Tuesday, July 3, 2012
I promise you, this post has nothing whatsoever to do with Gavin DeGraw, so bear with me when I mention his name in the first sentence.
The other day Gavin posted on his Twitter page, "Woke up in Chicago. Time to find something to do."
I've been to Chicago once, about eight years ago when Joe an I took a weekend trip there to visit his college roommate and to do some sightseeing. (I know we took pictures, but I can't find them. We didn't have a digital camera at the time, so there are none on our computer; and I've sorted through hundreds of old photos these last few days without finding a single one from that weekend.) We visited the Art Institute (where I was particularly impressed with the famous Seurat painting that inspired the musical Sunday in the Park with George. It's huge.), Da Bean, the famous shiny sculpture shaped like a lima bean (whose official name is "Cloud Gate," but who calls it that?), went shopping on Michigan Avenue (didn't buy much; man, are those places expensive), rode to the top of the Sears Tower, stopped in for a quick prayer at Holy Name Cathedral, and even rode by Oprah's studio to see if we could get in (we couldn't). Chicago is also known for its numerous blues clubs, and there is one in particular that we visited, Buddy Guy's Legends, that's owned by one of Joe's favorite blues artists. I don't remember who was playing that night; I don't think it was anyone well known, but I do remember that they played a great rendition of "Sweet Home Chicago." Anyway, when I saw Gavin's tweet I remembered that place and just for fun I tweeted him the link. (Yeah, right; AS IF Gavin DeGraw, on a night off from touring, would decide to go there just because I suggested it! I would be surprised if Gavin hasn't been there already; heck, he's probably played that gig and even met Buddy Guy himself.)
Since I've been waxing nostalgic lately about concerts and how much fun it is to go to them, I couldn't help but remember the time when Joe and I had a rare opportunity to see Buddy Guy perform for us, along with perhaps a hundred other people, if it was even that many. We had only recently started dating, and were in that phase of our relationship when he lived in Maryland and I lived in Southwestern Virginia and we were taking turns visiting each other every other weekend. There is a little town in Giles County, Virginia, in the mountains, called Newport. (Some people confuse it with the city of Newport News. There are no similarities between the two, believe me.) One weekend in the summer, there was a music festival there--I'm pretty sure it was called the Newport Blues Festival, although much smaller than the more-famous one with the same name in Newport, Rhode Island. There were a number of local bands scheduled to play, and the headline event of the day--the very last act of the evening, the main attraction--was none other than Buddy Guy. There was no way Joe was going to miss that one. We showed up with our blanket and our cooler of beer and soda and snacks, and lounged around enjoying the music for most of the day. We realized that most of the festival-goers were there to see one particular local band that was fairly popular at the time--I don't even remember the name, but they weren't too bad--and that the majority of the crowd had either never heard of Buddy Guy or could have cared less about him. By the time Buddy came out to play, almost everyone had left.
My parents gave us this print from a local artist named Walt Hughes called "Full Moon Newport" shortly after we moved into our house. They remembered what a good time we had at the music festival there.
I think I can honestly say, out of all the concerts I've been to, that may have been the best show I've ever attended. (Maybe even better than Gavin's, and that's saying a lot.) Since there were so few people in attendance, we were able to get very close to the stage and Buddy didn't seem the least bit sorry that only a small number of us had stuck around to see him. He put on a fantastic show, and it was obvious that he was truly enjoying himself and was happy to perform for such a small intimate crowd. I don't think it mattered to him whether there were ten people or then thousand; he made sure it would be a wonderful evening for everyone. Since then, Buddy has appeared several times at Wolf Trap (the same place I saw the almost-best show ever), but Joe has been reluctant to go because he knows he'll be disappointed. There will never be another chance to see Buddy Guy in such an intimate setting, and he's afraid he wouldn't enjoy it as much as he did when we saw him 20 years ago. Frankly I can't blame him.
This past weekend we had a chance to catch up with Joe's friend Paul, the one who lives in Chicago, when he was in Washington, DC for a cousin's wedding. We spent a good part of Saturday with him and his wife, and got to meet their two adorable kids. It was great to see them again, and we vowed that SOON we would come to the Windy City to visit, and bring the boys. Even fifteen-year-old Larry commented on how much fun it was to spend time with them. In the meantime we'll look forward to a visit to the Navy Pier or the Museum of Science and Industry (Curly would love that one) or the Alder Planetarium; and I know Joe will want to take in a Cubs game.
I found this video of Buddy Guy from 1992, right around the time we saw him. It brought back a wonderful memory and made me smile. Watch and enjoy!