"I Don't Wanna Grow Up"

On the day we were scheduled to film this video, I received a text from Adam Krier, frontman of Chicago rock ’n’ roll band AM Taxi that said:

“We are bringing a gong, a toaster, a helmet, and some whiskey. You got anything to bring?”

Thinking he was just having fun and riffing on Waits mythology and the junkyard persona of many of his song’s characters, I replied:

“A jar of smoke, an alligator tongue, two gold coins, and a locket I found on the train tracks.”

Turns out Adam wasn’t riffing at all. When I arrived, there in front of me was a gong, a toaster and a loaf of white bread on a stool, a red helmet, and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s on the floor. With that, we even went as far as to time the toast so that it would pop out right when we switched keys in the song. Don’t ask me why but I have to believe that Waits would approve.

AM Taxi remain one of my favorite Chicago bands. Their Clash and E-Street Band sensibilities paired with lyrics that all-too-well illustrate the dreams, trappings and characters of my hometown, inhabit a very specific place in my heart. It’s what I imagine someone from Jersey feels when they hear “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” With that energy fully intact, we had a blast covering this tune in all of its joy and rebellion.

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Song: "I Don’t Wanna Grow Up"

Written by: Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, Jalma Music (ASCAP)

Performed by: Kevin Andrew Prchal and AM Taxi

Filmed, Directed and Edited by: Mike Neerhof

Intro Animation by: Nicholas Wenzel

"Innocent When You Dream"


Song: "Innocent When You Dream"

Written by: Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, Jalma Music (ASCAP)

Performed by: Kevin Andrew Prchal and A Flor De Piel

Arranged by: Renato Ceron

Filmed, Directed and Edited by: Mike Neerhof

Intro Animation by: Nicholas Wenzel

I didn’t know what to expect when Renato Ceron, member of Chicago latin-fusion band A Flor de Piel, invited me over to his house to rehearse this song. I guess I figured it would be a quick review of the arrangement and I would be on my way. Instead, I walked in to what felt like a dream.

In from the cold, I was greeted by smiling faces, chirping birds, a rambunctious little dog named Shmoe, a living room spilling over with musicians and their beautiful music, and a plate full of homemade tamales fresh off of the stove. After indulging in tamales and a couple shots of mezcal, we got to work on the title track of this project, “Innocent When You Dream.”

From day one of planning for this project, I always envisioned this song as a mariachi waltz and Renato’s arrangement far-exceeded that vision. The playfulness of the strings and percussion paired with lyrics like “We were running through the graveyard, we laughed my friends and I, we swore we’d be together until the day we died,” get right to the heart of this song’s theme of innocence.

What I think Waits is saying in this song is that we all have to live with regrets; the heaviness of things said or done that will always stay with us. But dreams, if they're anything like the Ceron household on that cold winter night in Chicago, can often be the comfort of heart and mind that you’ve been looking for.


"Georgia Lee"

Song: "Georgia Lee"

Written by: Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, Jalma Music (ASCAP)

Performed by: Kevin Andrew Prchal, Jess McIntosh and Sara Leginsky

Filmed, Directed and Edited by: Mike Neerhof

Intro Animation by: Nicholas Wenzel


Before this session, Jess, Sara and I had never performed together as a trio. They rented a car early one morning and drove out to my place in the ‘burbs with the promise of coffee and oatmeal and we instantly locked in when we started playing. I like to think it was serendipitous, but it’s really just because they’re so damn good.

"Georgia Lee" is a devastating ballad brought to life here in a desolate patch of trees, like the setting of the song itself. Lyrics like, “Somewhere a baby is cryin’ for her mother,” and “These children are so hard to raise good,” break my heart clean in half and play to the power that Waits has to embody the characters he creates, while at the same time evoking a powerful sense of empathy from his listeners.

Life at its worst is plain ugly and cruel but this song is an intimate reminder that we’re never alone in our pain and unknowing. And hopefully, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll make a few friends along the way who want to play music with you in the woods in December.