Urban Djin: Tales From Maxwell Street – Gabriel, Blow Your Horn

Urban Djin played for Buddy Guy’s Legends for over 7 years, delighting our lunch crowds with a shining smile and a one of a kind sound. Unlike other musicians he would walk amongst the tables in his classic red cowboy garb enjoying the interaction of the guests. He was one of a kind performer, person, and friend, we miss his joy at Legends everyday and no matter where ever he travels he has a home here.

The following is a collection of experiences Urban had while living in Maxwell street from 1982 to 1996. Maxwell Street was a community unlike any other made up of musicians, food vendors and more, you could find just about anything there. It was the heart and hub of Chicago blues, hosting many of the greatest musicians to ever live. Whatever Maxwell Street became in its heyday it was a mecca of wonder that will never replaced but it will always be remembered.

(Continued from Be It Ever So Funky)

Gabriel, Blow Your Horn!      

It was Sunday, the first of February, 1987, 4:00 AM. I was sleeping peacefully when I was roused by a cracking noise. I assumed somebody was trying to break in and fumbled in the dark for the baseball bat I kept in the bedroom for just such a situation. Suddenly the whole facade started to slide into Halsted, pulling a big chunk of the building with it. As the floors above came crashing down I was swimming upstream, pushing off from things that were heavier than me as they went down, finally grabbing a piece of conduit as the wall it had been fastened to fell away. Tarzan would have been proud! I pulled myself up to the top of the conduit and grabbed a pipe. I pushed off of a bit of wall that was still there and vaulted up onto the remaining floor as the pipe too went down. And then it stopped. The bed I had been sleeping on no more than ten seconds earlier was buried under tons of rubble. And there I was standing upright, peering into the chasm with only minor scraps and bruises. The front third of the building was gone, including my bedroom and the huge walk in closet where I kept all my clothes and most of my stuff (More on the contents of that closet later.) Good morning!

Needless to say, I didn’t have a plan for this particular event. What does one do? Who do you call? I was in shock. Or was it a state of grace? It was February and I had no clothes. I found a pair of blue snakeskin pointy toed shoes with Cuban heels and a pair of dirty blue work pants. Hey, at least I matched! I was relieved to find that I had thrown my coat over a chair in the kitchen, pulled on my coonskin cap and climbed down the fire escape to face the world. I walked down to the sub drive on the corner and the guy who worked nights was already outside. Almost immediately I had a cup of hot coffee in my hand and was being interviewed over their phone. I was live on the radio. Then the TV crews showed up. And the city workers. It was surreal! There I was re-enacting my dramatic ordeal for the cameras.

Happy to be alive, I still didn’t have a plan.

It was a slow news day. I was the local news, on all the major media outlets. My friend Boshi heard me being interviewed on his alarm clock radio and got on the phone. People just started showing up to help. People I barely knew, people I hadn’t seen in years, people I haven’t seen since. They brought cloths and food and cash and spent the whole day helping me get my things, such as they were, squared away. Local restaurants sent food to feed everybody. It was such an overwhelming outpouring of generosity, concern, and love. I went from being completely alone and bereft of almost everything I once owned to being the guy with a million friends. I was famous. I think it was the most beautiful day of my life.

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BG is a free magazine bringing you stories about Buddy Guy's Legends, blues music, and music generally. Please direct submissions to buddyguyslegends@gmail.com for consideration.

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BGadmin

BGadmin

BG is a free magazine bringing you stories about Buddy Guy's Legends, blues music, and music generally. Please direct submissions to buddyguyslegends@gmail.com for consideration.