Monday, March 8, 2010

Chi-town Bound

A month or so ago, decent round trip air flights to Chicago enticed me into planning a trip up yonder during my 16 year old son's Spring Break from school. Of course, he'd rather that we head south to some tropical spot. He questioned my sanity in regards to heading to where the temperatures still may be freezing. I figured that no one but us would be traveling that direction for the break.
My wife's father was born and raised in that great American city, so she was all in with the idea. It'll be a bit cold, but I don't think a blizzard will attack us--never know, but don't think do. Been wanting to go, so it's a done deal.

Plans are to slip into the Windy City on March 16th. By the way, I always thought that the city's nickname came from the breeze blowing in from Lake Michigan, but my research indicates that it is as much from what politicians there had a tendency to generate during a certain era more than anything else. (hmmm, Obama's the senator from where?). Anyway, we plan on tackling the city on their "L" trains, buses, and taxis, so we'll catch the Blue Line from O'Hare to Hotel 71 in the downtown loop section of town.

We'll try to get checked in and may check out some of the museums and such in the downtown area. Maybe visit what was once the the tallest building in the world--the Sear Tower, which isn't the tallest any longer and isn't the Sears Tower any longer. It's the Willis Tower now.

The Art Institute of Chicago and the tower are both within a short walk. I've heard that the Hancock Tower offers better views. We'll have to check 'em out.
Can't go to Chicago without hearing some blues now can we? Now can we? No, of course not. Why go, if we ain't gonna hear some blues being laid down? I mean, golly gee, that's what this blog is all about. Well, the biggest obstacle to that is that most blues clubs just ain't gonna allow a 16 year old through their doors and this being a family outing, I had to get creative with that goal. Buddy Guy's Legends club ain't letting us in after twilight, but we can visit there for lunch and they said that someone will be bending a few blues strings. So that's an option. Also, I found that Morry Sochat and the Special 20s are holding court at Shaw's Oyster Bar on the 16th and it is less than a mile from the
hotel, so we'll check them out. I wrote a short piece about his latest release awhile back in regards to his harp blowing, which is steeped in a little swinging style blues along with the ChiTown grooves. So, we'll grab a little Great Lake seafood and listen to a good band serenade us.

Depending on the weather, but either on Wednesday or Friday, I think we'll take the Green Line over to Oak Park and seek out Virginia's dad's homeplace. That area is supposed to be a very well kept, historical area of Chicago and his old house has been well preserved by subsequent owners. This is also a neighborhood that contains a large number of Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural designs, including his former home. There is also, from what I read, a great independent bookstore in the adjacent Forest Park neighborhood that I want to check out. It is called Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore on 7419 W. Madison. I love independent bookstores, and since I my
second career plans involve being a crime story author (soon as someone somewhere jumps on my manuscript and publishes it), then this one specializing in such tales must be investigated by the Bushdog. Maybe they'll stay in business long enough for me to come back around for a book signing. Hah!

Wednesday evening offers the possibility to attend a blues jam. I contacted jam host, Rick Trankle, about the scenario at Jerry's Sandwiches (yeah, a blues jam at a sandwich shop--but my teenager can attend also). This one is called Highway RickEy's blues jam and he plays drums and blues harp in a type of cup that allows him to get pretty good tone. So, I've got to decide whether I want to travel with a case of harps or not. He has a Sonny Junior 410 amplifier, so the equipment should be there. So, that's a maybe.

Thursday, we'll take the Purple Line north to Evanston and check out the area. Maybe climb Mount Trashmore while we're there. Mount Trashmore is a 65 foot tall mound that once was a landfill site. It is now a park and at one time a popular ski slope for the urban dwellers, before THEY shut down that activity. Back in the day, the a Northwestern University football coach planted a Rose Bowl flag at the top to inspire his players to sprint up its sides. Have to check it out and since son John will be college-bound soon, maybe the University while we're over there. The REAL purpose to go to Evanston is for a concert featuring some great harmonica blowing at Evanston S.P.A.C.E. (which stands for Society for the Preservation of Arts and Culure in Evanston) and all ages are allowed inside.
Eric Noden and Joe Filisko will kick things off, followed by the Jim Liban Trio. Harp players reading this know how good Filisko and Liban are with harmonicas in their mouths. So, this will be a highlight of the trip for me--and hopefully my wife and son.

At some point we'll eat some more good food. I'm guessing that we've got to get some Chicago Deep Dish Pizza somewhere. Rosebud's Steakhouse has been very highly recommended. We'll check out Wrigley and Soldier Field and the Great Lake and the Magnificent Mile and whatever else crosses our paths. We'll pray for Global Warming to jump up and bite us while we're away. 'Nuff for Now.


Kirk Manley said...

Hey Ricky,
It's Kirk Manley here. Grant Kessler and I manage - our chicago blues harp blog we put together for Joe Filisko's classes and beyond.

Great to hear you're coming up our way! You put together a nice live harp schedule for your Windy City visit. Morry, Highway Rickey, and Joe are buddies of mine from the Old Town School's B1 Blues Room.

And if you can swing it before HR's jam, James Conway - a killer Irish harmonica player and super nice guy - is playing 5 different times on St. Patty's Day, some in the downtown area. It's not blues, but James makes the mississippi saxophone sound like bagpipes!

Maybe I'll see you at Joe & Eric's show at SPACE? And if I don't, I look forward to hearing about your trip up north right here!

Keep on harpin'...

Ricky Bush said...

Hey Kirk--Yeah, you're blog clued me into what was happening in the Chicago harp world during that week. I've heard plenty of good things about Conway. Keep that blog going--you're supplying some valuable info on it.

See ya--

Texharp said...

Have a great trip! I am headed to New Orleans for the spring break week. I think I'd rather be listening to the blues shows you're going to catch but some Delta riffs will suffice. Can't handle the cold as it is and most definitely would not seek it out for vacations. Safe travels.

Kirk Manley said...

Great to hear, Ricky! I'm glad the YMM blog helped you with your plans. That's why we do it! I'll do my best to keep it going strong.


B1 Blues Crew said...


You should know too that you are definitely welcome to stop by Joe Filisko's Monday night harp class if you're interested. We love to have guests, and harp players from out of town are always welcome. If you need directions there, let me know.

Grant Kessler

Ricky Bush said...

Thanks,Grant! That would be great, but we won't arrive until Tuesday and leave Saturday.