For over a decade, singer Jim Cornelison has helped carry on the Chicago Blackhawks' tradition of electrifying renditions of the national anthem before home games. His bombastic performance combined with the fans' robust cheers transforms the pregame standard into something transcendent.
The Blackhawks played their first playoff game in Chicago since 2002 last Thursday night, and Cornelison said it was the loudest he had heard the United Center in his 13 years signing the anthem. Saturday night's Game 2 win against the Calgary Flames was equally as deafening (see the video).
With the Blackhawks gaining a 2-0 series lead, Saturday night was fan celebration around the Windy City and Cornelison couldn't help but get caught up in it. According to The Fifth Feather, Cornelison and arena public address announcer Gene Honda were at the West End Bar and Grill (1326 W. Madison St.) for some postgame reflection when Honda called the soloist to the microphone for an anthem encore.
We've been in plenty of sports bars. We've never seen a surreal scene like this before. (Ed. Note: Video's acting a little strange right now; if you can't see it, head to the direct link and try there.)
West End general manager 'Bald Mike' -- you can hear Cornelison ask him for free beer in exchange for the song in the clip -- told us this afternoon that he's had celebrations for all Chicago sports franchises in his establishment, but none came close to the excitement of Cornelison's unexpected postgame performance.
"I don't even know how loud the microphone was, but you could hear him throughout the bar," he said.
Cornelison was treated "like Mick Jagger" after the anthem, Mike said, which included ample free beverages for the Blackhawks soloist.
Now, if he'd only come back for Karaoke night ...
[H/T to the 'Duk, baseball's most popular blogger]