Chicago raids Madrid

Chicago's JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound @ Rock Kitchen in Madrid, Spain

Nearing the end of a 3 1/2 week stint of tooling around overseas, I was welcomed home two days before even arriving back in Chicago.

The flight to bring me back to the States was coming out of Madrid, and I was envisioning a couple of chill nights being spent there to wind the journey down, knowing that I’d be jumping right back into the madness of life upon getting home.  Oh, but I was mistaken..

It began when my good friend at Delilah’s on Lincoln enthusiastically put me in touch with his “boy Francisco in Madrid”.  Turns out Francisco is a well-connected music industry guy who is in tune with anything you’d ever need in Madrid.  Sure, he knows which direction to point you in for famous sites, but I’m talking about real tangible stuff:  where to go drinking, where the best rock clubs/bars are, where the good record stores are, where to eat, where the red light district is, and even hooked me with a cheap price on a place to stay.  Upon arriving and meeting Francisco, he informs me that he’s involved with a music festival happening the very two nights that I’d be in town…um, yeah..could I have even scripted this any better?

The real kicker was the moment I was shown the band lineup, and there I found Chicago’s own JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound.  Honing their blend of indie rock and classic Chicago soul for three years now, there really isn’t anyone else in town (Chicago, that is) doing what they’re doing.

Amongst a two-night bill full of rock acts, these guys brought the hip shaking.  It took a few songs for the Spaniards to warm up to them and their style (I’m not aware of any soul/rock/R&B groups in Madrid), but by the end of the band’s set the crowd was all-in and nobody was standing still.  I think they successfully left their mark, and I hope that the remaining shows that they’re playing in Spain over the next week are as much of a hit.

Once they return home, you’ll have a chance to catch them on Oct. 28th at Otto’s in Dekalb if you’re reading from the far west burbs, and then in the city at an event called “Spooktacular” on Oct. 30th at Impala Studios.

But my Chicago connection for the night wasn’t yet over.

Not only was I put in touch with my new friend Francisco in Madrid, but Mike from Delilah’s also implored me to check out his favorite bar in that city.  Now, if a film director whose work you love told you about a film that he/she enjoys, you’d rush right out to see it, wouldn’t you?  Similarly, when the owner of Chicago’s finest bar (and globally ranked whiskey bar) tells me to check out a place called Templo Del Gato, you can bet I’ll be there.

Templo Del Gato, Madrid

Upon walking in, I immediately knew why Mike loves it so much.  Like Delilah’s, music is top priority and it looked and felt like a ‘sister bar’ to Delilah’s.  The dj was killing it with old school 60’s garage like the Kinks and Easybeats, plus post punk like Joy Division and The Cure.  And it was on the little window of the dj booth where I found the sticker in the photo that you see here.  Righteous.

Madrid's imbibing meets Chicago's

The clientele was fun and friendly, and the bartender–who could barely speak English but understood that I was sent there from the Chicago bar on the sticker–was happy that I was there and my second round of cerveza was on the house.

All in all, it was a nice little buffer to return home from a long trip by practically feeling like I was already back in Chicago 48 hours before arriving!

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