The Welcome Tent

Just west of Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. Around the corner from Diner Grill. There is a tent that looks like it could have been Ulysses S. Grant’s battlefield headquarters. Or maybe someplace Hemingway would stay on a hunting trip to the green fields of Africa. Through the screens you can see what looks like another time. An ancient quilt on a musty bed. A nightstand with a picture of a soldier from World War One.

Most nights the flaps are open on all four sides. Perhaps a nod to Abraham, to an American ideal, or maybe whoever lives there just likes to sleep in the open air.

But tonight the flaps are closed. And if you stand for a moment you can hear the music rustling out and filling the night. You stand for a moment and sense that the place is filling up inside. Even though you’ve seen no one enter. Slowly you start to hear laughter. There is a party going on in there! The music becomes recognizable. Muddy Waters, Steve Goodman sings “In Real Life.” Prine gets up to sing “Angel From Montgomery’ and Bonnie Koloc answers with “I Got To Believe.” Street corner spirits crossing every boundary. That place where everybody sings and plays,

The tent flap opens, Bob Gibson, smiling with a big old 12 string around his neck, steps outside the tent and slaps a sign up side the tent flap. And the sign just says, WELCOME ALL!

Gibson motions you inside, still smiling, says “Listen to this one!”

5 Responses to “The Welcome Tent”

  1. Tom Dickinson Says:

    very nice Roger…who are aliota haynes jeremiah? It’s a good song…

    Happy New Year to you and Maria!

  2. chicagoguy14 Says:

    Song is also a true story! A,H and J played the Earl of OLD town during the golden age of folk. Check out their song “Lake Shoe Drive” Happy New Year to you and Ann!

  3. Paul Haider Says:

    Happy New Year in Chicago! This was a great piece of writing again, and thanks for finding another song by Aliota, Haynes, and Jerimiah that isn’t ”Lake Shore Drive.” I’ve got 🐻 Bears fever for the playoffs before returning to England for enduring the boring sport that they refer to as football. ⚽

  4. Tom Cordle Says:

    Ah … the Great Folk Music Scare of the Fifties and SIxties! One of the records that got the most play at our house was a collection of folk music that featured Bob Gibson, Cisco Houston, The Weavers, Leon Bibb, and most memorably for me Odetta … I can still hear her singing “All the Pretty Little Horses”. indeed, I used to sing that song to sooth my son TJ to sleep when he was a baby. Thanks for stirring up some great memories, Roger.

  5. chicagoguy14 Says:

    We had that record too!

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