Road Blog: Friday September 24, 2021 - Yorkville, IL
Friday, September 24, 2021
I left Fort Wayne before 11am and headed northwest towards the western Chicago suburbs. The drive started out pleasant enough, listening to Disc 2 of the Cheap Trick At Budokan - The Complete Concert (from the night that largely wasn’t used for the commercial release), but before long I was in one-lane, slow trucks, short lights, rural-construction hell on Earth. I lost about 40 minutes by the time I hit I-80, but now we’re running, right? Nope. Stop and go for another 10 miles past the quarry and the new Hard Rock Casino were Muddle of Pudd is playing or something. Thirty minutes later I landed in Schaumburg at Binny's Beverage Depot where I kept the wallet relatively guarded – just walked out with some Anthrax beer for the boys (Gabriel & Bob ) back home (Daddy’s bringing presents!), a bottle of Sazerac for me, and a jug of something special for my brother in law, who celebrated a birthday recently.
My friends Shauna and John live in Algonquin, IL, which is sort of in the middle of my two Chicago-area shows and they were kind enough to put me up for the night. I got a tour their awesome house and we enjoyed a beer in their back yard as we watched a flock of about 20 snowy egrets chase a big blue heron up and down the fox river. It was a really nice visit too short because I had to head down to the show, so after a short time it was back in the cockpit with Karen Jacobsen - The GPS Girl. I wasn’t really hungry but I knew it was going to be a long night so I impulsively grabbed a Popeye’s spicy chicken sandwich, which, if you’re curious is the best fast-food sandwich money can buy. After an hour of cornfields and strip malls I arrived at The Law Office, amused to see that it sits next to the same Fox River I was just enjoying an hour north.
Yorkville’s The Law Office Pub & Music Hall is a special place. I got a friendly “hello – how’s Detroit!?” and a cold drink from Benjamin when I walked in, like we’ve been best pals since third grade and I just showed up at his family’s home for a BBQ. The Tucos kicked off our last tour there in October 2019, in the before times, and I knew then that it was the kind of place to make a regular stop. I talked to the staff a bit, got my merch set up, and met Matt from Matt Derda & The High Watts, who I’d previously only known on social media.
The Embryos went on at 8 and opened with a respectable cover of “Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand” by the Who, complete with killer harmonies and Keith Moon drum fills. They had a diverse sound and reminded me of everyone from Wilco to The Allman Brothers to Mazzy Star at different times. After The Embryos wrapped up my friend Nick Leet played a solo set that included mostly songs from his band High on Stress. Nick came in from Minneapolis and it was the first time we’d met face to face too, though I did his Figure Eights podcast over Zoom a couple weeks ago. Dude writes great songs that translate very well to acoustic (or, back to acoustic I should probably say, as I suspect most of them started that way). He was in fine form, told a great story about visiting his great grandparents’ graves for the first time on his way down, and even got a Taco Bell reference in at one point.
I went on third to a decent room of attentive people. My setlist was a bit on the quiet side so I swapped out a couple rowdier numbers and hit the last three Tucos records pretty hard. It sounded great up there (thanks Boyd!) and I hope it translated out to the room. I was struggling a bit to find a few of the chords for some reason, but felt that the spirit was good, and that I didn’t leave much up there. I made sure to follow up Nick’s Taco Bell stories with a short rant about how they’ve forsaken me be removing all my favorite items and how I don’t do that Del Taco shit. After my set, Matt and High Watts wrapped it up with a great set of mostly originals and a killer cover of Bruce’s Atlantic City, not an easy song to do justice to. They sounded fantastic, were very tight, and Matt writes great songs and plays `em like he means `em.
After a chat with my pal Scott who came in for the show, and his friend Nick and a nice talk with Joe and his lovely wife (sorry I forgot her name) who drove up from Champaign for the show, I packed up the merch, loaded out, said goodbye to Benjamin and Boyd (“go get some Taco Bell!”), and hit the road back north to Algonquin. There was an on-and-off light rain for the hour-long drive, a parked, dark cop-car every few miles, and at least two coyotes approaching the road, considering crossing, then thinking better of it before retreating into the (sub)urban night. Fortunately and wisely, I was sober, awake, and attentive so I made it up the gauntlet back to the banks of the Fox River in Algonquin without incident. I had a quick nightcap and crashed out pretty hard around 3am CST in my comfortable basement abode at Shauna and John’s.
This morning, Tyson the black mouth cur (dog breed, look it up, I did!), came down to make sure I slept ok and to see if I needed anything, especially some company. Phoebe the fat orange kitty finally made a vocal appearance from the laundry room, and things were starting to stir upstairs. I had a cup of coffee with Shauna and John, then a walk into downtown Algonquin for some breakfast at Cattleman's Burger and Brew – amazing chorizo skillet! Preparing to head up to Round Lake Beach now where I’m again joining Nick Leet to play the afternoon Oktoberfest party at Black Lung Brewing Company. Music from 4-8 with a killer food truck and all sorts of stuff going on! FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/3875386865900698
Huge thanks especially to The Law Office – it’s a special place and fantastic people and if you ever get the chance. Of course The Embryos, Nick Leet and Matt Derda &THWs, and everyone who came out to see the show – especially those who traveled – it means more to me than you can ever imagine. And finally Shauna and John for putting up this tired, smelly, weary old punk rocker for the night in your awesome home and unmatched hospitality!
See ya in Round Lake Beach in a couple hours!