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October 2009 Archives


The Rocky Horror Show
8 p.m., through Saturday at the Athenaeum Theatre; $20
Do the Time Warp (again!) at this live theater production of the musical cult classic, with shows running through Halloween night. Dress up as your favorite character (and who wouldn't take the opportunity to emulate Meat Loaf as much as possible?), but leave the props at home. There are special goodie bags you can buy at the theater to join in on the action.

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Elate
Contemporary cuisine within the River North's Hotel Felix.

Weekly Treat: Two-dollar beers at Clarke's Bar
Miller Lites are just two bucks on Tuesday at the popular Lincoln Park bar/diner.

Off the Beaten Path: G-Cue Billiards
Shoot some stick at this upscale West Loop sports bar.

Man We're Crazy About: Old Town Social
Neighborhood bar keeps it classy and comfy at the same time.

For more about what's going on this week, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

Are you a fan of college humor? No, not the hilarious comedy site -- the real thing. The third annual College Improv Tournament -- created by Jonathan Pitts, executive producer of the famed Chicago Improv Festival -- begins November 7 with the Midwest Regional at pH Productions's Studio Be Theater (3110 N. Sheffield). Ten teams, including Illinois State's Improv Mafia (last year's champion) and University of Illinois-Urbana's Kaboot, will compete in matches all day long (noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., with the finals at 10 p.m.), and you can view the action for just $10-$15. That's a small price to pay to witness the potential next big thing.

If you only care about the Chicago schools, you've got some time. The local regional, featuring nine teams from seven Chicago colleges and universities, has been rescheduled to January 23, 2010. We know a website you can waste time on 'til then.


Lonie Walker's not your average Chicago club owner -- which is good, because her club, the Underground Wonder Bar, is far from your average Chicago club. Since 1989, the wild child has made her Gold Coast spot a haven for local musicians of all stripes (including the rockin' Walker herself), pioneering green business practices and remaining a committed charitable donor along the way.

Sadly, making it to year 21 might prove difficult, as the club's building, at 10 East Walton, was recently bought out. If things don't work out, a lot of people will have the blues, but Walker and her pals aren't wallowing. Instead, they're partying, celebrating a different year in the club's tenure every day, starting with a tribute to 1989 (complete with de-inflated drink specials) tomorrow night. The fun continues over the next few weeks, with the big 20th anniversary bash on November 15, featuring live music from 4 p.m.-4 a.m., drink specials, food and prizes, with proceeds benefiting the People's Music School.

So whether you've been a faithful patron since the days when the Gold Coast was one of the seedier sections of town, or you've yet to make a visit, now is the time to stop in for a trip down memory lane. Lonie will be waiting.

Erica Watson is a ...

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A lot of press releases for stage shows come across our desk here in Our Town, and most don’t do much to attract our attention. But our ears perked up when we got one that said “Fat Bitch!” in big pink letters on the top of it this week. It’s for a one-woman show by Erica Watson, who we had never heard of, but is a Hyde Park native and apparently was in the upcoming movie “Precious” (which we've heard really good things about).

The show, at the Chicago Center for Performing Arts starting Nov. 19 ($10-$15; five shows only!) is described as influenced by Whoopi Goldberg, Wanda Sykes and Mo’Nique. It is hosted by Nore Davis (who has apparently been seen on MTV, but not by us) and produced by NBA journeyman Nazr Mohammed(?). The tagline: "Yes! Erica Watson is a FAT BITCH! But society made her this way."

And that’s about all we have to say about that. But it wins the press release of the week award, and therefore we felt it deserved a shout out.

For more, check out Watson’s web site, or buy tickets here.


Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers
8 p.m. Thursday at Cadillac Palace Theatre; $37-$75
The longtime funnyman drops the standup routine for a five-string banjo at this leg of a nationwide tour for charity. He's joined by the Steep Canyon Rangers, who are regulars on Grand Ole Opry. And did you know Martin now has three Grammys to his name -- two for comedy albums and another for his collaboration with Earl Scruggs on Foggy Mountain Breakdown in 2001.

The Holy Hour House Band performs at The Kerryman.

Yesterday's news that the city may cancel or shorten several of its biggest summer festivals came as something of a shock, even if it makes good fiscal sense. Seriously, if the 50-year-old Venetian Night can be chopped, is nothing sacred?

You'd better have a backup plan to get your fest fix. We're not sure where else you can go to see boats loaded up with lights, but we do know of two upcoming ways to dull the blow in case (god forbid) the Celtic Fest is ever sent back to the Emerald Isle.

