Music 

Music

Betty's Blue Star Lounge A welcome source of excitement in an otherwise dreary part of the neighborhood, this retro-stylish 4 AM bar books a fair number of quality DJs (and, on Thursday nights, decent local bands). Betty's maintains a long-running house night (Sundays) and a dancehall/reggae night (Tuesdays), and on Fridays it often plays host to juke hero Gant-Man. For the dance-music averse, Wednesdays are devoted to punk, ska, and rock. a1600 W. Grand, 312-243-1699 or bettysbluestarlounge.com. —Miles Raymer

Club Foot At Chuck Uchida and Lauree Rohrig's punk-rock clubhouse (see also Bars), the nightly DJs favor vintage punk and indie rock, and the crowd will still go off when a Buzzcocks single comes on even though they've probably heard it a hundred times before. a1824 W. Augusta, 773-489-0379 or myspace.com/clubfootchicago. —MR

Darkroom The almost schizophrenically eclectic music schedule at this dim, red-lit bar includes indie-rock bands, rappers, reggae DJs, jazz combos, house DJs (including veteran Jesse de la Peña), dance parties like Life During Wartime, and frequent apparitions of the funky spectacle that is DJ LA Jesus. Notable upcoming headliners include the Heavy (5/9), Clique Talk (5/16), and Screamin' Rachael (5/20). a2210 W. Chicago, 773-276-1411 or darkroombar.com. —MR

Empty Bottle Opened in 1992 as a regular old bar exactly one block south, the Empty Bottle moved to its current location 15 years ago to become a rock club. Now it's a neighborhood landmark and indie-rock mecca, not only bringing in a dizzying variety of national touring acts (including more than a few who've gone on to play much larger venues) but also helping nurture Chicago's jazz and experimental communities. These days the Bottle is its own worst competition, promoting shows at a cluster of satellite venues (Sonotheque, AV-aerie, Logan Square Auditorium, Lakeshore Theater, the Mansion), but back at home base the drinks are still cheap, the decor is still divey, and these days Monday-night shows are usually free. There's hardly ever a bad night at the Bottle, and just this week Reader critics are recommending three of its shows on the List: Johnny& the Limelites (5/8), Cloudland Canyon (5/9), and Clinic (5/12). The Bottle also booked the main stage at this year's Do-Division street fest (5/31 and 6/1), where Lucero and Ted Leo+ Pharmacists headline. a1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or emptybottle.com. —MR

Evil Olive This fairly new club is succeeding where Big Wig and IV, the previous tenants in its space, failed—unlike them it's not trying to be a mini megaclub in the unglitzy Polish Triangle. With a pool table upstairs and PBR in cans, Evil Olive is a bit easier to get along with, but it's also prepared to meet the needs of devoted clubgoers with its serious sound system and steady schedule of quality DJs—which includes locals like Jordan Z and Willy Joy and out-of-towners like the Rapture and Franki Chan. Evil Olive's weekly Rehab party (on 5/12 resident DJs Jordan Z and Derek Berry spin "80s vs. 90s") has already become a see-and-be-seen event for the local hipsterati, and is almost too much fun for a Monday night. a1551 W. Division, 773-235-9100 or evil-olive.com. —MR

Inner Town Pub This longtime neighborhood fixture (see Bars), once a Prohibition-era speakeasy, is home to popular open mikes on Thursday and Sunday. They're more orderly and eclectic than the norm, but hardly reliable entertainment—as with any open mike, your odds of enjoying yourself (at least as a nonparticipant) get better the more of your friends are playing and the more you've all had to drink. a1935 W. Thomas, 773-235-9795. —MR

Moonshine Moonshine seems designed for a very particular niche market: hard-core clubgoers looking to kick back and chill. At least that would explain its combination of high-end house DJs—the kind you'd normally find behind the decks at turbo-glitzy joints like Crobar—with earthy, funky decor and rib-stickin' Tex-Mex-influenced comfort food (see Restaurants). Now that it's spring Moonshine has resumed its Wednesday-night Mamby series, and upcoming guests include FFM (5/14) and Kate Simko (5/21). a1824 W. Division, 773-862-8686 or moonshinechicago.com. —MR

Phyllis' Musical Inn Phyllis' Musical Inn opened in 1954, back when its strip of Division was known as the Polish Broadway. Proprietor Phyllis Jaskot, an accordion player, booked plenty of polka bands, and Nelson Algren sometimes hung out there—presumably the source of the mistaken but widely circulated notion that his mother once ran the place. (The bar has in fact never left the Jaskot family—Phyllis's son Clem, a former bike messenger, manages it now.) In the 80s and 90s acts like Souled American and Veruca Salt got their start at Phyllis', but these days music isn't the best reason to go there: the local acts on its schedule tend to be cut-rate alt-rock bands, and the smattering of blues and jazz artists aren't exactly top-shelf either. What I like about Phyllis' is the cozily run-down vibe—sometimes I wonder how many of the fixtures have been replaced since 1954—and the regular contingent of dedicated neighborhood drinkers it attracts. The rowdy atmosphere those folks can kick up—and the basketball hoop in the beer garden, which is always begging for a drunken game of H-O-R-S-E—more than compensate for the music. Upcoming gigs include the Flabby Hoffman Show (5/8) and the Red Wigglers (5/9). a1800 W. Division, 773-486-9862. —MR

