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The Return of the Jazzman

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Eddie Holstein, 1997 (Sun-Times photo)

Many friends who played an embryonic role in my cultural reporting have recently taken the long walk to the other side.
I'm starting to feel a little lonely.

And Chicago singer-songwriter Eddie Holstein, who was also my enabler at O'Rourke's tavern, was close to the edge. But I'm happy to report he took a lickin' and kept on tickin.'.
Here's part of a nice little e-mail I got last night from Eddie.....

...."I had some surgery last August. It turned out to be way more complicated than anybody expected, and I've been in and out of hospitals (mostly in) for the past six months. However, I am now sprung, down over 100 lbs. from the Extra Large Eddie you saw in my YouTube performance from last June, feeling great, and fighting tigers again. My very sincere thanks to all my friends who wrote and supported me during my illness."

Eddie will make a fun return to performing at 8 p.m. May 11 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., playing guitar alongside fellow OTS teachers Nathaniel Braddock and Chris Walz. Tickets are only $12.

Here's Eddie's performance from last June at the living wake of Earl Pionke, the gregarious owner of the Earl of Old Town folk club, who died last week.
Hang with it. It is great:

Eddie's best known composition "Jazzman," was popularized by Bonnie Koloc, Pure Prairie League and the late Steve Goodman. Between 1981 and 1988 he operated Holstein's on Lincoln Avenue, booking dusty troubadors like Ramblin' Jack Elliot with his younger brother Alan. The late Roger Ebert was a fan of Eddie's. And a friend.

Like all the great folk singers, Eddie is a raconteur. He is 65 years old and has never driven a car.

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Joe Mitchell, observer.

Like a singing Joseph Mitchell, he has walked all over the city. In 1997 I walked around Hyde Park with Eddie. At that time he was living near Bryn Mawr and Clark in Andersonville. He walked to the Wilmette-Skokie border to visit his mother.
That's a three-hour walk. One way.

"Walking fascinated me as a child," Holstein told me on that fall day in 1997. He was born atop his father's drugstore at 79th and Michigan.
"I'd walk to the Rhodes (movie theater) by myself," he said. "I'd see some urban movie like 'Miami Expose.' You'd walk out and you'd still be in the movie. You're a kid. And you're fantaszing you're the movie detective walking down the mean streets. Mean streets? In those days, car washes were on 79th Street."

Do yourself a kind favor.
Welcome back Eddie Holstein, who has never missed a step in the measured manner in which he looks at life.

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4 Comments

you hit another one out of the park dave...always entertaining. i am a fan.

Wonderful " Welcome Back" for a great guy. He has been much missed by his students at The Old Town School. Can you tell me if the DVD of Earl's party is available anywhere? Thanks!

Dave, thanks for a really lovely piece. And what a great picture of Eddie from 1997. He should print it and put it on his refrigerator as further inspiration to stay slim!

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Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.

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This page contains a single entry by David Hoekstra published on May 1, 2013 1:10 PM.

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