The thing about local music in Chicago is that talent is found in the most obscure places. There are hundreds of musicians throughout this vast city that at any time, on any given night, are doing their thing because it is what they love to do. They may get paid in food and drink. They might make one hundred bucks. The type of pay is not important. What matters is making music. This in no way suggests that those who are making a ton of money from their music should be denied the street cred of being good musicians. The interesting thing about the talent in and around Chicago is that the music made at a small bar is as important, powerful and pure as the music the Foo Fighters produce when playing to a 50,000 seat stadium. There is not a doubt in my mind that Dave Grohl would LOVE the Mecca Supper Club.
The Head Honchos brought their rocking blues to the Mecca last night. Lead by Rocco Calipari, Sr., the Head Honchos sexy sound immediately got the crowd grooving. Rocco has played with Howard and the White Boys for the past seventeen years and his blues experience set the vibe for the evening. Trading guitar licks with Rocco was his son, Rocco Calipari, Jr., who clearly was the apple that did not fall far from the tree. The set up at the Mecca includes a drum riser and it does not provide for the most spacious set up for a drummer. Scott Schultz, who also performed backup vocals, made the most of the space with his regular drum kit proving that bigger is not always better. Bassist Roberto Agosto rounded out the quartet with his slapping, popping blues bass sounds and rocked his own solo accompanied by Schultz.
Sean Ryan McKee was invited to jam a few songs with the band. McKee is a sixteen year old sophomore at Schaumburg High School and plays with the soul of a man that has seen it all in life. While waiting to play, Sean looks every bit of his sixteen years on this planet. When he picked up the guitar, he was very comfortable and it was clear that he had been touched by the blues guitar god as he morphed into a seasoned, blues guitar phenom. When asked about his guitar musical influences, he explained that he listened to Led Zeppelin when he was younger and that when he heard Eric Clapton, he figured that “Clapton would be easier to play.” Sean Ryan McKee is naturally gifted and is being schooled by some of the best session, studio and touring musicians in the Chicagoland area via the Mecca’s Wednesday Night Open Jam Sessions.
The Mecca Supper Club is a musician’s raw environment. Most anyone there listening or playing has rocked it out with someone of Grammy award caliber at one time or another. Angel Colon, professional session guitarist, was there to play a few songs with the Head Honchos and while mingling prior to playing was asked, “What is it you do musically?” His reply, “I play guitar.” Shortly thereafter, the guy who humbly answered that he “played guitar” was up with the band. The insane quickness of his hands matched with his gifted and experienced ability to improvise a rocking’ blues guitar run stopped those watching dead in their tracks. “I play guitar” was definitely not Angel’s appropriate answer to the previous question. The answer should always be “I may have invented guitar.”
Wednesday night open jam sessions and Thursday night LIVE bands are both FREE at the Mecca Supper Club, 6666 W. Northwest Highway, Chicago. For more information please call 773-775-1077 or visit www.meccasupperclub.com.
The Head Honchos next scheduled show is Saturday, April 7th at Leroy’s Hot Stuff in Porter, Indiana. Additional information can be found at http://www.headhonchosband.com.