We traveled to the “land beyond O’Hare,” over the weekend. We played a movie-fundraiser at an American Legion in one of the far western suburbs. It felt like we were going to another country. A Harder Country. The American Legion was filled with two-fisted drinking Vets, horror-movie geeks, heavy metal kids, and the parents of horror-movie geeks & heavy metal kids.
You might think this would not be the most promising of audiences for our “neo-psychedelic, folk rock ensemble,” but everyone was friendly and welcoming. There was college football on every TV screen, there were video poker machines lined against a wall, there was a back-porch smoking section for those folks with their smoking addictions.
There was also a “Hanoi Jane” sticker in the urinal in the men’s room. So all the males in the place could go make their peace with Jane Fonda, members in hand. Funny. The 60’s culture war still lives. Jane, of course, is famous for doing a photo-op with the Viet-Cong at the height of the U.S. war. Not very popular with most Vets. Also there was the guy with the “Cops Lives Matter” t-Shirt. The subject never came up, but one might surmise this could be Opioid-Land and Trump Country.
So yes, we felt like invaders from another planet, folks from a completely different tribe. But really, when it comes down to it, we all really have much more in common with these folks than these cultural markers might indicate. As the Dalai Lama reminds us: “We are all Human Beings first.” What’s funny, two of us, (the two hippiest of the peace loving, flower-waving hippies), actually grew up in suburbs just like this one, but truth be told, we never felt we fit in, always seemed like fish out of water, couldn’t wait to escape to the Northern shores of Lake Michigan.
Surprisingly, the show was exhilarating, cathartic. Our lead singer started our set by ringing the Tibetan prayer bell three times for “Peace and Love.” That got everyone’s attention. There is something about trying to win over a room. Our band played a tight, battle-tested set, we have played a number of good shows lately, our set is strong, it flows well, the sequence of songs allows us to reach a satisfying crescendo.
It was hot. The sweat poured. It all just felt fantastic. We knew we were making an impression when the guy playing video poker actually stopped, turned around, and watched us. That was the best tribute of the night. – Jammer