When in Chicago you have to visit the Green Mill. They get some great acts, and if you get there early you can get within 15 feet of the stage. The interior hasn't changed since the 40's and the vibe is cool. This is a real gem of a club!!!
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I was born and grew up in that area of Chicago (known as "Uptown"). In it's day (30's & 40's) it was THE center of entertainment on the far north side. The Green Mill sits next door to the Uptown Movie Palace (if (pity) all you know are the multiplexes of today, your jaw would drop at this 5000 seat venue -modeled after a medieval Moorish castle -with three balconies...). Just south is the Riviera movie theater (the Uptowns little sister).
A half a block east, on Lawrence Ave., is the Aaragon ballroom (again the Moorish theme). The Aaragon has seen everything from U.S.O. dancing to Ted Nugent concerts; From boxing to the 1960's psychedelic groove pit "The Cheeta". Uptown saw a notorious decline in the early sixties (a suprise due to it's fabulous art deco architecture, proximity to mass transportation and lake Michigan) but is being "Gentrified" back to life. It's been quite a while since I paid 25 cents to spend Saturday afternoon at the Uptown -quite a while.
During the 1980's I saw many concerts at Aaragon Ballroom and briefly at Uptown theater during early 1980's. The Green Mill was cool watering hole to get a drink before the show right around the corner, after show you hit the clubs till dawn.
The Aaragon was a definite trip as you said it had a detailed facade of Moorish town square around main floor, you could go into each building and balcony on top floor of each building. Ceiling was black with simulated night sky with stars, it was very unique and cool!
I lived in uptown for four years during high school (graduated 1977), in a "commune" during the pre-gentrified days. Clark and Wilson. I remember Blue Oyster Cult playing at The Uptown (which was pretty rundown in those days), but could never afford to actually go in.
I have great memories from those years, but that area of uptown was a pretty advanced lesson in the school of hard knocks! I blew town in a hurry when I graduated, and didn't look back for about ten years. A year after graduating, I was traveling in pre-revolution Iraq (and many other places for a year), and my mother said her only consolation was that she figured if I survived growing up in Chicago, I could survive anything.
Now I thoroughly enjoy visiting Chicago as an adult, and love to take in the blues again.
Sorry this has nothing to do with Patricia Barber, it's just great to hear mention of the old neighborhood!
Since I won't be getting to Chicago in the near future, if ever, I'll have to wait for her to tour in the New England area. I can't wait to see and hear her, as she has become one of my most favorite jazz musicians. I think I've collected most everything she has, but I'm not sure.
If any of you hear she is touring out East, please let me know.
On another note, one not so positive at first, I have a dear and close friend whom I share music with. I played Barber's Nightclub CD and he couldn't believe that I wasn't kidding when I said I thought she was nothing short of amazing musically. Of course he's almost 70 and still loves, as I also do, vocalists from the 50's (Chris Connor,Anita O'Day, June Christy and Peggy Lee). It was just interesting his complete aversion to someone whom I think is cutting edge great!
Jc- Interestingly enough, I went to the Green Mill with an extremely talented professional musician friend and her Mother (who is in her 70's). My friend agreed that it was one of the best live performances she had seen in a long time and that the musicians were brilliant. Her Father use to have his own big band, singing, conducting and playing sax so the family is very musically oriented. However, her Mother did look like she was in for a wild ride during Barber's first couple of songs! Later, she admitted to being taken in by the unique style, amazing intuitiveness and creative geniuous displayed by the musicians. Even for myself, I have found a much greater appreciation of the CD's after having seen the live performance. It enhances your admiration.
BTW- You can keep up with her schedule at: