“on the road and in the round” – craig bickhardt, jim photoglo, and jd malone

i hadn’t seen jim photoglo since the fogelberg memorial dedication in peoria, and the three of us – craig bickhardt, photoglo and myself – hadn’t played together since the tribute concert we’d done prior to that – so i was looking forward to this show for a while. i particularly love singing with both of them when we do these shows. i don’t know how jim feels about it, but i think our voices blend really nicely. 🙂

personally, i was really impressed with the number of people who came out to chaplins’ for this show – it’s been a real challenge putting people into that room in the time since the lee zagorski era…not that it was a foregone conclusion then, but the room has been suffering from a bit of a multiple personality crisis. they can’t seem to make up their mind as to whether they’re a folk club, an all-ages indie rock room, a NYC-style one-band-per-hour music room…if you peruse the schedule, you’ll see a little bit of all of that on there.

like i said..challenging.

but the fact remains, it’s a really charming room. it deserves to be patronized, and it’s a wonderful place to play. the sightlines are perfect, the sound is great, and the room has a vibe that’s perfect for more intimate performances.

jim photoglo and craig bickhardt onstage at chaplins'....

craig is a wonderful host for these shows…without really making any overt effort, he seems to bring great performances out of the folks who do the on the road and in the round shows…in this case, photoglo and one of my other road buddies, jd malone. jd and craig have done a number of shows together, and there’s a palpable sense of respect between the two of them…part mentor and part peer. it’s really a great thing to bear witness to.

as usual, my hetero life partner tommy geddes and i were along to provide support, and we set up along the back of the row of chairs and settled in for the show.

as gigs go, these shows present their own challenges – with regards to how the artists’ individual styles mesh with one another and their individual rappore with the audience. sometimes the pairings can be disastrous, but we’ve been really lucky so far, in terms of the folks who’ve been involved with the shows i’ve been a part of – all great people. that’s not to say that some shows don’t end up feeling better than others after all is said and done, but there hasn’t been a bad one yet.

i’ve been a fan of jim photoglo’s since i was a teenager…jim had a solo album deal (as “photoglo”) in the late seventies/early eighties with the label that also brought you robbie dupree and christopher cross – and had a couple of radio hits with we were meant to be lovers and when love is gone, among others…and i had copies of his albums from that timeframe, before he was playing in fogelbergs’ band…and his three solo albums are all excellent.

as when we’d done the prior show, i played sparingly on jim’s songs, just throwing in what i was totally confident that i could execute, and singing harmonies on the songs i knew…but by now, i’d been playing for quite some time with both jd and craig, and i was a lot more familiar with their songs – and hoping it wasn’t too obvious to the audience that this was the case. then again, though, these shows are so intimately put together that i’m not exactly shredding on anyone’s stuff – so maybe it wasn’t as obvious to them as it was to me. we did all three of my favorite photoglo songs – silence is king, a job well done, and cry to me…and the staples from craig’s catalog, including my favorite mandolin song (sugarcane street) and the one song that we can’t not play at this point in time (this old house)…jd did black yodel and man with a worry…it was just a really solid night for our little unit. hope we can do it again soon.

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