I got off the plane from Boston last Saturday and headed straight to Constellation for John Corbett‘s book-release/concert. Evidently, running around pushing my own book isn’t enough for me; I need to watch how others do it. The real reason I was excited about it is that Doug told me that he and most of Eleventh Dream Day (plus Azita) would be covering 70s tunes mentioned in Corbett’s book.

Before I could settle into my seat, I saw my old painting professor, George Liebert, but I before I could get a hello out, I was buttonholed by a Bridgeport guy who wanted to talk about my book excerpt, printed in that week’s Chicago Reader. Then Doug came up and offered kindly to put my suitcase in the green room for safe-keeping. Then Rick came up to congratulate me on my book. He showed me a cellphone photo he’d taken of me drawing at the Hideout Block Party a couple years ago. I asked him to email it to me, as I’m not on Facebook. “I’ve noticed,” he said. I recognized a couple others and said hello. It was a lot more socializing than I’d bargained for. Still, it’s shitty to complain when people are happy to see you. No matter how surprising it always is. 

Corbett read a bit, then introduced The Marker, a Ken Vandermark band I’d never heard. They were killer. Two guitarists, keyboard, drums, and a variety of reeds. During intermission, after their set, I caught up with George. We both agreed that music is the greatest art. There’s no competing with it. He told me he liked running into me at shows. It’s been happening more lately, after not having seen one another for years at a time. George was a great dissenting counterpoint to Dan Gustin during my art school years. It’s really important to have a voice in your ear while learning who doesn’t really buy your shit. I mostly disagreed with George but I’m grateful he was there anyway.

The great Chicago playwright Mickle Maher followed with a funny excerpt detailing Corbett’s drug-enhanced appreciation of the band Yes. 

Then, Corbett’s wife, Terri Kapsalis, read a chapter about his sexual awakening which belonged in Penthouse Forum, rather than a book. I wished I’d never heard it and it made me not want to buy his book. 

The aforementioned cover band closed out the evening with killer versions of Pretenders and Neil Young tunes, among others. As they were closing with Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love”, my chair collapsed and I landed with a thud on the floor. It would’ve been hilarious had it happened to someone else, but it hurt and was really embarrassing. Corbett himself took the broken chair away. Afterwards, standing with Doug outside as he smoked, I mentioned what happened and he said, “That was you?” The sound was loud enough for the band and the entire room to hear. I’ve never had a thing like that happen before. It was the cherry on top of a long day. 

Wednesday, I finally got to see the great Ex Hex live. Read this excerpt from my book to find out why I missed them four years ago. They make some of the happiest sounds going these days, so it was a bummer to see the place only half full.