steppin’ out

Can we take a minute to watch this clip of Kurt Elling singing Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out” from a performance at The Green Mill last year?

Okay, so now I can tell you about my awesome Saturday.

I got a facial at the Aveda Institute. I’ve been going there for years. Their facials cost anywhere from $30 to $80. Cheap and good and you smell like Aveda for hours afterwards. The facial includes arm and leg massages while your face, covered in a masque, gets steamed and poked and prodded by the nicest student esthetician you shall ever meet.

I felt like such a good girl, getting my face all cleaned up and degunked, as the streets near Aveda were full of the post-college crowds getting drunk. St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until Wednesday but the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day is a separate drinking holiday in Chicago. There were lines to get into the city’s Irish bars at 9 in the morning. Trolleys were standing room only as they chauffered drinkers around town for bar crawls, or downtown for the dyeing of the river.

After my facial, voice class. We sang some new songs. We sang an old song, “Crying Time”, which I just love.

After class, I hustled down to Chicago and Ashland to buy a pie at Hoosier Mama. I know I could buy a pie at any old place but this place is supposed to have delicious pies. I almost missed it. Between the liquor store and the discount clothing store, I thought maybe Google Maps got the address wrong because I didn’t see the bakery. Not at first, anyway. It was tiny, with a booth in the window and two tiny tables in front of a tiny glass counter. The counter showed pies large and small, samples of various flavors, some scones and muffins. Behind the lovely girl who sold me a chocolate cream pie was a bakery full of young people baking like demons. I hated to leave but I had to haul ass to find some lunch (blood sugar was low) and head home.

I thought about splurging on a cab back to Lakeview but decided to be sensible and bus it back. The trip required two buses. The Chicago Avenue bus from Ashland to State smelled of urine thanks to a hygienically-challenged street person who slumbered on a row of seats near the front of the bus. I looked at the pastry box in my chubby hands, frowned, and thought “I hope this pie doesn’t taste like urine tomorrow.” Also I wondered if maybe a step in the Aveda facial process could be some sort of wonder serum that blocks the scent of urine and other unwanted substances from entering one’s nostrils. Thankfully, the Broadway bus did not smell like urine or anything else untoward but I worried about the various stops and bumps denting the pie, splattering chocolate cream all over the interior of the box.

After a quick burger at the Melrose, I rested at home, trying to nap before Adrienne came to pick me up at 5:30. Instead I wrote my Friday night recap. I watched some television. I put in my contacts and applied eye makeup. Adrienne picked me up promptly, and up we drove to The Green Mill. Chris and Sarah were already there. They said if we wanted dinner, we could bring food into the bar. We parked across Broadway from the bar, and made our way over.

Paying $15 each to the large man wearing two tally counters, a bone necklace, and a leather jacket, we found Chris and Sarah at a booth near the stage. They’d been there since 5:00. Kurt’s show didn’t start until 8:00. The previous night, early comers for the 9:00 show started lining up at the bar at 2:00. When it comes to Kurt, people do not fuck around. We ordered the first of many rounds of reasonably priced drinks, and caught up.

I couldn’t remember the last time I saw Chris or Sarah. I mentioned how rarely I saw Jorge anymore, likening my encounters with him or Will to stumbling upon a unicorn or the Yeti. As the place began to fill up, it became necessary for Adrienne to get food from Marigold, and for me to get cash so I could pay for some drinks (and also get Adrienne back for paying my entrance fee).

So to the people of Chicago who I may have flashed (because I was wearing a pleated skirt on a rainy, windy night) while running across the intersection of Broadway and Lawrence to get cash, I apologize.

Back to the bar. Kim and Thurston arrive, joining us at the booth. They get the folding chairs, which means they get a great view of the stage but also they get the haters who had to stand pressed up against them through three straight sets. Though we all seemed to agree that the haters, standing behind us and shooting us dirty looks while we enjoyed our seats and our proximity to the stage, only made us more giddy. Adrienne likened it to sitting in first class and enjoying a drink before takeoff while people in coach have to shuffle past, praying they don’t find vomit in their seats.

But I know all you care about is the music. The music was, well, it was wonderful. Kurt Elling’s voice has got to be some national treasure or resource. He and the band were so relaxed, so energized, and so easy, even when they were in the midst of improvising like crazy. They played some favorites, quite a few standards, and some new covers. If the cover of The Beatles’s “Norwegian Wood” or Earth Wind & Fire’s “After The Love Has Gone” don’t make the new record, I will feel very sorry for you people because you would have missed out and not even known it.

A few random notes:

  • Glad my feet still look fresh after last week’s pedicure. Otherwise, the foot bath and massage at Aveda would have been really sketchy on my part.
  • Ray Davies played the Riv Saturday night. I felt bad for the folks lined up outside in the rain and the cold for that gig but they served as a reminder that I no longer fuck with general admission shows.
  • Adrienne, Kim, and Thurston got takeout from Marigold, one of many restaurants on the same block as The Green Mill. Adrienne graciously shared some of her naan and butter chicken with me. So good.
  • Our waitress, pushing through the crowds of standing folks to get people their drinks, was the hardest working lady in show business Saturday night. Well, I’m sure the other waitress was busting ass just as hard too.
  • Though recording video of the performance was prohibited, that didn’t stop an older gentleman sitting in front of me from recording the entire performance on his digital camera. He wasn’t even trying to be subtle. He even had a monopod.
  • Breaks between sets were characterized by people stretching, stepping outside for air, or sprinting towards the bathroom. You could always do any of these things during the sets, but as the loos are just to the right of the stage, you might feel a bit conspicuous if you had to go then. Like maybe somebody would be watching the door while enjoying the music and thinking “Huh, that dude in the stonewashed jeans went into the bathroom twenty minutes ago! That burrito must not have agreed with him!”. Like somebody who would be me.
  • Kurt Elling is an impeccably groomed man.
  • Perfect end to a perfect evening:



1 Comment

Filed under music

One response to “steppin’ out

  1. Apparently, I was the only person in Chicago who *wasn’t* at Green Mill for Kurt Elling… Sorry I couldn’t make it 😦

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