Wednesday, October 21, 2009

L V Banks at Bill's Blues Bar Evanston

Bill's Blues Bar is one of those clubs that has seen a lot of different players. Anybody who is anybody in the Chicago Blues scene has played there at one time or another. It is another shotgun type bar with a bar along one side and tables on the other. The stage is just inside the building street side. with a huge storefront window. I played there this past Friday with my friend L V Banks. L V has played the joint so many times he can't remember how many, but he told me when I asked, "A bunch." I have written about L v in previous posts for the American Blues Blog.

His regular drummer Brian called me late Tuesday and asked if I could play. I never miss an oppurtunity to play bass for one of Chiacgo's legendary blues men. When L V saw me walk in a huge smile came upon his face. He likes the way I play bass. L V is a lumpty lump type blues guy.

I arrived at 8:00 pm for a 8:30 start. There was a group ahead of us called Neither/Nor. I sat at the bar, mid section, ordered a coke and decided to listen. I could not figure out what they were playing. I guess I am not at the intellectual level to understand their kind of music. A woman sitting next to me told me they are filling up a musical space. Filling up a space yes but with music no. Noise yes, music no. The best I can say is if they were playing Avant Garde Jazz then that is what they were doing. I can't critique Avante Garde Jazz, for that matter I do not think anyone is capable of that job. I once met a free form jazz artist named Hal Russell. Hal played vibraphone at a Cajun restaurant I frequented back in the mid eighties. He invited my wife and I to a free concert  that was held in the attic of a house he rented.  The concert utilized various types of instruments including garbage can lids.  That was my first introduction into free form Jazz and my last. Hal actually made a living at it. I guess some people like that kind of music.

The band stopped promptly at 8:30. By the time they were off the stage we did not play until 9:15.   LV Banks is a blues man that has paid his dues and it really bugs me when fans walk up and demand that he play other artist's music . Play some BB King, Elmore James this guy asked.
I don't think fans request BB to play L V's music.  We played a solid hour set and then took a 20 minute break.  after the break we played about 20 more minutes and then called it a night.   Bill's Blues Bar is an anchor in the Chicago land blues scene and should be made an historical Land mark.  I  had a really great time at Bill's Blues Bar and you will also.

That's the end of the Bill's Blues Bar story.  I have a humorous piece I'd like to share

"What Is A Blues Man?"

A bluesman has to live up a dusty dirt road and must get up early in the morning or at least everything important in his life happens then. A real blues man is at least fifty years old and never, ever has any money. He will always ask if he can hold a twenty. He gives a spiel about how he will pay you back on the first which by the way never arrives. He will always have enough money to buy a beer, some cognac, and cigarettes.  Real bluesmen have at least ten kids by six different women. You can recognize those women because they are the ones in the parking lot of the venue he is currently performing in and they are also the ones spontaneously brawling in that same lot.  You can spot a true blues man because he is always in a hurry. He is constantly looking over his shoulder to see if his new or old wife is chasing him. She always is and with a gun. He knows that at any moment it may be his last. Why not enjoy it while he can?   A  Blues man spends his entire adult life like a gypsy or Bedouin. His whole life is about the road. He’d spend a night in that town then another in that town and on and on.  Like a sailor with a girl in every port, he has his share of overnight accommodations and as a result of his shenanigans he has children running around and chasing him. They all claim he is their father. He of course would deny each and every one. He allows some to get close, but only if they have the potential of becoming his future side men. He uses them and hopes they will understand when he pockets the money he was supposed to pay them. It’s a lot cheaper that way and equals more money in his pocket. His excuse for not paying these kin sidemen is that the van needs brakes.  Funny every time he uses those brakes he has to down shift.    


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Photos by Kathy Crnich