Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Thought Hamm's Was A Pacific Northwest Beer

Though I discovered it (with it’s beautifully redundant, double “M”s) on my first visit to Portland, it turns out that it’s a Midwest beer.

And you can get one and a shot of whiskey for 5 bucks at The Hideout which I declare my ground zero as I try to figure out Chicago and how to face down being an old music nerd in a new city.

Separated from the oh-so-indie neighborhood of Wicker Park (Liz Phair wrote Exile in Guyville there! It’s the setting of High Fidelity! It was the inspiration for a Skinny Puppy record?!) by the hulking mass of the Kennedy Expressway and hidden in an industrial corridor, the geography of the joint seems to echo it’s gestalt.

While there is no shortage of tattoo sleeves and black framed glasses, The Hideout seems to have one foot firmly in the trench of relevant Chicago art and music without having to scrape any of the less desirable hipster effluvia from the soles of their shoes.

The first night I was there, as I walked in, a man in a camel’s hair coat with a mature hair-line was excitedly talking about the “new age of reason and science” and the “end of the ideologues”. He later welcomed everyone from the stage, leading me to presume he helped run the place. An hour or so later he was 86ing someone, confirming my guess. The next night I was there, it was announced that this same guy, Tim Tuten, was one of the owners and had just secured a gig as a deputy to Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

Last week, Patrick and I were there to see Devil in a Woodpile but were instead presented with the Golden Horse Ranch Square Dance Band. I have to admit I found their country stylings a bit “by the numbers” and I grew lonesome for North Carolina (and The Good Times, the best damn country trio that few people have ever heard). However, there was no denying the atmosphere of lighthearted fun and hearty friendliness. Rare stuff these days.

Last night, Sarah and I went by to see Leroy Bach (multi-instrumentalist and Wilco vet) and Dan Bitney (Tortoise) play house band as Ghostrest. The bartender was cracking friendly jokes and at one point I looked over my shoulder and realized he (the bartender, mind you) was playing a tape loop machine.

So maybe I should be more concerned with finding a job, but having already found a good, cheap bar (one with friendly folks and a place able to deliver a night of improv post-rock back to back with an evening of down home Americana) has me breathing a sigh of relief.

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