A Few Days in the Life (June, 2022)

June 7, 19:24

Lincoln Hall

I’ve been inconsistent with the diary again. Let’s hope this is the beginning of getting back on track.

I was working on the 70’s chapter of the book when I saw the notification that Caspian was playing Lincoln Hall tonight. I had completely forgotten. My back is in a really bad mood, but something in me said I need to make this gig. So here I am.

Things have happened since I last journaled. Some good, some not so good. Most of the latter is connected to my back. I’m due for one more set of injections. Then that’s it for me. I’m already looking at alternatives for dealing with the pain. I also had a fresh MRI last week I haven’t hear anything about. Surgery appears to be a non-starter. But there’s no step between injections and surgery to treat this damned Stenosis. Stretch, exercise, and hope for the best. Guess that’s where I’m headed.

On the plus side, I’m slowly injecting myself into the Chicago music scene. That is why I’m here, after all. I’ve seen local artists in small venues like Serbian Village:

And I caught Steve Hackett at a larger, but still quite pleasant venue:

It was a wonderful (albeit expensive) show. Steve played 45 minutes of solid solo material. Then he and his band took on the whole of Seconds Out, my favorite Genesis and live album of all time. The band did a terrific job. It was my second time seeing Craig Blundell play drums. Last time, it was for Steven Wilson.

Alas, I didn’t bring the good camera gear. I need to get into that habit. It’s still new to me.

I should get a couple of good shots tonight.

Lincoln Hall is my kind of room. Big enough for the band to have a chance to make a couple of bucks. Small enough to keep things relatively intimate. My plan was to go upstairs to the seated area, but I was told it was closed. Dammit! But now I see a guy up there. He damn well better be an employee!

This is the first of two shows for me this week. Friday is Midnight Oil at the Riviera, another great room. Something tells me the energy level is gonna be through the roof!

The book continues to propel its way forward. The Muse has been good to me.

The weather appears to be behaving itself. It’s been consistently cool the last few days, rain or shine.

The downside is the re-installation of my window screens. They’ve been out for … what? A month? The window washer needed to do his cleaning, which he did.

That man is far braver than I am. He has to go up and down 25 floors.

At one point, it reached 90 degrees outside. The building’s a/c had not been turned on. There were no screens in the windows. An open window invites every insect known to man to take up residence in my home. I decided to spend the days working out of a coffee shop close by.

But it was too hot at home. I was miserable to the point where I checked into a hotel for a couple of nights and worked from there.

I actually had the nerve to be a little homesick for my condo. It’s not like I was on the road. I WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN! I guess I moved into the right place. I’m always glad to be there.

I have a LOT more catching up to do diary-wise than I thought. But I’ll get back to that after the gig. The warmup act is due shortly.

22:59

The Uber

Yep. It would’ve been a shame to miss that.

Once again, I find myself in white-hot agony. But the pain of a standing gig has been reduced somewhat by a killer performance by Caspian. Post-rock soothes my soul, especially when it’s heavy.

The lighting made things challenging. But the quality of the gig (and a relatively cheap ride home) makes this evening completely worthwhile.

JUNE 9, 23:58

Home

It’s late. Slowly but surely, the Night Owl is turning into a Normal Person, waking up early and seeing a full day. But I haven’t diarized in a couple of days. I need to keep up.

Today was a mixed bag. My back felt (and feels) fairly awful. I powered through hard enough to do a little housework, which helped. It’s time to face up to the reality of laundry being done over a couple of days instead of all at once. Of course if I did it weekly — like normal people — I wouldn’t have to deal with so much. But that’s too much like right.

I can only imagine that social media is exploding over tonight’s events in D.C. This is not a political forum, so I’m not getting into it. But I have no doubt my personal Facebook sabbatical — originally planned for two weeks, but I think it’s gonna be a month — is coming in handy right now.

I will admit to Twitter time. But my feed is full of writers discussing their work. Much easier to handle. I don’t mind dropping in now and then.

Meanwhile …

A great interview toward the book was conducted today. Dots were connected in expected and unexpected places. Hooray! The goal now is to get my motor running early tomorrow so I can get some words down before heading off to see Midnight Oil.

