Fitzgerald’s, Chicago USA, Oct. 16 1997

8 04 2008

What a great time!

      The evening started around 7:15 when we arrived at Fitzgerald’s Thursday night (Bobb, my son Jason (18) and Roger who is a singer, harmonica player and songwriter in Bobb’s band). We were meeting 2 other friends there. The first person I saw was Greg Novak who quickly pointed out Ray Campbell, Jr. and we immediately set up a table for the group. Ray was great and it was fun talking to him. He had so many stories about Shawn. Arlo had gone to get something to eat with Andy Kariger and they arrived a little before the show started. It was really great to meet everyone!

      My son counted heads and said there was somewhere around 130 people there. It was obvious they were all Shawn Phillips fans. This audience was generous with applause and whistles. Ray was writing down the song list. Shawn sang everything I wanted him to sing (except for Whazat) so I had the perfect evening. 

       Thank you Shawn, Arlo, Ray, Greg, Andy and of course my husband, Bobb, and son, Jason, and my friends, John, Roger and Michael, for all being part of it.


      Arlo and I flew in from Mpls (Man My shoulders hurt) and arrived the day of the show. According to Shawn, he was delayed because there was an overturned tanker on the freeway, spilling fuel (200,000 gallons) all over the pavement. He was first on the scene and in typical Shawn fashion, he took control of the accident scene until the local fire companies arrived.

      Arlo and I stayed at the Write Inn, in Oak Park, a really cool Hotel, located in an area that has many structures designed by Frank LLoyd Wright, and right across the street from a museum that is dedicated to Ernest Hemmingway. Cool Neighborhood. We arrived at Fitzgeralds at about 7:00 P.M. and Shawn was there tweaking the equipment till about 8:30. Nice place, small but comfortable. They seat about 150 and the place was full. Several members of EMH were there, a dozen or so in all, and I sat with Carolynn and her husband Bobb and son Jason.

 At 9:00 sharp Shawn opened with Steel Eyes and followed with Lady Inviolet, with no break. Then Shawn welcomed everyone and played “Try To Find A Way” (The Beautiful People), a song which I hope he records soon. The rest of the first set was “It Takes No Time”, “Man Hole Covered Wagon”, “Most Of Us Don’t Understand At All”, followed by “The Power Of A Woman”, “One Way Ticket”, and to close the first set, “Ballad Of Casey Deiss”.

      I must say, Shawn was tired after 4 months out and it showed early on but by the time he got to Casey Deiss, his voice was right on and he knew it so he launched into one of the Best performances of this song that I have ever heard him do, and I have toured with him and heard this song live 50 times. This was the Best performance yet!!!! He hit all the high notes and STAYED up there like on the original recording until I thought his tonsils would pop out.
A great first set.

       Shawn was in FINE FORM for this first set. I must say also that Carolynn is a really wonderful Lady and a great friend to sit with during a concert. We had a good time. (Hope Bobb doesn’t get jealous….)

      After a short break of about 20 minutes, Shawn came back onstage and started the 2nd set with “The Peace Song”, followed immediately by “Song For Sagittarians”. After that he told a couple jokes and yukked it up with everybody for a couple minutes and went into “L’Ballad”. Carolynn whispered to me that she really missed hearing the accompanyment that was on the Faces recording but I told her to hang on and sure enough, Shawn triggered the cello’s with his footswitch and finished the song in Rare Form. His voice was SO resilient and clear and Powerful on those low notes, it sent a shiver up my spine, and Carolynn went nuts…..She really loved it (The Song).

      I should say, I forgot to mention that as Shawn finished the 1st set, he got a ROUSING, minute long standing ovation, and it was well deserved as his delivery of Casey Diess was the best I have heard in quite some time if not The Best Ever.

      OK, now Shawn did OUR Song, “EMH”. Boy, we in the group gave him a standing ovation for that one! Then he went into what I can only describe as the most get down boogie version of “Moonshine” that I have ever heard. He laced the middle of the song with a blues tune that went on for about 3 minutes and had everybody tapping their feet, and then he did a BIG finish on the song. People really were getting into it, to say the least, as this was his last song and he received another Standing Ovation of about a minute in length. He came back to finish the night with, you guessed it, “Woman”. A fitting end to the show.

      After the applause died down, Shawn hung around the stage for about an hour signing autographs and talking with the fans, and there were at least 50, I would say, that hung around to get thins signed and just to chat with him. Of course, he was decked out in full Perdinales Fireman clothes and I think he had a few new badges since the last time I saw him in Feb. in Mpls.

      We all had a blast. Carolynn and Bobb gave me a ride back to my hotel. Shawn, Arlo and I left the next day for Mpls. in the old “Firewagon”. Shawn stayed here in St. Paul with me and mine Sat. night. We ate too much and watched TV and sat in the Hot-Tub out in the backyard for an hour or so after dark. Boy, it was a cool night for that.

      Shawn appears to be in bright spirits for his next 2 shows in Bloomington and Fairfield and then he REALLY wants to get home to Tassia and the new house. He’s never seen it yet!

Ray Campbell




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