Chicago – more than just a toddlin’ town!

One last Jaco breakfast before heading back to Canada.

One more toast to Jaco Beach before heading back to Canada.

Monday I was in Jaco Beach. Monday night I was back in Toronto.

If you ever go to Jaco, and if I know you well, I will suggest you hire beautiful Lalena to show you around!

If you ever go to Jaco, and if I know you well, I will suggest you hire beautiful Lalena to show you around!

IMG_6933Sahra Featherstone and I bee-lined from the airport (complete with luggage) to The Old Mill Inn to catch the end of a concert I produced for JAZZ.FM91’s Sound Of Jazz Concert Series called “Backarachattack!”

Barbie, Wendy, Elizabeth & Lori...what a show!

Barbie, Wendy, Elizabeth & Lori…what a show!

The music of Hal David and Burt Bacharach was interpreted by music director and pianist Lou Pomanti and featured vocalists IMG_6937Lori Cullen, Wendy Lands, Elizabeth Shepherd and my travel buddy, IMG_6942Barbra Lica who was sporting a nice tan from our recent Costa Rican excursion. IMG_6939IMG_6941

The audience loved the show and while I was sorry I missed most of it, I loved the extra couple days in Costa Rica! Early this week I more or less hibernated…suffering from Costa Rican withdraw, or perhaps the simple fact that it was 33 degrees and then suddenly minus 24.

Jessica P and I watched Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie...it is scandalous!

Jessica P and I watched Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie…it is scandalous!

Jessica F braved the cold for a mellow hang!

Jessica F braved the cold for a mellow hang!

Still, I have nothing to complain about…I had friends drop by for lunch and dinner every day!

The best reason to come home from a great holiday...friends!

The best reason to come home from a great holiday…friends!

Good Knight!

Good Knight!

IMG_7024

utf-8''JJJ_4124On Friday I took 26 donors on an international Jazz Safari to Chicago. utf-8''JJJ_4120PLEASE NOTE: If the pictures look really good – they aren’t from me and my iphone…they are courtesy of Janet Jardine who has support JAZZ.FM91 for ages and joined me (along with her husband Bob) on countless jazz safaris, including Havana, Monterey, New York, New Orleans and now Chicago. She’s a great photographer!utf-8''JJJ_4339
utf-8''JJJ_4475

Friday night we began at Andy’s Jazz Bar, then hit Jazz Standard for a remarkable set by guitarist Bobby Broom and wrapped up with a double blues band party at Kingstone Mines.

This blues gal was great and drove us all to drink!

This blues gal was great and drove us all to drink!

I accepted all the drinks bought for me that night and had slight regrets the next morning. I was well hung over! I went for a walk and when I saw a big sign that said:

you call this breakfast for one?!?

you call this breakfast for one?!?

“Hash House A GoGo” I knew I’d found my brunch. No hookah’s or dancers…but a seriously friendly staff and ambience. The food was half cold and piled so high I felt like Fat Bastard from Austin Powers. I barely made a dent and bee-lined out to walk it off. Three hours later I still hadn’t.

Bob examines the butterfly-shaped carrot.

Bob examines the butterfly-shaped carrot.

IMG_7004Dinner on Saturday was much better. I ended up at a Japanese-Thai place that allowed you to bring in your own wine. My pals Bob and Janet, and my safari-partner (and promotions director at Jazz Fm) Jessica Frohman joined me in the yummy feast.

J-Fro helps me organize many international jazz safaris!

J-Fro helps me organize many international jazz safaris!

I hit a few bars and met the locals and called it a relatively sober night. Oh yeah, and at one bar I was ID’d and since I left my passport in the hotel safe, was denied a drink. Apparently I don’t look 21. Who was that doorman, Mr. Magoo?

utf-8''JJJ_5067utf-8''JJJ_5092Sunday, most of my crew joined me at House Of Blues for their Gospel Brunch.  Reverend Cedric did a great job getting everybody whooped up and called me up to sing and dance. I don’t know why he singled me out of the packed house…maybe the gold tie? It was a blast…and the food was every bit as good as House of Blues in New Orleans, which says a lot! IMG_7017IMG_7018Before heading back to the airport I hooked up with my pal Melissa who was visiting from Toronto. She and her friends shared a cocktail and I split for the airport.

view from my room

view from my room

Chicago is a seriously friendly town with great art, music, architecture…and so much more. If you’ve never been, make plans to hit the windy city this summer. And if you can afford it (the rates are reasonable but not cheap) the Park Hyatt has awesome rooms with great views!

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