Flathead band adds musical fun to Kalispell airport's security video

2011-07-29T06:15:00Z 2014-08-14T18:58:58Z Flathead band adds musical fun to Kalispell airport's security videoBy VINCE DEVLIN of the Missoulian missoulian.com
July 29, 2011 6:15 am  • 

KALISPELL - Did you hear the one about the three guys who tried to take a chain saw, gallon of gasoline and meat cleaver through the security checkpoint at Glacier Park International Airport?

If you fly out of Kalispell, you will.

They filmed it, and now they're showing it 24 hours a day, seven days a week to everyone who boards a plane here.

It was the brainchild of Cindi Martin, the airport director, who tired of the bottleneck created at the security checkpoint because some travelers don't pay attention to the detailed, but very dry, Transportation Security Administration video that played 24/7 telling passengers how to prepare so that the screening process can run more smoothly.

"It continues to be a choke point," Martin says. "The video was playing, but people didn't do anything to get ready. I was looking for a way to bring attention back to the video."

And then it occurred to her: Open with a joke.

She approached a Flathead-area band she had hired a few years ago to entertain when the Northwest Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives met at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish.

The Singing Sons of Beaches took it from there.

***

The Singing SOBs - Steve Riddle, Greg Devlin and Nick Terhaar - normally write song parodies.

When the airport executives were in Whitefish, for instance, the news had just broken that Idaho Republican U.S. Sen. Larry Craig had been arrested and charged with lewd conduct in the Minneapolis airport.

The Singing Sons of Beaches quickly came up with new lyrics for a Tony Orlando and Dawn song to entertain the airport execs.

"Tap three times on my loafer if you want me," part of it went.

The band's songs poke fun at both political parties because, as Terhaar explains it, if you're going to offend half your audience, you might as well offend them all.

So "Rehberg on the Rocks" takes aim at the Montana Republican congressman and the much-publicized crash of a boat he was a passenger on. And when New York Democrat Anthony Weiner was caught texting inappropriate pictures of himself to women earlier this year, the Singing SOBs quickly had a song for that, too - sung, naturally, to the tune of the well-known Oscar Mayer weiner jingle.

But they're only political on occasion. They'll croon about a cowboy's explanation of reincarnation, which is essentially that we all come back as horse poop.

Or they'll salute colorectal surgeons ("Slaving away in the heart of darkness, working where the sun don't shine") while noting that the surgeons had to become doctors because they all love to play golf, although in their specialty, they had no idea what was truly meant by "18 holes a day."

"They're not only musically talented, it's their creativity," Martin says. "I'd seen them in a restaurant before the convention and thought they were fabulous, and they put on one heck of a show for us."

***

But the airport security video would pose challenges.

The group normally finds their humor in the lyrics they write, but Martin had a laundry list of TSA-banned items they would need to incorporate.

"It was a full typewritten page," Terhaar says. "I took one look at it and thought, ‘How in the hell am I going to make this all rhyme?' "

Much less make it funny.

This is what they came up with.

As the trio strums a calypso rhythm and sings about "No guns or knives or pepper spray, no sharp pointy scissors on the flight today," the video cuts away to several skits they performed later.

There's the three of them trying to get through airport security, Riddle holding a real 12-gauge shotgun, Terhaar with a pellet rifle and scope, and Devlin brandishing a couple of toy six-shooters and a knife in his teeth.

One of the airport's actual security guards wags a warning finger at them.

As the song goes on, they reappear at the conveyor belt from time to time, carrying everything from meat cleavers to hedge clippers, a gas can to a bottle of bleach.

"People ask where we got the props, and we say, ‘Out of our trunk,' " Terhaar says. "We're Montanans - we carry all that kind of stuff around wherever we go."

***

It was a bit of a rush job, Terhaar says, but he still gets a kick out of watching it.

If passengers do, too - and it grabs their attention before the dry TSA video loops in right afterward and they continue to listen - it will have served its purpose.

"We just got it up and running," Martin said earlier this week. "I haven't stood in the line yet to see if people start getting their IDs ready and removing their shoes and laptops, but I see them laughing and commenting on it. It's still up to the people whether they want to get ready."

McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is one of the few other airports Martin is aware of that have tried to spice up the TSA-required video, using local acts such as Penn & Teller and Carrot Top.

The Singing Sons of Beaches recorded their song in the studio of Somers musician David Griffith, then lip-synched it as videographer Ric Ellingson shot footage of the trio inside Glacier Park International Airport.

"It was written so quickly we didn't have time to memorize it, so we had to use cue cards," Terhaar says. "We started about 5 p.m. when there were no flights coming or going, so there was virtually nobody in the airport but us. The audio took about four hours to record and the video took about two. It was a real shoestring budget."

"Put keys, phone, ballpoint pen and the change from your pocket in a plastic bin," they sing. "Laptop, camera, out of the case, it'll help a lot and speed the pace. Put all this stuff in a separate bin, we'll give a quick look and you can put 'em back in."

When they promise that "metal detectors can be kinda fun when we have done all the things that must be done," the video cuts away to shots of Riddle all but making love to one of the machines, caressing and kissing it.

"So everybody do this right," they sing. "We don't want to see you miss your flight."

"Cindi wanted that in," Terhaar says, "sort of a passive-aggressive warning that there are consequences if people slow down the screening process."

The Singing SOBs, who appear often at spots around Flathead Lake during the summer and regularly at both Ricciardi's Restaurant near Finley Point (Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m.) and the Sitting Duck in Woods Bay (Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m.), is not identified on the airport video.

"That was part of the deal, we could not advertise ourselves," Terhaar says. "We couldn't advertise anything - if we had a Nike mark on a shoe, it had to be covered up."

While passengers seem to be enjoying the video while they wait in line to head for their departure gate, Terhaar does worry about the TSA employees who will have to listen to it over and over throughout their work shifts.

"If they ever do find a gun in somebody's luggage, they may shoot themselves," he says. "I'm afraid they're going to hate the thing."

Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at vdevlin@missoulian.com.

 

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