Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reason 235 I love living in the city: Banjo Night at Lincoln Restaurant!

I came home craving Chinese food and seemed to have convinced Nolan that he also wanted Chinese.  We hadn’t ventured out for Chinese food since moving into our new place but knew of one restaurant up the street, about a half-mile east, so we left our apartment seeking egg rolls!

CLOSED MONDAYS is what we found when we arrived.  Not being overly ravenous we continued south on Lincoln Avenue thinking, “how far could another Chinese place be?”  On the next block, 10 minutes later we found another CLOSED MONDAYS deflating our craving for egg rolls!

The next best thing we saw read BANJO MONDAYS!  Somehow we just couldn’t resist the gravitational force from that plastered sign in the diner window! Time to investigate!

Is there such a thing as a dive diner?  If so, Lincoln Restaurant might be the epitome of dive diner.  Their burgundy chairs with brass rivets, old musty red carpet, brown tile, faux-wood Formica just yells dive!  But we were greeted with the most sincere cheerful woman that was so excited someone under 65 might be interested in their Banjo Night!  We entered the back room 20 minutes before the band started to filter in.   A couple cheep beers and pork chops filled out mouths so we couldn’t gape at the scene from Cocoon we were suddenly apart of!  

Nolan and I along with the crying toddler at the table in the corner and the new trainee waitress lowered the average age of the room to about 72.    We had just entered Jessica Tandy, early-bird-special, blue-haired Mecca!  I couldn’t keep a straight face or my mouth closed most of the night.

At about 7 we noticed black instrument cases and music stands gradually fill the end of the room creating a circle of chairs for the impending performance.  7, yes S-E-V-E-N banjos, 2 guitars, 1 trombone, 1 violin, 1 clarinet, and 1 accordion, oh and let’s not forget the WASHBOARD that made up the group – WINDY CITY JAMMERS!

I even found a youtube video of them playing at Lincoln Restaurant! 

Later on we learned from Edward, who had been the guy trying to lure all the kids to come strum his banjo that the group has been playing for 30 years, he has been with them for 9, he was 70 years-old and has been playing since he was 11.  He also was kind enough to tell us a little bit on how to play the banjo.

Nolan promptly said, “I want to learn how to play an instrument,” something I hear him say every couple months since I’ve known him.  But this time it was accompanied with, “so I can have something to do when I’m old.” 

This time I think Edward convinced him he NEEDED to play! 

We’re now taking donations for a banjo for Nolan and earplugs for Camille!


  1. Has he given up on the harmonica? Maybe he can get one of those contraptions that holds the harmonica to his month so he can play the banjo with his hands! I can see it! But what about the digereedoo???

  2. Well, Nolan keeps the harmonica on the boat, so that's a plus for me and the neighbors! The dgereedoo is sitting happy on our wall, it looks pretty!
    They guy with the washboard in the video also rocked the kazoo when we were there, it was pretty amazing!