Review by Joe BlauOn Wednesday night (09/11), while in Chicago for a work related conference, my wife, Kathie, and I were invited to a formal dinner and a classical music concert at the conference site. That sounded rather melancholy for this particular sad anniversary, so we instead decided to go out for pizza and beer and listen to some Chicago blues. We took a group of students and professors to Connie's, our favorite pizza place in the city.
Photos by Kevin Jordan
Afterwards we went to Buddy Guy's Legends, a cool southside blues joint. A local group called the Charlie Love Band was playing. When we walked in, there were no tables available, so we stood in the back for a while. The band was really rockin' the place with some great roadhouse blues. The lead singer (Charlie) was putting on quite a show and getting the whole audience involved, exhorting everyone up on their feet for some of the songs, and pulling people up on stage to dance with the band.
By around midnight, we were all pretty tired. The band was getting ready to take a break, and we were about to head back to our hotel room. Then Kathie nudged me, pointed towards the door and whispered, "Is that Ron Wood?" I looked over, and amidst the entourage of women and bodyguards was the unmistakable Rolling Stones' guitarist, with the characteristic cigarette hanging out of his mouth. A moment later, in walked Mick Jagger, with a couple of young beautiful women at his side (his daughters, perhaps?).
Let me back up for a minute. We all knew that The Stones were in town for a series of shows. A friend of ours, Kim, had tickets to see them on Friday night at Comiskey Park. We razzed her all week about not getting tickets for us. We also knew that The Stones liked to hang out at the Chicago blues clubs and listen to the music that inspired rock & roll. So Kathie had been joking all evening that maybe they would show up at Buddy Guy's that night. But nobody took her seriously, even after a big white limo was spotted out in front of the club. Two students from our party actually left 10 minutes before Mick & Ron arrived!
When they walked in, their entourage was quickly escorted to a roped-off VIP section on the side of the stage. A buzz went through the place; everyone was staring and snapping pictures. The Charlie Love Band kept playing, but they were obviously distracted, seeing what was happening out of the corner of their eyes. The club owner and legendary Chicago blues guitarist, Buddy Guy came up on stage, put his arm around Charlie and whispered something in his ear. Probably along the lines of "No, you are NOT going to take a break now; the Stones want to hear some blues, and you ARE going to keep playing for them - if you want a paycheck tonight!" But Buddy did strap on a guitar and play with the band a bit, to set them at ease.
Then he addressed the audience. "I'm sure you're all aware that there are a couple of folks here tonight who are much more famous than me. Sometimes they just like to go out and drink a little water and listen to some blues, without being hassled by people for autographs and stuff." Not that anyone could get near them anyway with their bodyguards flanking the VIP section. (And it's true that all they were imbibing was H2O.) "However," Buddy added, "they also like to sing and play a little blues themselves... Mick, would you like to come up and do a song for us?" The whole place erupted with cheers. Mick stood up, blushed and grinned, pulled off his sweater and came up on stage.
After conferring with the band, they struck up a mellow, funky rendition of "Little Red Rooster", an old blues classic. Sir Mick was very casual and relaxed, with one hand in his pocket, gesturing with the other as he crooned. He sounded good. Buddy looked like he was having the time of his life up there; the other band members still seemed shell-shocked that were actually playing with Mick Jagger. We were a bit stunned, too, sitting literally front and center, not even 10 feet from the stage watching this... and we didn't pay thousands of dollars for the seats, only the $10 cover charge. Kim kept saying "Oh my God, I can't believe this!" We forgave her for not getting us tickets to the Stones concert. Her seats at Comiskey weren't nearly as good as our seats at Buddy's.
Mick only did the one song, then Ron came up and played some guitar. Then they sat down and listened to the Charlie Love Band finish up their set. After that unexpected interruption, the band was back in their groove. For the final song, Charlie had half of the women in the audience up on stage dancing with them, including Kathie and Kim. So they can say they danced for The Rolling Stones... maybe they'll get invited along on the next tour!
Afterwards, Kathie went up to Charlie to get an autograph on his CD. She pinched his arm, and said "Your not dreaming! You really did play with The Stones!" He just grinned from ear to ear.
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