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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Enjoying Thanksgiving week with family and many musical friends

Pat Otto and Bridget Cavanaugh
By Ted Slowik

Thanksgiving is a special week. The Slowiks got together Thursday at Mom's house, as we've done since longer than I can remember. Slowiks are a big, fun family and there's nothing more important than family.

Monday was my five-year work anniversary as director of PR and media relations at North Central College. Sometimes I miss all the great people I worked with in newspapers over the years, and five years has gone by quickly. No point in looking back though.

Black Wednesday was the two-year anniversary of when I discovered open mic at Tribes Alehouse Mokena, hosted by John Condron. The place was packed, and the night started with a great set by Jake Cullen on upright bass, Bridget Cavenaugh on guitar and vocals and Pat Otto on mandolin and vocals.

Watching and listening to them restored my understanding of music. An elusive form of grace and energy manifested itself during their performance, something special that's hard to pinpoint. Something about the way Pat solos--you can feel it in a room. I'm very grateful to Pat for playing mandolin on two songs on the new record, including the very meaningful family song. It was a pleasure meeting Jake and seeing Bridget for the first time in a while.

Kev Wright, John Narcissi and Brent James. Photo: Michelle Gadeikis
Also Wednesday the Righteous Hillbillies played Chicago Street Pub in Joliet. It was great seeing Jodi Wartenberg and Greg Vershay, who introduced me to their writer friend David Masciotra. Guitarist Kev Wright had one of his students, John Narcissi, join the band onstage. Brent James, who did the sleeve design for the "Comfort Zone" CD, is quite the frontman--a real rocker who seems to channel Jim Morrison at times. Johnny Gadeikis is a great bassist and Barret Harvey is a fantastic drummer.

The Hillbillies have had a great year, opening for Bad Company, Black Oak Arkansas, David Allan Coe, Bret Michaels, the Marshall Tucker Band, Vince Neil and others. They're a tight band, their songs are great and their show is a kick ass fun time!

Lonnie Brooks, Billy Branch and Ronnie Baker Brooks
The Hillbillies would have been the best band I saw this week had I not gone with brother Frank, sister Liz and her husband Steve to FitzGerald's in Berwyn Saturday night to hear Ronnie Baker Brooks. Ronnie's a very talented blues guitarist, a gifted vocalist and great blues writer and performer. He had a three-piece horn section and very animated keyboardist in addition to a bassist and drummer. His brother, Wayne Baker Brooks, is also a very talented blues artist.
They're the sons of legendary Chicago bluesman Lonnie Brooks, who turns 80 next month. He's moving slowly these days but it's great to see him getting around. Lonnie came out and played a set with Ronnie, and the great Chicago blues harp player Billy Branch sat in with them. Blues legend Otis Clay, soul producer Tom Tom Washington and WXRT "Blues Breakers" host Tom Marker were all in the house, and the night had a special vibe. Nothing like hearing "the real deal" great blues in Chicago!

So, another eventful week. The CD is in production and will be available in less than two weeks! Rehearsals start this week with friends helping out at the big CD release show Jan. 4 at Chicago Street Pub. Hope to see you at the show!