Hideout 20-Year Reunion

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The Hideout, one of my favorite music venues, celebrated its 20th anniversary with a daylong mini-festival on Saturday — billed as a “20-Year Reunion.” In truth, the Hideout is much older than just two decades, as the city of Chicago’s cultural historian, Tim Samuelson, told the audience on Saturday in a short spiel about the venue’s history. He said it’s been serving alcohol since around 1919 — probably continuing as an illegal booze joint during the Prohibition Era.

But 20 years ago was when Tim Tuten and his wife, Katie, and their friends, twins Jim and Mike Hinchsliff, took over the Hideout and began transforming it into a friendly gathering place in the midst of a starkly urban landscape. (There’s a parking lot across the street filled with city garbage trucks.) In 2004, I interviewed the Tutens and the Hinchsliff brothers for a Pioneer Press feature about the Hideout. Back then, I wrote:

After eight years of running the Hideout, the owners still look on the experience like a fun adventure from their childhood days in the suburbs. “Kids used to make forts,” Tim Tuten says. “We looked at this as a fort or a clubhouse.”

That’s as true as it ever was. The Hideout is a sort of playground for musicians and their fans, and it also hosts comedy and literary events, political discussions … you name it. The genre of music most often associated with the Hideout is alt-country, but its concert schedule extends way beyond twang, including everything from experimental jazz to hard rock. And I’ve always sensed a welcoming vibe in its cozy space. Even on those rare nights when I don’t know a lot of people in the crowd, it just feels like a place where it’s easy to strike up a conversation with some of your fellow music fans.

The venue hosted an outdoor festival called the Hideout Block Party during many years, sometimes on Wabansia Street in front of the bar, sometimes taking over a bigger space in that garbage-truck parking lot. Last year, there was no Block Party. And this year’s event was pulled together somewhat belatedly. It turned out to be a smaller-scale even than the festival was in some years. There was just a small stage in front of the bar, and admission was a $20 donation. The lineup was filled with artists who have been regulars and favorites at the Hideout over the past 20 years. There was no need to bring in any additional big-name stars.

I did not see every single minute of Saturday’s party (my excuse is that I was recovering from sitting through the 15-hour Ragamala concert over the previous night). Early in the afternoon, I missed Plastic Crimewave Vision Celestial Guitarkestra, a “Late, Late Breakfast Pancake Brunch” and the Girl Talk interview show; and at the end of the night, I missed indoor performances by Devil in a Woodpile and the Lawrence Peters Outfit. But the eight hours of music I did catch were a fun time, filled with good spirit. It culminated with a lively set by Eleventh Dream Day, who closed with a cover of Lovin Spoonful’s “Summer in the City.” (See my video of the song here.)

Happy 20th birthday to the Hideout — and may you outlive all the changes that may be coming in the neighborhood. Chicago needs you.

Tim Tuten introduces Matina (Nora O’Connor, Gerald Dowd and Liam Davis)
Tim Tuten introduces Mantina (Nora O’Connor, Gerald Dowd and Liam Davis)
Matina
Mantina

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Kelly Hogan with Mantina
Kelly Hogan with Mantina
Andy Hopkins and Kelly Hogan with Mantina
Andy Hopkins and Kelly Hogan with Mantina
White Mystery
White Mystery
White Mystery
White Mystery
White Mystery
White Mystery
White Mystery
White Mystery
The Amazing Mr. Ash
The Amazing Mr. Ash
Poet Gregorio Gomez reads “The City”
Poet Gregorio Gomez reads “The City”
Nora O'Connor and Robbie Fulks
Nora O’Connor and Robbie Fulks
Robbie Fulks
Robbie Fulks
Kelly Hogan
Kelly Hogan
Andy Hopkins and Kelly Hogan
Andy Hopkins and Kelly Hogan
Tim Tuten raps about the Hideout with musical accompaniment from Mr. Rudy Day
Tim Tuten raps about the Hideout with musical accompaniment from Mr. Rudy Day
Mr. Rudy Day
Mr. Rudy Day
Chicago cultural historian Tim Samuelson, with Tim Tuten
Chicago cultural historian Tim Samuelson, with Tim Tuten
Tim Samuelson tells the history of the Hideout
Tim Samuelson tells the history of the Hideout
Jon Langford & Skull Orchard
Jon Langford & Skull Orchard

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The birthday cake
The birthday cake
JC Brooks Band
JC Brooks Band
JC Brooks Band
JC Brooks Band
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day
Eleventh Dream Day

Day of the Dowd

L99A0029Gerald Dowd has drummed for with a lot of different Chicago musicians over the years, rarely taking the spotlight himself. Saturday was his day, and what a remarkable feat it was. FitzGerald’s hosted daylong festival called “Day of the Dowd,” featuring 17 bands playing over the course of 13 1/2 hours. Dowd played drums for the first 16 of these bands, barely taking any breaks longer than a few minutes. And then for the finale, Dowd stepped up to the microphone with an acoustic guitar, singing and playing tuneful alt-country songs from his first album as a solo artist, Home Now.

