had spent the day traveling at about 45 mph with his musical partner, Matt Parks. Whether it was a fuel issue or a compression problem, at 4:30 p.m. Friday they found themselves creeping along at about 30 mph on U.S. 56.
They were only five minutes behind schedule, however, when they arrived at the next stop on their 22-city tour: Defy Expectations Clothing Company in Great Bend. The store at 1905 Lakin Ave. is just across the street from the band shell in the courthouse square, but the band and its small but enthusiastic audience moved inside the store. Setting up among the displays of Metal Mulisha and Sullen-brand T-shirts, as well as less edgy flannel shirts, The Scukesters were ready to perform their brand of biker music – ukulele biker music, that is.
Parks and Colladay started the Hutchinson-based group about five years ago and The Scukesters Tour has become an annual tradition. Wearing Hawaiian shirts, the musicians hit the road on scooters and serenade audiences for free. Each show lasts about 20-30 minutes.
The music is fun and family friendly, even when it’s about something as basic as answering the call of nature. Colladay penned the song “Outhouse,” which they performed in Great Bend. Colladay also performed the song by himself last Thursday on the “Brett & Sierra Show” on KWCH-TV.
Audience members were able to sing along with songs like “Tiny Bubbles” and “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.” Touring central Kansas by scooter gives the musicians time to experience the smells of road kill and feedlots, Parks noted.
Greg Holmes, who traveled with the band, said visiting the smaller communities of the Golden Belt also yields its share of “serendipitous surprises.” That morning, for example, they performed in the Radium City Park. “We met a 100-year-old Dust Bowl farmer who watched their grain elevator being built,” he said.
Although the shows are free, the band accepts tips, which are donated to a different cause each year. This year, proceeds are going to Kansas Free for Arts, a nonprofit group based in Emporia. For the show at Defy Expectations Clothing in Great Bend, 4-year-old Kinley, daughter of store owner Erica Stos, ran a lemonade stand and placed her proceeds in the group’s tip jar. It was, Holmes said, another of the serendipitous surprises.
Update: Checking on social media, it appears The Scukesters were able to continue their tour. On Saturday Colladay posted updates on the group’s Facebook page, #ksscootukes, noting they were doing shorter sets to allow for Olive’s new top speed. A post Saturday afternoon read: “Olive is kind of fixed, she has a screw loose. I found if I rode with my foot against the air cleaner housing, yay!”