Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The Black Hollies roll into Chicago. The Empty Bottle is a classic venue, not snobby, just aware that it's a great venue and that most band's suck. They have high standards. This is a good thing. However, the Black Hollies, no strangers to the hierarchy of roadhouse politics proceed immediately to the liquor store down the block once they learn The Empty Bottle offers only half priced drinks to the band for the night. Being on a tight budget is no fun but drinking inside your van as if it's the green room at The LA Forum is. Justin Angelo returns from the liquor store with half a dozen 22 ounce imported beers. Palestinian Bluetooth posts up on the residential block perpendicular to Western Avenue where The Empty Bottle is located. Wiley joins us "backstage." Minds are bent as well as spirits consumed.
Just as the band gets in the pocket, a vehicle with a blinding search light approaches the van going the wrong way down a one way street. The Black Hollies realize the search light is attached to a cop car headed toward the van at a slow and steady creeping pace. At this point, it becomes every man for himself. Wiley turns into a vapor trail quicker than one can utter, "Two eggs over easy." Morey exits the side door expertly concealing his empty bottles in his boots. I exit the driver side door finishing my beer quicker than a sorority girl at a collegiate basketball victory party hiding the empty bottle underneath the van. The cop car stops and the officer in the shot gun seat interrogates Morey and myself without getting out of his car. He notices that Bluetooth is without proper residential parking credentials and advises that we move the van ASAP otherwise it may be eligible for a summons, to which I reply, "You mean you're going to write us a ticket?" The cop responds, "Yeah, a ticket. People on this street call us all the time about cars parked without permits." Morey and myself thank the cop too many times for the information. We move the van without incident and park it on Western Ave adroitly following the officer's suggestion. Upon doing so we run into Sean Towey, an old friend of ours from Jersey City, and Glass Trees band leader, who now lives in Chicago. The Towey encounter immediately raises spirits. The band and Towey proceed downstairs to the actual green room of The Empty Bottle for some last minute tweaking before show time. The band's performance to about 30 goes over well.
After the show a black cat from the headlining act gives Ferrante guff about The Black Hollies leaving their guitarists' pedal and cord cases in the middle of the floor hindering the cat's ability to get her drum set on stage. The cat says, "Yo, buddy, what's the deal with these fruity cases in my way? Whatta ya got make-up in there? Do me a favor. Pick 'em up and scram!" Ferrante, who usually confronts aggression with aggression, is speechless. He picks up the two cases and clears a path so the cat can set up her US Mercury kick drum. Ferrante later attributes the cat's harsh forthrightness to a natural competitive streak that lies deep within every drummer, whether human or feline.
I settle up with the extremely hospitable and friendly Kara, a bartender at The Empty Bottle. We get on the subject of her hometown, Richmond, VA. Immediately we discuss the origins and present whereabouts of infamous Richmond painting, Necktan, which Kara refers to as simply, Neck. Necktan is a found painting which exhibits an incredibly disproportionate face to neck color ratio, hence the moniker, Necktan. It's original curator, Martin Key aka Marty Violence brought this amazing work of art to prominence in the mid-90's by staging punk shows around viewings of Necktan, which gains a cult-following as a result. Kara claims to not know the current whereabouts of Necktan. I question whether the painting is at some point stolen only to resurface back in Richmond. Anyone with information regarding Necktan is encouraged to contact Palestinian Bluetooth.
The Black Hollies return to their hotel room to a find a special surprise of only one bed inside. Four Dudes In A Room is taken to new heights tonight.