First Time I Met The Blues


I was the victim of a crime on the mean streets of Chicago a few years ago.

I was reminded of this today when I came across a Youtube video of James Bay playing in Buddy Guy’s “Legends” club. James is from where we live in Hitchin, Hertfordshire and it turns out that he’s also a fan of the blues.

When we visited “The Windy City” in February 2006, we went to Buddy’s club which is in downtown Chicago. We were staying at the Hard Rock Hotel, about a mile from Legends. Chicago is cold in February so we decided to drive over there in the car we’d rented.

Not knowing how rough the area was and not wanting to get mugged, Julie and I didn’t take a purse or wallet. I just grabbed what I thought would be enough cash for the night and stuffed it in the pocket of my jeans.

When we got there, we noticed a little, open air, car park at the back of the club. A big black man in an overcoat waved us into the entrance lane. I wound down the window, he said “$10”, I gave him the money, he gave me a printed ticket with a number on it, told me to place it on top of the dashboard and directed me to a vacant space. He even helped me back in the enormous Buick we’d rented, by standing against a wall and giving me hand signals.

We walked into the club and were shocked when we were asked for ID. The drinking age in the USA is 21. I was 41 at the time, Julie was 37! The bouncer wasn’t having any of it. Our passports and driver’s licences were back at the hotel. We had to drive back and get them.

Eventually we returned to the little car park at the back of the club with our passports. This time it was different, there were still plenty of spaces but the car park attendant was nowhere to be seen. Behind where he’d been standing was a large pay-and-display machine.

It cost me another $10 for a pay-and-display ticket. When I parked, I put the ticket on the top of the dash and removed the one the bloke had given me earlier. It was a raffle ticket.

I don’t know how many people got conned that night but I know who won that raffle!

Craic on!

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Here’s the video of James Bay at Legends, I wonder where he parked?

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