BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
The Roundhouse Bar has been a fixture at the center of Delaware Street in Put-in-Bay since 1873 and, for more than four decades, Mike “Mad Dog” Adams has been the master of ceremonies, entertaining the crowds all summer long.
“Mad Dog” will be winding down his summer schedule at The Roundhouse Bar on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. He’ll be followed by Paul Franks at 6:30 p.m. and Benderz Duo at 9:30 p.m.
“I have loved spending my summers at The Roundhouse for all that time,” said Adams. “They give me the creative license to work on my act, my songs, my comedy every year. It just fits my personality as an entertainer.”
That’s saying something about the burly, bearded guitarist who has performed all over the world in an amazing array of venues, and began his musical career playing a B flat cornet.
Adams, 65, vividly remembers when he decided to become a bar singer. He delivered the Cleveland Press while growing up in Cleveland, and in a circulation contest won a pair of tickets to see the Ice Capades at the Cleveland Arena. His mother made his father take him to the show.
“I talked my dad into going in. Everyone was having a great time and I was enraptured by the smells, sounds and sights, and all of the happy people,” said Adams.
His dad told him not to tell his mother about that visit, but the Adams couldn’t forget the atmosphere.
“At 14, I finally got a guitar and set my sights on being a rock and roller. I carried that guitar everywhere.”
Just out of high school, Adams started hustling for gigs while he worked as a laborer, picked tomatoes and struggled to be a salesman while working on his music. He started making money playing all around Cleveland, having fun and drinking for free most every day of the week.
He has opened concerts for such legendary performers as Johnny Cash, Alabama, Loretta Lynn, Charlie Daniels, Starship and Jerry Lee Lewis. He has appeared on Comedy Central, The Nashville Network, The Dr. Demento Show, Sunday Funnies, Nightshift and local television and radio shows throughout the U.S.
There is a long list of Put-in-Bay regulars who perform throughout the summer, from Adams to Ray Fogg, Bob Gatewood & The Calabash Band and the recently-retired Pat Dailey.
“We’re all spokes in the wheel that make the island go around and around. We may all be narcissists, egotists and somewhat sensitive people, but we’re here to entertain the crowds and have fun,” he said.