One: Magners Irish Sessions. This series of concerts sponsored by Magners Irish Cider, which began last month, features the city's best known traditional Irish musicians playing songs in intimate settings (plus, lots of cider). Upcoming events:

  • Friday, October 23: The Holy Hour House Band, 9-11 p.m. at Chicago Gaelic Park, 6119 W. 147th, Oak Forest
  • Thursday, October 29: Danny Burns and The Defectors, 8-10 p.m. at Mystic Celt
  • Friday, October 30: Danny Burns and The Defectors, 9-11 p.m. at Hidden Shamrock
  • Thursday, November 5: Danny Burns and The Defectors, 8-11 p.m. at Abbey Pub

Two: iBAM!. Did you know the Celtic New Year is coming up soon? Celebrate it with three days of books, arts and music at the Irish American Heritage Center.

It starts with a $100 black-tie-optional dinner (6-11 p.m.) on Friday, October 30, with entertainment from the likes of Malachy McCourt and Black 47. On Saturday and Sunday, the fun continues, with a $5 admission fee getting you access to book sales, panel discussions, live dance, theater and more (11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily). Because it is Halloween weekend, expect a costume parade, face painting and a presentation on the life of Bram Stoker (writer of Dracula). You'll need to pay a little extra for access to the full Irish breakfast (11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday) and concerts from Black 47 (7 p.m. Saturday) and Maura O'Connell (7 p.m. Sunday). Tickets are available on the website.

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Folklore Argentine Grill
Wicker Park welcomes a meaty Tango Sur offshoot.

Weekly Treat: Shot and a beer night at Davenport's
Get a Miller Lite and a shot of SoCo for just $5 on Wednesdays.

Off the Beaten Path: Kyu Sushi
Try some BLT maki without breaking the bank in West Town.

Man We're Crazy About: Rocky's
This Bridgeport bar is more than just a Sox fan haven.

For more about what's going on this week, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

It's a little odd that the Chicago Public Library, an institution that's probably shushed thousands of people over the years, last month encouraged locals to make noise, and lots of it. But ironic or not, the Sound Off! competition received over 40 entries from Chicago musicians eager to sing about their favorite city. Now the votes are in, with rapper Psalm One taking home the grand prize for "My Bucket Song" and Shawn Pennington's "Doors Closing" winning the people's vote.

"My Bucket Song" by Psalm One from Psalm One on Vimeo.

Both artists will perform at the celebratory Sound Off concert, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Pritzker Park (344 S. State, across from the Harold Washington Library). It's free, so there's no reason you shouldn't be there and cheering for these great local artists. We promise, no one will give you a dirty look.

Psst...for a quieter library-sponsored event, check out author Michael Chabon, who will read from and sign his new memoir, Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father and Son, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the Harold Washington Library's Pritzker Auditorium.

3 Things We Love About ... Saturday

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1. ‘Jersey’ on the cheap
At least 10 front-row rush tickets to “Jersey Boys” go on sale for $25 apiece at 10 a.m. at the Bank of America Theater, 18 W. Monroe. Limit two tickets per person.


2. Stomp it
Eight teams of two will compete in a grape-stomping competition, which takes place at 3:15 p.m. as part of Heart of Chicago Festival (South Oakley and 24th Place). It’s $50 to compete, $5 to watch. Details: (773)-868-3010;

3. Mmmm ... butter
We’ve been begging the staff of Vinci, 1732 N. Halsted (312-266-1199), to part with the recipe for the restaurant’s signature brown butter sage sauce. No luck so far.
For more Saturday action, visit

Tell us your favorite things on a Saturday!

We all knew that one guy in high school or college who loved beer a little too much: he'd fantasize about beer popsicles, beer slushies, beer milkshakes. But in all his hop-fueled ravings, did he ever think of beer soup? Well, new C-House executive chef Nicole Pederson did - and it's on the menu, in the form of a spiced Goose Island Matilda broth that's poured over and around a piece of pan-seared halibut along with roasted pumpkin seeds. It makes for a fine fall entree (we should know, as we just slurped some today).

But Pederson isn't stopping there with the beer-love. From now through October 31, C-House is offering a $39 three-course dinner menu featuring Goose Island beer pairings. You'll start off with beer-battered oysters with bacon mayo and bitter greens (paired with Sofie, a Belgian-style ale), then choose either the aforementioned halibut dish or the Matilda-braised pork shoulder with parsnip and mustard greens (paired with Matilda, natch). For dessert, executive pastry chef Toni Roberts has made a "black & tan" -- butterscotch panna cotta and Bourbon County Stout gelee with pecan sandies, paired with, you guessed it, Bourbon County Stout.

