Came For a Few Weeks, Stayed 20 Years
by Kirk Knox Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Cheyenne- A first time visitor to the lobby at the Hitching Post Inn could be excused for thinking that the entertainer there had been deposited in that setting by some wierd time warp from the 1960's.

That's michael DeGreve with the guitar, shoulder-length blonde hair and the appearance of a hippie left over from that era. Monday night he will mark the most unusual tenure of 20 years at the lobby. A great many people don't stay married anywhere near that long. A special anniversary party has been arrainged by Inn owner-manager, Paul Smith. Some guest from a distance are expected.

Degreve was playing a Ramada Inn in Milwaukee, Wisconsin when friend and agent Linda Whiting asked, "What do you think of Cheyenne for a two week engagement?" Michael responded, "I don't know, where is it?" He explains that he did know and that he was teasing Whiting with his answer.

He is a man of many parts, not just the ordinary solo musical act. One reason he knew about Cheyenne was that in his teen years he was the leading scorer in a Los Angeles high school basketball league, frequently racking up 30 points a game. His exploits in that millieu brought hin several college scholarship offers, one from CSU in Fort Collins, Colorado. He visted there and thought the situation too bucolic for a big city guy and finally signed to play with Saint Mary's College near San Francisco. That proved an unfortunate choice because of the damp climate; DeGreve was asthmatic and he didn't stay long.

DeGreve was a copy boy for the Los Angeles Times for a time, sports editor for a much lesser city paper and even got to do a couple of byline music reviews for the Times when he was only 18. While he was working at the Times, the Times connection got him into all the Los Angeles clubs, where he listened to a lot of music and in his last high school semester chose to take it up. He played and sang for a time with a rock and roll band that later broke up.

In the long run, he was attracted to the music he still does, which he describes as "some folk, some classic accoustic rock, and some Simon and garfunkel." He came for the initial two weeks and stayed, and stayed. And so many guests and other visitors to the motel got to know him so well that he says it's not uncommon for one of them to phone frome someplace in the region to find out if he's still there before choosing to make a stop in Cheyenne.

He has an easy manner, says he likes people, and talks a lot to his audiences, who respond to his chatter. His long-term folk success at the Inn's lobby is against the grain in a city where country-western songs would be expected.

DeGreve, now 49, but looking younger, says he doesn't invision leaving Cheyenne. Fifteen years ago, he bought 20 acres of ranch-land north of here where he and his long-time friend Linda Thompson live. Like all of that terrain, it was barren except for prairie grass. Not now. DeGreve has planted over 400 trees there. He has his own recording studio at his home. When he was thinking of buying the place, he recalls, "I asked myself if this city guy was tough enough for the life out there, especially in winter." The nearest neighbor is four miles away.

About five years ago, his initial album "took off real big in Russia," and he wound up playing in Moscow for a month. Russian TV did an entire program on him, he says. That was when the break-up of the Soviet Union was beginning and the attitude was more relaxed.

But, back in Milwaukee, the the clinching line from agent Whiting was, "They're looking for someone just like you (in Cheyenne). "Why don't you go for a couple of weeks?" He did. And that was twenty years ago.

More About Michael DeGreve: