The name is just the beginning, Mac is the owner of a great music showcase bar & restaurant on Slade Street in Palatine, IL. Not a huge place but an excellent spot to catch some local music, have a decent meal (I am very fond of the Red Beans & Rice, don't miss the rack of hot sauces on the wall) or some liquid refreshment. Not a lounge exactly, more like a Chicago Blues or Jazz Bar in it's layout. Mac is a music fan/bass player himself and the vibe here is very pro-musician. Fun decor with "house" instruments onstage and deco lamps illuminating the bands. Open mic on Tuesday, Acoustic night on Thursday, Solo Acts, Duos & Bands on the weekend. Highly recommended by Mister Al. Lounge Lives!-along with Rock, Blues, Jazz etc.
I used to enjoy listening to WNUA in Chicago, the Smooth Jazz station. My girlfriend (now wife) & I even attended the Smooth Jazz Brunch remote broadcast with Rick O' Dell at the Hotel Nikko. I loved Sade and adopted her hit "Smooth Operator" as my secret theme song. WNUA would also play some "out there" music from Mars Lazar & the atmospheric StarStreams. In other words, within the format, they took some programming chances. Then they drifted.... cut out lesser known artists and went with a sax heavy mix plus great....but already well exposed down-tempo soul. There was even a strange updated version of the modern jazz classic "Take Five" that I swear sounded like 4/4 time. Really? The music became smooth alright, so smooth it was flat. As for the Jazz part, it never really was. Most smooth jazz songs were an interplay between a soloist and a synthesizer, which is fine...but that's not jazz. Now it's gone. 'NUA staffers & setlists briefly rallied at a smaller station on the Northshore, then that went away too. Trends come & go. Whats the next wave of easy listening, relaxing tuneage? Hmmmm.
I climbed the long stairway to The Terrace on the south side of Sam & Harry's in Schaumburg. Overlooking the Jane Addams Tollway, The Terrace holds a collection of patio couches, cocktail tables, wicker chairs and umbrellas. A planter box with foliage hides the passing traffic but can't stop the noise of thousands of cars, trucks and the occasional pack of bikes. The Terrace hosts live music on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7 til 9; bands, deejays, whatever will entertain the convention goers visiting the Renaissance Hotel. Prices are pricey. Fixed price lunch at $22, specialty cocktails at $12, microbrews $6.50 and up and wine $8 and up. Homemade potato chips and a nice french onion and garlic dip is only .99 cents and seems like the deal of the century. Hazy afternoon sun, the drone of speeding traffic and cocktails on The Terrace...it seemed very LA, which following a lingering Illinois winter was fine with me. Lounge Lives!
Last week I stopped in to Madame Zuzu's Tea House in Braeside. Nice new and tidy spot on the north shore. Beautiful wooden bar for ordering your tea & pastries; upright piano for players. Music every Friday & Saturday and Open Mic every other Thursday. Not another soul there during my winter lunch but probably packed after a Ravinia concert. Nice cane back chairs & tables to enjoy your tea. Eclectic Asian meets Victorian decor. Vegan menu. My brownie tasted like it was missing something....probably butter and eggs. Pricey; $9.00 bought herbal tea, a brownie and a little something for the server. Great place post concert or Cook County Botanical Gardens. Lounge Lives.
I'm changing the name of my guitar tuning to "Mister Al". Previously I called it Mistral in honor of Django Reinhardt, since the tuning allows a player to form jazzy extended chords with just two fingers. There was some confusion out there in Guitarland though because Django played in Standard Tuning. Some guitar tunings acquire names (open G is called Sebastapol-Standard tuning is called Spanish) beyond the technical description. So now a guitar tuning in stacked thirds (minor-major-minor-major-etc) is known as Mister Al. Lounge Lives!
Last night at Mac's on Slade in Palatine, Il. I caught a set by the duo The Apuli Brothers. Wow! Sort of a cross between John Mayer & Los Lonely Boys; these guys are really in sync with each other. Very nice original songs as well. It's fun watching them trade the electric guitar too, between songs. Both guys sing & play, and give an all around positive upbeat vibe that's very optimistic. The future looks bright for The Apuli Brothers.
I had a nice weekend at the Chicago Gourmet show in Millenium Park. Lots of great food and beverages along with perfect weather. DJ was OK. Lounge Lives!
"Have Guitar Will Travel" is the motto of Live Pete Sorensen; Entertainer. Last night in the Lounge of the Chicago Prime Steakhouse, Pete laid down a couple nice sets of Vegas & Rockabilly classics. Great vocals and guitar in front of full sounding back-up tracks, with a large dose of good natured humor. Pete has excellent taste in song selection with some tunes one rarely hears (True Love Waits, Little Egypt). Last night he played solo, however many times he performs with "Miss Kitty", a strong singer & personality as well. The "Live Pete Show" recommended by Mister Al. Lounge Lives!
Yesterday I spent a glorious summer afternoon watching the Schaumburg Boomers defeat the Rockford RiverHawks. This is the inaugural season for the Boomers (named after the prairie chicken, not the demographic group). I bought a lawn ticket & moved throughout the park as the game progressed. It was day camp day so it was neat to see the different groups wearing their camp shirts; green, yellow, blue, orange & red splotches through the grandstands. When the Boomers threw free tee shirts to the kids between innings the screaming sounded like the Beatles playing Shea Stadium. Back to the lawn for me. The ump took a foul tip off the forehead causing a half hour delay. He walked off for a bit, the ballpark played Cotton Eyed Joe etc., and the campers had just as much fun dancing in the aisles. $8 for the ticket, free parking and a great afternoon. Lounge Lives!
Last night I attended the annual SAG-Aftra Chicago Local soiree at the Allerton Hotel on Michigan Avenue. I've always meant to visit the Tip-Top-Tap, a local landmark located on the 23rd floor of the Allerton. Going back to the 20's, this was one of the swankier nightspots in Chicago. As it turns out the bar was converted years ago into the ballrooms where last night's event was being held. The huge Tip-Top-Tap sign at the top of the hotel is part of the building's landmark status. I did have a nice chat with a woman who would visit the lounge as a student at Northwestern, since Evanston was dry at the time. She said the room had a huge turntable that would slowly turn and show off the views of the city. Nice business meeting in a historic space; Lounge Lives!