If you're not quite that brew-crazy, don't worry; the full C-House menu is available, and there's plenty to recommend, including a refreshing yet indulgent heirloom apple salad (with gouda, mustard greens and croutons), hanger steak with sweet corn, shell beans, pickled peppers and corn puree (the perfect comfort food with just a little kick) and a pumpkin-caramel bread pudding that you might grow to love as much as your buddy loved Budweiser.

For many people, when you say the word wings, they think "buffalo sauce." (Ok, maybe some think "Sandpiper Airlines," but they watch too much TV.) But Rockit chef James Gottwald is different. To him, a chicken wing is simply a blank slate, to be slathered with any creative sauce he can concoct. At least, that's the way he thinks during Wingfest, the weeklong ode to the chicken wing running October 19-23 at Rockit's River North and Wrigleyville locations.


The out-of-the-box flavors available all week long include truffle and foie gras (truffle butter-tossed chicken wings with foie gras gravy), sweet chile & lime (with lime wedges and soy sauce), lemon grilled wings (with wild oregano, garlic and feta fondue), pomegranate port wine (with mango dipping sauce) and, for the traditionalists, "Nuclear" (tossed in super spicy buffalo sauce). Each variety costs $10 per dozen wings. Because wings of any flavor go well with beer, there will also be $3 drafts of Goose Island Harvest Ale available throughout the week.

We're guessing "no" is a word that RJ and Jerrod Melman didn't hear too often growing up. We're not saying they were spoiled by their dad (Rich Melman, founder of the Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group), but it appears they do have a tough time reining in their desires.

Take their popular restaurant, HUB 51, whose menu includes everything from nachos to sushi to burgers to steaks-- it's like the brothers took a look at a list of food suppliers and said "I want it all." (Hey, if it's alright with Jessica Alba, it's alright with us.)

And now comes word of Jerrod's birthday celebrations this weekend. That's right, celebrations, plural. The soon-to-be 27-year-old will host three parties at his restaurant's underground club, SUB 51 (click for table reservations). "Dance Your Pants Off" starts tonight with DJ Jem and DJ Kiss, with Dante the Don to follow on Friday and Konsept behind the decks on Saturday (the actual b-day is Sunday). Is it too much? Probably. Should you go anyway? We're not gonna tell you "no."


Mike Doughty
7 p.m. Thursday at Schubas, 9 p.m. Friday at Lincoln Hall, $20-$22
If you like studio works from Doughty (of Soul Coughing), like the recent Golden Delicious album, you absolutely can't miss seeing him in person. If possible, ind yourself a ticket to Friday's sold-out show at the brand-new Lincoln Hall, a live music venue just recently opened by the Schubas crew. Doughty will be joined on stage by cellist Andrew "Scrap" Livingston, who played guitar on Golden Delicious.

Think you've got what it takes to play the second annual Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival (December 12 at Congress Theater)? You don't have to crash the stage, Kanye-style, to make your voice heard. But you do have to act fast -- tomorrow is the last day to submit your band's songs to the fest's Last Banjo Standing contest. The winner, to be decided via online voting October 16-31, will get $500 and an opening spot at the event.

Whether you take home the prize or not, you can still go see the music. This year's lineup features Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Dr. Dog, Emmitt-Nershi Band, Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater, Van Ghost, The Giving Tree Band and more. Tickets cost $35, but keep an eye on this blog for a chance to win free tickets as the event nears.

Imagine what this will look like...after dark.

One of Chicago's biggest lakeside tourist attractions just got a little cooler - and we're not talking about the frigid environs at the top of the Navy Pier Ferris wheel.

We're talking about Adler After Dark, the new, 21-plus program that kicks off this Thursday at the Adler Planetarium. From 6-10 p.m., guests can enjoy cocktails and appetizers while checking out all the museum's exhibitions, sky and space shows, interactive live demonstrations, space-themed pub trivia and even tours of the huge Doane Observatory telescope (available only to Adler After Dark visitors). DJ D-Rek provides the soundtrack.

This week's event is free, while subsequent events (occurring on the third Thursday of each month) will be $10 in advance and $15 on-site.

Looks like the rest of Museum Campus is gonna have to step up its evening game. Get ready for "Night at the Field Museum" with Ben Stiller.

