Billy Branch & Eddie Shaw
My flight out of Chicago was scheduled to depart at 06:00am Oon Tuesday morning. Instead of going to bed and waking up at an un-Godly hour of the morning, I decided to stay out all night long and go straight to the airport. I decided to go head down to the South Side of Chicago to experience a Monday night institution.
Artis's near 87th and Stoney Island is a nice neighborhood bar that features one of the longest running regular shows in the city. Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues have appearing there on Monday evenings since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Well, maybe it isn't that long, but it's close.
When I walked in, Billy, Nick, Mose, Giles and Ariyo were in full swing. Billy always puts on a great show, but there is something very special about seeing him at his home base. He really cranks it up for the hometown crowd and the place was packed to the rafters.
Half the place was filled with musicians from around the world. There were people from Italy, Spain, Mexico, England and Japan.
Billy opened up the stage and let several of the people in the audience perform. I can't remember the order of people that appear, but I do remember that Eddie Shaw, Vaan Shaw, Tommy McCracken, Steve Arvey and Vivian Kelly all got up to do some numbers.
Billy was nice enough to ask me up, but I didn't have harmonicas with me. I thought I was taught that lesson last July. I guess I don't learn too well. Doh!
There were several other killer artists hanging out like: Reginald Cooper, Johnny Drummer and LC Roby.
Time flew by and before I knew it, it was time to head for the airport to head back home.
If you're a Blues fan visiting Chicago, it's worth extending your visit to hang out at Artis's to see Billy Branch.