Though best known as an actor and comedian, Jim Belushi reminded us of his musical roots this weekend with at least two impromptu performances in Fells Point.
The “Blues Brothers Zee” actor took the stage at both Bertha’s Restaurant and Bar and Cat’s Eye Pub on Saturday night to play the blues.
At Bertha’s, he joined local band The Greg Thompkins Olde Skool on stage.
Gregory Thompkins, 52, a saxophonist and the band leader, said he didn’t expect much of a crowd that night due to the flash flood warnings that were issued by the National Weather Service.
“Everyone was texting me like, ‘We can’t come out because of the storm,’” Thompkins said, and the restaurant only had about 15 to 20 people.
“I’m thinking, ‘It’s going to be a slow night. I’ll just hang out with friends and the band, and we’ll crack jokes on each other,’” he said, but the joke was on Thompkins.
During their second set, Belushi walked in.
“He started talking to our keyboard player, … and I just assumed these guys knew each other,” said Thompkins, noting that the two were laughing and seemed like good friends. “I didn’t realize it was Belushi at all.”
Then, Belushi came over and introduced himself.
“He comes over and looks at me and says, ‘Hi, I’m Jim Belushi,’ and I’m like, ‘Really?’” Thompkins said.
The “Saturday Night Live” alum is starring in local filmmaker Matt Porterfield’s fourth feature film, “Sollers Point,” which was scheduled to start filming here in Baltimore at the end of last month.
After learning that Belushi had his harmonicas with him, Thompkins asked Belushi to join him on stage.
He announced Belushi as one of the “great American actors,” and then Belushi and the band played for about 15 minutes, Thompkins said, including a song by Junior Wells, “Messin’ with the Kid.” The restaurant was packed within minutes, Thompkins said.
“He was great,” said Thompkins, who said he almost forgot that Belushi made music.
“A really nice guy, no ego,” he said.
After their set, Belushi mingled with people at the restaurant and took pictures with fans, Thompkins said. Then, he tipped the band $50 and left.
“It’s just crazy how things work,” he said.
It was a similar story at Cat’s Eye Pub, where Belushi joined the local Black Falls Band on stage that same night.
Dominic Cantalupo, the band’s drummer, said he saw someone who “looked a lot like Jim Belushi” in the audience intently watching the band. Four songs into their set, Belushi approached the band.
“He said, ‘You boys mind if I join you?’ And we were like ‘No problem. What song? What key?’” said band member Greg McIsaac.
Together, Belushi and the band did about four songs, including “Sweet Home Chicago,” by The Blues Brothers, of which Belushi’s brother John Belushi was an original member.
Then Belushi “grabbed somebody’s phone and took a selfie with everybody in the background,” Cantalupo said.
The band already sounded great, but with Belushi it was even better, he said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Chris Kaltenbach contributed to this article
By Brittany Britto, Reporter from The Baltimore Sun.