In Memory


Kenneth Duane Grider, 55, of Topeka, passed away Sunday, April 1, 2007 at his home. Kenny was born Sept. 28, 1951 in Chanute, KS, the son of Duane and Joan (Hansen) Grider. He attended school and graduated from Topeka High School in 1968. Kenny was the owner of Tech Sound Audio Contracting in Topeka. He is survived by his brother, David Grider of Greensboro, NC. Cremation will take place and a celebration of life will be at Uncle Bos, Ramada Inn Downtown on Sat., April 7, 2007, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. Arrangements are with Penwell-Gabel Mid Town Chapel.

Published in Topeka Capital-Journal on Apr. 4, 2007

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09/25/14 05:38 PM #1    

Mark W Neis

Ken Grider, whom I was happy to meet and know long after high school, was a kind and thoughtful guy.  He was one of those uniquely talented persons who was a true perfectionist in his trade-music and sound production.  Ken related to me in the early 2000's he had started working at Ramada Inn after Jim Parrish and partners acquired the property and set about restoring it to its former status as a downtown convention hotel site.  Ken was working sound in the various meeting and banquet rooms at Ramada.  But he really shined and stepped up when a decision was made to create a blues club at Ramada Inn in space downstairs where an old restaurant had been.  Club was named Uncle Bo's Blues Bar for Bill Kasper known by his family as "Bo".  Bill Kasper was one of Jim Parrish's partners when Ramada Inn was acquired.  Bill Kasper told me he wanted to see a place Topekans could go to and also bring some notoriety to Ramada.  The manager of Uncle Bo's was a friend of Bill Kasper and Bill's wife.  The club manager, nor anyone else knew how a live music joint would be accepted in Topeka.  And, Ken Grider agreed to be the sound man working the sound board for the bands.  

Opening night, a sensational blues guitarist Jimmy Thackery was booked.  The room was not as large as it is now.  Thackery is loud.  The room was sold out.  As we walked in with advance sale tickets, I saw Ken sitting at the back busy setting up his sound control panel.  I said hi, he greeted me.  Can't remember what Ken said after that, but in essence, it meant:  this band is loud and its' a small room.  And, he wasn't promising perfection.  Well it was perfect, most all of the time. The band rips out one song after another.  The crowd was roaring (at the ability to see a headliner like Thackery in an intimate club setting).  First break, I look at Ken as I walk by; he knows I think the music sounds great for the small quarters, then Ken says basically:  "I have the band dialed down to less than 1/3 volume and still need to ride the board on every song all the way through to be sure it's not too loud".   And then he said, not gratuitously, "Is the sound OK where you are sitting?".  I assured him everyone around me seemed happy.  

Apparently there was a memorial at Uncle Bo's when Ken died.  The next time I was at Uncle Bo's after Ken's passing I asked the manager if Ken's friends were concerned about Ken's mental attitude before he died.  Tragically, as with so many examples of persons who may be inwardly desperate or tormented, none of his friends perceived any problem sufficient to justify intervening and offering help.  Ken was a great sound man and the Topeka sound production scene lost a technical genius.  His friends lost the pleasure of being around a really good guy.

Post script:  Bill Kasper for whom Uncle Bos' is named, died in October, 2005, of complications following a vehicle accident shortly before Uncle Bo's opened.  He knew the club would open but did not get to experience the live blues music venue which his drive and friendly force of persuasion resulted in bringing to Topeka.  Uncle Bo's Blues Club still brings live music Friday and Saturday night, a tribute to Bill Kasper's confidence in the people of Topeka where he had moved in the 1990's in his 70's, but which he made clear to me he considered his real home.  Bill's wife and the manager at Uncle Bo's are graduates of Topeka West High School,1969.  TWHS Class of '69 held its 45th class reunion get together at Uncle Bo's in September, 2014.  

Mark Neis

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