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LouieB

Going to Chicago....what to do, see, stay, etc.

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Hopleaf

Great beer selection and food. And you might just run into a fellow VCer.

Aside from the wait times for a table, which can be extreme (I have waited over 2 hours), this place is amazing.

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Aside from the wait times for a table, which can be extreme (I have waited over 2 hours), this place is amazing.

Two hours to get a beer...yikes.....

 

I always liked the Hopleaf, but it has gotten entirely too popular. Good place to drink in the afternoon.

 

LouieB

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Two hours to get a beer...yikes.....

 

I always liked the Hopleaf, but it has gotten entirely too popular. Good place to drink in the afternoon.

 

LouieB

I agree with this entirely. It wasn't this popular a few years ago.

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Two hours to get a beer...yikes.....

 

I always liked the Hopleaf, but it has gotten entirely too popular. Good place to drink in the afternoon.

 

LouieB

 

I rather like good beer and lived in Chicago my entire life and I have never made to the Hopleaf, yet. One of these days.

Since I lived a few blocks from the Map Room for a few years that has always been my go to place for a very decent beer selection.

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I rather like good beer and lived in Chicago my entire life and I have never made to the Hopleaf, yet. One of these days.

Since I lived a few blocks from the Map Room for a few years that has always been my go to place for a very decent beer selection.

The Map Room is great and should have all of the great beer you should ever need.

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Hi, going to visit Chicago April 23-27th.

 

Got a few things planned already. Going to visit the Art Institute, Contemp. Art, Hancock Tower, China Town

 

Wanted to know of some good friendly bars. Will probably want to hit a few blues bars, and jazz clubs as well.

 

Any suggestions on places to eat, drink, or see live muisc.

 

Also going to see M.Ward at the Vic Theatre (didn't Tweedy play a bunch of solo gigs here?) on Sunday.

 

Really looking forward to it, never been to Chicago

 

BONUS: I unkowningly booked a hotel (The Amalfi on West Kinzie) that overlooks the Marina Buildings AKA Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Cover..how cool is that? Must have been fate.

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In Chinatown, Go to Phoenix for some Dim Sum. There maybe lines, so early lunch or brunch is recommended.

 

 

Ive read a lot of mixed reviews of Phoenix. The Reader recommended another place, that seems to be a little less traditional (no carts) but has better service/food. Although Phoenix was the "readers choice"

 

I do definitely want Dim Sum though, as the last(first) time I had it was visiting in New York, and it was one of the most memorable things we experienced.

 

Any other suggestions?

 

Is there a Wilco tour like Athens has a REM tour?

 

Just curious.

 

PS - sorry this is in the wrong forum..

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Ive read a lot of mixed reviews of Phoenix. The Reader recommended another place, that seems to be a little less traditional (no carts) but has better service/food. Although Phoenix was the "readers choice"

 

I do definitely want Dim Sum though, as the last(first) time I had it was visiting in New York, and it was one of the most memorable things we experienced.

 

Any other suggestions?

 

Is there a Wilco tour like Athens has a REM tour?

 

Just curious.

 

PS - sorry this is in the wrong forum..

 

I've only been to Pheonix for Dim Sum so I cant really say. All the food is very good. The cart pushers dont really speak much English so the service wont be the best but nothing to complain about. I go there all the time and am never disappointed and I drive all the way in from the NW burbs. If the other place is at the same level, you cant go wrong either place you pick. Definitely make it there.

 

Then afterwards you can get fruit drinks walking along the strip along with some stuffed buns at the bakery for a snack later. Then go to one of the kitchy tourist shops and pickup a buddah and some nuchuks. There is actually a cool modern art store called Hoypoloi that doesnt really seem to fit in that you should check out. Its right on the main strip. www.hoypoloi.com

 

Thats Chinatown. There is so many more neighborhoods to check out.

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Thanks to the ops for moving this....

 

If you pay me enough I will give you the Wilco tour.... :lol but since you are going to the Vic that is a major Wilco site anyway. Both Jeff and Wilco have played there many times. But then again Jeff and the individual Wilcos both past and present have played nearly every club in town at one time or another.

