Monday, June 21, 2010
Joe Ely @ Fitgerald's, Berwyn, IL 6/17/10
There's not a whole lot that can get me to make the trip out to Berwyn, but the with two very enjoyable evenings under my belt at Fitzgerald's in the past few months (this one and The Radiators show back in March) I'm beginning to appreciate this little gem of a venue just outside of Chicago's city limits.
Colin Gilmore opened up the evening playing a number of tunes from his soon to be released, Goodnight Lane. After his set the crowd continued to fill in for the night's headliner, Joe Ely.
Ely would be playing a solo set; just him and his guitar and the occasional harmonica. Having the chance to see him perform up close you got the sense that you were witnessing something special. Here was a guy who has played with everyone from The Clash to Bruce Springsteen and who has been on the road for thirty-plus years. He rattled off some of his hits from over the years; "Dallas", "Up On The Ridge", and "Me and Billy The Kid", all the while mixing in the occasion story or joke between songs. After all the years on tour you could tell Ely is right at home on stage with his guitar and a roomful of fans.
He played two encores to the enthusiastic Fitzgerald's crowd finishing with his clever little number "Gimme A Ride To Heaven" about picking up Jesus Christ as a hitchhiker and getting his car stolen in the process. When it was all over and I was headed back home the show left me with a mix of emotions. I had thoroughly enjoyed the performance, but was also left with a tinge of sadness as I wondered who will take up the role of the traveling troubadour when heroes like Joe Ely have passed? They just don't seem to make 'em like that anymore. I'm not sure I have an answer and I hope Ely has years of touring ahead of him, but it was a special treat to be in his presence for the evening.
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