Characters (Singing Illinois in two places! #13)

Pitch is a very swanky bar — who would have thought such a place would exist in Peoria, IL? I order a Pale Ale (as opposed to one of the 100 shots listed on the ceiling or any of the Mason jar drinks) from the bartender who is 2 weeks due from her fourth child. A beefy guy sings “Let it Go” — in Japanese. He follows that up by singing Belle and having a different voice for all the characters. There is serious talent here. The bartender tells a customer they need to make a drinking game for every time someone chooses to sing a musical number – but then the whole bar would be wasted and she didn’t want to deal with that.

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Froofie drinks for a froofie crowd

A woman dressed in a fedora and black flowy, backless pantsuit with serious bell bottoms orders a caramel whiskey with butterscotch schnapps. One half of a cute couple who has spent the night taking selfies says to her, “You’re a strong woman,” which seems to please her quite a bit. I’m not sure drinking sweet flavored booze mixes makes one strong, but I’m old. The crowd here is too young and hip for me. I never would have fit into a group like this, and yet I find myself trying anyway. Song selections are impossible to figure out. Actually, that’s not entirely true; I was going to sing Mr. Brightside, but someone beat me to it. Oh well – at least I called that right.

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There is no way to tell who lurks behind this bar…

The next bar the next night in the next city was completely different. Here, a gangly young man in a baseball cap and basketball shorts sings a mean Josh Groban. A morbidly obese woman sings rock songs poorly, but with enthusiasm. A tiny white woman sings about “the good old days” when “daddy’s came home.” A large African-American man brings me to tears with his rendition of Purple Rain. Later he sings a song called “I Love You” (?) and during the instrumental asks the audience, “You know what I really love? This beer.” The bottle he picks up is Redd’s, that nasty shit.

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…or this one.

Then there is the short young man with the pencil mustache. I don’t really know how to capture him. He doesn’t sing into the mic at all, so from an audience perspective, all we’re hearing is the instrumental of Freebird, Jethro Tull, and other classic rock standards. He serenades his stuffed animals when he sings: Mau Mau and Mau Mau II are two black cats and then there is a cougar, Tucker. The man would walk up to various patrons (I assume he knew them as none of them looked phased when this happened) and rested the animals he brought on their shoulders. The critters hadn’t seen a washing machine in years; I wonder how long he’s had them. Though he did wander around the bar a little, his home base was always standing next to the KJ.

Strange to see a man clutching a stuffed kitten ordering Jack & Cokes from the bar. No stranger than a man who sings a beautiful Purple Rain dedicating his love to a Redd’s, or a beefy guy singing Disney in multiple languages, I suppose. This happens across the country every night.

The basics:

Bar #1

  • Location: Pitch, Peoria, IL
  • Miles traveled: 426
  • Songs sung: Metro (Berlin), You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Meatloaf)

Bar #2

  • Location: Blueberry Hill, Forest Park, IL
  • Miles traveled: 178
  • Songs sung: Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac), Take My Breath Away (Berlin)
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