Road Blog: Friday June 18, 2021 - Chicago, IL
Friday June 18, 2021
The heat was oppressive on Saturday afternoon as I loaded up my guitars and headed out for some record shopping. First stop was a place called Cheap Kiss Records in Villa Park. It’s a bookstore with a few bins of LPs up front. They had some interesting stuff, but I only walked out with one album, for TrooperGirl22. From there it was back on to the 290 and horrid traffic into the city. It took me 45 minutes to go the 9 miles to my exit, then another 30 to drive north into Wicker Park. You’d never know we’re at the tail end of a pandemic in that neighborhood – it had the same hustle bustle it did last time I was there a few years ago. Tack on another 20 minutes and a near fatal (for him) collision with a very angry, loud, foul-mothed, biker hipster, and I finally found a good parking spot. My bad, dude, sorry but JFC.
First stop was Reckless Records, who’ve moved since I was last there. It’s a great store with extensive inventory focused heavily on indie releases. I was eyeing up an original pressing of Band on the Run, which I’ve been looking for, and they had an original pressing, but the vinyl was dirty and the price was steep so I passed on it. A Couple other things caught my eye but surprisingly, I walked out empty handed. Not quite the same without my old pal Jim Magas behind the counter, but still a really great record store.
I walked southeast down Milwaukee Avenue and dropped into Shuga Records Chicago – a long, thin store with a focus on electronic/techno, but still plenty of rock. They had a new repressing of Band on the Run that I carried around the store, but ultimately put back in hopes of finding a nice used copy some day. Some nice finds there too, but I didn’t get anything, and my grand total for the day was one three-dollar LP.
I walked back up Milwaukee avenue and south a block on Damen where I had an awesome dinner at Big Star Tacos – a Chicago institution that I’ve always wanted to try. I got a pork, barbacoa beef, and oyster mushroom vegetarian, and each one was great, though I think the beef was best. I washed them down with a Goose Island hazy IPA and headed back to the truck.
From there it was 6 miles north to the bar, with a stop in a bank paring lot to change out my civies into my jeans. The SaveMore Lounge & Liquors is a non-descript dive bar on Lincoln Ave on the north side of the city. I walked in and saw my friend Elle, who runs the joint, and we got caught up and I proudly delivered my companion for the adventures so var – the velvet Elvis. I also gave her a couple pieces of my latest batch of jerky (beef and turkey). She’s been booking my bands in the city for over 10 years, maybe 15. She’s a full-on character, sweetheart, party girl – but knows how to run a bar and book/treat/deal with musicians, and it’s always been awesome. She was the first one I called when I decided to get this run booked.
As I played “The Body of an American” by The Pogues on the digital jukebox a couple familiar faces walked in the door. Matt and Ian from The Stick Arounds – our pals from Lansing. They were hanging with their friend (Tim?) and in town for a birthday party on Saturday. Before I could say no there were two whiskeys in front of me and it was just like being at The Avenue Cafe in Lansing. My pal Frank showed up – a great guy from the old SlugBug days who I met in Ann Arbor about 30 years ago, but most of our shared past is in the bars of Chicago. He lives near the SaveMore and came over for the set – it was amazing to get caught up! And then shortly before I went on Phil Yates walked in and grabbed a seat. He’s a Chicago guy I met a couple years back when our bands played together in Detroit. Great dude, great songwriter – felt very cool to get caught up and hang out!
@The Handsome Man’s Gentleman's Club went on at 9pm and played a fun set of country/pop/rock covers in Laurel Canyon country style. They’re a two-piece – acoustic guitar and pedal steel, with nice harmonies and a fun set. My fav was a cover of Van Halen’s Jump – a song I’ll defend to the death as brilliant. I played second to a small but engaged and enthusiastic group. The Martin sounded and played great again, and it was a fun set. After me, Dan Whitaker Music took the stage. He’s a local cat who looks a little like Ben Nichols, but a little taller. He played a great set of mostly originals – really great songs, and he has a wonderful command up there. Lots of harmonica, diverse feels and keys, and some creative lyrics. We traded records and I’m looking forward to diving in when I get home.
Throughout Dan’s set the bar was getting busier and he had some requests to tack some songs on, which he gladly obliged. As my friends started to filter out back to their families and homes, Dan, his friend Megan, and I had a nice talk before I loaded out, said goodbye to Elle, and headed south on Western Ave, back to the dreaded 290, which turns out isn’t so bad at 1am. What took 90 minutes at 4pm took 25 at this hour, and I was back at The Dungeon after a quick stop at an all-night gas station for what has to be the grossest frozen cheese and bean chimichanga I’ve ever eaten. There’s 680mgs of sodium and 400 calories that I probably should have gone without. A quick nightcap of Sazerac Rye again and it was lights out.
Today I head south west, across the Mississippi River, to Iowa City, a place very familiar as The Tucos have some history there. Looking forward to my 7PM set at Elrays Live&Dive and a stroll around town this afternoon. I’m also looking forward to getting away from Chicago traffic, but I have to see it’s been a pretty damn good couple days here. Big thanks to Elle for having me last night, and everyone above who played and came out – it was a fun night and I can’t wait to see you all again!!! Xx