Saturday, September 20, 2014


for three and a half hours NON-STOP of music! That was our first stop last night! held at the Old Town School - this fabulous evening of music might be the best concert I have seen there - and it has some really tough competition in Roger McGuinn, Jake Shimabukuro, Tom Rush and Janis Ian to name the best of what we have seen there before last night...

so if your city is on this tour- RUN don't walk to get tickets... a hot time in the old town last night!

here is the scoop and then I will post a few photos (bad ones due to distance and lighting but still- evidence of the stage full of incredible musicians) the copy below is from their website - but all the exclamation points are in order based on our experience last night....

Pokey LaFarge’s Central Time Tour -a self-contained, traveling festival of American music – will be cutting a trail through the Midwest and Upper South, USA this September 10-24!

The Central Time Tour is an evening revue of various American musical styles. Special guest and master of ceremonies Dom Flemons guides an evening of performances by Pokey LaFarge and his band, Joel Savoy, Jesse Lége and the Cajun Country Revival, The Tillers and The Loot Rock Gang. This diverse lineup presents styles ranging from string ragtime to country blues to Appalachian folk to Cajun dance hall music and beyond!

a quote from Pokey-
“I’ve always been inspired by the revue tours of the mid-twentieth century. These tours sent a caravan of musicians, often from the same record label, to towns across America-big and small-for an evening of music and dancing. My vision for the Central Time Tour rests on this tradition, but presents a wider variety of music, a really well-rounded night of entertainment. I hope it will bring a stronger awareness to the original music of the Midwest, which I believe is often overlooked or under-appreciated. I chose four incredible bands to travel with us-bands that are a bit more underground, write original music, and perhaps our audiences have not yet heard of or seen live. With the Central Time Tour, I want to broaden the appreciation of what it is that makes the Midwest a special place. I want to turn people on to quality music they wouldn’t likely hear on the radio. I want to celebrate our diverse American traditions, and above all, give the good people of the Midwest no choice but to dance, sing and put their minds at ease when the Central Time Tour comes to town.”

September 19 || Chicago, IL || Old Town School of Folk Music || SOLD OUT

The WFMT sponsored evening started with Pokey coming out and telling us the Old Town School rules were off and we could come and go as we pleased because there would be more than three hours of music- and if we felt like dancing that was fine too- and drinking was fine - and talking was fine if it didn't bother our neighbors.... and most of all, to enjoy ourselves (we found out it would be hard NOT to...LOL)

The first group performed for more than 45 minutes. They were the Loot Rock Gang from St. Louis and the woman vocalist had this absolutely HUGE HUGE voice- we commented that she was a fat sassy old black woman on the inside- despite being a young white woman on the outside....LOL - it was a BIG voice... 

above photo of Loot Rock Gang by Triple R Photography

All the music was original until the encores and this revue was a totally fabulous way to showcase the talent... I don't know if this will work but here is a link to a song that just knocked my socks off from the Cincinnati group The Tillers- who played their set second in the lineup...

After they finished and along the way Don Flemons did some Master of Ceremonies stuff and a few tunes of his own.. then the Cajun Country Revival came on and had the roof rattling!  Jesse Leger on the Cajun accordion was worth the price of admission - although I have to admit I was much much less fond of the two songs they did without him due to it being DOUBLE screechy fiddles, these guys were foot stomping good...

Jesse Lége is the real deal. Growing up in a rural, pre-electricity home in Gueydan, Louisiana, Jesse spoke Cajun French and learned music from relatives, neighbors, and the family's much-loved battery-powered radio. Today he is one of the most admired Cajun accordionists and vocalists in the world. (from their website)

from Joel Savoy- 
Jesse and I met The Foghorn Stringband through our mutual friend Dirk Powell quite a few years ago and we fell in love with them. They're an amazing group made up of some of the best people you'll ever meet: Caleb Klauder, Sammy Lind and Nadine Landry (and now the fabulous Ms Reeb Willms!) and we hit it off so much that we decided we had to make a band together. While Jesse and I were up in the NW one summer our friend Greg Vandy invited us to be on his show The Roadhouse on Seattle's KEXP so we joined forces with The Caleb Klauder Country Band and the Cajun Country Revival was formed

finally - the man of the hour(s) Pokey himself took the stage and I love love LOVED his music- his songs were long involved narratives with hooks that completely drew me in... although Phil said it was his least favorite segment it was far and away my favorite of the evening... something in the music completely transported me to another place and time - awed and amazed because I had no real idea what to expect when I bought the tickets months ago- just that we were interested in hearing some cajun music... 

