Mudcat Café message #186610 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #18640   Message #186610
Posted By: Art Thieme
29-Feb-00 - 01:13 AM
Thread Name: Favorite Chicago Club tales...
Subject: RE: Favorite Chicago Club tales...
Late one Sunday night we were closing up the show room at a club called the Montmartre(?). Fred Holstein had run the hoot that night--as he did every sunday. A VERY famous country singer staggered into the club and stood at the top of the stairs that led down to the show room. He pulled a small Hohner harmonica out of his pocket and started to play a great version of "Orange Blossom Special" that I instantly recognized from an LP by the man. He came downstairs and Fred and I and the guy talked a bit. Seems he'd just done a big concert at McCormack Place---a huge theater in Chicago's lakefront convention center---the one that burnt down and had to be rebuilt. The guy, pretty well known for wearing black, was really flying on whatever it was he'd been ingesting. I was sure he was gonna keel over. Fred and I looked at each other and couldn't believe who we were hanging out with. Since the club had to close at 2:00 A.M. (and it was 1:55) we aked the great man if he'd like to go to a 4:00 o'clock bar and swap some songs with friends of ours. About fifteen minutes later we were walking into Poor Richard's on Sedgwick Street---Richard Harding's pub. After singing for about an hour we realized we just had to get him over to Earl Pionke's great club--The Earl Of Old Town. It was only 3:00 A.M. so the last show was just starting. I don't recall who was playing but we just disappeared into the back room and smoked something. Later, when the place closed, we just hung around swapping songs and tales until G....e R.....y popped an amyl nitrate and our famous friend took a whiff and just freaked out. He thought someone was trying to kill him and made Fred drive him to his hotel. By then it was 5:00 A.M. and I was fading fast. I headed home and Fred took the fellow to his hotel---I thought. Actually the the fellow couldn't remember where he was staying. They drove around, as I was told later, until the sun was all the way up and our friend finally thought he recalled where he wanted to go.

I was pretty worried about the great man. He always was a fine singer, but he was obviously headed down a dark path. It was a huge relief when I heard that he had taken up with the daughter of a famous member of a singing family group---a gal who's mom was famous for playing an instrument loved by Harpgirl. This gal turned our friend's life around--or so I've been told. He's doing pretty great now. They're still married. Still sings wonderfully. I have heard that he has been ill lately and my best wishes do go out to him.

One of many great nights in Chicago...

Art Thieme