Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dan Weese marries congas with canoeing

In August, C and I took another of our numerous bike rides in Chicago.  This time we started at the north end of Andersonville and headed to Wrigley Park along Clark Street.  It’s a busy road, but it has an official bike lane.  In Andersonville we came across numerous shops that sell vintage furniture and accessories.  In one, called Room Service, I spotted a beautiful conga drum.  (note beautiful conga drum in photo below.)


I’ve had a low grade fever for a conga drum since I was a kid.  After a bit of fast talking on my part, Carolyn agreed that it was essential that I buy the drum because it was the most ideal early Christmas gift for me that she had ever seen (or could even imagine).  The owner of Room Service, bless his heart, agreed to let me take the conga home “on approval.”  We soon learned that the $245 price tag was steep for a working musician’s conga drum, so I returned the drum the next day (particularly since I am not a working musician. Yet).  The owner agreed that this particular drum was more a decorating accessory (it certainly looked nice in the living room, as you can see in the next photo) than a working drum (although it played nicely).


I figured I would shop around.  Indeed, the very next day we found ourselves in Lincoln Square, literally across the square from Cafe Selmarie, looking at a beautiful pair of LP congas, with stands and bags for $350. (Poor guy was getting married and it was clear that the drums had to go.)  Even C was stunned at the beauty of this pair of drums.  I hemmed and hawed, but finally determined I had to sleep on it. 

The next morning I checked Craigslist, for the umpteenth time.  Woah!  Something new had just been posted:  A pair of LP (that’s a brand name) bongos . . . for ten bucks?!  In Skokie!  I bought them instantly.  I have been banging away with pleasure ever since. 


There is something to be said about their portability, but they do look puny compared to my guitar.  Almost silly:


The conga drum definitely looked much, much cooler.  Absolutely groovy. 

I have continued to dream about congas and shared my tale with architect and professional trouble-maker Dan Weese.  It turned out that he owns a conga drum!  And has even had lessons.  He has been encouraging me to buy one since the moment he heard my story.  Or a pair of them.  Or a set of three.  “Come on, John, you only live once.”

Today I received this sketch from Dan (click to see larger version):

Dan Weese conga sketch 092209

Meanwhile, I am enjoying my bongos, banging away with turned-up-loud Santana, Mongo Santamaria, Poncho Sanchez, Tito Puente, etc. 


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