|Steve was the best acoustic guitar player I ever saw up close - I'll never forget his playing "It's a sin to tell a lie" or "Talk Backwards" - man, he could make that guitar smoke! Steve's passing left a hole in the nation's music scene that's never been filled. |
"Every time he got on stage, there was a glint in his eye, as if he were saying to the audience, ‘I’m gonna get you,’ and he always did. The love of music just poured out of him.”
|Jethro Burns on mandolin; Steve thought the world of Jethro and all the bluegrass/ blues/ folk singers from whom he drew inspiration.|
Harry Hope's was almost like a concert in your living room. How many artists would put up with an idiot like me taking flash pictures from 20 feet away during a performance? Steve never batted an eye. If you caught him at the bar, he was the sweetest, most humble guy you'd ever want to meet. He was a true gentleman and virtuoso.
Clay Eals, author of the astounding Steve Goodman: Facing the Music mused, "The more I look at your photos, the more I'm convinced the shirt image is of Goodman's face, and yes, with a Shakespeare collar. And that very well could be Dylan with the green hair. Goodman and Dylan crossed paths several times, including in Carly Simon's apartment, at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and at Bell Sound in NYC when he accompanied Goodman on two tracks, "Somebody Else's Troubles" and "Election Year Rag."
|As a live performer, Steve was without equal: a brilliant, charismatic musician. He could ad lib and banter, making even the largest venue seem like an intimate club, which of course is where his roots were. This night was no different; Steve had us rolling in the aisles and marvelling at the warmth of his personality and the joy of his playing and song writing skills. Harry Hope's was the sort of place Steve liked best.|
|Note the grand piano covered with moving blankets on stage. Harry Hope's was a casual venue.|
|That's Alex Bevin on the left. Bevin fronted for Steve at Harry Hope's on the nights of Friday and Saturday, Jan. 25th and 26th, 1980.*|
I still miss Steve and all the wonderful music he gave us back in the day. He's one of the greatest artists Chicago produced, and you all know he loved this city and he loved the Cubs.. guess what, Steve - still no pennant!
*Special thanks to Clay Eals, whose kind assistance helped fill in some of the blanks for me in regards to this cold Friday night so long ago. Chicago Shorty played at Harry Hope's (named after the bar in Eugene Oneill's The Iceman cometh) many times. According to Clay, Steve's appearance there in April, 1975 was the ex-ski-lodge nightclub's first big act, and the cover was $5-6. Harry Hopes lasted 8 years, 'way out in the styxx' as we used to say.
A helpful Goodman fan saw these photos and identified himself as one of the audience members. I won't say which one, but it involved "..the 'then slight' bald spot" and he reminisced Steve first played a song called "Ballad of Flight 191," about the crash of an American Airlines plane that literally lost an engine and plowed into an open field next to a trailer park less than a mile from the end of runway 32 right at Chicago's O'Hare Field in May of 1979. Steve had written the song for National Public Radio, as part of a series which included "Daley's Gone, Election Year rag, and The 20th Century's Almost Over," among others.
He recalled the refrain Steve sang, "Why, oh why did that plane fall from the sky?" A poignant memory for me, because I had been taking pictures of planes taking off from that runway just 3 weeks before the crash. I had climbed on top of a utility shed at the Tollway Oasis along I-90, scarcely 1500 feet from where the plane went down. And I knew 3 of the people killed, two friends on the plane who were on their way to a new married life in California, having just bought a new house there; and a family friend was killed while working in a garage engulfed in the fireball from the spilled fuel; he was incinerated before he could get out from under the car he was working on.
It was a heart-rending tragedy for many people, and especially for the City of Chicago which Steve loved with all his heart; It's apparent the event moved Steve very deeply, and his lament speaks to his innate sense of compassion for and connection to his fellow man.
I hope you're all aware of Clay Eals' 8-years-in-the-making Magnum Opus, Steve Goodman: Facing the Music. It's "..an exhaustively researched, passionately written biography of one of folk music's real treasures."
You can find it at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Steve-Goodman-Facing-Clay-Eals/dp/1550227327
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