Chicago - Dec. 15, 2017
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Beachwood Nation Has Lost A Good One: Remembering Steve Ediger

I met Steve in the late '80s through our mutual friend Evan Singer. Evan was, like Steve, born and bred in Chicago (Evan went to Mather High and Illinois State U., where he and I met; Steve went to Whitney Young High and North Park College; I went to Naperville Central and ISU). They had a band called Lert Somboon Festival of Love. Evan played guitar, Steve played bass and was the principal songwriter. They needed a drummer so Evan reached out to me (we had a band back at ISU).

We came together (as I recall) in 1989, and rehearsed at a place called Nepentha, near Milwaukee and Chicago Avenues, where Steve worked on, among other things, putting faux finishes on statuary. We'd rehearse in the basement, surrounded by creepy statues. It was perfect! Steve had a rich and macabre sense of humor, which came out in his songs, drawings and paintings. He always made our posters; he had a distinctive, deft touch in his drawings.

Our band took pride in improvising arrangements onstage, opening up to one another to actually jam. Steve was a great bass player, though I don't think he realized just how great he was. We played together for a few years (at Batteries Not Included, Weeds, Phyllis', Links Hall, etc.) and then, in my recall, got ground down in the "endless tour of the Near Northwest Side." We made some recordings, but this was before the Internet and it was difficult and expensive to press up LPs or tapes without a record company. The Alternative Music scene exploded around us, but also without us.

So we drifted apart in the early '90s, but found ourselves back together at a poetry reading I was doing at Phyllis' in 2007. Steve suggested we get together just to jam for fun, but then we got right back into the momentum of playing out for the rest of the year, as was our natural habit. We had some fun, but then (again, in my view) we were right back where we were 15 years before, only 15 years older. So we agreed that we'd had our fun and that was gonna have to be enough.

We made new recordings of our tunes in that last year, now available at Spotify as "That was Now, This is Then" by Lert Somboon Festival of Love. It captures our punk/low-fi aesthetic and features Steve's unique voice and songs. Our motto was "Slow and Hard."

He was smart, funny, talented and a nice guy in a genuine and alluring way. And he was a product of a Chicago environment for the arts that nourished his diverse talents. We'll miss him deeply.

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See also: Chicagoetry: Black Tupelo.

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Editor's Note: I knew Steve Ediger from the Beachwood Inn, and he invented a ritual for us every time we saw each other there that I thought was the corniest thing ever, but there was no way I was ever going to let a single time go by without fulfilling it; we would bump fists and then raise our arms in the air while announcing "Team Steve!"

I didn't see as much of Steve around the bar in its last couple of years, and once it closed many of us were scattered to the winds, but it turned out he and I had other mutual acquaintances, so it came that in June 2015 I found him in the place where I've lived since 2014, at a house party/fundraiser for a community mural my roommate was coordinating. Of course we greeted each other the usual way - "Team Steve!" - and fell into the old routine.

That's when I learned he had fought a fight against oral cancer that was pretty ugly. Doctors took skin grafts from his calf and forearm to replace the tongue he lost; he had difficulty swallowing and had to constantly wet his mouth. And yet, at least at that time and place, he had his usual (to me, anyway) upbeat temperament. I think he was happier than I was!

I saw him at least one other time, as I recall, and then saw some of his artwork on Facebook, and the next I heard, the cancer had returned and he wasn't doing so well. I didn't see him again, but J.J. was at his side in the last weeks. When J.J. went to see Steve in the hospital for what turned out to be the last time, he asked me if I had any words to pass on. I said, just tell him, "Team Steve." J.J. did, and reported back to me that Steve smiled.

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Lert Somboon Festival Of Love

I Got The News

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On the Air

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Been Around, Get Around

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Steve's last words to J.J.: "No Trump."

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Steve Ediger on Facebook.

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A memorial is planned for Saturday December 17, at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Avenue in Chicago, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Service from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on November 15, 2016


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