The red bag gets handed over to the new female TSA employee. “Check it out, it appears to have liquid”. She takes the bag off the belt and over to a fiberglass table. “Is this yours?” she asks Grace. “”Yes” she is forced to reply. It’s my fault. I thought if your contact solution was in the unopened box with the safety seal still on it that it wouldn’t be a problem. Uhhhh….no. She opens the new box and breaks the safety seal and has to test the secret liquid inside. “Yep! It’s safe!” Cool. I didn’t accidently buy nitroglycerin. But thanks anyway, Richard Reed, you bastard. I hope you never get out of jail for making…how many million?...people take their shoes off? We finally make it in to the concourse and sit down to split a tiny Godfathers pizza for breakfast. Grace and I sit in horror as we listen to a girl (who does not look good enough to…) bitch constantly at her husband/boyfriend. We eat in a hurry to get away from her as do others. She’s making a scene. She was obviously the ugliest of 8 daughters. She desperately needs attention. It’s a quiet but longer than expected trip to Cleveland. Once there, we share a veggie sub from Subway. The layover goes by fast. We clean up and scurry to the gate heading for Chicago.
She’d never been there, but I had many times. My first gig in Chicago was in ’86 with Don Dixon and Marti Jones. The Woods opened and performed with them at Park West. I played Abbey Pub several times, with The Yayhoos and twice with my band (Roger Gupton on Gtr.). Did Fitzgerald’s a few times, Woods, Oakteam, Backsliders. Did Shuba’s on a Monday night with the Yayhoos. Did the Old Town Folk Whatever radio show with Robbie Fulks and The Bottles Rockets in ’07. So I’ve been there a lot, always had a great time and this was no different, even got to play a new club! My buddy Tom Compton picked us up right on schedule. His brother is #2 in command at Continental Airlines and fixed us up with our flights. We had about an hour to rest before heading over to Adobo for dinner. The guac made at the table was kicking ass but not quite as much as the margaritas. These are the ones I’ll be referring to when I speak of the perfect drink, STRONG and TASTY! About mid-way through the second one I was like…Uh-ohhh!!! The food was great and helped to sober me up so I was in good shape when they sat us stage side at The Second City theatre. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but looking at the list of alumni, I knew it was gonna be entertaining. It was in spades, nonstop. As soon as the punchline was thrown, the actors faded to black and the lights came up on another hilarious situation. The light guy was just as important as the actors were, and he was ON it! Rob Belushi, Jim’s son, was one of the characters. He was one of 3 guys. There were also 3 girls. All were type A personalities and on their game, at the height of their talents. It was like an OakTeam comedy routine, BIP! BAMM! BOOM! They hit you with a left, then a right and all like clockwork. It was one o’clock when were left and I was still in awe. “Now THERE’S REAL talent” I told myself, feeling sheepish and more like a house painter than a rock star. But I was getting the rock star treatment as Tom dropped us off at our plush digs after the show for a long night’s rest. He was there at 11:30am or so to pick us up for lunch. I insisted Grace have deep dish Chicago style pizza so he took us to Gino’s East. Must be a famous place cuz there were a lot of pics of famous people in there eating. Tom brought his two older girls and they were a delight. They had beautiful bright blue eyes and were smart as a whip. Ellie and Colleen got special presents from me before we left, a signed CD and some drumsticks. They were pretty excited about it. After dropping Colleen, the younger one, off at home we headed on over to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio tour.
“Now THAT’s talent!!”, I said again.
It was Tom’s 40th birthday so we gathered everyone up and headed back to the Westin to freshen up. He had 7 of his 8 siblings AND his Mom and Dad coming to Tailgators to see his show that night. I was to get up and act the fool on 3 songs.
We didn’t get the opportunity to rehearse but sometimes that’s a good thing. He played about 10 songs with his guys before asking me up. I gave the crowd a good ‘ol booty shake before getting behind the drums. “Now THAT’s talent! “, they were thinking…NO!!! but some of’m DID seem to enjoy it. Tom went right into “Comes to me Naturally”, the Big Al classic, outta the gate. I think I did alright and I know Tom did. Bass player Nick was hanging on for dear life. I sang “Period” after that and it seemed to go without a hitch. “Battleship Chains” was after that and I forgot to tell them that I might wanna do a breakdown before the 3rd verse so they continued to play through it. All was well in the end though as we all finished together, and that’s really what’s important, right? The Beatles “Birthday” couldn’t have been more appropriate so I got up and let Mike back in and stood up front to sing backup. That was the most fun of all for me. “Yes we’re going to a party party…” clap clap clap clap….It was a great night and a great party and the Compton clan was getting on down to the baby boy’s big night! Many pics on FB, so search’m out.
The plane to Cleveland was late getting to the gate. I was worried we’d miss the connector to Raleigh. We got out just as they were about to board the flight home and the gate was just across the aisle. Whew! Busy weekend, great weekend and stupid FUN! weekend thanks to Tom and his wife Meg. Looking forward to hanging wif’m again and getting the OakTeam back up that way SOON!