"There is a small brick house on Euclid Avenue in Berwyn, Illinois that has healed a lot of different hearts in a lot of different ways. It is filled with music and laughter, always. It is home base.
Something special that you can’t quite name is always in the air and it doesn’t matter if you’ve spent two years or one day there. You feel it either way… that weird, lingering, can’t-put-your-finger-on-it energy. A small corner store whose owner knows everyone’s name supplies all the beer and wine, and a romanticized hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint supplies all the tacos (I do mean ALL the tacos– so many tacos). It’s all so unassuming until you spend an evening out back with the white door and the rose bush and the fire and the people and you laugh and laugh and laugh until your face hurts, and then you understand.
About one year ago I was on my way through the sticky Chicago summer heat to play a fest gig with a group of guys from a band called Cardinal Harbor. I remember the joyful warmth and I remember the dull nerves, both buzzing in my stomach, both simmering but never boiling– the reality of a natural performer who rarely performs. The memory tastes like Solemn Oath beer.
I played my music for a small theater and walked offstage into the pack of very tall, baseball-cap-wearing, IPA-drinking Cardinal Harbor boys huddled around a small table. They asked me if I’d ever want to play or record with them and I was flattered, blushing, but cautious. I said I’d talk to them after I heard them play.
My dad stood next to me as I watched them play their opening song, “Mirth,” and we both understood immediately that these guys were something special. I’ll never forget the moment over the swell of chatter and applause that filled the room at the song’s end when my dad leaned into my ear and said, “say yes.” I believe I took artistic license and told them, instead, “fuck yeah, dudes.”
Fast forward a year, skip the fan girl phase, the charmingly awkward first recording sessions, and my aggressive, persistent insertion into their plans. Today, these people– the band members and their loved ones– are my family. I live in that small brick house on Euclid Avenue two or three days of every week and eat all of their food. I fell in love with one of them. I can’t imagine what my life would look like right now if I hadn’t said yes.
Let me tell you about these people. This group of human beings is extraordinary. Their love for each other and for life is so palpable; you feel their light the very second you enter their atmosphere. Everyone feels it. They are magnetic. They believe in hugging hello and goodbye and in vulnerability and in competition driven drinking events. They believe in meaningful connections and in creating music with integrity. Sometimes it seems like they are the result of a flawlessly executed universal arrangement: Hand-picked souls from all over the cosmos, poked and nudged by an invisible hand in the direction of each other until they all wound up in suburban Illinois to live and love and create together. It’s all very strange and difficult to describe. Maybe all I’m trying to say is that something incomprehensibly important happens when certain souls meet in certain lifetimes.
One thing I am learning in this lifetime is that people, places, and things manifest themselves in your life when you need them, they stay until you learn their lesson, and then they leave.
I felt inclined to write about all of this because the era of Euclid is over soon and it feels sort of strangely like a death. I guess it is the loss of a time and place. I fell in love in one hundred different ways on Euclid Avenue. This house will always be the centerpiece in my head of this odd, joyful, surreal point in time.
However, I set out to write about the place and ended up writing mostly about the people. It really is mostly about the people. They are here just the same, they are constant, and they create magic wherever they step. Whatever the next era is will undoubtedly be just as dreamy.
I thank these people in my heart very often but I suppose I want to thank them in words for once, plain and clear as the backyard sky radiating orange through a mess of telephone wires:
You are all of all of the good things that people tell you are coming when you’re hurting. You are the eyes wrinkled with laughter that will flicker in my mind when I am eighty years old and dreaming of being young. You are the matter that makes up the microscopic moments that make you feel infinite. Thank you."