 

I have not done dim sum in some time, but Three Happiness in Chinatown is a good standby. If you go to Argyle Street the Furama has decent dim sum too.

 

LouieB

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Hey, I think someone here owes us a story about a trip to Chicago.

 

I drove through a part of the southside yesterday which I had not been to much. There is a long stretch of 71st Street west of the Dan Ryan that is named after Emmitt Till and whereas some parts of the southside are enjoying a slight uptick in development, this stretch may look like what the southside has always looked like, somewhat depressed, with boarded up buildings, empty lots and a good deal of street activity. I would still recommend checking it out if you have the time.

 

LouieB

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If you get this far and have some suggestions for others, PLEASE post them up. Alot of folks are coming to Chicago this summer and people find new stuff to do all the time.

 

Thanks

 

LouieB

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I often recommend a trip to the Jazz Record Mart to out of towners and all Chicagoans who love music, even if they aren't into jazz and blues. Here is a really interesting article from today's New York Times. Even though I have been to the JRM many times (and in several locations) over the years, I still learned a few things about Bob Koester, the owner of Delmark and JRM. There is a great picture of Bob with Mike Bloomfield in this article and a funny if possibly apocryphal story about Iggy Pop too.

 

LouieB

 

Happily Seduced by the Blues

By LARRY ROHTER

Chicago

 

BOB KOESTER came here in 1958 because he was a jazz and blues fan who wanted to see his favorite music played live in the small, smoky clubs that dotted the city. But he has ended up doing much more than that: as the founder and sole proprietor of Delmark Records he also became and remains the most dedicated chronicler of that scene, now gradually receding into history.

 

“I was seduced by the music,” Mr. Koester said in an interview last month. “You can’t record everything you like, and I missed a lot of good sessions because I didn’t have the money. But there was so much going on. I liked the music, I liked the label, and I did as much as I could afford to do.”

 

From traditional Dixieland to the farthest reaches of the avant-garde, artists representing nearly every category of jazz have found their way to Delmark, the oldest continually operating independent jazz and blues label in the United States. On the blues side Delmark’s releases have ranged from Mississippi Delta-style acoustic guitarists like Sleepy John Estes and Big Joe Williams to all-electric Chicago ensembles led by Magic Sam, Otis Rush and Luther Allison.

 

Because of those efforts Mr. Koester is one of a handful of nonperformers to have been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, in 1996. His influence can be felt in other ways: labels like Alligator, Flying Fish, Rooster, Nessa and Earwig were all founded by former employees, as were Living Blues magazine and numerous blues and folk festivals.

 

“I think you could make a good argument that without Bob Koester there might never have been the white blues movement, certainly not in the United States,” said Bruce Iglauer, president of Alligator Records, who began his career in 1970 as a Delmark shipping clerk. “The fact is that he opened the door for a lot of people, and I don’t think he has ever got the recognition he deserves for being such a seminal figure.”

 

Somewhat belatedly that situation is now being remedied. Delmark has just released a 55th anniversary DVD featuring performances by some of its leading artists, and a recording Mr. Koester produced more than 40 years ago, “Hoodoo Man Blues,” was inducted last year into the Grammy Hall of Fame, alongside pop hits like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Pink Floyd’s “Wall.”

 

Born in Wichita, Kan., in 1932, Mr. Koester came to his vocation early, as a teenage collector of 78 r.p.m. discs. He remembers scouring used-furniture stores, Salvation Army warehouses and jukebox suppliers right after World War II, paying 6 cents apiece for recordings of Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil” and “Stop Breakin’ Down” that nowadays fetch thousands of dollars each.

 

Delmark was founded while Mr. Koester was in college in St. Louis, and initially specialized in traditional New Orleans-style jazz. But once he arrived in Chicago, his horizons expanded to include avant-garde experimentalists like Sun Ra, whose first two recordings, “Sun Song” and “Sound of Joy,” Delmark now distributes.

