Anytime I perform in Chicago, I always feel a certain excitement. Next to the energy of New York City, I would say Chicago comes in second for me. Chicago is a beautiful city, and to call it the Windy City is indeed an understatement. But I woke up SO sick. Oh, my God! I couldn't move. My back was aching, and so were my joints. I woke up sweating and my throat felt as if I'd swallowed glass. How am I supposed to do a show all the way out in Chicago, and fly home the following day to sing on a ship in NYC?
I took my temperature. 100.5. Yep, low grade fever.
I had to be at the airport by 9:30am. So I rushed with my road manager, David, to the doctor's office. It would be open at 8:30am. So I was there at 8:15 am, begging the doctor's assistant to see me soon so I could catch my flight. My doctor laughed when he saw me. "Ha, you're sick? What happened?" He gave me a shot and two prescriptions...I ran to Rite Aid and begged the pharmacist to assist me in leaving on time. I was in the car at 9:28 am. Excellent. There was word all over the television of a winter storm warning for New York the following day. Yeah, sure.
As soon as I got to the hotel, I slept. I slept for about 2 1/2 hours - no where near what I needed. But it would have to do. I was picked up at 11:30pm...and I was excited. On Facebook, I get a lot of, "Judy, when are you coming to Chi-town?" I can honestly say I've never had a bad show in Chicago. So when my ride picked me up to go to the show, we overheard the promoter talking about rival gang members trying to get into the club. Oh. I forgot about that. Many times when I perform in Chicago, especially in certain areas, gang activity is a given. Although, thankfully, I've never had a personal negative experience, I have done shows for example Congress Theater, where a fight will break out. Whenever I ask what's going on, I'm told in one word: gangs.
Freestyle music is very much music of the Latino streets, so I am not surprised that our fan base also includes many in prison and in gangs. But it saddens me that going to a show to hear someone perform, which should be a FUN thing to do, sometimes turns into a tragic event. Music is supposed to bring people together, NOT be a preface to a battle. And so, the word was there were gang members trying to get in. Next thing I know my road manager is saying things like, "Be sure you stay close to me, and if something goes wrong, you go out this way...." In my almost 25 years of performing, I've only experienced three shows where there was extreme violence: one was a shoot out, the second was men & women with razor blades slicing each other, and the third was when my limo taken with ME in it - but that's a whole other blog.
Anyway, it was time to perform and dammit, I wanted to sing in Chicago...it was a new place for me: Buzz Bomb! I have to say the second I got on stage, the welcome was, well, it gave me the warm fuzzies all over, lol. From the second I got onstage, the stage was not too stable...and when you're wearing 4 inch heels, and the there's a potential for being recorded and put on youtube the following day if you fall, well, it's not a chance I was willing to take. Enter...the chancletas. Slippers are my best friend lately...they're black and they sparkle. So cute. I summoned my slippers and the promoter brought a chair on stage. Okay, dude, it's not THAT bad. LOL..I'm not that old, not yet. And so the show continued... and in spite of singing with a sinus infection, I think everything panned out just fine.
There was a man in the audience with a 12" of No Reason to Cry...he was waving the thing like a proud American would wave his flag. I asked if I could borrow it, and talked about the old days with 12 inch records and 45's and such. I gave it back to him. He was over excited - perhaps he was even drunk...and he became so rowdy that the bouncers removed him. I begged for them not to throw him out, but it was done. All I wanted to do was sign the album for him...so if anyone knows who he is, please forward me his name & address...I'd like to be sure he gets it.
What's my favorite thing about performing in the Windy City? The people. The people in Chicago, those who come to see me perform, are the MOST affectionate people I've met. Every single person tells me a story, hugs me, and I feel their sincerity. That kind of affection from your fans is quite unique. I stayed afterward to take pics and sign autographs - an hour and a half later, I was ready to return home...my flight to return home was so early that as soon as we returned to the hotel, it was time to pack my bag and head to the airport.
My flight was at 7am. I had to return & I wanted an early flight because I had a show that night on a ship in NYC. WE took off, we landed, (Thank you, God, for a safe flight)...and we arrived to rain. The Quiet One picked me up and had a cup of coffee ready for me (he's thoughtful that way :) ) and next thing I knew it was snowing...HARD!!! For the first time, New York was far colder than Chicago...