The Idaho Caucuses - And the Band Played On


“We’re a little greasy,” said The Best Lyares’ guitarist Nick Skillings. “Judge us when you hear us.”

The grease accounted for some of the band’s polish when it played at the Idaho GOP caucus Tuesday evening. The band picked up its instruments and launched into its set promptly at 5:30 p.m., opening with an unadorned—but well received—version of John Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses.”

As Boise State's Taco Bell Arena began to fill with Ada County Republicans, some caucus-goers began to dance to the music during the band’s first set.

“In Idaho you have to know both styles of music—country and western,” said guitarist John Cleary.

Self-described as “R&B&Rock," The Best Lyares played a mixture of original songs and covers, including “Suzie Q” by Dale Hawkins and “Space Cowboy” by Steve Miller Band.

Formed in 2006, The Best Lyares is Lindsay Nothern on drums, John Cleary on electric guitar, Mitch Hoitt on bass, Steve Baker singing, and Nick Skillings on slide and rhythm guitar.

“We play a lot together,” Cleary said.

The Ada County Republican Presidential Caucus was the largest venue The Best Lyares has played to date, and the band’s members were grateful to play for a crowd.

“I’d wish that for most bands,” said Cleary who added that it was rare for the band to get "this kind of exposure" in Boise.

Two days earlier, the band played at the Idaho Center, but members said Tuesday's caucus crowd was 10 to 20 times larger. At its peak, the caucus’ attendance was 9,050.

The band’s members come from a variety of backgrounds. Guitarist John Cleary plays in a number of bands around Boise and played for an early Boise punk band, The Ticks, in the late 1970s. Mitch Hoitt, the band’s bassist, originally came from Georgia and has been playing the guitar since he was 5. He cut his teeth playing guitar for a heavy metal band Childzplay.

“They’re still playing Childzplay in Japan,” he said.

He made the transition from heavy metal to R&B after meeting the current members of The Best Lyares.

“This old guy just kept saying, ‘Don’t do that—play this!’” he said, nodding at Cleary.

Vocalist Steve Baker came from to Boise from Texas.

“I wanted to get my life straight,” he said.“I used to play in an all-black blues band down in Texas. I was the token white guy.”

The Best Lyares’ drummer, Lindsay Nothern, is the communications director for Sen. Mike Crapo, which is how the group was booked to play at the Ada County GOP caucus.

“They were looking for a band, and I said, ‘How ‘bout the Lyares?’” Nothern said.

The band has played at venues large and small. Lately, it has been playing venues outside of Boise, where there are no smoking bans.

“They’re getting all this business in Garden City," Cleary said.

As the caucus-goers began lining up to vote—Mitt Romney won on the first ballot—The Best Lyares played another set and a few volunteers and children began to softly sing along.