Monday nights are typically not the most robust times for Chicago entertainment -- many restaurants are closed and the bars are empty because everyone's home watching "Gossip Girl."

But what if you do want to get out and blow off some steam before the full reality of the work week sets in? The "You, Me, Them, Everybody" events at the Hungry Brain could be the answer. Every Monday, podcaster Brandon Wetherbee hosts events at this Roscoe Village haunt, offering up a mix of music, comedy, readings, films and more.

Tonight's free installment (8 p.m., 21+) features a screening of Wetherbee's first short film, "The Shuffle," about two people on a first date and their eventual breakup. We can't promise it will have as much drama as Dan and Olivia's budding romance, but that's why you have DVR, right?


Riot Fest
Through Sunday, various theaters, prices vary ($70 for a three-day pass to Congress Theater)
Several rockin' shows (not to mention a bowling tourney) are spread out across five venues (Congress Theater, Metro, Subterranean, Double Door, Cobra Lounge) during this fifth-annual fest. We're talking mosh-inducing rock and punk including Chicago's own Screeching Weasel, NOFX, Alkaline Trio, Naked Raygun and more. Oi!

Former "Top Chef" champion Stephanie Izard has done a great job building buzz for her eventual new Chicago restaurant, The Drunken Goat, with tons of appearances and promotions. Her Wandering Goat series of exclusive dinners has been particularly successful, with tickets being snapped up in no time at all, even when she's hidden the tickets. The next dinner will have a special twist: one lucky person will get to cook alongside Izard and her team.

Stephanie will be judging the latest installment of Red Eye's Virtual Kitchen Stadium, in which would-be chefs get 24 hours to cook up a dish featuring three secret ingredients, then submit the recipe and a photo of the dish to be voted on (there will be no tasting). The contest will have three rounds, beginning this Sunday, with each week having a separate winner. Stephanie will then choose one person from those three for the coveted spot.

3817018465_334bb2f078.jpg(Photo: Ken I Am)

Remember the classic Camper Van Beethoven song, "Take the Skinheads Bowling"? The organizers of this year's fifth annual Riot Fest do, and they're taking the directive to heart.

In addition to the fest's strong lineup of punk acts (performers include Screeching Weasel, Alkaline Trio, Naked Raygun, NOFX and more), there will be a "Drunken Bowling Tournament" on Friday and Saturday night at the Fireside Bowl. Members of many of the bands will be hitting the lanes for some friendly competition with the fans.

Registration for bowlers appears to be closed, but it'll cost just $3 to join the fun as a spectator. You'll get drink specials, giveaways, and the chance to see a hardcore dude use bumper lanes. The tournament starts at 10:30 p.m. on both nights, so you won't have to miss any of the shows.

If you're like most Chicagoans, you know the basics of what your Halloween night will look like: a whirlwind of played-out pimp costumes, $2 Miller Lites and contests crowning girls with low self-esteem. But since this year's holiday falls on a Saturday, you actually have two weekend evenings to fill. Instead of spending your Halloween eve egging houses and knocking over mailboxes (that's a federal offense!), why not spend it dancing?


Freaky Deaky -- featuring electronic artists Chromeo, Crystal Castles and Boys Noize -- will fill the Congress Theater with sexy synths, distorted vocals and flat-out catchy beats on October 30. The 17-plus event, opened by locals E-Six & Roan, Loyal Divide, Kid Color, Rob Threezy and Hiroki, costs $35, but we're giving away tickets for free.

To be entered in the drawing, add a fan photo of your craziest Halloween costume to Centerstage's Facebook page add a photo to Centerstage's Flickr group by Tuesday, October 20 at 3 p.m.

And if you don't have your weekend all planned out yet, be sure to check out Centerstage's Halloween guide, your source for costume shops, haunted houses, freaky theater shows and, yes, bar parties with $2 Miller Lites.

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Halsted Street Deli/Original Rainbow Cone
Try two Chicago favorites in one Loop location.

Weekly Treat: Cheap wine Wednesdays at Sheffield's
Take half off any bottle of vino tomorrow night in Lakeview.

Off the Beaten Path: Memories
Portage Park dive focuses on live music, colorful characters.

Man We're Crazy About: KnockBox Cafe
Quaint coffeehouse in Humboldt Park offers wi-fi and applesauce.

