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January 2010 Archives

tracy-jordan.jpgphoto: TVFanatic.com

Tracy Morgan
Friday-Sunday at The Improv; $37; buy tickets
The "30 Rock" and former Saturday Night Live star comes to Schaumburg for a weekend engagement full of the unfiltered commentary that's made him a household name. Don't forget to bring him the french fries he did not ask for.

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Not cold enough out there for you? Here's an idea: Go jump in the lake. No, literally. The Lakeview Polar Bear Club (a 501(c)3 organization) is having its ninth annual Lake Michigan plunge on Saturday at Oak Street Beach, with the event benefiting two families in need. If you'd like to join in the "Celebration of Shrinkage," download a waiver form from the website and show up at 11:30 a.m. Keep in mind, you don't have to get wet to be able to participate; you can also make a donation to the cause online or in person.

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Lupe Fiasco (with Howard Zinn, who passed away Wednesday) isn't afraid to combine music and politics.(photo: LupeFiasco.com)

Lupe Fiasco
8 p.m. at The Shrine; $30
One thing you should know by now: Don't miss a Lupe show when he's playing his hometown. This time around, he'll be teaming up with Cheryle Robinson Jackson in an effort to raise funds for her bid for the US Senate; all the proceeds of this show will go toward her campaign. He'll also likely play a lot from his anticipated new album, Lasers.

Katerina's 10th Anniversary Jazz Celebration Showcase
8 p.m. at Katerina's; $10
The eclectic music lounge (the food and drink ain't too shabby, either) celebrates a decade of sophisticated entertainment with a blowout show featuring a number of its regular jazz performers, including Petra Van Nuis, Andy Brown, Grazyna Auguscik, Rose Colella, Elaine Dame, Spider Saloff, Joanie Pallatto & Bradley Parker-Sparrow, Paul Marinaro, Juli Wood, Dean Allrick and Andreas Georgas. Classic cocktails will be on special all night.

"Lower Debt"
7:30 p.m. at Beat Kitchen; free
The Inch Worm Playreading Series hosts its latest staged reading in the upstairs room at this Roscoe Village venue, with Joshua Aaron Weinstein's tale of a white-collar worker who ends up living in a tent city. In addition to LiveWire Chicago Theatre's world-premiere performance (the play opens at the Viaduct Theatre on March 5), you'll enjoy drink specials, a raffle and silent auction and a feedback session.

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Looking to impress some big-wigs for work? Take ‘em to swanky Wicker Park bar The Fifty/50 for their “Three Martini Lunch” promotion, which starts today. For $35, you get three 10-ounce martinis, a BLT Salad (lettuce, bacon, egg, blue cheese and cherry tomatoes), a skirt steak sandwich on garlic bread, and a slice of sweet potato pecan pie.

The best part: The bill will simply read “prix fixe lunch,” perfect for expensing purposes (we hear the whole “drinking three big glasses of booze during work” thing is frowned upon in the corporate world).

The deal is available from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekdays. Afternoon productivity is optional.

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You won't see any of these on July 3 in Grant Park.

We know the summer feels a long way away, but it's never too early to start planning. One thing you can take off your schedule this year is the city's fireworks presentation in Grant Park on July 3. It's been eliminated as part of Chicago's cost-cutting measures (which included an earlier shutdown of the annual Venetian Night), to be replaced by three smaller neighborhood shows.

More details here.

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Universal Ninjas
9 p.m. at darkroom; $7
This humorous hip-hop/soul duo (which formed at Evanston Township High School) continues to introduce itself to the scene in a supporting performance along with DJ Alo & Ill Legit (The Gent$), Project Fr3sh, Iowa Rockwell and Lyric Versatile. Check out Centerstage's interview (with song samples) here. Also tonight: Daphne Willis at Lincoln Hall.
Find more Wednesday music shows.

Honky Tonk Wednesdays
7 p.m. at The Pony; free
Local country act Slamabama drops by for a live performance at this Lakeview bar, where tonight you can get half-price burgers, $3 SoCo Lime, $3 Beam Black and $3 16-ounce Coors Silver Bullet cans. If you still need more to drink, head around the corner to Fizz Bar & Grill, which celebrates its 12th Anniversary tonight with $1 well drinks, $2 bottles of Bud and Bud Light, $3 champagne cocktails and free passed hors d'oeuvres.
Find more Wednesday drink deals.

Port Tasting Seminar
6:30-8 p.m. at Randolph Wine Cellars; free
If you've always been curious about port, but too bashful (or broke) to try it out, stop by this West Loop wine shop to taste a number of varieties for free. In keeping with the demystification of the drink, this informal seminar does not require you to show up on time.

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Beard Papa’s
Cream puffs rule at this Block 37 bakery.

Off the Beaten Path: Popcorn Lounge
Shot-and-a-beer South Side bar full of blue-collar regulars.

Weekly Treat: $1 bottle special at Kincade’s
Beers are just a buck on Wednesday nights.

Man We're Crazy About: The Fifth
Contemporary River North cuisine from the owners of Kitsch'n.

For more Chicago bar and restaurant news, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

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photo: Flash Your Stache


A couple quick music announcements we feel you should know about:

  • The Doom/Mos Def show at Congress Theater, originally scheduled for Friday, has been moved to February 13. We're guessing Doom's impostor had a conflict.
  • Snoop Dogg is coming to Metro on February 16. Tickets go on sale Saturday at noon. For rizzle.

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The Moth Storyslam: Neighborhood
8 p.m. at Martyrs'; $7
The New York-based storytelling behemoth returns for an evening of true (mostly) tales about life in your 'hood. Yes, there's some irony in the idea of an out-of-town arts corporation coming into North Center for a celebration of everything local, but the storytellers will be 100-percent Chicago. If you want to represent (Kenwood! Pilsen! Rogers Park!), show up at Martyrs' (early!) and put your name in the hat. For a description of what it's like, check out Centerstage's recap of the first Chicago event.

I WISH: Mixology
7 p.m. at Spring; $35
North Shore Distillery co-owner and blogger Sonja Kassenbaum hosts this class covering the basics of making great drinks at home. You'll explore supplies, techniques, ingredients and flavor profiles on your way to making and tasting several cocktails, including a gimlet, mojito, passionfruit bellini, Tea Rose, Blackberry Julep and Corpse Reviver No. 2.

Alex Kotlowitz
5:30 p.m. at Northwestern University (University Hall Room 201, 1897 Sheridan, Evanston); free
The acclaimed journalist and author (There Are No Children Here, Never A City So Real, The Other Side of the River) reads from his work at Northwestern, where he's a professor at the Medill School of Journalism and also the school's Writer-In-Residence for the winter quarter.

Ciao, Fianco

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How do you say "we hardly knew ye" in Italian?

According to its official Twitter feed, Fianco, the Southport Corridor restaurant that opened in 2009, has closed. Looks like the chef (and his staff) is looking for a job now, if you have any leads (m.d.troost@gmail.com).

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photo: 4sox1yank.com

Ahh, Flip Cup...the sport of the gods. And by that we mean the sport of the drunken, fraternity-loving gods who enjoy upending plastic drinking vessels faster than their peers (that's just how they roll on Mt. Olympus).

No matter what you think of the "sport," you can't argue with drinking for charity. That's exactly what you can do during the Young Associates Board's 3rd Annual Flip Cup Tournament, which goes down at John Barleycorn Wrigleyville from noon-4 p.m. on Saturday. Grab up to five friends and register your team on the website ($30 person, includes unlimited beer and well drinks) to compete against other cup-flippers in the name of helping kids with brain tumors at Children's Memorial Hospital. We know, that may not have quite the same motivational power as some dude named Zeus yelling "Pledge!" in your ear, but it'll have to do.

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Spandex
7:30 p.m. at Studio Theater (Chicago Cultural Center); $5
We built this city on storefront theater. The administration knows it, too. In order to nurture everything that makes Chicago great, the Department of Cultural Affairs runs INCUBATOR, a program that gives fledgling companies free space and resources with which to develop new work. This month, the babies of Wishbone (founded in 2009!) present an ensemble piece about "the complexities of heroism." Gosh, we hope that means men in tights.

You, Me, Them, Everybody Live Podcast Recording
8 p.m. at Hungry Brain; free
Brandon Wetherbee and Esmeralda Leon host this live installment of the local music and culture podcast, with comedian Adam Burke, journalist Jacqui Ryan, music from Al Scorch, giveaways and more.

C.R.O.P. (Chicago Rarities Orchard Project) Benefit Party
6-8 p.m. at Uncommon Ground on Devon; $20
Uncommon Ground unveils its latest "eco-cocktail" at this benefit for the Chicago Rarities Orchard Project, which plants fruit orchards in the city. Your donation gets you a complimentary cocktail, hors d'oeuvres, a raffle and music from DJ Chris Hefner. 21+.

Have you ever been recapping an evening on the town, and told someone that you "danced all night"?

To actually do such a thing is pretty difficult and painful -- just ask any Northwestern University student who's participated in the school's annual 30-hour Dance Marathon event. But it's pain for a purpose, as events like these are typically done to raise money for charity. The first-ever Chicago Dance Marathon on March 6 will be no different: the 13.1-hour event (stop scoffing, Wildcat alums) at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place will help raise funds for Children's Memorial Hospital.

Think you can make it through? Sign up at chicagodancemarathon.org and start fundraising. A quick tip: Leave the heels at home.


If you think the Shedd Aquarium is just a place to take out-of-town guests interested in the underwater world, you'd better open your eyes. Like many of its Museum Campus cohorts, has a whole lot more going on outside regular hours. For proof, here are two recent events (one coming up soon, and one just passed):

On Wednesday, January 27, experts from Plitt Seafood Company will be on hand to lead you through a $50 class on rolling your own sushi (with sustainable seafood, of course). The admission fee also includes sake, a tour of the aquarium and coffee and themed desserts. You must be 21 to register (312-692-3206 or adults@sheddaquarium.org).

Last night, AKIRA and the Lyric Opera teamed up for a fashion show/launch party for Kraken rum. As this NBC Chicago video shows, it was anything but a dull night at the museum.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video.

Now he's on a mission WITH God

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DRINKING.jpgOn Sunday, John Belushi would have turned 61 years old. He'd have plans for a post-rehab, non-alcoholic beer with ol' buddy Dan Aykroyd at the Billy Goat. He'd be preparing for a cameo in "Blues Brothers 7: Tweetin' da Blues." He'd be teaching at Second City.

Instead, Chicago bar Faith & Whiskey, 1365 W. Fullerton, is celebrating the late comedy great with a Belushi Birthday Blowout Weekend.

Tonight, a cover band — yup, they're called The Bluz Brothers — will perform Jake and Elwood's greatest hits from the Chicago-centric film that made such a mark. Music starts at 9 p.m., and there are costume contests.

Saturday, it's an "Animal House"-style toga party featuring the actual Otis Day from the movie performing, of course, "Shout" and "Shama Lama Ding Dong." (He loves us, you know.) Music starts at 10 p.m., with more costume contests.

Here's an instructional video. Follow these moves ...

free video hosting
Free Video Hosting

Artists - want to get your work seen by the masses? Whether you're an established professional, an emerging outsider or a struggling student, submit your stuff to the Chicago Art Open Exhibition. The deadline for submissions is Friday, January 29, and the exhibition runs April 21-May 8 at the River East Art Center (435 E. Illinois).

While the show is open to most, there are some stipulations -- you've gotta be at least 18 and live or work in the greater Chicago area. For all the rules, and to enter, go to the website.

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The Joan of Arc Don't Mind Control Variety Show
10 p.m. Friday at Empty Bottle; $10
It's kind of charming. Local mad-track-layer Tim Kinsella has corralled over 40 pals, from A Tundra to new Chin Up, Chin Up outfit Vacations, to take part in both an 18-song record and this special variety show to promote it (emblazoned with Kinsella's always tongue-in-cheek titles). But will he make a good host? There's only one way to find out.

rainbowbite250.jpgRainbow Bite of the Mud Queens of Chicago (photo: mudqueens.com)

Wanna get a little dirty this weekend? Look no further than the Viaduct Theatre, where the Mud Queens of Chicago will be body slamming the night away on Saturday with some “authentic mud wrestling and rock ‘n roll.”

Wrestlers with names like Rainbow Bite, Twisted Fister and Jacky Daniels will slip and slide in the ring while local bands The Yolks and Bird Talk rock the night away.

Tickets are 15 bucks, and part of the proceeds go to the Young Women’s Empowerment Project.

And please, for everybody’s sake, make sure you rinse off after the show.

You know the area around North Center, Lincoln Square and Ravenswood Manor? Mike Fourcher and Patrick Boylan do. The two longtime Chicagoans have launched the Center Square Ledger, a digest of pretty much everything you'd want to know about these 'hoods, from a profile of Half Acre Beer Company to notes about early voting among residents.

Locals can keep tabs on the growth of the site via Twitter (@CenterSq) and Facebook.

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Adler After Dark: Extreme
6-10 p.m. at Adler Planetarium; $15
The Planetarium's evening series continues with a night of "extreme" fun, including a screening of "BLAST!", a film about space exploration; music from the Cano Bros.; and exhibits on extremly cold temps and helium-balloon travel. Cocktails and appetizers are included in the admission price, as is the run of the entire museum, including the Doane Observatory telescope.

The Long Room 10th Anniversary Celebration
6 p.m.-2 a.m. at The Long Room; free
The laid-back beer bar in North Center toasts a decade of drinking with this party featuring appetizers from Cafe 28 (6-8 p.m.) and brews rolled back to 2000 prices (expect $3.50-$4). Long Room t-shirts will be raffled off between 8 p.m. and midnight.

Helping in the Wake of the Quake
6-9 p.m. at English; $20 minimum donation
Join other concerned Chicagoans at this Twitter-formed benefit event to help respond to the earthquake destruction in Haiti. Your donation (which gets you a drink and light appetizers) will go toward Heartland Alliance. The efforts continue through Sunday at many Chicago restaurants, where you can add $1 donation to your bill.

Attention, beer geeks. If you're not too busy salivating over the introduction of Revolution Brewing to the local suds scene (or tending to your own batch), head down to Jake Melnick's Corner Tap on Friday. That's when another local operation, Metropolitan Brewing, will host a "Meet the Brewers" tasting event (6:30-9:30 p.m.).

For $25, you'll enjoy unlimited drafts of the brewery's Dynamo, Generator, Krankshaft and Flywheel, along with snacks from the bar. If you've got question (beyond "can I have another?"), the brewers will be on hand to answer them.


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A sampling of the kind of stuff you can slurp tonight.(photo via soupnbread.wordpress.com)

Soup and Bread (and beer)
Well, this seals it: Wednesday is officially soup day in Chicago. As if the free weekly Soup and Bread event at the Hideout weren't enough (the folks from Lula Cafe will be among the guest chefs from 5:30-8 p.m. tonight), Sheffield's is introducing its own slurp-worthy promotion. Starting at 7 p.m. tonight, $15 gets you one of four soups with beer pairings. Not only that, but the bar also hosts the "opening hair-emonies" of 826 Chicago's Moustache-a-thon tonight at 7 p.m. Update: The bar will also host weekly check-ins for the Moustache-a-thon, but tonight's ceremony takes place at 826CHI headquarters, 1331 N. Milwaukee.

Good Goddess Gift Showcase
9 p.m. at darkroom, free
If you've ever wondered where the female representatives of hip-hop are, mark your calendars for the this showcase at darkroom. Sponsored by E Events, this free show will be bringing together some of the most talented female artists around, all of whom are doing their part to redefine the preconceived notions of what an MC can be. Move aside fellas, 'cause it looks like 2010 could be a breakout year for the ladies.

"Hughie" & "Krapp's Last Tape"
7:30 p.m. at Goodman Theatre; $25-$83
What this town needs is a headliner. Brian Dennehy stars in a double bill of classic one-acts designed to show off his Brian Dennehy-ness: "Hughie," an O'Neill about the tragedy of a charming old gambler, and "Krapp," about the memories of a sad old man. The show, directed by superstar Brian Falls, is parking at the Goodman before motoring off to Broadway.

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Planning on biking to work tomorrow? Your craziness will be rewarded, assuming you work near downtown. From 6:30-9 a.m., the Active Transportation Alliance will be giving out free Caribou coffee to riders who stop by its office at 9 W. Hubbard, in honor of Winter Bike to Work Day (via Chicago Reader).

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Kit Kat Grand Unveiling Party
6-8 p.m. at Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club; free
The popular Lakeview lounge recently underwent major renovations to create a "South Beach-meets-Hollywood vibe." Come see the new fabric-covered ceilings, animal-print wallpaper and more at the "Revealed" soiree, a white party (read: wear white) including an Effen White-hosted bar and complimentary passed appetizers.

