Chicago Sun-Times
A community of voices on music, travel, foodways, sports and anything else that matters.

June 2012 Archives

Earl and Ed Holstein at the Earl (Courtesy of Earl Pionke)

Chicago club owner Earl Pionke was on the way to his 80th birthday party Sunday afternoon at FitzGerald's nightclub in Berwyn. Fireworks went off just as he drove by U.S. Cellular Field from his home in far south Pullman. His beloved White Sox had won a 1-0 squeaker. Several hours later surprise guest John Prine was on stage after mixing backstage with a generation of Chicago folk singers.

"This is a model train of memories," Prine told the crowd with a cross- country smile. "Goin' around Earl Pionke, the big Christmas tree."

This is a helluva way to celebrate a birthday......

Awesome Sun-Times photos by Chandler West

Church is like a set of keys.
You take it everywhere.

The 27th Chicago Gospel Music Festival debuted Saturday in Ellis Park, 37th and Cottage Grove in the Bronzeville neighborhood that birthed American gospel music. It made sense have the festival in a deeply rooted community instead of its previous locations in Millennium Park, and before that Grant Park.

Ellis Park is next to West Point Missionary Baptist Church, a singing home of Albertina Walker, and just a few blocks away from Pilgrim Baptist Church, the spiritual center of the late Thomas A. Dorsey, "The Father of Gospel Music." By the time headliner Fred Hammond took the stage I'd guess nearly 10,000 people jammed into the park for a Saturday evening revival service. (The City of Chicago won't release attendance figures until the festival ends Sunday night.)
Here are five things that unlocked my soul on Saturday......

earl flower.jpg

Like a spoon in soup, food memories stir the soul of anyone who spent time around Earl Pionke.
A big heirloom spoon.

From 1962 until 1984 Pionke owned and operated the Earl of Old Town, 1615 N. Wells, across the street from Second City. In 1974 he also opened Somebody Else's Troubles, 2470 N. Lincoln Ave. with songwriters Steve Goodman, Fred Holstein, BIll Redhead and Duke Nathaus. The bar was named after Goodman's second album and lasted until 1980.

The Earl was the launching pad for singer songwriters Goodman, Bonnie Koloc, John Prine and many others.
Many of today's alt and rock clubs connect food with music but Pionke was doing in the mid-1970s. He presented "Cook and Sing" night at Somebody Else's Troubles..........

New border wall (photos by D. Hoekstra)

TIJUANA, Mexico--Derrik Chinn has seen much in nearly three years of leading day tours through Tijuana, but he couldn't even escape this symbol:

I saw a groundhog burrowing its way along the new 20 foot tall border fence on the U.S.-Mexico line.


The area and imposing "El Malecon" is part of the beachfront Playas de Tijuana neighborhood along the Pacific Ocean.
It reminded me of the ramshackle Atlantic City boardwalk circa 1980. With its proximity to the new border wall "El muro," the neighborhood is a key component to any visit to Tijuana (pop. 1.6 million).

Chinn operates the three-year old Turista Libre (free tourist), which conducts hip tours of Tijuana......

Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.


Chicago's Record Row In addition to being a resource for archived stories, this is a place to share anecdotes about Chicago's Record Row, to network about Record Row developments and an opportunity for locals and tourists to comment on their experiences along Record Row.


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2012 is the previous archive.

July 2012 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.