This show wasn't supposed to happen, but it did, and for that, I thank everyone who made it possible -- particularly Dr. Judy and the Tweedys, as well as all the old friends who filled out the audience and have brightened the day over the last 10-plus years.
Jeff Tweedy, Chateau du Polpettino, May 13, 2017: A dozen (!!!) years ago, 20 of us gathered for the first Jeff Tweedy basement show following the Second City/Letters to Santa auction. In 2017, 30 faces, some of them newer and some of them not, showed up under similar auspices, and it was like barely a day had passed. In fact, Susan Tweedy called us "OG," a label I proudly embrace.
As I've reported before, Jeff has crafted a template for these shows, so I sent in my requests on time and waited to see which would shake out. (I had a strong inkling of which would make the cut, but I held out hope for both alternatives.) Some of the gang hadn't been to the show for several years, and funny enough, they stuck with their favorites. Heck, there's no right request, especially if you're paying good money for the privilege, but I can't help but giggle at our consistency.
You always expect the gems and classics, and they came through as beautifully as ever, but of course after all this time, I'm going to point out the surprises. Our friends did well with newer tracks, including songs from the Tweedy and Mavis Staples albums, as well a new unreleased track. Even Wilco Schmilco showed up! I'm also going to talk up my selection, "Whole Love," mainly because I love listening to Jeff attempt the falsetto.
But Jeff's covers tend to leave you gasping, and this time out, he chose the Replacements, the Beatles, and Neil Young. Jeff jokingly spoke of his jealousy toward the Replacements for their prescience in writing "Androgynous," and I know it was especially sweet for the Replacements fans in our group. I apologize for going total dad rock, but the Beatles and Neil Young two-fer was a stunner. It sounded like the entire room sang along to "I'm So Tired" (long on Jeff W's wish list), myself included of course, and let me tell you -- whether or not you realize it, the song is cathartic and therapeutic. In a basement full of friends, it's even better.
Jeff then followed it up with "Cinnamon Girl," which I don't even know very well, but I could see, hear, and feel its effect on the room. The joy and cheers were a treat of their own.
In the mix, Martin stepped up to lead Jeff through Bill Withers' "Use Me," and we closed with the customary "Candyfloss."
To wrap up the Tweedys' portion of the evening, Jeff autographed the commemorative woodprint poster and we remembered to take group shots, among other fun pictures. That's the minimum for a successful show.
Fortunately, the fun extended several hours beyond as we enjoyed the generous selection of refreshments and snacks, as well as each other's company. Chicago rolled out perfect conditions for the weekend, so we were able to linger on the rooftop under the bright moon; the roaring fire pit didn't hurt either. By the way, shout-out to Tamala for not only the Replacements request but for bringing the Wisconsin delicacy known as torte. Thanks for letting me clean up the pan!
I've run out of words to discuss these shows, except to note I do everything in my power to attend and mark my calendar whenever the date is announced. The music brings us together, but it's worth remembering Jeff's set comprises only a couple of hours out of a long, delightful evening. But they all go hand in hand for what often amounts to one of the best weekends I get to enjoy every year. I'm thankful for each and everyone one of them.
The full history
» name me a song that everybody knows
» i wish that i knew what I know now
» people say i'm crazy doing what i'm doing
» the message
» all the ladies and gentlemen
» that year
» springtime comes
» turn our prayers to outrageous dares
» every day is dreamlike
» it's been a while