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Sunday, May 19, 2013

The need for adventure and a trip to Watseka

By Ted Slowik

I needed an adventure today. Work and life and music have been all jumbled up, and I figured a drive in the country would do me good. It was a beautiful day so I drove to Watseka to meet Dylan Bentley and see him host a jam at the Full Bull.

Now, it's crazy to drive about 180 miles round trip--that's three hours--to play at an open mic. But it's exactly what I needed. I needed to take some material on the road and see how it played to an entirely different audience. I needed to get away and clear my head. I needed to recapture part of that songwriting vibe I had driving to and from Florida in March.

When I got there a little kid led me in and handed me a rock that he said was gold. It wasn't really gold but I told him it looked plenty shiny. I like Sunday afternoon all ages jams. There was a guitarist there named Trevor who got the jam started with some nice acoustic instrumentals.

Dylan was a no-show at first. I got up and Trevor played along on four originals--Slowiks, Red Rover, Springfield and Hinsdale. It went great. A guy named Harley ran sound. Red Rover continues to get a very special reaction. I think it's a hit. Or could be, anyway.

We were ready to call it a day but a bass player showed up, and another guy sat in on drums, and we did a little impromptu blues jam. I sang I Ain't Drunk, Seventh Son, Love in Vain and Come to Papa. I got it all out of my system by that time, and had worked up a sweat so I packed up and stuck around to hear Dylan play a set.

His music's really good. He's from Sheldon, about 10 miles east of Watseka, which is about 30 miles south of Kankakee. I enjoyed listening to his songs about being his father's son and having his mother's eyes. I had heard of him through Chris Corkery, and they're similar in style. Both are great Americana songwriters. Chris is a wicked good guitarist and Dylan has a great singing voice.

Today it was great to meet new people, play live music for an audience, drive through the country, enjoy the farm scene and soak up a bit of America. I would drive that far everyday to have an experience like that. Music and life are more fun when they're an adventure.