The Food and Wine Hedonist

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Bringing Back the 90s – How Acoustic Guitars Changed My Life

Wow. I got hundreds of hits on the first Bringing Back the 90s post which I take to mean there’s plenty of interest in a Retro-90s movement.  Gluttons for pain, I suppose.

Luckily Hootie & The Blowfish wasn’t the only big news in music. For me there was something else in the world of music that ended up changing my life in many ways.  It didn’t make a huge splash like Grunge or  Gangsta rap (which I’m sure I’ll cover in future posts).  This was definitely toned down – literally.  I’m talking about MTV Unplugged, the show that brought in popular artists and had them perform their hits using acoustic instruments – no electric guitars or synthesizers.

The show was a such a huge hit that bars all over the place started featuring live acoustic music.  In Chicago, we used to hit up Harrington’s Pub several days a week to drink ourselves silly and listen to acoustic covers of our favorite songs.  After a while I got a job there as a bouncer on the weekends.  I figured since I was there often enough I might as well get paid for it.  Great idea but, of course, all the money I earned went back into the bar’s cash register.

It’s called Harrigan’s now… (

For a couple years, you couldn’t go into the place on a weekend night without handing over $5 to yours truly.  I’d sit at the door with Irish Garry and watch the beautiful women fawn all over the guys who would perform there.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Holy Balls were some of those guys ugly.  Yet playing the guitar made them instant chick magnets.  So since I needed all the dating help I could get – there was no Social Kenny back then – I ended up learning how to play.  It didn’t help.  But at least I picked up a hobby that I still enjoy to this day.

But the acoustic fad had an even bigger impact in my life.  While working at the bar I got to become good friends with a band called The Shy Boys, an acoustic trio that had a big following at the University of Iowa and later moved to Chicago.  You can occasionally catch one of the guys, Matt Berger, at various bars there.  Anyway, one night I was at the bar listening to the band and hanging with Matt’s girlfriend and some of her friends.

One of them was actually drunk enough interested in whatever I was saying and we ended up talking all night and doing shots.  After closing we had breakfast at 3 am where she saw me inhale a huge plate of Huevos Rancheros in about 10 seconds.  Unbelievably, she wasn’t completely turned off and agreed to go on a date with me the next day. Which then turned into several dates over the next couple of weeks.  Which then turned into… well, you get the point.  Yes, it was my future wife – Boom Boom.

Here’s one song that I’m sure was played that night, since EVERY acoustic bar band in Chicago played it …

About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

12 comments on “Bringing Back the 90s – How Acoustic Guitars Changed My Life

  1. Hyacinth
    May 25, 2012

    MTV Unplugged introduced me to Tony Bennett of all people! I also had the Nirvana and Eric Clapton albums. I can’t attribute acoustic music to a job or a future wife, but I can say it made me feel cultured and grown up!

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  3. Socialkenny
    May 25, 2012

    Lol well Socialkenny was around then,just didn’t have any skills with women lol.

    BTW,I’m all about the 90’s when it comes to music.Acoustics are cool.MTV Unplugged was the shit too.

    Do MTV still feature anything music?Hell no.I should know since my MTV’s glued to MTV.

  4. a2sicilian
    May 30, 2012

    Aww, I never heard that whole story! Sweet!

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  10. guitar picks
    March 11, 2013

    I’m glad that music was a big part in you meeting your wife. It is just the sweetest story I have ever heard. Acoustic music just seems to be filled with so much soul that almost everyone enjoys it. In our part of town acoustic bars are still thriving and sharing good music. Thanks for the story! Cheers!

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This entry was posted on May 25, 2012 by in Music, Television, The Chi and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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