Thanks to Keith’s visit last weekend, I’m somewhat inspired to pick up my guitars again. He came by to beta read, but we wound up talking and watching Crimson videos instead. Day well spent, I say. Going out with him to see and hang with some of his musician friends was really inspiring. So, I start anew. Again.

No agenda. No hurry. Just trying to get the feel of wires under fingers pressing down on rosewood. And changing my picking technique.

I’m still working on it. But at least the pick has stopped slipping and I’m more conscious of what the rest of my fingers are doing. I don’t want to be Robert Fripp. I just want to borrow a little from him.

Going to gigs in great pain might be my thing for now. The last time I did it was a few weeks ago for Stick Men at Reggie’s. How could I pass on a chance to see my friend Leonardo Pavkovic.

And after all these years, I was finally able to have a couple of chats with Tony Levin.

And of course it was great to have a chat with my friends Markus Reuter and Pat Mastelotto IRL, rather than in cyberspace.

And of course, the merry band of funsters that came to the gig, like Kathy, Matt, and Chuck.

Reggie’s has a backstage spiral staircase that leads to a lovely vantage point above the stage. It was agonizing to get up there. Chuck was a godsend. Once up there, we got a great look at how the band works, particularly Pat and his kit.

What a trip it was to be able to hear him tapping away on his Handsonic and other electronic gear, while the sounds they produced fired out from the PA to our right.

And of course, Markus and Tony dug in and did what they do best.

This is why I chase music and the people who make it.

I also had the opportunity to see Mary Halvorson and Thumbscrew. Thankfully, I was able to sit comfortably up front.

I was able to speak briefly to Mary. An interview could happen down the road.

My Proglodytes pal Thomas Hatton came to town long enough for us to have dinner. Yes, he’s taller than me. But I’m also a little hunched. Oops.

It was a busy couple of months.

Two days ago, a funny: a spider decided to get close to his namesake atop my CD shelves:

A little on the nose for me. But everyone else found it amusing.

Enough for tonight. Time for bed.

JUNE 10, 14:48

The Reverberation Station

Gearing myself up for Midnight Oil at the Riviera. I guess I’ll leave around 5 with the hope of getting there by 6:30 for the 7:30 show. Maybe I’ll leave earlier, since I opted for General Admission. I’m hoping everyone with those tickets makes a beeline for the front, because I know where I want to be. And it’s not there.

Thought I might write some today, but I’m not really feeling it. We’ll try again tomorrow before I head out to be social.

For now, I have a little time to read.

16:13

The Bus Stop

The downside of no longer having a car is relying on mass transit. But that was my plan. It can be a bit of a pain when you’re in a hurry. That’s when they always seem to run behind.

To my amazement, the 16:20 bus showed up seven minutes early! I knew I left early for a reason. Let’s hope this is a good omen.

15:29

The Riviera

The good news: getting here by CTA was shockingly easy. I’m here mega early.

The bad news: I’m not the only one. They’re already lined up around the corner. I’m actually at corner. I don’t know what this will do for my master plan. It would be a real shame to travel this easily for a lousy (and ultimately painful) spot to watch.

I forgot that the Green Mill is right across the street. I’ll see if I feel like catching a set before I head home. Though I am underdressed.

One thing is certain: I’ll never tire of the architecture in this town.

There was a CPD officer sitting in his car where I got off my bus downtown on the way here. I’ve been out of the game for two years, and I walk by cops without saying a word almost every time. But something compelled me to go into my backpack for my “retired” badge, approach him, and say hello. More importantly, I wanted him to stay safe. He was very receptive, offering a brotherly handshake and a little small talk. It was a nice moment. I’m glad I took the time.

Say what you will about cops. There are more than enough out there to make things miserable for those like me who just put their heads down and did their work. I remember what it was to go in, grind through the calls, the angry citizens, the less-than-supportive bosses, and the paperwork. Doing that eight to 14 hours a day (if I wanted overtime) six or seven days in a row with a just a couple of days off … and all without scandal or incident. That was 90 percent of us or more. But the news doesn’t cover that.

