I recently took a trip to Houston, and while I was there, fourth-generation shirt maker, David Hamilton measured me for this custom Lyle Lovett for Hamilton Shirt. I’ll be sharing photos from the factory very soon, but I couldn’t wait to share the shirt.
Sitting in traffic. In the rain. On Congress Avenue in Austin. After a day in Houston. The windshield wipers undulated as a Ryan Adams song screeched to an end on the rental’s car’s cheap stereo. The car smelled like french fries from a Whataburger or a taco from Buc-ee’s. I can’t remember.
All I could think about was what just happened. For roughly four hours, I’d sat through bumper-to-bumper traffic returning to Austin from Houston, where somewhere in the middle a small fender bender lead to a nine car pile-up spreading across four lanes of highway. I didn’t mind waiting out the inevitable delay. My day was made when I got to sit and listen to music — my music — much of it created in the land that stretched between the two Texas cities of my current — and very temporary — residence. I found myself allowing the shuffle function of my mobile device to take over, and in the process uncovering a slow devolution into something slightly resembling The Blues. It was a Blues worth wallowing in, for I knew on the other side of those blues was a crack of sunshine, and the day, well, she weren’t over yet.
1) Ryan Adams – When The Summer Ends
2) White Denim – Come Back
3) Stevie Wonder – I’m Wondering
4) Chuck Berry – Nadine
5) L.C. Cooke – The Lover
6) Tom T. Hall – Shoeshine Man
7) Tammy Wynette & George Jones – Something To Brag About
8) Steve Earle – Little Sister
9) Cat Stevens – Maybe You’re Right
10) Paul Simon – The Obvious Child
11) Robert Plant And the Strange Sensation – All The King’s Horses
12) Shuggie Otis – Sweet Thang
13) Connan Mackasin – I’m The Man That Will Find You
14) Warren Zevon – Accidentally Like A Martyr (Unreleased)
15) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Into My Arms
16) Chuck Berry – Blues #1
17) Emmylou Harris & Willie Nelson – One Paper Kid
18) Steely Dan – Midnite Cruiser
19) Steve Winwood – Take It As It Comes
20) Randy Newman – Back On My Feet Again
21) Vince Gill – One More Last Chance
22) Dire Straits – The Bug
23) Marley’s Ghost with Old Crow Medicine Show & Cowboy Jack Clement – It’s All Over Now
24) Dire Straits – Water of Love
25) Joe Henry – Grave Angels
26) Luluc – Small Window
27) George Jones – The Selfishness in Man
28) Lyle Lovett – White Boy Lost In The Blues
29) Ryan Adams – Tired of Giving Up
30) Albert King – Call It Stormy Monday (Live at Montreux)
31) Mississippi John Hurt – Coffee Blues (Live)
The good folks at East Dane provided me with four $50 gift certificates to be used on their site. To win: share your favorite outfit from their offerings in my comments section. Don’t forget to link. I’ll select my four favorites over the weekend and announce the winners on Monday. Best of luck!
