Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein go way back. They’ve been pals ever since Epstein’s days running the Boston Red Sox and even jammed out together at a tiny club with a capacity of 62 in Cambridge, Mass. called Toad once. Anyway, the two buds remained so even after Epstein left Boston for Chicago and Saturday night, they reunited on stage in the Windy City for the latest edition of Epstein’s Hot Stove Cool Music benefit concert series.
Epstein, something of an axe-man himself, joined Vedder on stage at Chicago’s Metro club for a rendition of Neil Young’s classic Rockin’ In the Free World, a regular Pearl Jam cover. The duo played alongside Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, former New York Yankees center fielder turned jazz guitarist Bernie Williams, Hall of Fame baseball scribe Peter Gammons and Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who kept time on tambourine. Other members of the Cubs’ coaching staff also entered the fray.
Vedder roared through a list of Pearl Jam chestnuts, including Better Man and Corduroy, and also played his solo hit Big Hard Sun and covered The Who’s The Kids Are Alright.