Either way, I’m glad I’m out.

JUNE 11, 16:03

The Reverberation Station

What a magical night. Midnight Oil was everything I could’ve wanted them to be and more.

And I damn near missed the gig.

There’s a long story behind this, but the short version is that I missed the “No backpacks” rule on the ticket. Fortunately, tragedy was avoided.

I found a good spot and wound up striking up a conversation with a very nice man named Adam Lester. He casually told me that he lives in Nashville now and plays rhythm guitar with this fella named Peter Frampton.

Wait … what?!?

We talked about a variety of things, but not his gig. We’ll get back to that when I talk to him down the road.

There’s a frustration for me that has turned into a running gag over the years. There’s not much of a black presence at many of the shows I attend. I’ve gotten used to it, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. Just last night I was asked if I was working security for the Oils show. No, man! I’m a FAN!

Incidents like that led me to play a little game I like to call “Count the Brothas in the Room.” Venue employees don’t count. I mean actual fans! For prog, metal, and now Aussie band gigs the number rarely exceeds six, even in a room full of people. Last night, the only other black man I could see at the gig wound up standing close to me! I told him about my game and we had a good laugh.

One thing I’ve learned about going to concerts by myself: I’m never alone. People approach me who are in my Facebook group, or they come up to tell me they read and enjoyed my book. Sometimes, we just want to be silly.

However you look at it, it’s always a good time.

Waiting to be picked up so I can hang with a few guys from The Writers Block. The accomplishment of the day was finally make true Chicago-style hot dogs.

I’m rather pleased with myself. We’ll see what the rest of the day holds.

JUNE 15, 19:18

The Reverberation Station

What a musical day this is!

I’m still recovering from a glorious Bent Knee show. That was on my mind as I made my way downtown for an appointment. It was great to get out into the city again.

I’ll never tire of Chicago’s architecture. It’s part of what drew me here. Though admittedly, the size of this city still confounds me. I’ll get used to it. Even if I don’t, the exploration will always be worthwhile.

My Robert Fripp Exposures box set has finally arrived, and I have once again learned that Karma is real.

I’ve been grumbling for the better part of a week (complete with two snippy emails) about this package’s arrival. As it happens, I went into my office to retrieve something from my desk. There sat a book I autographed and have been meaning to mail for days. My brain saw a connection.

Yesterday, I packaged the book and took it downstairs for mailing, looking up and saying “I get it” as I did so. Today, while I was downtown, I got a text from the mail room, telling me a good-sized package had arrived. Sure enough, there’s Robert’s box.

Lesson learned.

Back to Bent Knee, who were positively sublime! I hate that the band is saying goodbye to Ben Levin and Jessica Kion, who have tired of the road and are ready to move on to the next thing. They’re such good people. I love them like family. They’re yet another niece and nephew I can’t stop bragging about. I hope to see them again.

My head-butt with Ben is an inside joke I’ll discuss another day.

Meanwhile, Gavin has become a real pal. We love to just blather on endlessly about music. Yet I almost always miss the chance to connect with him IRL, as the kids say (I think). This time, we finally got it right.

I love these guys.

20:24

Home

Obi-Wan Kenobi has temporarily halted the music. But it’s worth it. This is a solid episode.

JUNE 16, 08:52

Home

Up too early again. At least for me. On the other hand, it’s high time I started taking advantage of this early rising and started my writing day a little earlier. Or, at the minimum, did a little morning housekeeping to pave the way toward a more productive day. Four decades of being told what to do and when is not easy to transition out of. I’m still working through the changes.

How interesting that the same day I received my Robert Fripp box, Adrian Belew dropped Elevator, his new album. It is every bit as Adrian as any of the other records, and that’s never a bad thing.

Today will be a busy one, including another trip downtown. I’m starting to get a little cocky with the CTA, now that I’m grasping where some things are. I’m still a LONG way from knowing everything. But I’m finding comfort in the feeling that I know just enough to be able to get myself back home.

#cirdecsongs

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell.

Would you like to have your record reviewed? Contact me at cirdecsongs@gmail.com

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