• doug mccombs
  • A bracelet with a nautical shackle by Doug McCombs

A few years ago, there was an inside joke among the members of Tortoise and their touring crew about having robots replace them in Chicago when they went on tour. John McEntire’s would be installed at Soma Electric Music Studios, sound guy Elliot Dicks’s mechanical double would be seated at the sound booth at the Empty Bottle, and Doug McCombs’s would have a spot at the bar at Lula Café, bringing a cup of coffee up to his mouth again and again, up and down, up and down.

Actually McCombs—who also plays in Eleventh Dream Day and Brokeback—keeps busy when he’s not playing or touring with a new hobby: making leather accessories. Starting from a simple belt for a friend, he’s moved on to ever more ornate designs, like leather harnesses, pick guards and straps for guitars, and bracelets, which he makes under the name Brokeleather. They’re mostly just for friends, but a few of his bracelets are for sale at Apartment Number 9 in Bucktown.