Show #36: DeKalb, Ill.
"Dude, we miss you out here. There is a cornstalk with your name on it."
So ran the mediocre joke that I emailed to my former booking agent on the occasion of my second show in DeKalb, Ill. DeKalb is home to Northern Illinois University, the venue Otto's, and not much else. I hear there is a highway tollbooth in DeKalb as well. There may also be an adult novelty shop, but rumors of this shop go unconfirmed.
At Otto's, I played with the YoungBlood Brass Band, a brass ensemble armed with funky beats and, often, an M.C. I'm not sure why my precious art-rock trio was booked with YoungBlood, but I enjoyed their funky tunes and live hip-hop stylings. Also, if ever a man was built to play the tuba—the largest instrument in the brass family—it is the large member of YoungBlood pictured above. During its set, members of YoungBlood complained about the post-Katrina Disneyification of New Orleans. I support these observations, but, as we were playing in DeKalb, Ill., I wondered aloud about the YoungBlood Brass Band to the stage manager.
"What's with this brass band?" I asked the stage manager. "Are they from New Orleans?"
"No," said the stage manager. "They are from Wisconsin."
"Oh," I said. Why are these Wisconsinites bringing a New Orleans vibe? I thought to ask the promoter. Indeed, I opened my mouth to inquire. Instead, I asked myself: "Why should it matter what genre the musicians of Wisconsin celebrate?" I promptly closed my mouth.
As the YoungBlood Brass Band burrowed into the funky guts of their set, I performed a bit of algebra. Before the show, I thought, I expected an audience of cornstalks and tumbleweeds. However, a crew of 10-20 interested persons showed up instead. The population of DeKalb is approximately 40,000. This is .005% of New York City's 8,000,000 people. That means, if I played in New York City, this 20 person audience would expland to 4,000 people. As there was a show booked for New York City on the last day of my tour, I smiled and looked forward to meeting these 4,000 people.