Live, from Peoria, Illinois, it’s Saturday Night Cheeseburger, starring this week’s host, Carl’s Bakery with special guest stars, Southern Cross, live from Fitz Inn and featuring the Ready For Prime Beef Player, Marty Wombacher. And now, all the way from East Peoria, please welcome, Carl’s Bakery.
And here we go, we're doing a daytime cheeseburger on this episode of SNC, which will be explained later on in the post. It's kind of a grey old day out there, which is fine with me. I'm not a big fan of sunshine or daytime hours.
We're headed towards East Peoria, which means we have to take the interstate, which still freaks me out a little, since I'm still getting used to driving on it after having a 19 year break from driving a car. But what really weirds me out is going over the bridge. I've always hated driving over bridges, but since I've moved back the fear has seemed to multiply as my driving skills are still rusty.
It feels like this bridge is going to eat me alive right now. The sense of dread is at an all time high. Aaaahhhh!
Okay, through the miracle of the internet you're spared an anxiety-riddled attack trip over that bridge, traveling about ten miles an hour with everyone passing me and honking the horn while I was sweating and driving white-knuckled with my heart pounding like a jackhammer on amphetamines. I miss the subway at moments like that. Anyway, here we are at Carl's Bakery in East Peoria. They're famous for their pastries, baked goods and apple fritters, but they're even more famous for...
MMMM Good...I wonder if this is true or if they're just crowing...okay, enough rooster puns, let's go in...
And see what's happening in Carl's Bakery on this fine Saturday afternoon.
Wow, it's really nice in here and it has an old-time feeling in a good kind of way.
A large circular table sits up near the front window for a large gathering of eaters.
All the people working behind the counter were camera shy, but I got Connie and Frank to pose for the MBIP camera. Frank is wanted by the law, so don't let them know about this photo!
Wow, check out the doughnuts in the glassed-in case up front, they sure look good! I think I know what I'm having for dessert.
In addition to the giganzo rooster that stands outside of the diner, there's plenty more inside, here's some hanging over the kitchen window.
Here's one on a coffee cup...
And decorative rooster plates hang on the walls in Carl's Bakery.
Here's a rooster standing attention over the coffee machine. There's even more roosters in here, but I think you get the point, so I'm going to go sit down and wait for my cheeseburger.
This is my view of the place from my seat in the back booth of the diner.
And before you know it, it's cheeseburger time! It's served up with a classic yellow squeeze bottle of French's mustard on a turquoise plate. Beautiful!
A very good burger, the bun was exceptional, but that's a given considering this place is a bakery as well as a diner.
And three minutes later, we've plowed through the burger...
I ordered the dessert to go and we can eat it in the car, kind of a sub-Dashboard Dining moment.
I got a glazed doughnut and it looks great!
You know what’s weird about the internet? One minute you’re sitting in your car eating a glazed doughnut in the parking lot of Carl’s Bakery in East Peoria and then, all of a sudden...
Baboom! You’re standing in front of the Fitz Inn in Green Valley, Illinois. This is the reason I had to eat my cheeseburger in the daytime for this post. My friend Kevin drums in one of the Midwest’s premier bands, Southern Cross. The last time they played here, an Elvis Costello-like incident prevented me from attending, but tonight, thanks to the “Jeremiah Express,” here we are. Sure, we almost got run over by a three ton semi-tractor trailer after going the wrong way on a one way street, but hey, we’re here and that’s all that counts in this man’s army! (Inside jokes abound in those last two sentences.)
Wow, it’s a big crowd in here. There’s a back room and I can hear some thundering music, so let’s go check it out.
There they are, right beyond these two pool tables in the spacious back room of Fitz’s...
Ladies and Gentlemen, Southern Cross!
These guys are one tightly-tuned band. While they fall into the “country rock” category, their set list proves that they are all that and so much more. They stay true to their country roots by playing classic tunes by Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Jr., Hank Snow and all the rest of the usual twangy suspects. But, what sets Southern Cross a notch above all the other bands out there is that they mix up their country set list with songs by diverse artists such as: The Violent Femmes, Wilson Pickett, Van Morrison and AC/DC. That’s right, one minute you’re going to Folsom Prison with them and then before you know it, they’re taking you down the Highway to Hell. This makes for a great show because you never know what’s coming next.
Josh is the lead guitarist and vocalist for the band. He’s been playing in bands since he was in high school and the experience is obvious onstage, he’s a lightening-quick guitarist, super vocalist and a great front man for the band.
How the hell does he know what pedal to push?
Darrel handles double duty playing both guitar and pedal steel guitar. His guitar work is mighty impressive, but what I really enjoyed...
Was his stellar pedal steel playing. You don’t get to hear pedal steel live often and Darrel is an aficionado on this instrument. One of my all-time favorite musicians is Sneaky Pete Kleinow who played steel guitar for the Flying Burrito Brothers and did session work for The Everly Brothers, John Lennon, Harry Nilsson and about every other musician on the planet. Darrel and I talked about Sneaky Pete at the bar during a break. One cool thing about the band is that they hang out in between the sets and chat with the crowd.
And last, but certainly not least, is Kevin who attacks the drums like a warrior and lays down a steady foundation and groove for the band. He also adds nice harmony vocals to the mix. Watching him skillfully pound the skins, you’d think he’s been drumming his whole life, so it’s even more amazing when you learn that he started drumming just thirteen years ago!
During impressive drum fills, Kevin’s hands become a blur...or is that due to the fact that Kevin bought me a shot of whiskey right before they started this song? Only my hairdresser knows for sure and she’s not talking because I sewed her mouth shut three months ago. That’ll teach her to start spreading those nasty rumors about my sideburns!
Fitz Inn serves as home base for these guys, but they play gigs all over the country and have opened up for national acts such as: The Kentucky Headhunters, Miranda Lambert, Confederate Railroad, Blackhawk and many others. Here’s a list of some of their upcoming gigs. It was a great show and a wonderful way to end a day that started with a cheeseburger and ended with some great live music and a shot of whiskey. See you all tomorrow!