 

Since there never was a lot of money in what Delmark was doing, Mr. Koester also operated a record store called the Jazz Record Mart, which continues to do business, on the outskirts of the Chicago Loop. At a time when the mainstream press and record companies were paying little or no attention to the music being played in the city’s taverns, the store soon became a place where Delmark’s artists and other blues and jazz luminaries could gather.

 

“It was a crossroads and clearing house for information, a place where a lot of musicians would come to catch up on the latest news,” recalled the harmonica player, singer and band leader Charlie Musselwhite, who worked as a clerk at the store in the mid-1960s. “Shakey Walter Horton and Ransom Knowling would hang out there, and Sunnyland Slim and Homesick James were always dropping by. You never knew what fascinating characters would wander in, so I always felt like I was in the eye of the storm there.”

 

Eventually prominent rock stars, on the prowl for obscure blues songs to add to their collections or record themselves, also became part of the clientele. Former clerks and customers recall seeing Steve Winwood, Jeff Beck and members of the Rolling Stones, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Canned Heat and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band shopping in the store.

 

As a purist, though, Mr. Koester disliked pop music and still does — and thus was largely oblivious to their presence. “Afterwards another client would say: That was So-and-So,” Mr. Koester said. “And I would say: ‘Really? How much did he spend?’ ‘Five hundred dollars.’ ‘Oh, well, then tell him to come back.’ ”

 

Opinionated and irascible, Mr. Koester never hesitated to criticize the taste of his customers, even if they were famous. “People ask me, and I’ll tell them,” he said during an interview at the Jazz Record Mart, where he cordially provided advice to a pair of customers vacationing from France who had learned there of his store. “Don’t ask me, and I might tell you anyway.”

 

But with those he sensed shared his devotion to the music he could be quite generous: Mr. Iglauer recalls how, after one of his first days in Chicago, Mr. Koester took him to the Blue Flame and other clubs, where he met Junior Wells and Lefty Dizz. “It was like I discovered a parallel universe, and Bob was the tour guide,” Mr. Iglauer said.

 

The future Iggy Pop was another blues aficionado whom Mr. Koester took under his wing, until the night that Iggy and his pals Scott and Ron Asheton got drunk and rowdy at Mr. Koester’s apartment. He threw them out on the street, telling them, or so the story goes, “You guys are a bunch of stooges,” the name they adopted for the band they decided to form that same night.

 

Delmark’s most famous blues release is Mr. Wells’s “Hoodoo Man Blues,” which Mr. Koester produced. Two generations of blues bands have covered nearly every song on that recording, which the All Music Guide describes as “one of the truly classic blues albums of the 1960s” and “absolutely mesmerizing” in its ability to transfer onto tape the feeling of a live performance by a working Chicago blues band.

 

“Bob told us, ‘Play me a record just like you played last night in the club,’ and that’s exactly what we did,” Buddy Guy, the guitarist on the record, said recently. “Over at Chess,” Chicago’s main blues label in those days, “you’d come in, and the producers would try to teach you how to play, or would tell you to turn your amp down. But Bob didn’t want that. He wanted to hear us being ourselves.”

 

During that same 1965 session, Mr. Guy also recalled, his amplifier broke. With Mr. Koester worried about the cost of studio time, the recording engineer had Mr. Guy play through the Leslie speaker cabinet of a Hammond B-3 organ in the studio while the amplifier was being repaired. That technique, with its thick swirling sound, was later popularized by the Beatles on “Let It Be” and by Cream, Led Zeppelin and other British rock groups whose guitarists admired Mr. Guy.

 

“We were like Thomas Edison, except we had no awareness of the importance of what we were doing,” Mr. Guy said with a chuckle. “When we came in that morning, there were bottles of whiskey and wine on the floor, so we were just having fun, like we were at Theresa’s,” the South Side bar where the Wells-Guy quartet was often the house band.

 

That casual, hands-off approach is typical of Mr. Koester’s production style and is one of the reasons that musicians have gravitated toward him. “I don’t tell the artist what to play, and I don’t try to change their sound,” he said. “I’m a documentarian basically, a producer more in the Hollywood sense of that word than in the record-business sense.”

