Shannon Barnson of Burt's Tiki Lounge 

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Shannon “Barndogg” Barnson has worked at the door and behind the bar at Burt’s Tiki Lounge since 1996. Saturday, Sept. 4 marks his final night on the job, as he moves onto an even more challenging occupation: Elementary school teacher. Barnson—who is also a panelist on the popular Geek Show Podcast—reflects on his 14 years of dive service.

There are plenty of bars in Salt Lake—why’d you stick with Burt’s for so long?
The short answer is the people who come there. It cracks me up that Burt’s has this undeserved reputation that it’s a “tough” bar where you’re going to go get your ass kicked if you’re not wearing leather. I’ve worked there for 14 years and seen maybe seven fights. They were epic fights, to be sure, but that hardly ever happens
as opposed to the crappy dance club I once worked at where the cokeheads would be violent and stupid every damned day I was in that horrible place. I met my wife, most of my good friends, and awesome people from bands from all around the country at Burt’s, and I’ll always appreciate that.

Is handling schoolchildren any different than handling punks and drunks?
It’s funny—once I learned classroom-management skills and started using them at the bar, it became much easier to keep the drunks in line. Drunks are adults who drink themselves down to a 10-year-old mindset.

Are your students aware of your other lives as a bartender and a minor podcast celebrity?
No, I keep that all to myself. Last year, some of the sixth graders I worked with saw me on television and called me on it. Luckily, kids are easy to Jedi-mind trick. I just told them “No, that wasn’t me.” I also told them I'd heard about this guy on that Geek Show and I wanted to meet him, and they forgot all about it. I felt like Clark Kent.

What’s the worst band you ever suffered through at Burt’s?
Jebus … sooo many. I’m just going give you a genre: Death metal, grindcore, whatever these idiots call the crap they heave into the universe. It’s the worst effing music on the planet. The best thing about quitting the Tiki is that I’ll never be forced to listen to that aural diarrhea against my will ever again. I love how all the lead “singers” give a little speech about the deep meaning of their song, and then when it starts it just sounds like the devil getting ass-raped with a bag of feral cats. Hey, buds—all your bands sound the same and all your songs sound the same. Just stop.

Planning any grand gestures for your final night on the job? At least any that involve more than one or two fingers?
I just plan on having a good time. My two favorite local bands are playing, Thunderfist and the Utah County Swillers—it’s really cool that they agreed to do this on such short notice. I’m especially stoked the Swillers are playing; one of [Swillers singer] Sweatin’ Willie’s old bands played at Burt’s the first night I worked there 14 years ago, and I think it’s so cool that he’ll be playing on the last. Oh, and there will be a speech … I’ve got some stuff I’ve been saving up for about seven years. Later, suckers!

Bill Frost:


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