July swept into the room like she’d been there before. This time, though, she turned and looked at me. With a single glance, I found I’d floated within her general vicinity, with a quickening breath, with each beat of my warm heart, soon we were dancing. As the lights around us flashed, either from cameras or from the electric excitement, as our feet flit across the pine, it felt as though July and I flew from one coast to the other as quickly as we could snap our fingers to the sharp bass of the dance floor beat. Leaning in so close I could smell the coconut in her sunscreen, she sang to me. What she said… what she said… well, this is what she said:
She’s Like July (on Spotify)
1) The Pointer Sisters – Yes We Can (on KSAN’s Live Jive)
2) Kim Weston – Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)
3) Haim – Honey & I
4) Jessie Mueller & The Beautiful Ensemble – Beautiful
5) Toots & The Maytals w. Bonnie Raitt – True Love Is Hard To Find
6) First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining
7) Ruth Brown – Wild Wild Young Men
8) Marcia Griffiths – Band of Gold
9) Cesaria Evora & Bonga – Sodade
10) Bobbie Gentry – Touch ‘Em With Love
11) Darlene Love – My Heart Beat A Little Faster
12) Merry Clayton – Southern Man
13) Aretha Franklin – Make It With You (Live at the Fillmore West, 2/5/71)
14) Gladys Knight & The Pips – If I Were Your Woman (Live on Ed Sullivan, 2/7/71)
15) Alabama Shakes – I Found You
16) Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It
17) Laura Veirs – July Flame
18) Sean & Sara Watkins – Your Bright Baby Blues
19) Tanya Tucker – What’s Your Mama’s Name Child
20) Dolly Parton – My Blue Tears (Acoustic Demo)
21) Bonnie Raitt – Come To Me
22) Jenny Lewis – Just One Of The Guys
23) Wild Belle – Shine
24) The Jones Girls – You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else
25) Sylvan Esso – Coffee
26) St. Vincent – Digital Witness
27) Joni Mitchell – Carey (Live)
28) Carly Simon – It Keeps You Runnin’
29) Lavelle White – Into The Mystic
30) Linda Ronstadt – Rescue Me
31) Cat Power – I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)
32) St. Paul & The Broken Bones w. Lizzo – A Change Is Gonna Come (Live at SXSW, 2014)
Summer. With its unofficial start fast approaching, I’m quick to remember the horrible winter we in the Midwest endured. With the “Polar Vortex,” “Chiberia,” “Chibernation,” and turning boiling water to snow in mind, let us turn our eyes to the sky once more and embrace the sun’s rays with a fervor heretofore unseen. Kick off Memorial Day Weekend with my latest Spotify mix, some old, some new, all built for working in the garden, tossing back a brewski — or in the case of Johnny Paycheck, fifteen — at that backyard barbecue or braving that first dip in the outdoor swimming pool. Enjoy it, folks.
1) Guy Clark – Homegrown Tomatoes (Live)
2) Darlene Love, Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans – Why Do Lovers Break Each Others Hearts?
3) Etta James – Security
4) Koko Taylor – Wang Dang Doodle
5) Aretha Franklin – The Weight
6) Bobby “Blue” Bland – Turn On Your Love Light
7) Them – Gloria
8) The Kinks – Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy
9) Creedence Clearwater Revival – Keep On Chooglin’
10) Faces – You’re So Rude
11) Neil Young – Homegrown
12) Sam Bush – Sailin’ Shoes
13) J.J. Cale – Hey Baby
14) Bill Withers – Green Grass
15) Johnny Cash – Southern Accents
16) Tom Petty – Down South
17) Tom T. Hall – That’s How I Got To Memphis
18) Johnny Paycheck – Fifteen Beers
19) Eric B. & Rakim – Juice (Know The Ledge)
20) A Tribe Called Quest – Electric Relaxation
21) Haim – Hold Me
22) Junip – In Every Direction
23) Graeme Allwright – Je Perds Ou Bien Je Gagne
24) Lowell George – What Do You Want The Girl To Do
25) Delaney & Bonnie And Friends – Only You Know And I Know
26) The Seeds – Mr. Farmer
27) Chris Scruggs – Just A Little Lovin’ (Will Go A Long Way)
28) Carl Perkins – Boppin’ the Blues
29) Major Lance – It Ain’t No Use
30) Ry Cooder – Taxes on the Farmer Feeds Us All
31) Leon Russell – Roll Away the Stone
32) Violent Femmes – Prove My Love
33) The Templeton Twins – Everybody’s Talkin’
34) The Doobie Brothers – Nobody
35) The Doobie Brothers – Chicago
36) B.B. King & Van Morrison – If You Love Me
37) John Lee Hooker – T.B. Sheets
38) Elton John – Take Me To The Pilot
39) Jesse Edwin Davis – Big Dipper
40) Montrose – Rock Candy
41) Van Halen – Finish What Ya Started
42) Golden Smog – Love And Mercy
43) Randy Newman – Falling In Love
44) Joe Cocker – With A Little Help From My Friends
45) Gerry Rafferty – Right Down The Line
46) Bruce Springsteen – Hey Blue Eyes
47) Robert Ellis – Steady As The Rising Sun
48) James Carr – The Dark End Of The Street
49) Jason Isbell & Elizabeth Cook – Pancho & Lefty
50) Marvin Gaye – My Love Is Waiting
One was easy. Though I might share innumerable photos of the insides of diners and dive bars, colorful images of gravy slathered breakfasts and late night burgers, I actually try to eat relatively well. I love to make colorful salads. I am a big believer in finding balance. The grosser the meal the night before, the better I try to eat the next day. I haven’t done the best job this year, what with my job taking me in and out of many of the best bars and restaurants in the country on a frequent basis, but on my days off I’ve learned to simplify: cut out salts and sugars, cut back on coffee and drinks, load up on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lots and lots of water.
