As many of you know by now, our band was chosen as 1 of 5 finalists in Verizon’s first Indie Icon competition. They flew us to to Chicago and put us up in the downtown Hilton. This picture of the city was our view from our room.
After settling into the hotel, we decided to walk across the street to Buddy Guy’s club, Legends. That was where our show was going to be the next day, so we wanted to get a feel for what we were in for. The venue was peppered with images of blues legends, and various awards given to Buddy Guy, Including this Grammy Award. Just before we left, an older man walked in almost trying to hide himself in the corner. It was none other than Buddy Guy himself! That was a pretty cool moment.
There were six of us playing the gig, but a seventh went with us to act a a road manager for us, as well as a guitar tech. We had 3 rooms each with two double beds, which would be perfect for 6 guys. So naturally, since Jared and I are brothers-in-law, we got to share the double bed. Not the first time, I’m sure it won’t be the last.
Part of this deal was that Verizon was going to shoot a video of us for the voting stage of this contest. There was to be an interview section, performance section, and judges comments section. That being said, we were to wake up early and meet the camera man in the lobby of our hotel for the interview. We were all dragging because we went out to eat super late at a diner down the street. We waited in the lobby for what seemed like FOR-E-VER only to find out that they only needed Jared for the interview portion of the video.
After Jared did the interview, we only had an hour left before we needed to be back for sound check at Buddy Guy’s Legends. We found this amazing diner down a few blocks called Eleven City Diner and got some delicious food to go. We were all wishing for more time there, but maybe next time. I highly suggest going there if you’re in Chicago.
We walked back to Legends and made our way upstairs where they had set up a nice green room atmosphere with pool tables, TV’s, and beverages for the 5 finalists. We got to meet and get to know the other contestants, which was great. They were all really nice people. I got to school the band at pool, so that was fun. This was where the second part of the Verizon video was taking place. In addition to an interview, Verizon had each performer choose one song to play for the music portion of the video. Our song was “Too Much For Me”. We were third in line to play, so we were able to stay upstairs and watch the other acts on the tv’s. After the second performer was finished, the camera crew came up and videoed us walking down to the stage, then playing our song. Once the song was over, the 3 judges who selected us as a finalist were there to comment on our performance. It was hear their kind words.
Once everyone had performed, we went back upstairs for a catered lunch. I’m not sure who they used, but those tacos were probably the best tacos I’ve ever had! Since we were the only band, the other performers used a sweet house band called Verzatile, so it was great to talk to those guys during lunch. This guy on the left talking to Jared is Enrico Harmon, the bass player of the house band.
There was a third part to this trip, and that was the fact that each performer, in addition to being in a video, was given 20 minutes that evening to play to a full house at Legends. The bonus was that they livestreamed the show, allowing all our friends and family back home to have little livestream parties. We were really surprised to see several people we knew at the show. Our electric guitar player, Jeff’s parents showed up from Cincinnati. Two other friends of Jeff’s came. Flick had some friends come from Cincinnati. Our friend Dinah Samuelson came with a friend, and my friend and bandmate from college, Andy Dossman, showed up with his wife. It was so cool for all of them to come in support of us.
The house band came up to us after the show and had really nice things to say. Then they invited us to come play a gig with them later that night at another club. We were humbled to be asked by such great musicians. So after we finished up at Legends, we packed our stuff up and headed to a club on 23rd street. It was a cool atmosphere. Everyone was inclusive and friendly. There was spoken word, hip hop and soul. Everyone was there to listen and no one was there to judge. We were very grateful they asked us out to play. Looking forward to being in Chicago again so we can see those guys. They liked Donnell so much they wanted to keep him.
As we were leaving the venue, Enrico taught Jared thePino Palladino hand shake. It was awkwardly hilarious to say the least. We illegally piled into a cab and headed back to the hotel for some much needed sleep. That’s what should have happened, but everyone was hungry, so we walked down the block to a 24hr diner! Nothing like some hot wings at 2am.
We made it back to the hotel to get some sleep before our flight back to Cbus. Thankfully, Flick had a rain app on his phone that he played to put us all to sleep.
Big thanks to Verizon for choosing us as 1 of 5 finalists in their first ever Indie Icon competition. We are nearing the end of the final stage. Voting is the key to this whole thing. Once the video was made, Verizon uploaded it onto their website, and fans can vote once a day every day for Jared Mahone from June 3-16. All you have to do is create a free Verizon account and vote for Jared. Whoever gets the most votes is flown to New Orleans to perform at the 2013 Essence Festival. We are super excited for this opportunity and hope you’ll support us on this new adventure.