Cabinet of Curiosities
6 p.m. at Museum of Contemporary Art (Puck's at the MCA); free
The MCA's series of "un-lectures" continues with a presentation curated by No Coast, the Pilsen gallery and art store. "Heaven Is Real" will be themed around our relationship with death and dying, including performances from Acephalous, Andre Callot, Brandon Joyce and others. For more, check out Centerstage's interview with No Coast. Don't forget, the MCA is free all day today.

Juniper Mays

8 p.m. at Reggie's Music Joint; $5
Folk and bluegrass group Juniper Mays – Robert McHugh, Erik Smith, Dan Schmelzer and Kyle Hendrix – pays lighthearted ode to the "trials and tribulations of living life," "women" and "Ireland," among many other twenty-something struggles. It's all nestled within Phish guitars, chug-a-lug bass trains and McHugh's slightly rusted pipes, which invite comparisons to the Avett Brothers and O.A.R. Mr. Blotto also performs.

It's a good time to be an aspiring filmmaker.

Last week, we told you about the Your Big Break contest judged by Peter Jackson.

Now comes news that The Wit Hotel is looking for a production team to help it produce monthly "webisodes" about the goings-on at the boutique accommodations in 2010. Submit your 60- to 90-second demo reel by February 5 for a chance to score $5,000 and employment from March to December. The winning producer/host duo will be chosen on February 24. Check out all the fine print on Facebook.

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Eleventh Dream Day does its part to help out Haiti tonight.

Hideout Haiti Benefit
8 p.m. at Hideout; $20
Local bands Waco Brothers and Eleventh Dream Day play this special show (there's a bake sale, too) benefiting Partners in Health, which has been working on the ground in Haiti for over 20 years. Also check out more ways to help Haiti in Chicago.

Mental Graffiti
8 p.m. at Butterfly Social Club; $5 donation
Show off your creativity at this monthly open poetry slam in River West; you'll have the chance to win $20, plus the opportunity to compete for a spot on the Mental Graffiti team at the 2010 National Poetry Slam. Whether you're performing or not, make sure to stick around for a set from 24-year-old Eboni Hogan, the 2008 Urbana Grand Slam Champion and author of the recent poetry collection "Grits."

New American Table dinner
6:30 p.m. at C-House; $65-$85
Celebrate the release of C-House chef/owner Marcus Samuelsson's new cookbook, New American Table, with a special four-course dinner and reception at the restaurant. After an hour of cocktails and small bites, guests will enjoy cuisine inspired by the cookbook, including smoked trout rillettes, pan-seared wild salmon, beer-braised short ribs, and banana bread pudding, all served with Goose Island craft beer pairings. An extra $20 gets you a signed copy of New American Table.

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Chili comes in many varieties: beans, no beans, turkey, beef, vegetarian, with pasta, with cheese, etc. From January 18-22, Rockit (River North and Wrigleyville locations) will have 'em all and then some (well, not the veggie stuff, but you can go to Whole Foods for that). The second annual Chilifest offers three preparations of the dish throughout the week (turkey chili w/cheese and cilantro, $6; Chili Mac, turkey chili atop four-cheese mac and cheese, $12; and chili cheese fries, topped w/ turkey chili and cheddar and jack cheeses, $7) as well as a special preparation from chef James Gottwald each day ($10).

A portion of all chili sales will benefit Greater Chicago Food Depository, with the week culminating in a special fundraising event at Rockit Wrigleyville on Friday, January 22.

Read on for the full menu of special preparations.

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This could be you. (photo via chiditarod.ning.com)

High on our list of resolutions for 2010 was to finally get it together and register for the Chiditarod, the annual shopping-cart race through Wicker Park that helps feed the hungry, one drunken, costumed idiot at a time.

It's almost time to make our dreams a reality: registration for the fifth-anniversary event (March 6) begins this month. If you don't feel like paying $30-$50 to lug a cart across Division early on a Chicago winter day while wearing a muumuu and chugging PBR (that's how we picture it, at least), you might want to pay attention to the Chiditarod Design Competition. If you submit the winning design for the patch, t-shirt or flyer, you'll get to do all that crazy stuff for free! Deadline for submissions is January 21.

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Winter Block Party for Chicago's Hip-Hop Arts
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater; free during the day, $10-$15 evening
This second-annual event features a free daytime session with visual art and graffiti from emerging local artists, a B-Boy/B-Girl breakdancing battle, an open-mic showcase, DJs and a lot more. In the evening, check out "The New Style: Hip-Hop Aesthetics Across Genres," an exhibition of "style, mash-ups, collage, and conversation" hosted by Kevin Coval and featuring Waka (of the Brickheadz crew), WBEZ South Side Bureau reporter Natalie Moore, South Side Community Arts Center executive director/curator Faheem Majeedis and others.

Tomorrow Never Knows is the buzz-band fest that keeps on giving. Outside of the five nights of shows (continuing through Sunday) at Schubas and Lincoln Hall, many of the participating bands will play free shows at Reckless Records outlets in Lakeview and Wicker Park, according to the Chicago Reader.

The schedule:

Thursday, January 14
Bear in Heaven (5 p.m., Lakeview)

Friday, January 15
Icy Demons (5 p.m., Lakeview)

Saturday, January 16
Bowerbirds (4:30 p.m., Lakeview)

Sunday, January 17
The Pomegranates (5 p.m., Wicker Park)


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Sketch Thursdays
6-8 p.m. at Continental Lounge; free
The West Town art series returns for its fourth installment, which will be the same as the others: local emerging artists creating work live, then selling it off for affordable prices. Guests can enjoy complimentary refreshments while they witness the action. Want to be a participating artist? Contact Matthew@westtownchamber.org, or visit the Facebook page.