I was excited to see how my guests might take to my plant-based cocktails.
The first person I thought to invite was Michael Ciapciak, whose Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood has become something of a community center for me and my friends. Michael and I are both from St. Louis, and yet he and I have only a passing familiarity with one another. I loved having the opportunity to work with Michael on a gathering such as this one, and he definitely brought his A game: housemade pickles, a zucchini crudo (served on a roast board), a crudité of romesco with an assortment of tri-color carrots (served in a cast iron skillet). This red pepper sauce had a delicious, nutty quality. It was so filling. He also made a special Rhubarb Syrup just for me (!), which I put in a cocktail with Basil Hayden’s, basil leaves, mint leaves, amber agave and soda water.
The next two guys have long been heroes of mine. The co-founder of Goose Island Beer and the founder and current owner of Virtue Cider, Greg Hall is — to say the least — a major factor in the United States’ impressive growth of both microbreweries and the emerging boom in cideries.
Upon moving to Chicago, one of the first things I signed up to do was volunteer at the Green City Market, the city’s biggest farmer’s market, and one of the best in the country. At the end of my shift, Peter Klein of Seedling has always provided me with my traditional treat: a fruit smoothie made entirely using ingredients from his Michigan farm and orchard.
I’d only met these guys on a handful of occasions, and we’d never actually spent any time talking at length. To have the opportunity to learn about their businesses was a true treat. Greg brought two of the driest ciders I’ve ever tried, one of which a single orchard variety, The Ledbury, made its way into a cocktail he told me about, the Stone Fence, one of the very first “cocktails,” which is simply equal parts whiskey and cider. Pete brought the spiciest brandied cherries I’ve ever tasted and some special cherry bitters he made in collaboration with the guys at Bittercube in Milwaukee.
Mike Ader of Midnorth Mercantile recently moved to Chicago from Minneapolis / St. Paul, where he was famous for his haircuts, his vintage clothing bazaar, and, well, his mustache. “My fiancée says I can’t call myself ‘Mustache Mike’ any longer.” Probably a good thing, Mike. I am always enamored with Mike’s finds. He has a treasure trove of vintage sporting goods, canvas sneakers, leather deck jackets, army fatigues, and recently, according to Instagram, a bevy of truly antique men’s and women’s swimwear.
Grant Legan the photographer and brand strategist whose travels inspire lush, interesting compositions which he graciously shares via Instagram. I’ve been a Grant Legan fan for a couple years, and though we live in the same city, our paths never crossed. I was determined to make it so, and he graciously accepted my invitation, regaling us with stories from his time driving a luxury car around the streets of New Orleans. Rough life.
And last, but certainly not least, there’s Mr. Super Danger, Alex Maier, the musician and and filmmaker whose photos you’re currently enjoying. Alex and I have been in the mutual appreciation club for some time, and I’m happy to report since hanging out at Bang Bang, we’ve had occasion to share bourbon and burgers on a windier-than-expected day in Chicago’s West Loop.
The relationships we make as men are hard fought, owing mostly to the realities of growing up, settling down, over-committing at work and at home. It goes without saying, I really appreciate these guys. And of course, none of this would’ve been possible without one really special woman. So thanks to Jessica Murnane and all these dudes for taking time out of your weeks to spend it with the likes of me. It was a true pleasure to share this simple story of a plant-based fellowship.
I was excited to learn this morning of the newly formed Big Sadie, formerly EB & The Moores, fronted by friend, the multi-talented designer, musician, writer, photographer, chef, and all-around good person, Elise Bergman. Alongside her husband, guitarist Collin Moore and fiddle player Jess McIntosh, Elise and band have been performing their own brand of bluegrass at a few locations in Chicago.