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On a sporadically rainy Monday night in mid-September 1998, I had a chance to hear an amazing gig by Melissa Ferrick, in the intimate venue of Michael Cameron's Uncommon Ground Coffeehouse (1214 West Grace Street, Chicago IL).
is a small neighborhood coffeehouse about 3 blocks north of Wrigley Field (Chicago
Cubs baseball) on the North Side of Chicago. Michael Cameron, the owner, has made
it a special place for music, particularly local musicians. Over the years, I've
spent quite a few comfortable evenings there, with a bowl of chili (vegetarian for
me, what else), a bowl of latte or pot of tea, and some wonderful music & friends.
But intimate is the right word - it is a typical Chicago "storefont"
- a narrow rectangle with windows along one narrow side facing the street, and
the kitchen at the back of the other narrow side; judging by the size of Chicago
property lots, it is between 25 and 30 feet wide. Normal seating is 35-40 at tables.
Monday night, the tables were arranged in rows facing the long wall against which
Melissa's "stage" was set. In front of them, and along the wall opposite
the windows, were arranged the previously-mentioned milk crates, covered with pillows.
If there were over 100 people, it would be a surprise - but, it was packed!
Partway into the evening, we all realized that there was a crowd of people standing
outside on the sidewalk, peering in the windows and trying to listen to the music.
After Melissa realized this, she would periodically "play" to the outdoor
audience (who afterwards said they could hear the music ok, but none of the
conversation between songs).
This appearance was the last in her 7 week summer tour, which had started with Lilith Fair in Boston (at which she performed on the Village Stage). Since it was after school had started, it wasn't a "Dad Ferrick and Melissa" tour (see photo on my Schuba's 1996 pages), but rather a "Chip and Melissa" tour (in case you can't figure it out, Chip is the one on the left).
But! Dad isn't left out. The color scheme used on t-shirts for this tour was Dad's idea - after Melissa and her mom had come up with some, er, too Christmasy, color ideas. A muted greenish grey, with dark purple design.
As to the show itself: According to Dave Goodman ("The Original Chicago Dave" from the Melissa Etheridge mailing list), this Melissa (Ferrick) played:
"everything on "Everything I Need" except "Do It Over" and "To Let Me See You" . [by my reckoning that makes these: "I Will Arrive", "It's Alright", "Everything I Need", "Fear and Time", "Particular Place to Be", "I Like It That Way", "Stand Still", "Asking For Love", "Don't Say Goodbye"]. She did "I Am Not", "Crackerjack Kid", "Faking","Til You're Dead", "Gotta Go Now", "Willing To Wait", "I Am Done", "Time Flies" and "Trouble With My Head" from "Willing To Wait". She did "Massive Blur", "Honest Eyes", and two more songs from the first CD ["Massive Blur" - 1993] that I can't think of. Plus "Jessie's Girl", "Ruby Tuesday" and a song I didn't recognize."
The New CD is "Everything I Need", on the W.A.R.? label. It's great - you've gotta buy it ... well, at least after you visit the W.A.R. Ferrick site and listen to sound samples so you're positive you're going to like it!
As expected, there was a broken string, somewhere in the first half of the show. Turns out Chip had to go out to the car to get a new one ...after Chip returned from the car, the explanation was that she never broke a string, and so they left the extras in the car. <grin>. Yeah, sure. Melissa Ferrick and Amy Ray never break strings except under unusual circumstances!!
In the later portion of the show, we lucky folks who were indoors realized it had begun raining outside. The outside audience remained there, clustering a bit closer to the windows. A bit later, someone in the audience began to laugh - and the rest of us realized that the folks outside had taken the umbrella from one of the outdoor cafe tables (large white and green one) and had moved the whole thing next to the windows!! Crisis breeds creativity! (and Melissa has some really serious fans!)
Surprise, surprise - later in the show, there was another of those unusual broken strings. This time, she opted to switch to her other guitar instead of doing the restringing thing a second time. This is another Takamine - she explained that she had traded in the "very expensive Taylor someone gave me as a gift" for this guitar. And seemed much more pleased with its sound than the gift Taylor
Throughout the evening, Melissa was very relaxed (except, I'm sure, the times I was flashing away with my camera about 8 feet away fron her face). She was chatty, about personal things and about music things.
After the first song in the show, Melissa stopped and began to sing Happy Birthday, after which she called forward one of the guys in the audience (at the table from St. Xavier's). Then urged him on until he proposed to his significant other. Afterwards, Melissa explained that it was easier to get out of the way up front. And also that she proposed to her girlfriend on her 30th birthday - and that they would be getting married I think early next year.
Melissa gave explanations of the origins of several of her songs from her new album, Everything I Need (at this point to be released on September 29, 1998), talked about the recording sessions a bit, even joked about how angry she used to be - and began to parody the beginning to "Breaking Vows" from "Massive Blur", getting up to the "Re-la-tion-ship" line, then began to make fun of "the ship" and her anger ... which she clearly had gotten over.
In general, it could be said that "a great time was had by all" ... well perhaps except the persistent fans who got soaked standing in the rain!
Unfortunately, all too soon the evening came to an end.
Hey - anyone who was there, drop me a line with corrections and comments - and I'll add them here! "carolyn @ house-of-music.com" (remove the "quotes" and spaces from the address)
[More photos from the evening]
[Melissa at Schuba's Tavern in 1996]
The Ferrick List crew at Schuba's in 1997:
Dave, Joe, "The Original Chicago Dave", [embarassing blank!], and "The Lone Wrangler", Patty
[Deb's Melissa Ferrick Index] - includes info on how to sign up for the discussion list!
[Melissa's official website at W.A.R.?]
[Kim Luce's cool Melissa Ferrick website], including great photos!
[Alison's Ferrick Concert photos]. More to make you envious about gigs missed!
[Janss' Guitar Tabs]. A necessity for those who play
[Mining Company Interview with Melissa] on their Alternative Music site. September 1998. (Not sure how long they keep archives.) Uses Alison's photos and Kim's pages as links.
[The Uncommon Ground Coffeehouse]. Site of the September and November 1998 gigs. In case you're looking for a music-friendly coffeehouse in Chicago, open all day!
[Carolyn's House of Music]
All photographs Copyright 1998 Carolyn A. Andre. All rights reserved.
Page Design by: Carolyn A. Andre.