 

Thanks to that attitude and its early championing of the Chicago collective known as the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Delmark has also become a force in the more cerebral world of avant-garde jazz. The label issued the first albums of the pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, who founded the collective, and members of what later became the Art Ensemble of Chicago at a time when their work was considered so offbeat and harsh on the ear as to be unmarketable.

 

“These recordings caught people who made quite an impact on the musical world, like Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman, at a very early stage of their careers,” said the trombonist George E. Lewis, a member who is also the author of the book “A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music” and a professor of music at Columbia University. “Taken together they placed the AACM on the map internationally and made Chicago a renowned destination for a certain type of music. Those aren’t minor things for a small independent label.”

 

But the most influential of Delmark’s association recordings may also have been its most implausible. Released in 1968 as a double album, Anthony Braxton’s “For Alto” is a collection of thorny solo saxophone compositions, initially slammed as an affront to the jazz tradition but which has gone on to influence a generation of horn players and inspire scores of similar solo outings. The recent Penguin Guide to Jazz calls it “one of the genuinely important American recordings” that “challenged every parameter of the music, tonal, textural, rhythmic and structural.”

 

Mr. Koester said: “Braxton’s prior record, his first, had moved only 200 copies the first year, so I knew I was going to have trouble selling a double record set of totally unaccompanied saxophone. But I don’t pay that much attention to sales figures. You put them out and hope for the best.” The label’s biggest success is still “Hoodoo Man Blues,” which he said sells about 6,000 copies a year.

 

Mr. Koester complains a bit about the focus on his label’s renowned back catalog because, as he notes, “we’re still making records, even if the general press isn’t paying attention.” Delmark’s current roster includes association members like the saxophonists Fred Anderson and Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, the flutist Nicole Mitchell and the percussionist Kahil El’Zabar, as well as female blues singers like Big Time Sarah, Zora Young and Shirley Johnson.

 

“Junior is gone, Magic Sam is gone, Luther Allison is gone,” Mr. Koester said, somewhat wistfully. “But there’s still some pretty good talent around town, so it still goes on.”

 

Business is bad for record companies these days, but then again it was never terribly lucrative for Mr. Koester even in the best of times. But at least he has the record store and a recording studio — where microphones, tape machines and instruments originally from Chess Studios are now installed — to continue to underwrite his unending quest to record the music he regards as vital and in danger of being overlooked.

 

“Bob has always just followed his gut and his heart,” Mr. Iglauer said. “He has never sat down and asked, ‘How am I going to make money on this?’ Never ever. It was always, ‘This deserves to be recorded, and so I’m going to record it.’ He has always put his money where his ears are.”

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Those of you into country music (I mean REAL country music; not Shania Twain B.S.) need to check out the California Clipper http://www.californiaclipper.com/ Also Fitzgeralds http://www.fitzgeraldsnightclub.com/ and The Empty Bottle http://www.emptybottle.com/home.php metioned in Louie's oringinal posts have great country acts from time to time. Check out "Hard Country Happy Hour" 5:30 - 9:00 p.m. at the Empty Bottle with the Hoyle Brothers, probably the best Honky Tonk band in Chicago.

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Those of you into country music (I mean REAL country music; not Shania Twain B.S.) need to check out the California Clipper http://www.californiaclipper.com/ Also Fitzgeralds http://www.fitzgeraldsnightclub.com/ and The Empty Bottle http://www.emptybottle.com/home.php metioned in Louie's oringinal posts have great country acts from time to time. Check out "Hard Country Happy Hour" 5:30 - 9:00 p.m. at the Empty Bottle with the Hoyle Brothers, probably the best Honky Tonk band in Chicago.

I will have to check out the California Clipper...never been. But I concur about the Hoyle Brothers, very fun honky tonk style band. This weekend is Fitzgeralds American Music Fest, which is always a good time and Fitz is one of the best clubs (not in) town.

 

LouieB

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We need more discussion here. Anyone coming in for Pitchfork?? Lollapooza?? The Hideout Block Party?? Just for the hell of it? What did you do? What do you recommend for rock tourists, etc.

