Getting up this morning was rough. I got in late from a Tuesday night gig, around 1:30, then finally fell asleep around 2:30. I really only dozed until my alarms started going off at 6:15. My a-fib started acting up during the last set and kept creeping in and out while I was sleeping, which wakes me up, so what sleep I had was fitful. Regardless of playing last night I still had to get up and pack lunches for my daughter and wife, as well as making sure they got to school and the train on time. I also confirmed a rehearsal for next Tuesday evening and started ticking off my schedule for the next few days in my head, an attempt to stay on track and look at what is coming up next. My wife suggested I hit the gym today, but I’m seriously dragging and have a rehearsal tonight, some class preparation to do for teaching tomorrow, as well as another rehearsal tomorrow night. I’m also processing last night’s gig, running over it in my mind and focusing on locking it away into the memory banks.
I have a mental bucket list; it’s in my head and not actually written down. Last night’s gig was a bucket list event for me at a venue where I’ve wanted to perform for years, and while I performed on my secondary instrument, bass, as opposed to guitar, it fulfilled the requirements I’d set for checking off the list. Last night I played a gig at Buddy Guy’s Legends here in Chicago, and got paid to do it, the two criteria that I’d set for the bucket list. There was the added bonus that Buddy Guy was actually at the bar while we were on. I’d set the getting paid aspect because the venue has an open mic most Mondays where people can come in and jam. Getting paid makes the gig a professional appearance, as opposed to a recreational one. From my personal perspective it gives more weight to the performance.
We played two sets, a ninety minute one followed by a half hour break, then closed things out with a 45 minute set ending at 12:15. The venue is back-lined with good gear which makes playing there a real treat, plus I got to run through an 8X10 cabinet, which can really move some air. We weren’t overly loud, but I could feel the speaker working and it sounded really good. One of Greg Guy, one of Buddy’s sons, ran sound, and he had us running with no fuss and a fantastic mix. He, like everyone else there, was genuinely nice. He had a clock set up at the front of the sound booth facing the stage, so the performers on stage could keep track of the time without messing around looking at watches, which can sometimes send a mixed message to the audience.
The venue itself is fairly large, particularly when considering that it is right in the Loop where real estate is pricy. It has a second floor as well, though since we were set up on the stage in the big room I didn’t venture upstairs to look. The first floor has an open floor plan set up with a large bar at the front and a smaller one toward the back adjacent to the kitchen area. There are plenty of tables with ample seating as well as a dance floor for anyone who wants to get up and groove to the tunes. The walls are covered with photographs and guitar after guitar, most with autographs. Behind the back bar the wall has a series of signature guitars, all signed, including a Jeff Beck model Stratocaster, a Derek Trucks model from Washburn, a Stevie Ray Vaughn Strat paired with a Jimmie Vaughn, a Gibson B.B. King Lucille model, an Eric Clapton Strat and a few others as well. There are many other signed guitars over the front bar and the entire effect is essentially a whose who shrine to the blues.
All in all, last night was a win on the personal level, and if I get the opportunity to play there again I will quite happily do so. It’s the kind of venue that is a joy to perform in and they do their best to keep it that way. I do regret that I didn’t sit down and have a meal there because after looking at the menu I found all sorts of New Orleans based goodness to be had. Everything on it looked good; even the food items I’m deathly allergic to (shellfish) looked good! So now that I’ve checked off a big item on the old bucket list, I guess it’s time to revisit it and start looking toward determining the next big item to aim at. Let those good times roll!