Road Blog: Saturday September 23, 2023 - Rockford, IL
September 23, 2023
We left the hotel in Marion and headed north on I-57 back north towards Champaign. Jacob was at the wheel. The trip started with John Moreland , then I played Beck, Bogert and Appice - Live in Tokyo 1973 and Gabe played L.A. Exes. The trip was fairly uneventful except for a chance encounter with none other than the General Lee at a gas station somewhere in a corn field. I met a friend of the owner (JT) who told me how they’d just met Tom Wopat and got a photo with him in front of the car.
Every construction zone between Marion and Rockford had a “Speed Photo Enforced” sign that I sure didn’t recognize when I was driving south yesterday, so I hope I wasn’t driving as fast as ol’ Bo and Luke tryin’ to outrun Roscoe and Enos, fightin’ the system like-a two modern day Robin Hoods. As we approached Rockford I played a new playlist I curated for the drive: The Best of Sober Aerosmith. It went over about as expected. Jake dug most of it. Gabriel not so much. I stand by 80’s Aerosmith. It ain’t Rocks, it sure isn’t as consistent as albums 2-4, but there is some great stuff in there.
First stop in Rockford was Culture Shock - Clothing and Records. Owner Skyler was cleaning up the remnants of a shattered glass shelf on a stereo stand he was working on. Great dudes in this store - and it’s a killer store with used bins that are endless and filled with gold. We didn’t have time to peruse through them all, but I did get the new Lydia Loveless, which was a goal for this trip, and a couple other knick knacks. If you are local, they’re carrying our Candy Coated Cannonball record so stop in and pick it up!
Second stop was Binny's Beverage Depot. If you’re a regular reader, you know about our stops at liquor super-stores in Illinois and Kentucky. This was a new record. Don’t Tell TrooperGirl22 but the Amex got a hell of a workout. I spent so much they gave me a big bag of potato chips for a penny. Yikes. Just stocking up for the holidays. (Halloween and Veteran's Day.) From there we headed to our local dive motel where the two lovely desk clerks checked me in with a trio of different colored pens they named after cartoon characters - Elroy Jetson Blue, Wilma Rubble Red… and pointed out that our room numbers were also written in some form of Japanese Kanji, just because. Not the kind of friendly attention to detail you expect at one-star lodging, but we’ll take it.
Next stop was dinner at Beefaroo. It’s an Illinois chain that has had franchises in Wisconsin and northern Michigan too. Their double olive burger with white cheddar is nothing to shake a stick at, and the cheese curds are gooey perfection. From there, I put on Heaven Tonight as we headed over to the club, or so the boys thought. Just as Gabriel was starting to question the GPS we pulled up to the sign for Bun E. Carlos Avenue, in the neighborhood where the Cheap Trick drummer used to live. A couple moans and subtle curse words thrown my way (they get a little tired of my Cheap Trick obsession at times like these) and we grabbed a selfie to go with the one we got last year at Rick Nielsen Parkway. Two down and two to go. We’re coming for you next year Tom Petersson Drive!
Marys Place is a medium-sized townie dive bar (said with the utmost love, gratitude, and respect) that sits on the bank of the aptly-titled Rock River. It’s a big square with a U shaped bar on one end and a decent-sized stage in the opposite corner. We met Xander, our sound engineer-in-training, loaded in, set up, and soundchecked. Our pal Daryl came in and later Steve, who I’d met at a solo show with Nick Leet in Round Lake Beach, IL in 2021. Both of these dudes are music lovers and it’s always a great hang and great discussions, not to mention they travel they put in. Means more to us than they can imagine.
We went on a little after 9pm to a growing crowd that had filled the room in nicely by the time we were a couple songs in. We needed a winner and we got one - people hollering about the songs, banter back and forth, and we played our best set of the run. It was a blast! We cleared the stage and Prairie Smoke took over. These dudes had some loud-ass gear and a pedal board that gave me anxiety. They played a heavy, groovy, psychedelic rock that would fall somewhere around the early Black Sabbath records and Cream at their heaviest. It was great stuff! We sold some merch, I had a good chat with Jason, we loaded out, tipped the bar staff, and headed back to the hotel where we crashed out around 2am. It was a great night - saw some friends, made some new ones, and had a great show. Hope to make this an annual trek!
This morning hit hard and early with a 9:30 van call. We gulped down some McMuffins and headed towards Chicago, as usual, with me at the wheel hauling ass with little regard for the law. The drive home was mostly uneventful except for a couple ladders in the middle of the expressway near St. Joseph and a near-death near-miss when a SUV cut in front of me doing about half the speed I was near Battle Creek. We listened to the new Lydia Loveless (amazing), the new Brian Setzer, some Bill Evans Trio, Olivia Rodrigo (didn’t hate it nearly as much as I wanted to), Redd Kross, Norcos Y Horchata, and the Metallica Black Album. Tonight I’ll be cranking the new The Replacements - Tim: Let it Bleed Edition before sleeping like a rock for more than four hours.
Thanks for reading. Thanks Bloomington, Marion, and Rockford and all involved. See ya in October as we head to Texas. xx