Monday, October 10, 2011

He looks taller on my records - The Mr. T-Bone report

The evening was off to a rocky start.  Greg moved since the last time we went to a show so I had to find his new place.  I would have been fine if I hadn't looked at the map and just went with my instincts.  I had to turn around once but I still got there in time for two episodes of The Monkees.

Once Greg got ready, two of the fastest eaters on the planet hit the South City Diner.  I saw something called the meatloaf omelet on the menu and my mind was made up.  It was delicious.  A very short time later, we finished eating and headed for Off Broadway.  We may have been the first people there who weren't with the bands.

As show time grew nearer, I started to feel bad for the bands.  Not a lot of people had showed up.  And by not a lot, I mean around 20.  It was around this time I noticed an older gentleman about my size or possible a little shorter.  I could tell by the way he was watching Murder City Players set up that he was a musician.  I couldn't remember what any of Eastern Standard Time's members looked like other than the singer, who shaved off his waist-length dreadlocks since the last time they came to town, so I assumed he was with them.

Greg and I hit the Jump Up Records table and I filled some holes in my ska collection.  The selection they brought was a little crappy, mostly 90's stuff, but I still found a couple King Django records I didn't have.

Murder City Players went on first.  They've never been one of my favorite bands but they're local and are good for getting the crowd into it.  They played some good classic ska and reggae tunes but I was really waiting for Eastern Standard Time.

Eastern Standard Time hit the stage and I saw the older man playing trombone for them.  It was then I first suspected I'd been standing next to Mr. T-Bone for twenty minutes without realizing it earlier.  Did I miss my chance to talk to him?

EST blew the tiny crowd away.  They played like there were 500 people in the bar instead of less than 50.  My only gripe was that they didn't play Get Ready.  That Girl was easily their best song of the night.

After a short break, EST took the stage a second time and it was then I was sure the trombone player was Mr. T-Bone.  Mr. T-Bone sang and belted out the tunes with his trombone for another set.  It was great.  He played songs off of all his albums, a lot of them from the album that came out the day before.  If I hadn't bought it earlier in the evening, I would have rushed to the merch table to buy it.

The set ended and Mr. T-Bone was immediately surrounded as he walked to the back.  Again, I kicked myself for not talking to him when I had him to myself before the Murder City Players.

As the band broke down their equipment, Greg said he wanted to go out back and have a smoke before we left.  We went outside.  Guess who showed up to have a cigarette a minute or two later?

Mr. T-Bone got a light from Greg and proceeded to talk with us for at least half an hour.  I always like finding out my favorite artists aren't assholes and T-Bone was great.  His English was very good and he told us about playing with the Slackers and the Skatalites and other bands I have great love for.  You could tell by the way he talked about them that even though he'd been playing for years and years, he was still a big fan of ska.   He told us about touring in Europe and trying to book bands over there.

We mentioned Dr. Ring-Ding and Mr. T-Bone asked us if we knew the story?  We said no and he told us how he was playing with a two-tone band and the DJ played a tune between sets and T-Bone was awestruck and knew he wanted his band to sound like that.  The record was Dandimite and the artist was Dr. Ring-Ding.

I told Mr. T-Bone I loved his record of instrumentals and he said he loved it too and it was the only one of his own records he could listen to.  He said that he normally can't listen to any of his own recordings until years later, once he forgets how much work went into it.  That resonated with me since I'm the same way about my writing.

As things wound down, Mr. T-Bone told us he was going to Brazil in a few weeks to do some shows and record a dub record.  He finished up his cigarettes and we shook hands and headed out.

Greg and I walked out even bigger Mr. T-Bone fans than we were going in.  It was a great show.


  1. That sounds like a pretty amazing night, yo. The closest I've been to something like that was going to see my favorite band live at a really small live house in Japan. Still bitter that I wasn't close enough to the stage to get a high five from the members.

    Pretty sure I would've had a freakin' heart attack if anybody chatted me up for a half hour out back omg.

  2. It was really cool. I felt bad for him since he came all the way from Italy to do a US tour and maybe 50 people showed up. I'm hoping his show in Chicago tonight has a better turnout.