Last night, about 250 people showed up for a Vine Line “boutique” event at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago, right across the street from the Chicago Hilton, where the 26th annual Cubs Convention will be held this weekend.
The event’s proceeds benefitted the Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation and most importantly created awareness of DiGeorges Syndrome amid a new audience. For more information on DiGeorges/22q deletion, visit www.dempsterfamilyfoundation.org/.
But the star of the show? Cubs pitcher Justin Berg, who wailed on the drums with Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials. Though he also plays the guitar, the band allowed Justin to sit in with them on two sets for about 30 minutes each. The 26-year-old from Antigo, Wis., –population 8,560–was a little nervous at first. But once he got in the rhythm of it, with the help of Chicago blues legend Lil’ Ed–Berg helped all the Cubs fans sing the blues. A reporter with Blues Revue thought Justin had a possible career after baseball.
“That was probably the best experience of my life,” said Berg, smiling like the Cheshire Cat. “Unbelievable. I practiced with my brother at home, but honestly, I was coming in cold. So I was just going to wing it.”
Teammate Randy Wells, who was on the Cubs Caravan with Berg, attested to the aspiring musician’s nerves.
“Justin was talking about it all day,” Wells chuckled. “He said he was really nervous.”
Originally, the event simply began as a content idea for Vine Line and its “Cubs CrossOver” feature. But with no Len and Bob bash this year and Cubs fans needing some musical outlet, Vine Line turned up the volume on the event. Ryan Dempster even sent a video thank you to everyone at the club. He wasn’t able to make it because his wife Jenny was due with their third baby.
The Cubs CrossOver places a Cubs player in a non-baseball situation. It’s your typical “fish-out-of-water” story. However, Berg looked anything but out of place.
“The longer I was up there, the more I got comfortable,” said Berg, who got to jam classics like “Sweet Home Chicago.” He even got to meet Lil’ Ed and the band in Buddy Guy’s personal office.
“I was more nervous about going on stage than I was in my big-league debut,” Berg laughed. “But Lil’ Ed and the band helped me through it.”
The foundation offered a silent auction of various autographed items as well as a live auction that featured a two Gibson guitars autographed by the band and Justin.
Of course, who was the highest bidder? Justin’s teammate, catcher Koyie Hill, who was celebrating a newly minted contract for 2011.