 

Meanwhile bring a jacket to Pitchfork this year (2009); looks like cool and maybe rainy weather. See you in the reoord tent.

 

LouieB

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I may be hitting Chicago in August for a bachelor party, so this thread will come in handy. That "Hard Country Happy Hour" sounds perfect.

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I took a "kayak the chicago river and see the fireworks at the Pier" tour this past Saturday night. I liked it. Wife did not. She thought it was physical torture. I admit that my back ached, and I really wanted to get out and stretch my legs - being in a kayak for 3+ hours was not the most comfortable experience. But, being on the Chicago river at night was pretty cool.

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Yesterday I took the Orange line out to Midway Airport. This is actually a facinating ride. It runs through the southwest side of Chicago, which was an industrial and residental area. It runs along Archer Avenue and crosses over the south branch of the Chicago River a couple times. The contrast between the old industrial areas and the slowly gentrifying neighborhoods put me in a slightly melencholy mood for some reason. It also reminds me that for those who want to really see Chicago it is important at some point to get out of downtown and the near north or north lakeshore areas and explore the places that the tourists don't go. (And you can get really great Mexican food in many of these neighborhoods as well.)

 

LouieB

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So we've been asked for a "Wilco Tour" for visitors of Chicago who want to see a few of the sights that they might have seen in pictures and movies and record covers, etc.

 

Here's some ideas to keep you busy:

 

 

 

* The Marina City Towers from the cover of YHF - (300 North State Street) - Consider taking the Chicago city architecture boat tour downtown and learn something while checking the Marina Towers off your list of Wilco-related sights to see. Dress warm! But I think you can sit inside the boat, too.

 

394752295.jpg

 

394752385.jpg

 

* If you are wandering around downtown or take the "el" anywhere, the loud overhead noise from the "el" train should remind you of the song (live version anyway) of Via Chicago.

 

* Then again, you could always just "kiss and ride on the CTA" :cheekkiss from one of my all-time favorite Wilco songs, Far Far Away.

 

* Depending on your interests, visit Adler Planetarium or Shedd Aquarium or the Field Museum and take a walk outside toward the lake just like Wilco did in this picture with the Chicago skyline in the horizon:

 

394752294.jpg

 

* And if you're in the area, perhaps stop in for a bite to eat at Abbey Pub for lunch. Have a beer or try some of their decent bar food. Sort of a neighborhood Irish pub type place, but with some Wilco and Jeff Tweedy solo performance history. If you happen to be there on the day the owner Tom is around, he might entertain you with a story or two about Wilco performing there in the earlier years, like he did for some of us fans a few years ago.

 

* Another food idea - Superdawg! Wilco just did a fantastic spread in Spin magazine at a Chicago Superdawg - pony up some dough for some gourmet hotdogs in retro style.

 

375325612.jpg

 

* To the original poster requesting a Wilco Tour, re: The Loft. Really, if you are coming from England to see your girfriend, I'd recommend not bothering to look for the loft where they record. All it is (or so I'm told ) is just an old brick building and totally unidentified, basically nothing to see. Just stare at any one of the 1000's upon 1000's of old brick buildings in Chicago, and you've seen it. Seriously though - don't you have something more fun to do with your girlfriend? ??? Yes, yes you do!

 

Have a great trip!

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Very nice work, Wendy.

 

I would add Millennium Park and the Petrillo Band Shell.

 

Also, the former location of Lounge Ax (2438 N. Lincoln Ave.), unless they completely tore down the building.

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Very nice work, Wendy.

 

I would add Millennium Park and the Petrillo Band Shell.

 

Also, the former location of Lounge Ax (2438 N. Lincoln Ave.), unless they completely tore down the building.

 

The Chicago History Museum has some info on Lounge Ax.

It is hard to believe it was open a mere 13 years. It is equally hard to believe it is gone nearly 10 years. A good substitution for LA vibes is the Hideout.

 

Super Dawg is fun, but you need a car.

 

The loft is identified if you visit every non-descript building and look for the identification on the buzzer of buildings on the north side. Now THAT will take you and your girlfriend busy for a very very long time.

 

LouieB

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