Saturday, November 12, 2011

In Way Over My Head (Once Again)

A few weeks ago, I walked out of my downtown law office at noon and saw that the company that manages my building was throwing a lunchtime party for its many tenants.

The complimentary warm lemonade and cold nachos on the building's south plaza weren't, by themselves, going to be enough to keep me around. But the party planners did see fit to hire one hell of a guitarist to play for the event, and that sealed the deal for me.

So I skipped lunch, grabbed some free nachos, planted my rear end in a plastic chair and listened to the music.

Even though it was a frigid fall day, the building's hired gun was burning it up on his Gibson ES-335. But while he was busy conjuring up Freddie King, Wes Montgomery, the boys from Steely Dan, and a host of other greats, a largely oblivious work force was going about its mid-day routine. For the life of me, I'll never understand how folks can walk past a guy playing so beautifully and not stop to listen.

In any event, during a break I asked the guitarist his name. It rang a bell, though I couldn't quite figure out why. Turns out he's a longtime member of the faculty at the Old Town School of Folk Music, where I occasionally hang out.

After his set, he and I talked for a few minutes. Seemed like a real nice guy. One thing led to another, and I swooped in for the kill.

"I work in this building as a lawyer, but from time to time I play music in local bars. If you'd ever consider playing a gig with me . . . ."

Now the key to this deal is to let a musician know up front that you're gonna get him paid a decent wage. I've got a lot of friends who are professional musicians, and I know it's a brutal way to make a living. I assured him that if ever I called him for a gig, he'd get paid in U.S. dollars that same evening.

He graciously told me to call him anytime.

Two weeks later, while I was down in Atlanta taking a deposition, I did just that.

And that's why, come Wednesday, November 23, I'll once again be plugging in with a musician with whom I have absolutely no business sharing a stage. A Berklee-educated guitarist who toured the United States with soul great Otis Clay. A guy who's played with Percy Sledge, The Coasters, and The Platters. A guy who's jammed with Otis Rush and performed with the Wrecking Crew's Hal Blaine (the world's most recorded musician).

A guy who has assured me that he knows each of the three chords that I know.

This year, I'm excited to have Chris Winters joining me for my annual after-work, pre-Thanksgiving show at McKellin's Pub (2800 W. Touhy Avenue) in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood.

Chris and I will play from 6-9 p.m., and there's no cover charge. Stop by and request a song or two. Just make sure those songs contain the three chords that I know.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Oh, snap - you do it right, big guy!