Chicago, IL 10/16/13

The Vic Theater

Source: Gaby Moreno @Gaby_Moreno

Source: Herman Matthews @Huckabuck

Source: Hugh Laurie @hughlaurie


 Source: Rebecca Greco @Hugsarefun

Source: Nancy Dietrich @nancydietrich

Source: Trey S @umtrey

 Source: Kelsey Rae @kelseyok

Source: Mari Luangrath @thatgirlmari

Source: Shir4114

Source: Brenda @bmax67

Source: @Raquel__09
Source: TBD 

by Irma Rodriguez

So the doors finally opened, I was dead set on finding my spot before anything…I refused to be distracted by the merchandise being sold. As my friends and family all well know; I’m pretty fast in pumps--so I whizzed past timid ticket holders, and before I knew it, I was in the front row; dead center.   

As the show progressed, I don’t have a very good recollection of what I was thinking.  I was more aware of how incredible I felt in the presence of such immense talent. I remember dancing, clapping, and hollering my patootsies off…well, as much as I could.  Did I mention I was sick?  Oh yeah, big time, and every time I spoke, I strained my vocal cords and it sounded as if I’d smuggled a goose in the joint. 

Hugh, of course, was his charming self; charismatic in every way.  He carried the audience well and there wasn’t a single soul that wasn’t just as captivated as I.  There were quite a few moments where I just closed my eyes, absorbing every voice, every note…every sound; truly sublime. That day everyone was definitely on their A game, but the gals of the group really brought it:  Elizabeth rocked that trombone (and that bow in her hair) like nobody’s business, and Sista Jean and Gaby with “What Kind of Man Are You”—gold, just gold.  The guys; the gals; everyone was absolutely fantastic. The night held a chill that I was completely unaware of given how the my evening had transpired...

“Just keepin’ it real”
By Brenda Culver

My husband couldn’t go so I had asked my mom to join me. It was around her birthday so I considered it a gift to her.  What else would anyone want? I know it would have made my birthday perfect if someone offered that to me. After getting the family situated, we headed downtown from the western suburbs. Of course we hit traffic and what normally takes about an hour ended up being almost two hours! Have I mentioned how much I hate Chicago traffic? We parked and walked across the street to the Vic Theater around 5pm. There was already a line stretching past the alleyway. So much for getting good seats. Oh well, we’d still enjoy it. There really are no bad seats at the Vic. 

After being searched, we made our way to the main floor, hoping to find some decent seats. My phone rang. It was Shir! She had saved two seats for us in the fourth row center stage! I couldn’t thank her enough! We fumbled and tripped over the cheap hard plastic chairs that were packed in tighter than a…well, let’s just say we all got to know each other really well whether we wanted to or not.  We did a little sidestep shuffle to our seats.  My claustrophobic mom was anxiously looking around, I thought “oh, boy” but to her credit she didn’t freak out and knock over any nearby patrons or chairs. Instead, she took a bathroom break, a safer reaction to the cramped surroundings. This may seem odd but even I searched out the quickest exit route in case of a fire. Always practicing good safety precautions. 

Finally, I was able to really look around. The Vic Theater (formerly known as the Victoria) is a beautiful one hundred year old piece of Vaudeville history on the north side of Chicago. It is well known to Chicagoans and has housed many famous acts in the past. Hugh and the CBB is more than worthy of taking the stage at this old landmark.  

The lights dimmed and Hugh’s voice boomed through the theater as applause broke out instantly.  He introduced the band as “superheroes by day, but at night they become the Copper Bottom Band!”  The audience responded with a hearty laugh. The band took their positions and busted into a rhythmic beat as Hugh came strolling/dancing on to the stage. He took the mic and started singing “Iko Iko” and the crowd joined in with “Hey now” at the right moments and swayed along with the music. 

As the show progressed, I found myself lost in the moment, listening to every story about the songs they were singing and how they’ve influenced Hugh. Names like Professor Longhair, Jelly Roll Morton and Dr John were just a few names mentioned. It was like a history lesson of the Blues. Too be honest, until Hugh’s albums, I wasn’t too familiar with blues artists other than Muddy Waters, who is a Chicago legend.  The songs were sung from the heart and you could see the passion Hugh has for these treasures. I found myself singing along to a few of them, and at other times I’d just stare in awe as Sista Jean McClain belted out “Send Me to the “Lectric Chair” (literally had goosebumps!) and “I Hate a Man Like You” . Gaby Moreno also took center stage with some gorgeous, soulful renditions of “Weed Smoker’s Dream” and “Kiss of Fire”, a duet with Hugh, complete with a hot Tango sequence that had the crowd hooting and hollering.

During the show, I shot a few glances at my mom sitting next to me. She had a genuine smile on her face and was moving along with the beat and clapping her hands. This alone was so personally emotional for me because my mom has been through a very difficult few years while battling depression. She recently sought help and is out enjoying herself and life again. Asked if she would have gone with me a year ago, she replied “No way.”  I was so happy she was able to experience this amazing show with me.   My mom made comments such as “I love watch watching that trumpet player! She totally gets into it!”  and “Wow, Hugh is really good!” I , of course, said “Told you!”  After the show, she told me she looked over at me several times and could see I was totally lost in the moment with a huge smile on my face. How could you not?

There were a few special moments that really stuck out for me. I loved the men doing their quartet version of “Lazy River”.  Herman Matthews, the drummer, made us all laugh when we clapped when we weren’t supposed to, he waved a hand and shook his head at us. Sorry Herman! We missed the rehearsal!  Also, there was a moment when Jean was pumping her hands toward the ceiling, I copied her and we made eye contact and smiled at each other. It was pretty cool! At this time the crowd was on its feet and dancing in the cramped aisles! When the show ended, my hands were on fire and my voice was basically shot after hooting and hollering so much. What an incredible night!

Hugh is an amazingly talented all-around entertainer. From the moment he took the stage until he waved a final goodbye after the third encore, he never stopped.  He was either jumping around the stage, doing a sexy Tango, having a drink, bouncing his leg while playing his piano or just simply watching and admiring his band members perform, it made me tired just watching him! I could see how much passion Hugh has for this music just by the content smile on his face while he’s performing.  

Thank you for giving this fan a night she’ll never forget. A big thank you to Hugh and the Copper Bottom Band: Sista Jean McClain, Herman Matthews, Gaby Moreno, Elizabeth Lea, Mark Goldenberg, Vincent Henry and David Pilch, who all were gracious enough to take photos with the fans and sign autographs. They were all very humble and as normal as can be. As Herman said to us as he headed to the bus, “Just keepin’ it real.”  


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