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Columbia buddies advance

Columbia buddies advance

The CoMo Clydesdales, best-friend foursome, competing in Budweiser's "Band of Buds" competition.
The CoMo Clydesdales, best-friend foursome, competing in Budweiser's "Band of Buds" competition.
Eric Wilson, Alberto Barba, Kody Gilbow and Dusty Scates all like to tailgate at MU games, play Wii golf together or just hang out. The Columbia foursome knew they were an unusually tight bunch, but they didn’t realize how special their friendship was until they entered Budweiser’s “Band of Buds” competition.
Budweiser put out a nationwide casting call for what the company calls “America’s best crew.” In a competition judged on style, how much fun they have and crowd appeal, the four friends stood out for the ease and genuine nature of their friendship.
That’s not surprising considering they’ve been friends since they went to junior high school together in Dexter, a small town in southeast Missouri, 30 years ago. Barba moved there from Dallas, but the other three have known each other since kindergarten. The four played on the same basketball team from seventh grade through their senior year in high school.
“We just recently realized that this wasn’t a normal thing — staying close with childhood friends,” Barba said. “It may sound corny, but we’ve got a fated friendship. We grew up in the same class and just happen to all be in the same area now.”
To enter the Budweiser contest, the four dubbed themselves the CoMo Clydesdales and passed the competition’s first hurdles to earn the right to compete in St. Louis this past November. Playing Rock Band, answering a series of questions and working the red carpet, they were selected ahead of more than 300 competitors to earn the right to represent the St. Louis region in the contest finals.
“We came across as small-town friends, genuine friends,” Barba said of their success in
St. Louis. “It’s not a friendship based on outward appearances. It’s deeper than that.”
Accompanied by a group of around 30 friends from Columbia who cheer them on, the Clydesdales will compete against 24 other crews from across the United States for four days in Las Vegas beginning Wednesday, Dec. 15. Film crews and judges will follow the teams as they party in Sin City.
On the competition website, www.bandofbuds.com, Wilson, or “E-Dub,” is listed as a trial attorney and lobbyist and billed as “The Smart One;” Barba, “The Fonz” is a mortgage broker described as “a ladies’ man;” “Gib” Gilbow, “The Hip One,” also a mortgage broker, made his way back to Columbia after Los Angeles detour; “Red” Scates, known as “The Funny One,” wrote on his bio that “nothing beats a great day of birdie golf … well, bogey golf, with my crew.”
The Clydesdales hope they will rise to the top to win $100,000, a photo shoot with Rolling Stone magazine and a chance to star in a reality TV series.
Barba points out that in junior high, friendships just happen to form for no great reason. There are no ulterior motives. “Childhood friends are friends because … you are just friends,” he said. The four share memories of their basketball championships and have helped one another through the loss of loved ones over the years.
Three of them are now married, two with kids, and they said they don’t go out as much. But they still like to hang out when they can and do a lot of texting to stay up on one another’s daily lives.

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