so I feel like I am lacking a clear focused point here but the concert was such a diffuse experience of fabulous music I have a hard time communicating the full nature of the evening... 

here are a few of my own lackluster photos- 

The Tillers-

Cajun Country Revival with Joel Savoy and Jesse Leger-

Don Flemons-

Pokey Lafarge

the whole Revue onstage for two encores - on the left side are the Loot Rock Gang - whose link from the Central Time Tour did not work so I have no stills for them- (note: added them later from different link)

so all in all - a fabulous evening! And as we were leaving the parking space we got a call from Mac and he was still up and around - so off we went to the W Lakefront to meet Mac for drinks- we arrived there just before midnight and left around 2:30 AM - and I am on the old side for staying out "til all hours" as my Dad used to say! LOL so today I am getting a little bit later and slower start...LOL

but we only get one go around here (as far as we really know) so we can sleep when we're dead as they say.... tomorrow the Lookingglass production of Death Tax... so stay tuned for a review of that...

Friday, September 19, 2014

OK - so we are older

and hopefully wiser- LOL

here is the photo from ten years ago that Mac brought with him and then the photo from last night- older balder grayer fatter.... but also HAPPIER! LOL

so last night we met Mac's friends Meera and Joel for dinner at Trattoria #10 - I hadn't been there in years since I don't work in the Loop... the meal was delayed but once we were seated they comped  our appetizers and one bottle of corkage fees- so that kinda sorta made up for it.  Only a couple of photos of food because it wasn't really a foodie dinner, it was a social evening... and then a couple of shots outside as we were leaving to commemorate the occasion of Mac's visit...

I love this one! they both are so happy to see each other again!

Today Mac and I went to get Mac a local SIM card and get his phone set up to use here.  Then we had to stop at the Post Office so he could mail gifts to the grandchildren - and that took a bit because he wanted to have the package decorated with stamps of many types- and he was successful!

then our too-short time together was done and Mac was off for more social activities and reunion-ing... we hope to see him tonight after we get out of our concert and he has finished with law school reunion duties for the day.... tonight we are off to a concert called the Pokey LaFarge Central Time Tour... some Cajun stuff--- and if you have read the blog for any amount of time you know we love Cajun stuff- especially the food! (no food tonight - only music! at the Old Town School) and then we hope to see Mac later in the evening... he heads to Lemont on Sunday morning - and that is forever away from the city in what we call LBO (land beyond O'Hare) and we have theater tickets for Sunday - so another review coming your way soon!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

a visit from Mac!

our dear friend Mac is visiting from India for the briefest of times and tonight, he is ours!

he brought photos from the past- of the time we were together for a few brief hours at the O'Hare Hilton back in October 2004... it was the first time I had met Mac and I was so taken by his insistence that I MUST visit India that I headed there for the first time in February 2005 (a mere four months or so later!- clearly he is a persuasive man- LOL)

I will post more photos later but here is one from the day I met Mac.... that he brought to us tonight

He and Phil met when Phil was in law school and Mac was doing an LLM at Northwestern Law School at the same time. That was 35 years ago... and yet the bond has been strong over the years and I was lucky to find that when I met Mac's wife Niti I found her delightful and they became two of my favorite friends of Phil's from his earlier (pre-TOR) life...

so tonight we toast to good friends and good times and connections kept over the passage of decades despite a half a world between where we live...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

the reviews are in...

for the first two plays of the three we are seeing this week...

