This show made me miss Chicago, not my people in Chicago like I often do, but the city of Chicago and the things it meant to me, in visceral, heartclenching ways — it made me miss Saturdays drinking and two-stepping at Carol’s, it made me miss the various residencies that Bloodshot artists do at various venues around town. Whitey’s manager was wearing the Bloodshot 15 year anniversary t-shirt, and my heart just turned over completely when I saw it, even before Whitey started playing. But they remain, as always, the label of my heart, is the thing, even when I’m sometimes baffled by their releases or their tour date canceling. It made me miss the bands that don’t exist anymore, and it made me, in its own funny way, miss burying my sadness and loneliness with shows, that last year I was there. So last night was great, just a fabulous set, but I missed Chicago in a way that I hadn’t in years, not in at least three or four. It was strange, and it was sad, and it was good.
And then Whitey Morgan just blew the doors off the Pour House; he’s a perfect booking for them, because he and the 78s are, straight, nothing more complex than a really, really good country bar band. A few months ago, I said that I was holding out final judgment on their first Bloodshot release until I’d seen them live; now I’m glad I saw them, and I’ll definitely go see them again. Both Whitey’s own stuff — like the rollicking “I Ain’t Drunk (I Just Been Drinking)” — and the covers he chose to do — a twice-speed cover of “Mama Tried” that most of the crowd stared blankly at him for, a note perfect cover of “I Don’t Think Hank Done It That Way”, a surprisingly gorgeous cover of “I’m On Fire” — are all good, old-fashioned, two-stepping songs, and his original stuff has an energy and a drive to it out of the studio that I never got on the record. One of those bands who, if you’re not moving, you’re possibly watching the set wrong. I danced, I drank a couple of beers, and it made me miss Chicago like crazy.