Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Fear & Loathing in The 21st Century
“Oh mama can this really be the end?" To be stuck inside Grant Park w/ the Chicago Blues Again
A journey to blues fest Chicago 2012
Day 1. 2:30PM Friday 6/8/12
A lot of the great bluesmen came north by bus or train so it's only fitting that an old white guy like me should be riding the blue line into the city in search of the salvation that the blues an bring. For the ride down I had brought with a book to read “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas” by the good doctor himself Hunter S. Thompson. In the back of the book it says he died in 2005 which is a polite way of saying he blew his brains out because he was tired of seeing his worst nightmares come true. Fear & Loathing is the epic story of a search for the American dream but dreams are just that and the blues is what reality is all about. Those that never got the chance or stumbled along the way and fell off the dream ride. Some make but many more don't.
Anyway if we've learned anything from these first years of the new millennium is that dream WAS just that a dream. And once the man got what he wanted out of us he pulled the rug out from under us.
Anyway so I'm riding this train into the heart of the city we pull up to the Western stop the doors open and a sudden blast of the ugly side rolls in. A huge teenage comes flying through the doors and crashed into the other side. He was propelled by three other young men who seem keenly interest in kicking his ass. This all unfolds about three feet right in front of me and for one brief moment all eyes turned towards me because I truly was the odd man out.
Separating me from them was a couple of other passengers who were standing right in front of the doors when the melee irrupted. They responded in self defence and began to push the three attackers off the El.They responded in self defense and began to push the three attackers off the el. After a brief scrimmage where a few punches get thrown they get the guys off the doors close and we are once again rolling. Nobody was hurt then but you could hear the young man who was attacked on his cell phone rounding up some guns and planning revenge. While the passengers who helped threw the attackers off the el tried to talk the young man down.
It's the sort of random senseless violence that is always just below the surface that you always hear about but very seldom experience directly. Before the weekend is over the news would be full of other reports of packs of teenagers attacking tourists “in the downtown area”. Meanwhile away from the el's and downtown area almost fifty people will be shot and eight of them will die in a war fueled by the drug war that rages silently. Anyway the sideshow is over it's back to THE BLUES!
The train arrived downtown without further incident and we headed to Grant Park. The whole area of the festival is cordoned off by six foot high portable fences that are watched over. So the Blues Fest is in kind of a blues corral. Entry is at choke points where bags are mainly to keep people from bringing beer into the area. Because in true Chicago tradition one company has paid the city to have exclusive right to sell beer at the festival, In return the city provides a secure area and the muscle to keep people from bringing it in. Then since they want to make sure they get all the money due them you wait in line once to buy tickets and then again to get your beer. Then again if you want food with your beer you have to wait in a third line.
Anyway all the bullshit aside blues fest is still a pretty cool thing. There are four or five smaller stages where there is continuous music from around mid-day to sunset and one large concert stage for the evening show. The area is well shaded and surrounded by gardens and green areas you can go to and cool off.
It has been said that blues is a feeling and it couldn't be more true. With the tempatures in the high 80's the feeling of the day was HOT. Blues is not the kind of music that you sit back and admire it's artistry but a cry from the gut that goes right to your spine. And the best way to experience blues music is this way in a hot sweaty environment where you feel the music. Which brings us to the music below are the video highlights from Day 1.