For more about what's going on this week, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

In this town, when you hear the word "sketch," you probably think of comedy -- Second City, ComedySportz, etc. But the word has more than one meaning, and local artists aim to let you know about it with this week's launch of Sketch Thursdays, a rotating, once-a-month (second Thursday) event in West Town.

The first free installment (you must be 21 to enter) goes down from 6-9 p.m. at The Architrouve, and will feature local emerging artists sketching or painting throughout the night, then offering those works for sale until close.

But this isn't all about buying, or even drinking; you can bring along your own pens 'n' paints and create your own art -- just don't expect a seat, as those are mostly reserved for invited artists. If you want to get an invite to a future installment, or just find out when and where the next one will be, contact Matthew Westfallen, (312) 850-9390.

Your Tuesday evening happy hour (don't pretend like you don't have one) just got a little more interesting if you work in River North -- and have $50 to spare. The progressive OctoberFeast features 25 venues, split up into eight different routes featuring five venues each (yes, math majors, there is some overlap). Participants will get 45 minutes of signature food and drink at each of the venues on the chosen route, which could include restaurants like Ai Sushi, Bull & Bear, Mercadito, Sunda, Naha, Osteria Via Stato, Zocalo and others. Everyone will meet up at the after-party at Martini Park.

If that's gotten your stomach rumbling, head to the River North Business Association site for tickets or call (312) 645-1047.


Hey, kids. In case you didn't know, that ruggedly handsome Brit who sometimes tags along with pop star Gwen Stefani isn't just some boy toy. He's Gavin Rossdale, and he headed up a pretty popular grunge-rock band in the mid '90s called Bush. The group hit it big with albums like Sixteen Stone and Razorblade Suitcase, but mainly faded from the spotlight at the end of the decade. Rossdale's still around, though, and starts up a solo tour soon that will hit Chicago's House of Blues on November 5. The show will double as a benefit for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Illinois, part of Platform One Entertainment's Dare 2 Dream series.

The concert still needs an opener, and it could be you. All you need to do is submit your songs at SonicBids by October 9, and Platform One will pick a winner. We're guessing that covers of "Glycerine" are discouraged.

3 Things We Love About ... Saturday

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We still haven’t figured out what we’re wearing for Halloween (and we only have four more weeks).

1. Queen Victoria, perhaps? High tea at the Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe, from 2-4 p.m. might get us in the mood; $35, in the lobby bar. Info: (312) 726-7500.

2. Or this old standby: Aaargh, “Real Pirates” at the Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore (312-922-9410), sets sail on Oct. 25. Better catch it this weekend. The $29 fee includes entry to the exhibit and general admission to the museum.

3. Or channel our inner Poe: The works of Edgar Allan Poe get a macabre twist thanks to the Neofuturists, 5153 N. Ashland, at 7:30 p.m.; $15. Reservations recommended (773-275-5255 or

Svengoolie will be among the spooky stars at this weekend's Ghost Conference. (photo via

Chicago Ghost Conference
5-11 p.m. Friday and 8:30 p.m.-midnight Saturday; Portage Theater; $50 for a two-day pass
Join paranormal experts and speakers for this annual event about all things otherworldly. This year's speakers include Lorraine Warren from A&E's "Paranormal State" and Jeff Belanger, paranormal author and creator of, who join members of paranormal groups from around the country to educate, inform, network, share ideas and entertain others that are fascinated with the supernatural. If that's not enough, Chicago legend Svengoolie makes an appearance on Friday night.

How much would you pay for this? (Photo: Clifton Henri)

Believe it or not, Blind Faith Cafe has been serving up creative vegetarian fare for 30 years now. The Evanston restaurant was way ahead of the local-and-organic trend, and continues to churn out dishes like Sagamite' (hominy corn, wild mushroom, jerusalem artichoke, wild rice and applewood-smoked squash sauteed in a rich vegetable reduction) and Pastel Azteca (layers of spinach, black bean, tortillas and poblano peppers baked with roasted tomato salsa and topped with melted cheese) for an appreciative audience.

Want to try one? Now is the time, because through Saturday, Blind Faith is celebrating its anniversary by letting customers decide what they want to pay for their entrees. So go ahead, try that shiitake walnut loaf you've been curious about -- if you don't like it, you don't have to pay the full $14 price. But since a restaurant doesn't get to the ripe old age of 30 by sending out tasteless food, we're guessing you'll end up parting with at least a little bit of cash.

If you really dig the veggie vibe, check Centerstage's directory of (mostly) meat-free spots.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from October 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

September 2009 is the previous archive.

November 2009 is the next archive.

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