Susan sings—Part Two

Susan sings—Part Two

By Mike Leifheit, Columnist

I go to bed early Saturday night. I want to be sure I am in good form on Sunday. I get up around 7, and go to the Parthenios for coffee. Mary makes me a double strength pot. I want to be able to stay up late, so I work all morning and then plan to take a nap. I am thinking about going to Chen’s again for a quick bite before I do, but I discover a big screw stuck in the back right tire of the Villager.

I drive out to Loves Park searching for a place to repair my tire on Sunday. I drive almost all the way to Roscoe without success. Then I have a brainstorm and call the Farm and Fleet store on West State. The girl in the tire department says they can repair my tire in 30 minutes. It takes more like 45, but at least it is done, and I won’t have to cancel our trip to Chicago to see Susan Hofer sing at Pops For Champagne.

I manage to squeeze in 30 or 40 minutes of catnap, then the phone rings at 6. It is Izzy. I tell her I will pick her up at seven, and then I try to call Angela, but Angela is a no-show. That’s OK ’cause Izzy and I know how to have fun together. I slam a shower and then head out East State in my van.

As I drive out State Street, the full moon is shining down on me. It is perfectly bissected by a contrail. The effect is mesmerizing. I call Izzy on the cell phone. “Are you coming?” She says, “Yes.” I say, “But just go outside and look at the moon.” Then I hang up and continue on to her house. I go too far down State Street; I have only been here once before. I have to back track and circle around to her house. She is waiting outside. When she gets in the car, I ask her if she saw the moon. “Oh yes,” she says, “wasn’t it beautiful?”

Izzy discovers that I have the new Beat Merchants album on my CD player in the Mercury, and then that is it; it’s J.F. all the way to Chicago. We get there in good time. My directional instincts are working, and I find the club almost immediately. As we pull up in front of the place, someone vacates the perfect parking place. We walk about a block to a restaurant called Soprano’s and sit at the bar to have wine. Then we walk back to Pops, and as we pass the window, we see Susan on stage. She is just starting her first set. Our timing is perfect.

We walk in and sit at the bar. Susan is barely 10 feet from us on an elevated stage behind the bar. She is the most beautiful woman. She dominates the stage. Her singing is perfect, and the group she is with is terrific. They call themselves the Russell Allan Rowe Trio. Izzy wants to move farther back to a table where she can see the piano player and the bass player, but I resist. I know what I want to see, but then I give in and move, too.

The show is wonderful. I am totally content. We had several glasses of wine at the Italian restaurant, and I don’t want to be bogged down by too much alcohol. I try to order a Miller Lite, but all they have is Amstel Light. That’s OK, I can live with it. Izzy has a Bloody Mary. And Susie sings her heart out. The show is so tight that it is difficult to believe that this is their first time performing together, but it is. She shifts into a torch song, and the audience is spellbound. You can hear a pin drop. When she finishes the last number of the first set, the audience explodes in applause.

After the show, Susie introduces me to someone, and I mistakenly think it is the owner of the club. Turns out it was the bass player. I tell him, in my confusion, that I think I have been in this club before, and I ask how long it has been called Pops. He looks at me in a bewildered fashion. Then Izzy comes to my rescue and announces that he is the bass player.

After the show, Izzy and I meet Susan’s father and his woman friend. Susan invites me to stay and meet her friends, but we have Indian food and a column to consider. I tell her I have to leave to invoke myself in shameless self-promotion. We drive the short distance to the Moti Mahal, but it is closed. We drive around Chicago trying to find somewhere to eat on a Sunday night. It’s useless. It’s too late. We get french fries at the interstate McDonald’s and listen to the new Coldplay album on the way home while we stuff our mouths with french fries because we are so starving.

Tuesday I am on the way back from the market. I call Dr. Gupta on his cell phone. “What was the name of that jazz club you and I and Cher and Tricia Davey went to?” I ask. “Pops For Champagne,” he says immediately. “It’s just below Belmont. It’s a really great club.”

“I went there last night to see one of my waitresses sing,” I say. “Really, which one?” he says. (I can tell he is impressed.) I reply, “Susan, the really beautiful one.”

Owner of the Irish Rose (Rockford) and Irish Rose North (Rockton) restaurants, Mike Leifheit’s “Hanging Out In Rockford” reviews locally-owned restaurants, businesses and Rockford life.” These columns are also available on his website: and featured on the Chris Bowman Show, WNTA talk radio AM 1330.

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