I'm starting to feel a little chill out here, and I'm noticing the lawn mower doesn't come and go as much as it did so I'm thinking "It must be fall." That means touring and gigs, right? And man I am looking forward to getting back out on the road.
Was it really only a year ago that it all started up? One day you're lounging around some superstore shelves and the next...you're jamming with the stars.
Things seemed pretty quiet for a few days and then I figured out what it is: Archery Bag is gone. Funny, it must've happened when I was practicing - I do that these days y' know. There's a difference between being a bag and Being A Bag - it takes work and concentration. My theory is if I keep in practice, the call's gonna come and when it does I'll be ready.
I missed the old chap, I mean him and me we've gotten pretty tight. But I figure they'll be coming for me any day.
Then I notice her rummaging around, cursing and dodging falling window screens - hey lady, I want to shout, I'm right over HERE!
She grabs a guitar case and as she's about to close the door, she comes back and grabs -
Me. I'm in.
Things are different this time, I realize it as soon as we're in the house. The husband's not here - you can just tell because it's really tidy and the lady's watching EAT PRAY LOVE, The Director's Cut. Hmm, I mean I'm not sure what gender I am but it doesn't really matter when you're talking Javier Bardem.
And then we're heading down to the city and aboard a plane ("act like a carry on" the lady tells me) to Chicago.
She hikes us on the "CTA", super-easy not like New York, and meets up with her daughter at a cafe in Logan Square where I sit around with the guitar case, smug bastard. The girls hang out a while and then the daughter drops us at this fancy place "City Winery", all full of barrels of wine and a stage. Eventually HE shows up in a rental car, with Archery Bag in tow - apparently they've driven "all the way from Memphis" (I'm not sure why but they all laugh knowingly when he says that).
Ian Hunter. They're playing a few more shows with him. They say it reverentially, like I've heard them mention Petty or Springsteen, but with those guys there's almost like the quote marks people do around a name, as if they're mythical beings, not totally real. (I remember this bit they did about Petty riding in the backseat of the van with us, it was hi-la-ri-ous)
But with Mr. Hunter, there's a respect of an artist on a human scale, whose art is more specific, less epic - how he pulled back the curtain on it all with his songs and his book Diary Of A Rock and Roll Star. I know from sharing the stage with him at Maxwell's (okay, I admit I was only lying in a corner at the time, but if I ever have to look for work, that's going in my bio) the man rocks for real. And I don't say that type of thing lightly. He's seventy-four. We should all be so lucky. ("What else you gonna do?" he said to Eric and Amy backstage. "It keeps ya perky.") In bag years, seventy-four is a very long way off but still, I'm all ears.
Chicago is swell. The sound isn't so great in these winery places and there's the odor of food during the show but the staff are super-nice and the crowd is great and appreciative. Mr. Hunter and his band are rocking and bring the kids back on for the encore "All The Young Dudes" while the whole audience sings along. I even see the lady's daughter out there with her boyfriend smiling and shaking her head like "Oh Mom".
Then they're all toasting wine glasses with Ian and his wife Trudy and talking about stuff and I never want it to end.
We spend the next day in Chicago (well, I hang out in the hotel room, swanky place that the lady found cheap on Priceline!) and then it's goodbye to the daughter and drive in the rental car to Kent, Ohio - the show at Kent Stage to serve as a Cleveland show. It's a long drive but the show's not until the next night. We all have a good rest and meet up with the guys in Ian's band the next morning at the free breakfast in the hotel which nobody eats but Mark the one guitar player shapes the fruit and bacon into an artistic face and snaps with his phone to post on Facebook. Later James the guitar player who helps keep everything organized asks if we don't mind giving Ian and Trudy a ride to the venue.
Well the kids go into overdrive, cleaning out the water bottles and apple cores, arranging what CDs should be visible with Ian Hunter on board - I mean it's almost like they're getting ready to go on a date with the guy. Then I see them looking at me...
Yeah, yeah, I can take a hint. I let myself be dumped back in the hotel room. I've seen Ian play two times now, and the man deserves all the space he needs. I find something to watch on the Food Network and wait.
I get the idea when the two come back that there may be some truth to the saying and the song: Cleveland Rocks.
Sorry I wasn't able to see it for myself. But it's not about me - I get that.
Honestly, I do.