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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The evolution of an entertaining, original show

By Ted Slowik

Friday night I performed at Phyllis' Musical Inn, 1800 W. Division St., Chicago. Division Street is home to many musical venues and has history as a "Polish Broadway." Friday night's crowd was great. Many thanks to friend Dennis Robling from the old LaGrange Sun days for connecting me with the place. DJ Dennis spins honky tonk and other vinyl there, and invited me to play while he's there.

I joined Dennis March 28, a weeknight, for some solo tunes before a light crowd. This second visit was a weekend and the bar was full. Dennis suggested I bring other musicians, so I first asked Bluesonic bandmates Greg and Matthew but they were busy. Luckily Ron was free on drums and our good friend Rich Westrick brought his keyboards. I told them Dennis suggested we focus on originals, so I prepared them to back me up on many of my songs.

The show went great, and I realized that the original show is coming along nicely. It's not just an assortment of unrelated songs, but more a story that unfolds over the course of an evening. I relate personal history in songs like Slowiks and Record Store, get some laughs with a  satirical number like Springfield, offer social commentary on tunes like Hinsdale and Murika and try to make them cry with a number like Red Rover.

The individual pieces of the act are falling into place, and as I refine the commentary or "schtick" in between songs, "The Ted Show" will continue to become more entertaining. I couldn't be happier with the progress.  I mean, a mere 18 months ago or so, a performance meant playing a bunch of covers on acoustic guitar. After many Wednesday night open mics at Tribes Alehouse Mokena with John Condron, and audience reaction and feedback from many other musicians, the show gradually has evolved into something original that's entertaining, funny at times, witty, insightful and makes you think--I hope!

Without a chance to rehearse, I wrote charts for my songs for Rich and he played them beautifully. Ron was great as always. It was so much fun. I was very relaxed. But after more than an hour of originals I lost most of my voice so Ron and Rich took over on vocals and we filled out the evening with a bunch of fun rock covers. Everyone had a good time. It was great having other musicians--especially such good friends--back up the original set and add a whole new dimension to the music. I'll continue to refine and improve the show for future performances. You should catch the act if you get the chance.