Addicted to Celebrities
8 p.m. at J Bar
Award season is here. Celebrate at J Bar's Golden Globe-themed event featuring a red carpet photo session, $6 cocktails and champagne, complimentary appetizers and more. The party will be hosted by NBC Chicago celebrity writer Kim Peiffer. Make sure to dress your best!

Rock Bottom tapping party
6-7 p.m. at Rock Bottom Brewery; free
Just days after the recent opening of its new bistro, RB Grille, this River North restaurant/brewery is busy again. Brewmaster Pete Crowley introduces his new "My Sweet" Cherry Wheat (a wheat ale brewed with 160 gallons of dark sweet cherry juice) with a free "tapping party" offering up samples and a paired family-style dish courtesy of chef Christopher McCoy. The event is open to all members of Rock Bottom's Mug Club. It's free to join, and we're betting they'll be signing up new card-carriers in droves tonight.

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Fundraising never tasted so good. (Photo via TwitPic)

Amid the many reports about the many fatalities and still-dangerous conditions in Haiti after a devastating earthquake Tuesday, one question has been constant: How can we help?

Well, if you don't decide to use the text-donation service vouched for on the U.S. Department of State Blog, there are at least a few ways you can have an impact in Chicago.


  • On Thursday, January 14, Trader Todd's hosts a fundraiser from 8-10 p.m.. For a minimum $15 donation you'll get an open bar (all domestic drafts, house wines and well cocktails) and a sampling of appetizers. All proceeds benefit the Red Cross.
  • On Friday, January 15, Le Passage will throw a fundraiser from 6-9 p.m., with all canned goods and tips collected going straight to Haiti. The bar plans to host subsequent fundraisers on January 22 and 29, according to TOC.
  • On Friday, January 15, Manor and RiNo will donate a portion of their cover charge to the Red Cross.
  • On Saturday, January 16 Billy Dec hosts a benefit at Rockit Wrigleyville, where for a $20 donation you'll get free drinks and appetizers from 9-10 p.m. RSVP to info@rockitwrigley.com. (@billydec, GrubStreetChi).
  • The Hearty Boys will be donating 5 percent of gross profits for the week (including from their new restaurant, Hearty) to the cause (via TOC).
  • On Monday, January 18 (5:30-7:30 p.m.), mk hosts a fundraiser with drinks and hors d'oeuvres. $50 at the door, with the restaurant matching all donations.
  • On Monday, January 18 (8 p.m.), Hideout hosts a benefit show featuring the Waco Brothers and Eleventh Dream Day. $20 admission benefits Partners in Health, which has been working on the ground in Haiti for over 20 years.
  • On Tuesday, January 19 (11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.), Meson Sabika will donate 100 percent of its sales to the Red Cross.
  • This one works a little differently: Donate $100 to Haiti via the Red Cross, and Foiled Cupcakes will give you two dozen cupcakes (open to first 5 people, so do it fast!). The 5-person threshold has been reached. Wow, that was fast!
  • Another cupcake deal: Buy the special banana cupcake with pineapple jam and coconut frosting ($3) Friday through Sunday at Bleeding Heart Bakery. All proceeds go to the Red Cross. (via Grub Street Chi)
  • On Wednesday, January 20, the Hotel Allegro hosts a bake sale from 8:15-9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. All proceeds from the pastries will go to Oxfam International. Learn more on Facebook.
  • On Thursday, January 21 from 6-9 p.m., English this benefit, at which a minimum $20 donation gets you one drink and light appetizers (see more on Facebook).
  • 25 percent of all sales at DMK Burger Bar from Tuesday, January 19 - Sunday, January 24 will be donated to the Red Cross.
  • On Friday, January 22, bartenders at Lizard's Liquid Lounge will give all the tips they collect to Haitian relief. Specials include $4 Stella.
  • Many Chicago restaurants will offer diners the chance to contribute to Haitian relief efforts by adding $1 to their check from Monday, January 18 - Sunday, January 24. All proceeds will be donated to the Heartland Alliance. Participating restaurants include Avec, Blackbird, Crust, Piece and more (full, regularly updated list here).
  • On Monday, January 25, all 19 Francesca restaurants will donate 100 percent of profits to the Red Cross.
  • On Tuesday, January 26 (4-10 p.m.), Tapas Valencia will donate 100 percent of its dining sales to the Red Cross.
  • Rodan is offering a Port au Prince Mule (a Moscow Mule with rum instead of vodka) for $7.
  • More from TOC: A long list of ways to donate online and in-person (nice job, guys).



Know of other ways Chicago folks can help out Haiti? We want to make this an ongoing resource, so leave a comment/link and we might add it into the post.

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Did you know that today is Korean American Day? As it happens, January 13 was the day in 1903 that 102 Korean immigrants arrived in Hawaii (there are now almost two million Korean Americans, according to Korea Report).

If you missed the performances at Daley Plaza earlier this afternoon, here are a few ways you can commemorate the occasion:

Got more ideas? Shout 'em out!

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"Wild Thing....you make my heart sing..."

"Just call me angel of the morning, angel..."

Two classic songs, one great songwriter. But Chip Taylor's much more than a two-hit wonder, having had several successful singles in the '70s as a performer, and gaining even more fans when he re-launched his career in the '90s. His latest album, "Yonkers, NY," brings further perspective to the life of the now-66-year-old artist. Taylor will bring out songs from this release and others when he performs at the Old Town School of Folk Music on Saturday with Kendel Carson and John Platania (Van Morrison's guitarist).

Centerstage wants to put you there, which is why it's giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky Facebook fan. Find out how you can win here.

