Change in Plans


This was a classic evening for Whiskers. I had a plan to catch the Rob Reid show at the bar called Weeds, he was opening for the local ukulele sensation Populele. The night was Thursday Dec 3 2009. So my traveling companion and I drove on into the city and grabbed the North Avenue bus on toward the intersection of North and Clybourn. We jumped off the bus and onward it was towards the bar. I rather enjoy taking the bus over the new North Avenue bridge spanning the Chicago River. It provides an great view of the downtown region of the city from the bus. Anyway, as the bar grew increasingly closer and closer in sight, it seemed very dark along the street. I thought this was a bit suspect. Indeed it was. A sign was posted on the door that the bar was under renovation and would re-open the next day. Needless to say, the show didn't happen, but I actually had the wrong date in mind. My fault. We laughed it off, made a call to Rob to see if the show was tonight. He confirmed that I was confused, but proceeded to give me instructions on how to have the "Greatest night ever in America, so far.": go to Little Bucharest bistro on Elston Avenue to watch Alfonso Ponticelli. Ponticelli is apparently playing every Thursday night at the restaurant from here on until further notice.

Alright, so I thought it was a bar that we were going to. Turns out I had to actually spend money at this place, which was not a problem at all, I just didn't listen well enough to Rob's description. Besides writing this little piece about Alfonso Ponticelli, I should really Yelp about the restaurant since it set me off on a good course that night. I could probably go on and on about the restaurant and the human component to the place. My advice: just go and take a date or a friend, or three, and enjoy a night with Ponticelli, on any given Thursday. A person would be hard-pressed to regret for having gone.

Plan A didn't work and I needed a miracle. Laughing it off can only work so much before the emptiness of it doesn't replace the fact that the original plan didn't pan out. Plan B worked. And I should've known better, that any time I see Ponticelli perform, the night always gets the label 'Remarkable', in the discussion afterwards. Typically I see Ponticelli at the Green Mill on Lawrence and Broadway during his usual Wednesday night residency. This given night was the exception, not only did I see him in another setting, but also his configuration was as a Trio (Jason Miller on rhythm, Alfonso on lead, and, I think, Lou Marini on upright bass...still needing to fact check this.). UPDATE: The bassist must've been Beau Sample, who is listed on the band's website: Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan. I kind of had a hunch it wasn't Louie Marini just by looking at posture and coolness factor.

(My only decent photo from the night.)

And now a clip from the night. My fellow adventurer and I tried to snap video in a less than conspicuous manner, I don't think we were successful in the least. But we did manage to create a pretty cheezy table setting so that these videos could be salvaged, well at least to my eyes (note the removal of table accouterments from seconds 2 to seconds 5 in the filming - very classy). The alternative is that I could've left the camera in my coat pocket and flipped the camera on to only capture the audio. So here is a nice glimpse into the world of Alfonso Ponticelli and his trio format while doing the weekly performances at Little Bohemia.

As with many other guitarists and musicians, Ponticelli fits into that category of folks that, once they start playing, I really realize the true effect of music on our human lives. That particular night, during the given week in which this all took place, hearing Gypsy Jazz on a Thursday was a very tangible celebration of La Dolce Vita.

As for me and my own, I have yet another place that I can take out-of-towners to for an evening in Chicago. Ponticelli at The Green Mill is always an event I keep in mind. For those needing a locale to take guests during the month of December, Ponticelli is always reliable on injecting holiday songs, for guitar, of course, into his sets. And with that statement, I have officially revealed my identity as that sucker that always ambles down the aisle of the department store where one can see a selection of New Age music, and by the press of a button, play 'O Come All Ye Faithful', with the new age acoustic guitar sound.

As I think about it, I don't believe Ponticelli's sound has made it to the department store morass. Sometimes you just have to press the Play button on Derelict Songs blog, give the music a listen, then amble your own way down Elston Avenue to Little Bucharest 3661 N. Elston Ave., Chicago, IL, the Thursday performances start at 9:30PM. For those of you staying at home, bring out the glassware and a bottle of your favorite vino. My traveling partner described the night as their 'Greatest night ever in America, so far.'. For anyone residing in Chicago, enjoying an evening of music as interpreted by Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan, their own next 'Greatest Night ever in America' is very much within grasp.

Thank you for reading!

Mr. Whiskers ShareThis

Comments (2)

I like how Ponticelli uses harmonic overtones to make the water glass slide across the table, in the first video.

that was a water glass slide? i thought he was just using his fingers.

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