Road Blog: Thursday May 17, 2018 - Blue Island (Chicago), IL
May 17, 2018
Blue Island, Illinois
We met at a Park and Ride west of Ann Arbor, threw our guitars and the luggage in the van, and headed west on I-94 to the soundtrack of War On Women, The Plimsouls, a Mojo comp of bands covering Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours record, and then I put on Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil” to gear us up for the show. Gabriel seemed to dig it and even relived a bit of his youth on the “hey” in Looks that Kill, but Patty wasn’t impressed. We hit some serious traffic once we got into Indiana and Gabe’s braking and accelerating was making Patrick uptight while I egged him on from the back seat. Pat eventually just closed his eyes and pretended he was somewhere else, thankful that his Allstate Good-Driver app was disengaged, while Gabe and I discussed the merits of the Crüe’s catalog.
Blue Island, Illinois is a small city on the way-south end of Chicago. A lot of it looks like it’s seen better days, but there was some resurgence too. We parked the van at the Blue Island Beer Company and went in to check it out. We were greeted by the owner Alan who explained the logistics and pointed us to several nearby dining options. He’s a super nice guy with a bit of a history in the Chicago music scene. We walked to the end of the street and checked out a really good looking, but pricey Cajun joint, but settled on a bar called Natural Law across the street from the brewery. Pat ordered the fried green tomatoes appetizer and the Cuban sandwich while Gabe and I went with the Nashville Fried Chicken sandwich. The sandwich was great, but it was more Buffalo than Nashville. I put a few bucks in the jukebox and played some Stones, Willie Nelson, Pogues and Snoop Dogg while we chatted it up with our barkeep June, who was super nice, raised a Sox fan, but doesn’t hate the Cubs, and seems to have a good feeling about the new business in her neighborhood.
After dinner we loaded into the brewery and set up. It’s a medium-sized, square room with a high ceiling and a bar that runs at a right angle in the corner. There’s no stage, so bands play on the floor, but they have a nice PA and great monitors and plenty of room to move around. Despite the size of the room, Pat and I loaded in our full rigs. We both have the option to scale down when we want, based on the size of the room, but we rarely do. I had my volume pretty low and it sounded nice. Pat pulled out a case I didn’t recognize and proudly showed us a new bass he purchased after our last run. It’s a beautiful Music Man Stingray. When one of us gets some new gear it’s always a bit like Christmas – so fun!
Around that time Brendan Folliard came in and we said hello and shared some war stories as we ordered beers. Pretty soon we had the pleasant surprise of the arrival of one Jason Bowes – friend and brother from back home, and original bassist for The Tucos, who was in Chicago for business. I hadn’t seen him in a while and it was great that he made the drive to the south side! We had a beer and got caught up. I took the usual ribbing about my clothes and general appearance, and he laughed as he confirmed that he doesn’t miss the empty rooms and loading/unloading and hauling of way more gear than would be needed for a venue twice the size.
Brendan hit around 8 and played a really great solo-acoustic set. His songs are great and his voice is unique and powerful. He joked that his name was spelled wrong on the poster, and I pulled it up on my phone and confirmed – dang! I felt bad about that, but he had a good laugh and took it all in stride. We went up right after him and played a loose set, but had fun and sounded ok. We’ve been on the road a lot but haven’t really been practicing between runs as much as we would like, and Pat was still feeling out his new bass, so we were not quite as tight as we would have liked, but it was still fun, people were engaged, and we got the cobwebs out pretty quickly.
After the set we chatted it up with the locals while we tore down and loaded out. We were on the road by 10:30pm (with Pat at the wheel and Kyuss on the stereo) and at our hotel in Joliet by 11:15. Gabe crashed out while Pat and I snuck into the closed pool and took a hot tub soak before crashing out. It’s really rare to be done so early – more often the show is just getting started around 10:30, so that was a nice break. I got a great night’s sleep and woke up early, put on Robin Meade, got a cup of coffee and worked on the blog. After a couple coffees I had some breakfast with the boys and then went for a good long run along a paved path and nature trail across the highway from the hotel. Along the way I met a family of Canadian geese, a great blue heron, and a little baby turtle who felt inclined to dodge bicyclists and pedestrians on the path. I told him he’d be better off in the brush and he begrudgingly agreed as I introduced him to an elderly couple walking by and set him off in the brush.
We’re off to Iowa City now, a city we’ve played a couple times are batting about .500 in. Strong lineup tonight with Viva Moxie and The BeSides at the Iowa City Yacht Club.