Blues and Java

From the diaries of Erin O’Riordan, author of erotic romances, including the Pagan Spirits novel series, and book blogger at O’Riordan lives on the Indiana side of the Chicagoland area, where her current favorite local performer is Anthony T-Swang Gullens. Here, she dips into nostalgia.

November 8, 1997. [Morris Civic Theatre, South Bend, Indiana]. At 8 was the Shawn Colvin concert. The opening act was Paul and Kate. They did an acoustic set, just an acoustic guitar, Kate’s voice and a viola played by a college freshman named Adrienne. They did 3 or 4 songs from their own CD, Some of Us, plus “Come Together” and “Because the Night.” Their sound was a little like the 10,000 Maniacs’.

Then Shawn Colvin came out with her acoustic guitar, completely solo. She looked small, and a little tired, and her hair was blonde and boyish. She was wearing black jeans and a shiny black top. She played for an hour, pausing in between songs to talk about G.I. Jane and Lyle Lovett. I thought she said she was from Texas; she had sort of a Tommy Lee Jones-type accent.

“Sunny Came Home” sounds much better live than on the radio. After her set she came back and did a 3-song encore. Some people were calling for “Sunny” again, but she did a Crowded House song and then 2 more from her CD. I was pretty impressed.

December 5, 1997. In the evening, parts of my Winter Fantasy came true. Musically, it was the best night of my life. I went to the Blues Festival in LaFortune Ballroom [at the University of Notre Dame]. Refreshments were served. I had cookies–chocolate!–candy–mint!–and coffee–Irish Cream! Then a series of increasingly cool bands played the blues for me. One was Stomper Bob. No Megan McDowell, but that Megan chick, and she sang “Walkin’ After Midnight.”

The highlight was the Off the Wall Blues Band. They’re not a campus band but a local band. They played hard, and their sound is heart-pounding, foot-stomping good. Then they had guests! A singer named Lorenzo Thompson–I can honestly say, without exaggeration, that his was the BEST vocal performance I have ever heard.

It was hot, wild, unrestrained. Later he shook my hand, autographed a poster for me, and even hugged me. He was wearing an extremely pleasant cologne, some of which came off on me. I was amazed.

Then a Chicago bluesman name of Dave Meyers took the stage, sang and played an amplified hollow-body guitar. He played “Rock Me Baby” and “Kansas City,” all the boogie-woogie blues guitar stuff. My ears were grateful.

Like a little miracle, when I got to the bus stop, there was the bus, waiting. It smelled like beer and puke, but it got me home in under 20 minutes. Not that I would have minded walking home in the drifting snow. Though technically banned on campus, the Christmas lights in dorm windows looked beautiful through the haze of snowflakes.

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