The morning after…
In case you missed it, I celebrated a birthday on December 7. Being born on Pearl Harbor Day may have influenced my tender young mind to take up such an appreciation for WWII and the folks who served in that Second Great War. Birthdays are sometimes great, sometimes anti-climactic, but always about getting older and hopefully wiser. The 7th of December took on a whole new meaning for us 2 years ago when my Stepdad of 21 years passed away from cancer. Again, bittersweet, however, the older and wiser part should kick in right about now.
I can’t stress it enough – we don’t have a lot of time on this planet. I waste my fair share of time, for sure, however, I really try to talk with my family as much as I can, and even in the midst of this crazy life, get to see them once in a while. This birthday – along with many of my birthdays over the span of my ever-extending life – was spent away from home. The scenery has changed for my birthday through the years – it’s been Vegas, Ohio, Mississippi, Florida, etc, etc, etc, and this year we were in the suburbs of Chicago. I really don’t complain – as long as I am breathing, then any birthday is a good one.
Being away from home (and my new baby boy), and it being a brisk Sunday, I really didn’t ‘want’ much. I wanted to watch the Steelers play on TV, and have something Chicago -preferably Italian- for dinner. That’s it. I know – I’m so hard to please. Well, I watched the Steelers from the comfort of the front lounge of the bus, and later that evening, JDawg, Gordo, and myself took the rental car into town and dined at the wonderfully common Ricobene’s, a favorite of the Southside Chicago PD. I broke the rules and did NOT get the massive Italian beef sandwich. We did, however, eat waaaaay too much. As you can see by the picture, I did have some greens.
But I am getting way ahead of myself. This bus rolled out of Nashville long before the 7th of December. Let’s use our imagination and go way back in time : at least until Dec 2, which is when we left town. My day started out like any other : changing some diapers, cleaning the house, stand in fake blood while I interview alien-metal-shock rock band GWAR, cooking dinner, then packing for a week-long run. Yep. You read that right. I cooked dinner.
The first stop of the run was a two-nighter at the Potowanami Casino in Milwaukee, WI. I love Milwaukee. I didn’t love it before I started playing with Phil, and that’s because I never spent any time in town. Knowing the owner of the Calderone Club (the BEST Italian in the country), and making some great friends there over the past 4 years has helped. We were inundated with friends over the course of both nights, and the shows were a huge mix of fun and energy. I was sad to pack up on the second night.
The bus had a massive 200-mile drive to Ringle, WI, a suburb of Wausau, I think, for a show at the Q and Z Expo Center, which used to be an elementary school, and now it’s a music venue. I was shocked, to be honest. The place was packed, and the owners bent over backward to take care of us. Anytime we get home made catering, we are fans. A fun fact: If you want to know where the middle of nowhere is located, well, I got you covered. And I have proof.
The next day found us in Springfield, IL, at a great bar called Boondocks. This is another great venue for us, and the owners are always great. Last time we were in town, we went on the Lincoln tour of the museum and his gravesite. This time it was 30 degrees and one of my flight cases needed repair, so that was my afternoon. And we also managed to scarf down 2 1/2 lbs of cheese before the end of sound check. Oh well. At the end of the show, I moseyed offstage to the bus, and at the precise chime of midnight, I pulled a craft beer from the bus fridge and silently toasted making yet another trip around the sun. I realize this picture could have been snapped at noon, but trust me on this one.
Which then brings us to the 7th, the day which will live in infamy. I woke up to see a bunch of texts, emails, and social media posts from well-wishers. I really appreciate everyone taking the time to call or just to type a few words. It means a lot.
Today we were at the Soaring Eagle casino in Mount Pleasant, MI for a private function. The best thing about casino shows is that we almost always get our own rooms, and these were very nice. And you know the rule : The nicer they are, the less chance we will sleep there. True to form, I showered and left, and now I am somewhere in Indiana typing in an empty front lounge. Our bus will arrive shortly, and I will once again be Dad. I can’t wait to celebrate my birthday properly (and with 4000 less calories) with my beautiful wife and a few dogs snuggled up on the couch with us.
We’ll be seeing just two more shows this year, then I’ll be home for a while, catching up on all those projects that need attention. I can’t wait to get crackin’, and I can’t wait to get a lot of family time in. Thanks for checking in, and get that Christmas shopping done online. It’s so much easier. That’s your tip for the day.
See you on the road!