I have never been to Chicago. I had a layover on my way to DC once in the 90's but never left the airport, which I recall as being nice, if not overly flooded with Chicago Bulls souvenirs.
In talking with people after our shows, I get a lot of inquiries about our travels, ("Have you been <insert US culture hub here>? You would love it! They would love you guys!"), Chicago being one of the cities brought up most frequently in conversation. Yes Chicago, with it's thick history, rich in diversity, a cultural beacon in an area of the country I have spent little time in. The thrill of making music for new audiences is almost surpassed by the excitement of meeting the people themselves, who have been a source of inspiration for artists, writers and musicians all across the country. The city providing a broad, wooly backdrop in which these narrations can grow. Scores of films have utilized the energetic environment that is the city (think Carrie, Farris Buellers Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Wayne's World, A League of their Own <!!! this was one of my favorite movies as a little girl>, Dick Tracy, etc.). Upton Sinclair, August Wilson and countless others have been inspired by it's windy streets. Beyond inspiration, the city itself birthed some of the most influential artists of our day. Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan, Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, Curtis Mayfield, Minnie Ripperton, Bo Diddley, Chance the Rapper, Jennifer Hudson, R. Kelly, Common, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, the list goes on and on and on (ooh, ooh, Mavis Staples, Billy Corgan) .
There's something really special about being surrounded by that creative energy, by putting yourself in the same environment that these great artists lived, with the hope that some of what inspired them may infect you as well.
I have had such an adventure with these guys in the last few years and opening up new markets for us to tour in is always such a highlight. New friends, new scenery, an understanding of our shared history and a deeper connection to the country we all so badly want to feel at 'home' in. If you can't tell, Chi-town is calling, loudly. Let's goooo.