Cheap Trick members treat Ravenswood residents to surprise performance at backyard concert


Having members of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band showing up and performing in your backyard is usually the makings of a Hollywood legend, like when Jeff Spicoli hired Van Halen to play his birthday party. in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”.

But Friday night in Ravenswood, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, along with his son Daxx, who plays drums for the beloved band, surprised a small crowd at a backyard gig – even joining the band. planned for a few songs.

The stage was the home of music lovers John Culver and his wife Kathy Tynus, who during the pandemic found a way to provide income for groups while providing themselves and their friends with a safe way to get their fix of music – hosting small groups at Culver’s House on Warner Avenue.

They asked their guests for voluntary donations of $ 20 to the groups, giving a boost to musicians largely cut off from playing elsewhere.

(Andi Aguilar, a local Ald staff member Matt Martin (47th), said that because fees are not mandatory, concerts are held on private property and shows end at 10pm, no permits is needed.)

Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts, who played Culver’s last spring during the shutdown, were playing in the backyard again on Friday. But Miles Nielson had no idea his father and brother Daxx were in town as well.

Earlier in the evening, Culver’s friend Billy Jacobs, co-owner of Chicago Piece pizzeria with Rick Nielsen, received separate texts, first from Daxx and then from Rick, telling him both were returning from a private concert in Seattle and asking if he wanted to reunite.

“I said, ‘Yeah, let’s go get some pizza and some beer and go see Miles and surprise him.’ And that’s exactly what we did, ”said Jacobs.

Rick Nielsen walked into the yard carrying the pizza, with Daxx up close, shocking both the crowd and Miles.

“I had no idea they were going to show up,” said Miles Nielsen. “I heard my father’s voice and I turned to the right and he was there.”

A few minutes later, the two joined Miles and his band and performed two songs from Cheap Trick – “Voices” and “I Want You To Want Me”.

Last year, the yard had been limited to around 15 guests – though groups of similar size also sat in the yards of its two next door neighbors – and also made donations.

This year, although venues have reopened, Culver and Tynus are still putting on shows because their friends – and bands – love them. They may also invite more people, as outdoor COVID-19 restrictions have eased.

“We even had people sitting in folding chairs in the aisle listening and donating to the groups,” Culver said.

Steve Mendel, a friend of the couple who hasn’t missed a show, said that for many bands, even a crowd of 45 could be real money – “a lot more than a lot of these bands make playing. in a club”.

Welsh rocker Jon Langford, best known for leading the Mekons and who is also a part of the Waco Brothers, has performed three times in Culver’s backyard.

“It was a real morale booster. We hadn’t played for a long time and it was like a real concert, ”Langford said.

During the pandemic he performed quite a few virtual shows – “some that worked and some that felt like they were singing into my phone in my basement”, but it was nothing compared to the atmosphere of Culver shows.

“It was pretty punk rock,” Langford said.

Judy Barahal, another friend of Culver’s, attended all of the backyard performances.

“It was truly a lifeline for those of us whose social life revolves around live music,” said Barahal, adding that “streaming a concert or attending a Zoom party pales in comparison”.

But Friday night was another thing.

“I’m still pinching myself,” Barahal said afterwards.

Mendel, who before the pandemic would see 150 live acts per year, simply added:

“It was a very special evening.

Unfortunately, because it was even a surprise to Culver, he was unable to alert his wife, who was in bed at her South Loop house after leaving work early because she was ill.

“She was so disappointed,” Culver said, adding that she wasn’t mad at him since he didn’t know it.

That said, Culver might consider making up for it at a future backyard show by shooting a real Spicoli. After all, Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth will soon have plenty of free time, announcing this week that he will be retiring by January. And after having half a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band play in his backyard, it might not be wise to think he couldn’t pull it off.

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