I have always needed music in the background of my life…I couldn’t study without it, or read, or cook or work or… blog!!!!  Both my Mother and Father, while not musical (Daddy did play the violin!) would sing to me as a child and to each other. I can’t remember not having “sound” around me. While I love classical music (mostly the Chicago Symphony, the Lyric Opera and an everyday dose of WFMT!) my favorites would be standards, show tunes, and Jazz! While reading Windy City Blues for my book review this week, I started thinking about my early days of collecting LP’s as well as my lack of a knowledge of the Blues.  Mom, after Daddy died, went to work for a friend who had a gift/record store in the Old Orchard Shopping Mall.  By now, dear readers, you know of my book obsession…I had the same thing for record albums, I had hundreds. While Mom was working at that store, I collected more of my favorites, including, of course, Frank Sinatra who was at the top of the list (still is, but now on my tech devices!!!) No one will ever have his sound.  One of my favorite Sinatra’s is Only The Lonely if you want to have a good cry just play it, it is amazing.  I decided not long ago that I would just play Sinatra and see how much I had…after over 15 hours and no repeats, I had to stop…and I don’t have his entire body of work!

imageOnly The Lonely 1958

In the early 60’s I decided I wanted to build my own record player and enlisted a friend to help me.  We would work a couple evenings a week, after work, in my home in Evanston.  A couple of weeks into this, soldering, figuring out the plans, putting everything together (in my mind I think we got the equipment at Lyon & Healy in Evanston), I said, “why are we doing everything twice”?  Silly us, we were doing a stereo (a new thing!!!) and I wanted a mono system.  We went back to the store and told them our problem and they graciously exchanged it for me…probably shaking their heads not understanding why I didn’t want stereo sound!!! It was great fun and I loved tinkering with it.  I learned so much, how to solder, how to read plans that looked like you were building an airplane and so much more.  My friend was a record geek and you weren’t allowed to have one record drop onto the next…I must admit that when he wasn’t around I piled them on, bad Nena!

When I moved into the City I brought all my LPs with me.  Many years later when cassettes and then CD’s came to be I decided, wrongly, to get rid of all of them and gave them to Chicago House, hoping they would enjoy them.  After putting all my CD’s on my tech devices and several of my friend’s devices as well, I gave them to another friend who doesn’t like technology. Of course, the craze at the moment is collecting vinyl (check out the next Randolph Street Market, April 22 and 23, www., to fill holes in your collection or start building a new one!)

imageThese were my favorite covers, Ella Fitzgerald Sings Gershwin, 1959, with covers by Berard Buffet…I wish I had kept those, they were amazing and matched her renditions of Gershwin’s songs.

My love for music hasn’t waned if anything it has grown…my taste is very eclectic just like my reading and the decor of my home.  I like so many genres of music and artists and how lucky we are to be able to have our music in so many ways today.

I have found a Facebook page that is devoted to “lost” Chicago iconic places such as Mister Kelly’s and The London House, it talks about many of the artists who have performed at these wonderful venues.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many evenings I spent in both these places, more at The London House (now the London House Hotel) where I would sit for hours listening to George Shearling and his quintet, loved him.

imageGeorge Shearling and his Quintet playing at The London House late 1950’s-1960’s

imageThe London House in the late 1950’s

First heard Ella Fitzgerald at Mister Kelly’s and of course, would go to The Blue Note for the Blues, Gate of Horn for Folk and on and on.  Now we can still go to Buddy Guy’s Legends on Wabash Avenue for more Blues.  I did a photo shoot in “old” space, down the street from the current location, several years ago.  A place filled with nostalgia, love it! And, of course, The House of Blues, stunning.

imageThe Blue Note in the late 50’s

imageBuddy Guy’s today

Once again I bemoan the fact that so many places are gone and nothing has replaced them.  Where can we hear good Jazz, great piano and where oh where can we go dancing!!!!

imageView from the rooftop bar at The London House Hotel, photo taken by Nena Ivon last summer looking North at some of our fantastic, iconic architecture.

All other photo credits unknown.


  1. lawrieweed April 12, 2017 / 10:55 pm

    I was with you at London House with Geo. Shearing. What a genius. Ed and I had our BIG date nites at Mr Kelly’s and saw Ella, Trini Lopez and Peter Allen Before he married Liza. Where is the time machine when we need it

    • nenasnotes April 12, 2017 / 11:23 pm

      They were the best of times, Lawrie, wouldn’t mind going right now!!!! Thanks, as always for your comments and support…love them and you!

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