But Should We? by Rich Paschall
You may have heard that in addition to restaurants and bars, most sports venues, concert arenas, tourists attractions, and theme parks are welcoming back paying customers. You surely have noticed on your 65-inch television set, or 4-inch cell phone screen, that baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and a variety of other sports have people in the stands. Sometimes the stadiums are packed to capacity.
While outside sports may not seem so bad, what about indoor attractions? Are they safe to attend, or are they breeding grounds for the coronavirus? Can you count on these venues to welcome you back in safety, or will they be offering up Super Spreader events?
Many states have mask mandates and have issued strict rules for wearing masks at restaurants, hotels, indoor concerts, and the like. In fact, some restaurants here want proof of vaccination before letting you through their doors. You might think you are safe at a socially distanced restaurant, but what about a 900 seat theater? This was a dilemma I recently faced.
After a lot of consideration, I decided to drive out to St. Charles, Illinois for a concert at the 897 seat Arcada Theater. The 95-year-old venue is an ideal spot to see artists close up. They have attracted some big-name talent and can often fill the place. That’s a problem.
Despite a sign or two regarding mask-wearing, I noticed before the show that a large percentage of the audience (90 percent is my guess) and some of the staff were not wearing masks. I mentioned this to a gentleman to my left who was from a near Chicago suburb. He was wearing a mask as was I. His response should have been no surprise to me.
“You are not in Cook County anymore,” he said. By that, he meant that I was no longer in the heavily Democratic Chicagoland area. I had strayed into Republican territory where the locals were not interested in any mask mandates from a Democratic governor. I guess if I didn’t like it I could just get in my car and drive back to Chicago. The thought had crossed my mind.
I stuck it out, but I wondered how many of those people in the crowd might have or be acquiring COVID-19. Would any in that crowded theater be dead by Christmas? Would any of their relatives be regretting the fact that their loved ones refused the vaccine and attended crowded events?
Rather than drive a long way home on a cold and rainy night, I stayed at a local hotel chain on my senior discount. In the morning I stopped at the “bistro” area for coffee and what I would think was an overpriced microwave sandwich. On the large screen television in the lobby area was FAUX News, aka the Republican propaganda network. The morning so-called news people were saying that no one wanted mask mandates. They noted legislators (implying virtually all of them) wanted the president to discontinue vaccine mandates. If this is all the locals watch, their attitudes should not be a surprise, but I digress.
Leonid and Friends
This is truly one of the world’s greatest cover bands. We have previously discussed their success in “From Russia With Music.” Their large social media presence has often assured millions of views for their youtube videos. Most of their repertoire centers around copying the band Chicago exactly. Exactly! While they do not always have the tonal qualities or even pronunciations down exactly, they have mastered the phrasing of the various Chicago singers. The musical arrangements mirror those of the originals.
Last year the tour by the Russian rockers was canceled due to the global pandemic. This year they have returned to the road and are Back In The USA! Their lead guitar player and lead vocalist on many songs elected to stay behind and has been replaced by a couple of new members. The keyboard player is also different from two years ago but they have not missed a beat, so to speak.
At my location, 4 rows from the stage in front of the horn players, this is the performance I saw:
The mastermind of this production is a retired music teacher turned bandleader and rock star. He is the bass player and also grabs the lead vocals on a couple of songs.
The band has added a horn-infused rock song, Vehicle, by another Chicago area band Ides of March. They also gave us one by a band that has often opened for Chicago, Earth, Wind, and Fire. This one is also from the show I attended.
So that you can fully appreciate their work. Here is one of their studio creations.