Monday, November 2, 2009

A Friday Night in the Blues Capital

Last Friday night my "hey let's go hear some blues buddy" Jim and I picked up LV Banks and headed to Kingston Mines. Magic Slim and the Teardrops were playing in the south room and Joanna Connor was in the north room. They play one room (Magic) for an hour then everyone goes over to the next room for an hour (Joanna). Back and forth it goes until 4am. They start at 9pm. We caught two sets of Magic. I pulled into my driveway at 3am. It was a long Night.

If anyone knows anything about Chicago they know that parking anywhere in Lincoln Park Friday night is nearly impossible. Let me rephrase that, if you want to park in a parking garage for 20 bucks go ahead or park illegally, but be prepared for about $150.00 parking ticket. Recently the city of Chicago sold all the parking meters to a private company. The new company raised the fees. What they forgot to do was increase the size of the coin boxes. The company cannot empty the cash fast enough and the city has issued more tickets than usual. I have friends that live within a ten minute walk of the Mines. Their house is in a very expensive area of the city. In this area of town you cannot touch a property for less than 1.5 mil. Pete and his wife always invite me to visit. My favorite reply is, "Where do I Park?” They solved the problem. Now when I come over they let me park on the apron of their garage. In Chicago almost everyone has an alley and the garages empty into the alleys. parking in that spot saved us money. We piled into a cab that was driven by a guy from Somalia. In Chicago cabs are driven by guys from Somalia. It is a rule. We took a cab because it was raining. Short 5 minute ride 10 bucks. Wild and short just like a tilt-a-whirl.

Kingston Mines has very tight and large security. His name is BJ. I do not know why people connected with the blues use initials instead of names. You know LV, BJ, BB. I told BJ that we were with LV. BJ gave us a free pass. The Mines charges a $15 cover. LV saved us $75. We entered through swinging doors and there it was the infamous Kingston Mines. The place is not much of a show palace. It’s just a bar, bunch of tables and some Mississippi river boat scenes on the walls, but it is the most famous blues club period. Frank the emcee climbed the three steps up to the stage and explained about fire rules, dancing and his dad doc. Doc And LV go way back and have not seen each other for 20 years. Doc started the mines about 200 years ago. I’m just kidding Doc, about 60 years ago. If there was a blues kingdom Doc would be King. He is BLUES royalty. The list of musicians he employed during those past years are as thick as a Chicago Phone book. Name one that's not on the list.

Magic Slim is a very large man at about 6 and 1/2 feet. When Magic saw LV he smiled from ear to ear. LV and Magic gigged together in the mid 60's. LV told me later about a woman they were both involved with. I do not know if that's true or not. Sure sounds like a good blues story.

John McDonald, Magic's guitar player, and my "hey let's go hear some blues buddy” Jim struck up a nice lengthy conversation. John told Jim that the group is on the road for three months and home for two weeks. Then that cycle repeats. That is a grueling schedule. They are a hardworking bunch.

Magic’s band took the stage. I listen to a lot of blues bands and in my opinion can tell from the first four beats if the group has been schooled in the blues. Magic’s band has three college professors and each member holds a Doctorate Degree with a discipline in Bluesology. Magic's band kicked and kicked it hard. They are a force to be reckoned with.

Magic was escorted to the stage. He sat in a bar stool mid stage. Mike, the goups manger, handed him his guitar while Magic settled back. BOOM that “workweek waiting for Friday night” note hit. The blues lovers went nuts. He knocked it out of the park, he shoots he scores (insert here all catch phrases you have ever heard to describe excellence in performance).

Believe me when I say,” Magic is traditional West Side Chicago blues”. He makes the guitar sing as much as he does. I’ll quote Magic and say his favorite catch phrase “I ain’t lying.” He is well worth the cost of admission and is very approachable. He is one of the old school blues men. As we say in the business he is “THE REAL DEAL.”

.Blues Me Or Lose Me,

Terry “Gatorman” Lape

CD "Mark of The Gator"