A Flat Tire and the Blues

I don’t really consider myself to be an unlucky traveller, but sometimes fate intervenes. After a week in Winnipeg, it is time to hit the road again, and this time the plan was to spend a weekend in Chicago, listening to the blues, with my mucisian-daughter Katherine; her twenty-first birthday present.

So after a couple of false starts, and adjusted dates this was the weekend. There was, predictably, snow forecast in Chicago, and those of you familiar with O’Hare will know that it only takes a few flakes of snow to send the airport into mayhem.

Partly, I have to inject, one of the results of the contemporary and long-running tragedy called “Airlines in Trouble”, a saga without apparent end, and one that is becoming tiring. One of the tactics employed by the Muscle Carriers is to sub-contract their small feeder and regional flights to other carriers under a sort of franchise agreement; these smaller airlines in turn, are required to operate schedules with so little wiggle-room, that the first sign of delay has a long-lasting konck-on effect. Snow and the biblical summer rain in Chicago do this.

But I digress. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 1235, and despite bad weather in the Windy City, actually arrived in Winnipeg in time to operate; however, they blew a tire on landing, and this takes time to fix. The following flight was actually cancelled, and we finally got away four hours late, and into Chicago at 7.00pm instead of 3.00.

Now if you are heading to Chicago to hear the blues, I can’t recommend Rosa’s Lounge highly enough. It is a fantastic venue, albeit a touch awkward to get to. Wither a twenty-minute ride on the Blue Line to Logan Square or a $20 cab ride from down town will do the trick, but I assure you that it is worth the ride.

We needed to eat first, United Airlines not actually serving a meal on the flight from Winnipeg, and I have to say that pickings were slim. We trudged up the street through the snow, finding little of any interest, other than a very large and jolly woman standing a t a bus stop howling with laughter, and then trudged back, and another block in the other direction.

You will never have to make that mistake, because I can let you know that only a block from Rosa’s is a fabulous restaurant called Tumbao; really fabulous. It is a Puerto Rican joint, and clearly set up for a late night’s dancing. We arrived early, about 9.00 by now, and simply had dinner, and just loved it all; interesting food, great prices and warm hospitality. The odd thing is that although it serves great food, it isn’t “really” a restaurant, it is a salsa bar, but perfect for us last night. What more can be said? I will go back.

And so to Rosa’s; a great Blues Bar, seating about 120 at most, in a cosy and comfortable environment; the band was Lil Ed and the Blues Imperals , the music brilliant, and the crowd loving and understanding every minute. Now I don’t haive anything against the House of Blues or the two Blue Chicago joints, but this was the Real Meal Deal. Fun, economical and tightly managed and orchestrated by the Italian owner Tony, whose voice really reminded me of Paolo Conte!
We want to get to Buddy Guy’s tonight, mostly because he himself is playing, but the show is apparently sold out. There are great options though, and trekking up to Kingston Mines is one that we will likely take by about 2.30 am when it starts getting lively. Saturday night in Chicago is great!

So today we have shopping, Unos’ pizza, the Field Museum, the Art Institute, wandering the Magnificent Mile, a cocktail at the sumptuous RL bar and dinner to arrange before the music starts. I love this city! It is my favourite American city bar none, and although I know that I will get called on this, if for no other reason than I have not been to them all, but I don’t care! I love getting your emails (Johnson_max@hotmail.com) and will defend Chicago to the hilt.

Time to get away now, and enjoy another day in paradise.