I showed up halfway through the day, arriving in time to catch a rare performance by the great Chicago power-pop band Frisbie — which was so good that it made me hope Frisbie starts playing more shows and recording music again. The rest of an evening was a who’s who of Chicago’s alt-country and related genres. Here’s the full list of bands that played starting at 11 a.m.: Justin Roberts and the Not Ready For Naptime Players, Dave Sills, Brian Ohern’s Model Citizens Big Band, Electric Dirt, Samba Bamba, the Regulators, Nora O’Connor, the Hoyle Brothers, EXO, Dave Ramont, Frisbie, Jive Council, Kelly Hogan, Lush Budgett, Chris Mills, Robbie Fulks and Gerald Dowd and his Moral Minority.

All of these musicians gave their time to play at this event, celebrating the release of Dowd’s new album and all that he’s done for them over the years. The event also raised money for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Some singers and musicians kept turning up on the stage, performing with various groups over the course of the marathon.

Dowd started his own set with his 14-year-old son standing next to him and playing guitar. Various other musicians joined Dowd over the course of that final hour, but then it was just him standing alone on the stage for the encore, playing a beautiful acoustic ballad from Home Now. I sensed something especially heartfelt in the applause. It was astounding to think what this man had just put himself through. He was still standing as the show ended around 12:40 a.m., remarking that he was looking forward to a day without any drumming on Sunday.

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Dave Ramont and Gerald Dowd
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Frisbie
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Frisbie

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Frisbie
Frisbie
Frisbie
Frisbie

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Kelly Hogan
Kelly Hogan
Kelly Hogan
Kelly Hogan
Scott Ligon (playing with Kelly Hogan)
Scott Ligon (playing with Kelly Hogan)
Lush Budgett
Lush Budgett
Chris Mills
Chris Mills
Chris Mills
Chris Mills
Chris Mills
Chris Mills
Kelly Hogan gives Dowd a back rub.
Kelly Hogan gives Dowd a back rub.
Robbie Fulks
Robbie Fulks
Grant Tye, Kelly Hogan and Robbie Fulks
Grant Tye, Kelly Hogan and Robbie Fulks
Gerald Dowd with his son.
Gerald Dowd with his son.

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Grant Tye, Dave Sills and Gerald Dowd

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The Flat Five? It Must Be December


Earlier this year, I contributed a short article to the Chicago Reader’s “Best of Chicago” issue about The Flat Five, naming this local group the “Best Cover Band That Plays One Gig a Year.” At least, that has been this group’s performance pattern since mid-2007. Each December, this super group of singers and players convene for one night of performances at the Hideout. This year, that blessed night arrived on Friday (Dec. 10), with two sets at the Hideout. But as it happens, the Flat Five are going to play at least one more show this winter, Jan. 7 at Evanston Space. As I wrote in the Reader, it sure would be nice if that Flat Five played more often.

Who are the Flat Five? Even if you don’t know the band name, you may recognize the names of some of the members: Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor, Scott Ligon, K.C. McDonough and Gerald Dowd. For these gigs, Alex Hall ably filled in for Dowd on drums, adding some accordion, too. (Dowd is on tour, so he wasn’t available.) While they all have ties to the alt-country scene, what they do in the Flat Five is more like a combination of supper-club cabaret with rock cover band. Beautiful harmonies and a quirky, smart selection of songs originally written by people such as Harry Nilsson, the Beach Boys, the Free Design, Spanky and Our Gang, XTC alter-ego the Dukes of Stratosphear, the Zombies and Bobby Hebb. (Plus a few songs by Scott Ligon’s brother, Chris Ligon.) The Flat Five practiced a repertoire of about 45 songs this time, and they spread out quite a few of those over the two sets Friday night, with just a few repeats.

As in past years, it was a true delight to hear these voices joining together on songs such as “Sundays Will Never Be the Same,” “Kites Are Fun” and “This Will Be Our Year.” And how many other “cover bands” do a “four-fer” of songs by Nilsson? There was rock, jazz, ballads, country, even a little bit of gospel. And it sounded glorious.

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VIDEOS OF THE FLAT FIVE