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August 28, 2012 | 03:28 PMELKHORN — In the courtroom, Joshua Grube and John Dade sit at opposite tables. The two are zealous in defending their clients' positions on serious and sensitive crimes.
Dade is a defense attorney who doesn't shy away from having a jury decide a case. As Walworth County's deputy district attorney, Grube represents the state. His case load consists mostly of child sexual assaults and other serious matters.
"In our day jobs, we are opponents," Dade said.
However, these courtroom foes share a common passion that has sparked an unlikely friendship and an even more improbable musical act at the Walworth County Fair.
Both Grube and Dade play guitar. Both sing, and they both enjoy performing live music. The two will take the Park Stage Friday, from 4 to 7: 30 p.m. at the Walworth County Fair and will perform together.
How the musical pair began
During an interview last week, Dade laughed while describing how he became friends with Grube, who he said is "as serious as a heart attack."
It was during a jury trial. Before giving their closing arguments, the attorneys have a few minutes in the courtroom without the jury or the judge.
"About five minutes before we give our closing arguments — after several days of trial and evidence and dealing with each other, the court, the jury, the witnesses and the crowd — now it's our moment," Dade said. "When we, at the end of the trial, stand up in front of the jury and tell them to convict or acquit and why. At that point, trial attorneys should be extremely focused on what they are going to say."
Dade wants to disturb his opponent's concentration.
At this time, Dade leans into the prosecutor's ear and softly says, "Let's sing our closing."
"Then they look at me like I'm crazy and I say, 'I'm serious let's sing our closings,'" he said.
"Normally, I get some type of profanity."
He tried this on Grube, who succinctly responded, "Fine."
During an interview Monday morning, Grube said the comment made him chuckle. However, he didn't break out into song in front of the jury.
A brief moment of humor during an incredibly serious and stressful situation helps, he said.
While waiting for the verdict, Dade approached Grube and asked if he is a singer.
"Two weeks later we are in a shed playing guitar together," Grube said. Outside of the courtroom, away from the stress and the sadness that accompanies serious cases, a friendship and musical act formed.
Dade and Grube aren't a garage band bringing their first act to the Walworth County Fair. In fact, both have a long history of performing live.
In college, Grube, with his college band, opened for Soul Asylum, which won a Grammy for its hit single "Runaway Train." Performing live was how Grube earned extra money in college.
Dade has basically been a singer his entire life. "I started singing for nickels in bars when I was 6," he said.
Dade has been in numerous bands, and he performs with an acoustic band, the Bartaps, throughout the area.
Grube's regular band, Old Farm Dog, just performed at the Steele County Fair, Minn. His band, which consists of him and a childhood friend, also recently recorded a CD.
In addition to guitar, Dade plays keyboards and a harmonica. Grube also plays the mandolin and banjo.
One thing that will surprise people who know Dade and Grube is how they sing. Both men have deep voices, but sing at higher tones.
"He has this high voice that is really unique and extraordinary," Dade said of Grube. Dade said he is used to being the high singer in bands, but he can't sing as high as Grube.
Grube said he can sing lower, but bluegrass music lends itself to a higher range.
For Grube, the appeal to bluegrass music is the talent of the musicians and their technical abilities.
"I'm drawn to people who can play their instruments well," he said.
Dade and Grube come from different musical backgrounds.
"For him, it is new grass, which is bluegrass but brought current," Dade said. "I'm a blues guy. Blues and classic rock. I'm an old rocker."
Do the styles mesh?
"So, when we come together we mix those two things together," Dade said. "We will play some blues and play some blue grass, but what we end up mostly playing is covers, familiar music that we put together in our own way."
One thing concert-goers can look forward to is seeing covers of familiar music. However, Dade said the two don't rearrange music but "de-arrange" it.
"Josh has got a bluegrass arrangement of Michael Jackson's 'Thriller,'" Dade said while chuckling. "And Britney Spears "Baby One More Time.'"
Grube said they also have a cover of House of Pain's Jump Around. Dade said if the two have fun while performing, they will put on a good show.
"If Josh and I have fun and we sing to please each other, it will be pleasing to the listeners," Dade said. "If we become pandering hams to our audience, that tends to make the music fall apart."
Grube agreed that if they are having fun they will perform better.
"That's 100 percent right. That's always how it works," Grube said. "If it gets too bogged down — that you never miss a cord and never miss a note — than it's not fun."
Grube said he's hoping people enjoy the show.
"As long as people don't walk away shaking their heads, that's a good thing," Grube said.
Music also brings out another side of Grube, who, while in the courthouse, is a serious professional.
"He is a very straightforward, no-nonsense type of business guy," Dade said. "When he sings he becomes a different person."
Grube admits that people that know him professionally may be surprised to see the other side of him.
"I take my job very seriously," Grube said. "We are doing incredibly important things that affect people's lives."
The music, however, is a healthy avenue for Grube and Dade to relieve job-related stress.
"Being a musician is an exercise in joy," Dade said. "It's totally different than what we do for a living, which is an exercise in dealing with people whose lives are shaken to their very foundation, and we experience human misery on a daily basis. To sing joyously and play music for just the joy of it is a wonderful thing for the both of us."
Despite being friends on stage, Grube and Dade forget about any personal relationships when they enter the courtroom.
"When we have trials, we check our friendship at the door," Dade said. "If you don't believe that, come see a trial."
The state bar ethically obligates attorneys to zealously defend their clients. "There is a difference between obligated and enthusiastic," Dade said.