The Tony Mangiullo's Story: August 15th, 1978 - My first day in Chicago

Echoes of a Dream: Celebrating 45 Years in Chicago's Blues Haven

On this warm August 15th day, the city's heartbeat resonated with promise, as I marked my 45th year in Chicago. This vibrant metropolis had become my final blues haven, a destination I had long yearned for. The journey began across oceans, departing Italy's embrace on August 1,1978, carried by the rhythmic song of the train's wheels.

Through Calais, France, and a ferry's gentle sway, I ventured, only to find myself in Dover, England, halted by an unforeseen encounter with authority. Questions arose like waves, and the curious eyes of officials probed my travel intentions. From the shores of Europe, I followed destiny's whispers to London. A train's rhythm led me to its heart, yet airport gates withheld the passage to New York's dreams. A 'stand-by-fare' ticket, a decision fueled by thrift, kept me grounded, transforming two weeks in London into an unforeseen pause.

Amidst London's vibrant tapestry, my savings danced away, and the road to New York finally opened its arms. But alas, some of my belongings were stolen, leaving me vulnerable in a bustling city. A new journey beckoned, one of uncertainties and challenges.

A bus ride to Chicago, a voyage that seemed endless, as the bus halted at every corner, stretching time's embrace.The road unfurled dreams and nightmares alike. In slumber's grip, a dog chased me through the realms of dreams, wings clipped by invisible bonds. In this surreal dance, a bite marked a memory that would not fade.

With courage and two addresses clutched close, I reached Chicago's streets, guided by the echoes of Junior Wells' name and the promise of Theresa's Lounge. Taxi fares were deemed too steep, so a humble bus would be my guide, tracing routes that cost mere coins.

At last, the entrance to Theresa's Lounge stood before me, guarded by a loyal german shepherd. A kindly welcome followed, as Theresa herself took my burdens and bade me wait. Hours slipped by like notes on a page, until the world fell silent and the night's starry embrace enveloped the city.

A moment of magic unfolded, as Junior Wells emerged from the shadows, his presence electrifying the air. Amidst the music of legends, a symphony of souls, I found my place in the heart of the blues. John Primer, Sammy Lawhorn, Ernest Johnson, all threads of the Muddy Waters Band's tapestry, wove harmonies that echoed through time.

Junior's fingers danced upon his harmonica, a master weaving stories in melodies, and in a swift and spontaneous dance, he beckoned me to the stage. Drums called to me, a heartbeat syncopating with my own, and I answered the call. With dawn's arrival, Junior's generosity shone brighter than ever. He guided me to a haven, a downtown hotel, a respite from the night's enchantment.

In his actions, I found inspiration, a path paved with kindness and artistry. And now, as the years have flowed like the rivers of time, I stand on this anniversary, humbled by those who took a chance on a traveler from distant shores. Junior Wells, a beacon of music's embrace, and Theresa's Lounge, a sanctuary for the soul, I raise my gratitude to you.

The journey has been one of melody and memory, and today, I celebrate your enduring legacy.

Thank you, Junior Wells. Thank you, Theresa Needham.

Tony Mangiullo 8/15/2023