3 Things To Do Today

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The Cribs, Adam Green, The Dead Trees
9 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $15
Dipped in platinum by NME and spit upon by Pitchfork (which has changed its tune since ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr joined the band), the UK's Cribs have yet to experience America's warm embrace. No matter, as the angular punk band's fourth LP, "Ignore the Ignorant," outsold Beatles reissues across the pond in September. New York's Adam Green is looking to finally shed the skin from his Moldy Peaches anti-folk days; his forthcoming record, "Minor Love," was inspired by a quote from Leonard Cohen at a BBQ: "We are all living in a butcher shop." Portland-based openers, The Dead Trees, do a charming job of ripping up Pavement with some roadhouse blues.
This event kicks off the annual Tomorrow Never Knows fest. Check out Centerstage's full preview.

Razzmatazz
8:30 p.m. at Cafe Wha Who?; $5
The Edge Comedy Club presents this showcase featuring nine stand-up comics performing five-to-10-minute sets each (so you won't have to deal with a bad one for too long). While you're at this Greenwich Village-inspired spot, enjoy $3 bottles of Miller High Life, $4 bottles of Amstel and $5 Absolut cocktails. Local comedian Dave Odd hosts.

Rastros y Cronicas: Women of Juarez
10 a.m.-5 p.m. at National Museum of Mexican Art
This exhibit, featuring the work of 26 artists mostly of Mexican and Mexican-American descent, addresses the drastic increase in violence against women in Juárez, Mexico that began in 1993 and continues today. For more on the inspiration and the art, check out Centerstage's feature article.

Aspiring filmmakers: If you haven't already submitted a screenplay to Your Big Break, the contest that gives you the opportunity to shoot a short film about New Zealand with Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson in his native country with producer Barrie Osbourne (Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson will be a judge), you'd better get on it. The deadline for entries is Friday, January 15.

Should you be feeling a bit lazy, or uninspired by the subject matter (racist!), you could at least do your part and vote for another local filmmaker, like Uriah Riedel, whose entry we've reposted below. This could be just what the Second City needs to break into the elusive Kiwi market.

3 Things To Do Today

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Sanctified Grumblers
9:30 p.m. at Hideout; $5
Eric Noden, best known for his resonator pickings with harpist Joe Filisko, combines forces with the late Devil in a Woodpile's Rick Sherry to scratch their jug and ragtime itch a bit deeper. Expect more kazoo and foot-drum as opposed to the stand-up bass, PBR-swilling residencies of yore.

"Private Lives"
7:30 p.m. at Chicago Shakespeare Theater; $44-$75
Sometimes, you go on honeymoon with the love of your life. Sometimes, you go on honeymoon with the love of your life while both of you are married to other people. This Brit-wit classic, directed by the expert Gary Griffin, combines Noel Coward's champagne-dry wit with the wettest of all romantic fantasies: There's someone out there so perfect for you that you can't stand him or her.

Whisky Passport Series
7 p.m. at Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro; $10
Curious about whisky? Let an expert (Sue Pitkin) show you the ropes with this tasting of three Speyside malts. Stick around to try some of the many other varieties available, not to mention the tasty Irish-inspired cuisine. Call (773) 248-3905 for reservations (recommended for the tasting).

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: La Farine
Bakery works on perfecting bread while serving tasty sweets on the side.

Off the Beaten Path: All Aboard Diner
Get your sandwich delivered by toy train in Downers Grove.

Weekly Treat: $20.10 meals at Tavern on Rush
Get two three-course lunches or one dinner in the Gold Coast, daily through February.

Man We're Crazy About: Big Star
Top-notch country music, tacos and beer in Wicker Park.

For more Chicago bar and restaurant news, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

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Quadrangle's Guest Artist Series with Leslie Beukelman
8-10 p.m. at Uncommon Ground on Devon; $10 suggested donation
Jazz composer/musician John Goldman presents the latest in Quadrangle's Guest Artist Series (second Monday of each month). For this installment, vocalist Leslie Beukelman brings her pipes to complement the play of Goldman (saxophone), Scott Hesse (guitar), Patrick Mulcahy (bass) and Cory Healey (drums). Make a reservation for dinner (the bacon-wrapped meatloaf is the tops!) and you'll have guaranteed seating in the music room.

2nd Story
7:30 p.m. at Webster's Wine Bar; $10
Writer-performers Kim Morris, James Lower, Bobby Biedrzycki and Sara Kerastas will tell their tales as you enjoy wine ($10 flights) and snacks at this rustic Lincoln Park wine bar. Doors open at 7 p.m.; tickets are no longer available online, but may be at the door.

Stout Fest
11 a.m.-2 a.m. at Quenchers Saloon; no cover
'Tis definitely the season for stouts, but if you're bored with Guinness, check out this well-stocked Logan Square bar. Through the end of the month, you can try 20 lesser-known varieties for $5-$8 each. Explore wisely; the beers are divided into four groups of five, and if you buy four in one group, you can get the fifth free. Brews include St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, Great Divide Brewing Co.'s Oak-Aged Yeti, Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout and Dark Horse Too.


Back in November, several local performers competed in the Chicago Blues Challenge, presented by the Windy City Blues Society. The winners (including Grana Louise and the Troublemakers, Matt Hendricks and Bill Curtis, and Will Jacobs and Dirty Deal) will now move on to the International Blues Challenge, January 20-23 in Memphis. But a trip down south costs money, so if you want to see a Chicagoan take home the big prize, do your part to support the artists by heading to the Society's fundraiser tonight at B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted (6:30-9 p.m., $10). You'll enjoy entertainment from Hendricks and Curtis as well as all-you-can-eat BBQ (while it lasts). Stick around afterward for a set from local staple Vance Kelly.


Whew! In a few short years, Chicago has gone from a city with no Restaurant Week to speak of to one with three different promotions, each lasting more than a week, giving Chicagoans plenty of chances at reasonably priced prix-fixe meals around town. There's Chicago Restaurant Week, Chicago Originals Restaurant Week, and starting tonight, the newest of the bunch, The Local Tourist Restaurant Week. We know this sudden glut of choices can be a bit overwhelming to navigate, so we've cooked up a neat little table to help you make sense of it all. Happy eating!