First-  Jane Eyre at the Lifeline... excellent performances- I liked the adaptation a lot but Phil was critical of both the production values and the plot (he called it "Chick Lit") - I saw much to admire- the story shaped in your mind just like when you read a book - you could imagine it the way you wanted in the context of the sparse set... and there was heat between Rochester and Jane that I thought really carried the narrative line - and I really admired the "proto-feminism" (as they termed it) Jane exhibited. So I would give this a thumbs up and I think Phil's review would be "go with your girlfriend" LOL

and every time I have a brush with the story of Jane Eyre I am reminded of the fabulous film "prequel" The Wide Sargasso Sea- which was also a book, but I did not read it, only saw the wonderful film... I can highly recommend that film and then a follow up of Jane Eyre (the book if you are outside the Chicago theater area and can't make it to this production.) And I might add, I loved the casting - completely blind to the ethnicity and race of the various characters... I thought it added strength to the back story of Rochester's connections in Jamaica....

and then tonight's production of Pensacola Commons-  well, first let me say that I have a hard time looking positively on any play that has not one character of courage or integrity (check out my reviews of Creditors from last season at Remy Bumppo or Philadelphia Here I Come from last year's Asolo season...) and I had the same problem with this one... each character in turn shows their despicable side or their lack of honesty in some way within the play...

SPOILER ALERT- from the 16 year old niece who sleeps with the aunt's 30 year old boyfriend when the Aunt spends the night in the hospital - to the sister who abuses her own daughter in anger at her mother's dishonesty in hiding what can only be described as a "whole shitload of cash" from the people her husband has bankrupted-  seriously - hated all of them... thought they got what they deserved... or maybe not as bad as they deserved but their whining about how they had been treated smacks of a complete lack of introspection and a complete lack of understanding of the law of cause and effect (frequently referred to these days as karma) - so my review is - despite several excellent performances from those in the roles of Becca and Judith- "don't bother"

next up in the theatrical roll call - Death Tax at the Lookingglass Theater- so stay tuned...


Phil's big retirement dinner was held last night at Oceanique.  And I can safely say all the guests were wowed by the wines that were provide by Phil's long time partner Neil.  To start you off I will post a photo of AJ our wine server at the end of the evening - with the bottles:

the list for the wines ranging from 1964-1978 for the burgundies and 1982-1988 for the champagnes and 1990 - the d'Yquem... well it is easier to show you the labels than for me to type out all the names- so I am taking the easy route... starting with the 1982 and 1988 Pol Roger champagnes-

Moving right into the old red burgs- the 1964 - which still had a lovely palate despite a quite funky nose that never really blew off-

THREE wines from 1971 and I think most of the eight of us agreed that the Beaune Clos Des Mouches was the top wine in a difficult and extremely close competition-

a 1972- pretty much all eight of us decided this was the one that didn't show so well--- but still had things to teach everyone about vintage and terrior...

two 1976 to compare and contrast-

two 1978 beauties-

the 1990 d'Yquem- one of the half bottles was corked so it was good we brought two!

And although I didn't get photos of everyone's food, I did get a few shots of mine and a couple of Phil's and Neil's along the way- so here they are....

the amuse- tasty oyster!

lobster salad (because Phil can't go two days without lobster- LOL - we're getting him into recovery soon- it is a step down program that puts him on the "methadone" of stone crab claws- LOL

the foie gras course - paired with the d'Yquem for many of the eight of us...

excellent soft shell crab...

a berry sorbet palate cleanser-

the salmon- cooked perfectly - medium rare

Neil's entree fish (might be turbot?)

my favorite dessert - the night and day cake! I order it every time we go to Oceanique!

and the recap of the wines - lined up at the bar by AJ and Alan and Chef Mark so the staff could sample everything-

so now Phil is well and truly retired - as evidenced not by the dinner but by the gift (from Sheila and Mary) of a retirement watch (LOL) - this one with the Cardinals logo on it! and by the PJs (from Dick and Ali) that have a top that says "I'm RETIRED this is as dressed up as I get!" LOL

not that we won't have a few more celebrations - or more than a few- but this was THE BIG ONE! and SOON we will be celebrating Phil's 60th (again- this time for real in October) the Burgundy barge cruise was a joint celebration for both our 60ths and CBGB life milestones as well.... more soon because this is our three play week at various theaters - we saw Jane Eyre on Sunday and tonight we are headed to Pensacola Commons...never a dull moment around here!