It's hard to imagine a time when there was no Mr. Blink.
The La Crosse, Wisconsin rock band was first formed in 1989, a side project for members of three other local bands, Union Jack, Disorient Express and Buzz Butler.
It was only intended as a summer project, but it has long outlived all of those bands to become one of the best known on the La Crosse music scene.
One of the five-piece band's most visible gigs is its annual Saturday night marathon set at Oktoberfest. It has also opened for REO Speed wagon at the La Crosse Center and for other bands like the Bodeans, Kansas, and Dr. Hook.
It has performed in UW-La Crosse theater productions of "Hair," "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "The Caucasian Chalk Circle," for which band members wrote an original score. But the group's bread-and- butter is playing at La Crosse bars like John's, the Alpine Inn, and the Popcorn Tavern.
The group is an anomaly of sorts in the here-today-gone-tomorrow local rock band scene. Despite a number of personnel and style changes and instrumental switcharounds, it has stayed together for almost a two decades now and shows no signs that it will stop anytime soon. What keeps the band going?
"Tolerance," says Caucutt's wife, Nancy Stoll Caucutt, keyboardist and only member for its entire run. That, and a willingness to try new musical ideas. With a repertoire of more than 80 original songs and dozens of covers in styles ranging from country to reggae to jazz to rock to blues, Mr. Blink gigs tend to change from night to night.
"You just have to make it interesting for yourself, you know," Nancy says. "You have to challenge yourself in different ways. Take chances. Experiment. Try new things."
That attitude is reflected in the group's eclectic recordings, which include two cassettes ("This Place In Time" and "Altitude Is Everything") and a CD ("Tune-Up").
The disc, released in 1995, collects some of their fan's favorites from tapes along with some new material, Mike Caucutt said. Recorded at Sleepless Night Studio in Madison, it's also the best-sounding release yet.
As always, there are lots of styles to choose from here - everything from the jazzy ballad "What To Do?" to the rootsy rock of "Runaway" to the Leslie organ-driven funk-rap of "I Went To College." The band's approach was perhaps best summed up by a reviewer from the Des Moines, Iowa-based Muse News, who wrote of "This Place in Time":
"This tape has more personalities than Sybil". This willingness to try many styles and do other people's songs as well as their own has made the band attractive to local bar owners, who like Mr. Blink's ability to draw consistent crowds.
Their latest cd "Free and Loafing in La Crosse" will be released in September 2009.