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Now that Andre Dawson's legacy is secure, we can turn our attention to other Chicago luminaries who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Like Nelson Algren and Shel Silverstein.

Those all-stars might not make it to Cooperstown, but they will be on the first ballot for the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. The temple of literature doesn't actually exist yet, but it could with your help. The Chicago Writers Association, which has been planning such a Hall since May 2009, is hosting a fundraiser tonight at Sheffield's (6:30-9:30 p.m.; $35) to get the thing off the ground, according to the Reader. Brave the snow and you'll enjoy unlimited specialty beers and appetizers, plus appearances by Chicago authors Bayo Ojikutu, Marcus Sakey and Don De Grazia.

Despite its much-lauded cuisine and atmosphere, Usagi Ya has remained relatively under the radar in the restaurant-stuffed East Village/West Town area for several years.This might trouble some eateries, but the pan-Asian/sushi standby has seemed pretty comfortable with its "hidden gem" role -- until now, that is.

A few weeks ago, Usagi Ya made the switch from unassuming little restaurant to unassuming little restaurant with a happening lounge below. On Saturday nights, guests can head down to the newly renovated basement lounge, dubbed Rabbit House (the literal translation of Usagi Ya), for DJ'd beats and drink specials (like $5 martinis).

Don't worry, the place isn't turning into another clubby sushi spot; you'll still be able to find all the same tasteful decor and tasty fish upstairs every day of the week. Think of Usagi Ya as the shy, reserved kid who likes to let loose on the weekend -- just like many West Town residents.

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Hey You Millionaires is just one of the 100 acts performing at Chicago Sketchfest.

Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival
Through January 17 at Theatre Building Chicago; prices vary
More than 100 troupes from all over the world descend on this Lakeview theater with one goal in mind: making the masses laugh as much as possible. The annual show, commonly known as Chicago Sketchfest, brings out the best in a city known for its improv/sketch comedy. Can't decide which shows to see? Check out our top picks.

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Look outside.

Ok, now stop whimpering. You're a Chicagoan, not a D.C. resident! A little snow isn't going to stop your life...but you will have to adapt (that stickball game you were planning might have to wait 'til the plows come take care of your street). In case you weren't quite ready for this blizzard, we're compiling a handy list of all the things you can do in the Chicago area when it's snowing. Have ideas to add? Let us know in the comments.

  • Sledding. Time Out Chicago's got a great guide to area hills. Just be careful - a co-worker here took a spill last week and broke a bone!
  • Skiing. Yes, contrary to popular opinion, there are places to ski in the midwest. Centerstage runs down all the options for bunnies and experts alike. (Cross-country, too.)
  • Museums. Make the most of your indoor time with an educational visit. The Local Tourist has compiled a list of all free museum days in 2010.
  • Workouts. Don't feed us that line about needing an extra layer of fat. These fitness options at local gyms will keep you on track instead of in hibernation. Check out these winter sports leagues, too.
  • Drinking and Eating. This is what you were waiting for, right? Nothing like sitting by the fire with some booze and comfort food. Here are some great places to do just that. (And since you won't be flying anywhere anytime soon, some where you can pretend you're on vacation on a tropical island).
  • Reading. The Chicago Reader's annual fiction issue is online for your pleasure. For more inspiration, check out Jonathan Messinger's Books of 2009, or locally based sites like Bookslut and PopMatters.
  • Sex. Heat things up in the bedroom with advice from our favorite sex columnist, Anna Pulley (aka Centerstage's former Carnal Consultant)
  • Loafing. If you just want to sit and watch TV, that's fine, too. Visit The TV Paige for ideas...and buy tickets now for the B-Fest a full 24 hours of bad movies in Evanston. Of course, that's in a few weeks -- hopefully, this storm will be over before then.

What else you got, Chicago?

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No one's going to confuse The Damnwells with Radiohead, but the two groups do have one thing in common: they both released their latest albums as free downloads. This kind of creative marketing (they're also accepting donations to help them record their new record) has kept the Brooklyn indie band in the spotlight, even as its original lineup has all but disbanded (guitarist and lead singer Alex Dezen is a constant). But don't think the music is an afterthought. If you like Wilco, The Jayhawks or other acoustically minded rock bands, you'll want to check these guys out.

In the spirit of "freemium" content, Centerstage is giving away 3 pairs of tickets to the Damnwells' show on Saturday, January 9 at Double Door with Flame Shark and Katie Todd. To enter, visit Facebook.

Dude, we're so pumped. According to the Tribune's About Last Night blog, on January 15, Pauly D and Mike "The Situation" of MTV's love it/hate it reality show "Jersey Shore" will be at Lumen for a party that will include hair-gelling by Marianne Strokirk Salons and gift certificates to LA Tan. (So you can look just like Michael Cera!)

Update: According to Chicagoist, The Situation and Pauly D (who will spin!) will return to Chicago on February 19 with J-WOWW in tow at Joe's Bar (9 p.m., $20).

You can pretend you didn't just get excited and email your friends...but just know that we know.

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Eight comedians' heads are better than one. (photo: Michelle Kaffko)

Comedians You Should Know
9 p.m. at Timothy O'Toole's; free
Stand-up often takes a backseat in this town of improv and sketch comedy. This independently produced show, which features a rotating roster of eight local comics (along with some regional and national guests), aims to change that with a new weekly series at Streeterville's favorite subterranean pub. Marty DeRosa, Drew Michael, Danny Kallas, Michael Sanchez, Joe Kilgallon, Mike Sheehan and Junior Stopka will take their turns in the spotlight tonight. Get there early for complimentary cocktails and an appetizer buffet from 7:30-8:30 p.m.

The Epiphany Concert
8 p.m. at Martyrs'; $8
The party season is over, and Chicagoans are staring down the long, lightless road of real f'ing winter. Don't despair. Instead, hang on to Christmas and celebrate an obscure Catholic holiday with Kevin O'Donnell, the maestro behind the House Theatre's biggest musical hits. Featuring songs from KO'D and magic from Dennis Watkins, the Epiphany concert will help us remember the true meaning of January: watching lots of great storefront theater.

At the Bar with Nick and Charles
6:30 p.m. at The Drawing Room; $45
If you still think of Le Passage as the too-cool-for-school club of the early aughts, you owe it to yourself to check out how it's changed. Or at least, to check out its better half, the Drawing Room, where executive chef Nick LaCasse has been turning out some top-notch plates for the past couple years. Tonight's special event offers a great opportunity, as LaCasse teams up with mixologist Charles Joly to present a three-course menu complete with cocktail pairings. Reservations are required; this event will also take place on Thursday, January 7.

Been waiting 'til the crowds die down to try out Big Star, Paul Kahan's temple of tacos in the old Pontiac Cafe space in Wicker Park? You might as well just suck it up and go, because the recent announcement of new menu items isn't likely to dull excitement. New for 2010 are plantain fries, served in thin strips with chile, lime juice, queso fresco and crema, and champurrado, or Mexican hot chocolate, which includes melted Mexican chocolate, cinnamon, anise, masa and piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar). Sorry, misanthropes.

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Cabalo
Dine, drink and dance all in one place in Humboldt Park.

Off the Beaten Path: Isabella Café & Catering
Exquisite food and fine dining in this Tinley Park cafe.

Weekly Treat: PBR night at Driftwood
Grab a $1.50 can tonight in Uptown.

Man We're Crazy About: Sushi Taiyo
Sunny Streeterville sushi shop from the owners of Rise and Shine.

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

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Freaks & Flash
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
Whether you think of your body as a canvas or not, you'll be mesmerized by this display of tattoo art (and circus banners featuring tattooed performers). The focus of this exhibit will be on Midwestern collections and collectors from the turn of the century to the "Renaissance" of the 1960s and 1970s. Runs through January 9.

Holiday Leftover Show-a-Rama
7 p.m. at Holiday Club; free
Spend too much money over the holidays? You can save a little cash tonight, because this variety show from the n.u.f.a.n. ensemble costs nothing. You'll get more than you pay for, too: music, improv and sketch comedy (including somethign called the "Eat or No Eat" sketch). $3.50 frozen PBR schooners should make it all go down smoothly.

Butch Walker
9 p.m. at Schubas; $20
The L.A.-based singer-songwriter, who's written tunes for everyone from Weezer to Avril Lavigne, kicks off a four-night, career-spanning stand as he goes through his 2004 album, Letters, in its entirety. If that's not your favorite, submit your requests via Twitter using hashtag #butchwalkersetlist and Walker just might play it during Friday's fan-centric show.


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Photo: via Facebook

According to the extended weather forecast, it's going to be about 20 degrees with scattered flurries on Sunday. Sounds like a great day to go without pants.

The No Pants! Subway Ride returns for its ninth year (fourth in Chicago) of shocking the public this weekend, as hundreds of intrepid transit-riders will ride the rails in their underoos from noon-3 p.m. Why? We're not entirely sure, but we do know that if you plan on participating, there is at least one rule to follow: You have to act like sitting on the CTA in your particulars is completely normal (depending on what line you ride, it just might be). If you're curious, check out the event's official Facebook page for all the details, including where to meet the rest of the group. Because the only thing more embarrassing than wearing your underwear on the train is doing it alone.

3 Things To Do Today

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Raheem DeVaughn performs at The Shrine tonight.

Raheem DeVaughn
8 p.m. at The Shrine; $25
After collaborating with Ludacris on the hit single "Bulletproof" and successfully touring the late-night talk-show circuit, Raheem DeVaughn quickly established himself as one of the breakout stars of the year. He's not quite a household name yet, but if his solo album, Love & War MasterPeace (due out February 8), lives up to the hype, you'd better believe he'll be one of the most talked about artists of 2010. DeVaughn's charisma and style are the bread-and-butter of his shows, so to have him croon live at an intimate place like The Shrine ought to make this a performance worth checking out.
View all of today's music events.

That's Weird, Grandma
8 p.m. at Neo-Futurarium; $5-$10
This hodgepodge of a show offers something for everyone—hilarity, heartfelt sentiment, sarcasm, quick wit and engaging musical numbers. With only a simple backdrop, few costumes, some props and actors with a ton of explosive energy, the sketches deliver some of the most charming tales staged in Chicago. But what makes the show truly stand out are the third- and fourth-graders (students in Chicago Public Schools) who penned the stories that inspired the sketches.
View all of today's theater shows.

"The Bachelor" Season Premiere Viewing Party

7 p.m. at Cityscape Bar; free
Will we see another Chicagoan take home the grand prize -- a new spouse -- in the latest season of this singles competition? What scandals will there be this year? The journey begins tonight, and Cityscape (15th floor of the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza) offers a comfortable way to watch the proceedings, with $7 themed cocktail specials including the Flirtini (Skyy Passionfruit, X-Rated Fusion liqueur, cranberry juice, candied lemon), the Proposal (Absolut Rasberri, Razzmatazz, cranberry juice, Sprite, candied lemon) and the Wedding Cake (Absolut Vanilla, Amaretto, white creme de cacao, cranberry juice, pineapple juice and a light chocolate swirl). Just don't drink too much -- it's a long way down.
View all of today's food and drink deals.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2009 is the previous archive.

February 2010 is the next archive.

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