Smoke Daddy This reliable if not exactly rustic barbecue joint (see Restaurants) opened in 1994, just as Division Street was beginning its transformation from no-man's-land to boutique row, and it's been booking raucous roots music almost every night since. Decked out in checkered tile and old-school banquettes and festooned with a jumble of 50s artifacts, it's a cluttered space, and the bands get wedged onto a tiny stage in front, with their backs to the glass-brick facade and a couple members usually standing on the floor. The programming focuses on blues and R&B, but there's also a fair amount of jazz and country. Believe it or not, cornetist Rob Mazurek (of Exploding Star Orchestra and the Chicago Underground groups) used to play here frequently in the mid-90s, at one point holding down a weekly gig with Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker. Upcoming shows include Billy Flynn (5/9), the Luciano Antonio Trio (5/10), Joel Paterson (5/16), and the Chicago Bound Blues Band (5/17). a1804 W. Division, 773-772-6656 or thesmokedaddy.com. —Peter Margasak

Tuman's The makeover that turned Tuman's (see Bars) from grimy uberdive to respectable watering hole stripped the place of a lot of its soul, but it did have some positive side effects: first, it demolished that toxic old men's room, and second, it allowed the bar to become a much-needed home base for local DJs who don't cater to the bottle-service crowd. (Full disclosure: I'm one of them, and spin here the second Saturday of every month.) Matt Roan's popular Dance Party Magic has moved on to greener (or at least bigger) pastures at Le Passage, but shameless booty shaker Major Taylor and the up-and-coming duo Gutter Butter are still part of the regular rotation that keeps the bar's ridiculously small dance floor jumping. Major Taylor spins every Friday, Gutter Butter usually spins at least the first Saturday of every month, and upcoming guest DJs include Jessica Gonyea of Office (5/31). a2159 W. Chicago, 773-782-1400. —MR

Vintage Wine Bar Chicago has a challenging, fascinating jazz scene that ranks as one of the best in the world. Of course, it also has plenty of places like Vintage, where you can hear the kind of jazz that won't distract you from a glass of wine or a cheese plate. Though Vintage occasionally books a musician to be reckoned with—Von Freeman's brother, guitarist George Freeman, plays 5/18 with his group the Chi-Town Express—it's got a ways to go before the jazz is a bigger draw than the bar. a1942 W. Division, 773-772-3400 or vintage-chicago.com. —MR

Movies

North Coast Video From the outside, with its red-pressboard and black-wire shelving, North Coast Video looks like your average VHS graveyard. But owner David Levy, who took over the place in 1992, has amassed a superior collection of some 15,000 DVD titles. Along with recent commercial releases you'll find hundreds of obscure foreign, documentary, and underground titles, everything from Dusan Makavejev's WR: Mysteries of the Organism to Robert Bresson's Mouchette to Sergei Eisenstein's Que Viva Mexico to Kino Video's Avant Garde 2: Experimental Cinema 1928-1954. There are no sections—the entire collection is organized alphabetically—so you might as well give yourself over to happenstance. If there's something you can't find, scribble it on the wish list at the counter and you may find it next time you come in. Most DVDs rent for $4, and you can keep them four days, which is a better deal than you'll get at Facets Videotheque, the store's closest competitor to the north. aSun-Thu 10 AM-10 PM, Fri-Sat 10 AM-midnight, 2014 W. Division, 773-227-0664. —J.R. Jones

Theater & Performance

Chopin Theatre This onetime nickelodeon was slated for demolition when its current owner, Zygmunt Dyrkacz, bought it in 1990, calling it At the Gallery Theatre. Two years later he restored its original name. With a 226-seat main theater, a 176-seat cabaret studio, an art gallery, and a cafe named for Chicago literary giant Nelson Algren, the Chopin specializes in multicultural and avant-garde theater, performance, film, spoken word, and visual art. Besides importing experimental European ensembles, it has hosted some of Chicago's most adventurous fringe companies. Currently running are Theater Oobleck's political satire The Strangerer (through 5/11) and the Hypocrites' rendition of Thornton Wilder's Our Town (through 6/8). Upcoming presentations include Towle's Hill, a play commissioned by California's Gundlach Bundschu winery in honor of its sesquicentennial (6/5); the Strange Tree Group's staging of Emily Schwartz's "newest macabre masterpiece," The Mysterious Elephant (6/9-7/20); and the Signal Ensemble Theatre production of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party (7/21-8/31). a1543 W. Division, 773-278-1500, chopintheatre.com. —Albert Williams

Galleries & Museums

galleries

Alogon Gallery With nothing to identify it but a business card stuck in a name slot, this two-year-old independent art space on a residential street is a little difficult to find. But inside it feels welcoming and homey. Maybe that's because it's actually home to the four current gallery owners, who took over from the founders (four UIC sculpture undergrads) a year ago. The current quartet's method—calculated to bring in artists from outside their circle and "put forward contrasting ideas"—is to "curate curators" who will organize shows at Alogon. Though the partners don't make money on the project, they haven't applied for nonprofit status because they don't want to have to compromise on the work they show. aSun 1-4 PM, 1049 N. Paulina, 3rd floor (entrance on Cortez), 713-302-9599. —Julia Thiel

The Arts of Life Founded in 2000, this nonprofit studio and gallery offers adults with developmental disabilities "an environment [in which] to experience personal growth" through art. Program participants create art from about 9 AM to 2 PM Monday through Friday, and visitors are welcome. In addition to showing their work in the Arts of Life building, the artists also exhibit at local coffee shops, including Janik's Cafe and several Starbucks locations. Their oeuvres and artist statements can also be viewed at artsoflife.org, where the artists are categorized according to their preferred style (e.g. "the Avant-Gardes" and "the Pop Group"). aMon-Fri 9 AM-4 PM, 2110 W. Grand, 312-829-2787. —JT

Black Walnut Gallery Robert Wayner's three-year-old gallery—named for the wood he most often uses—shows his own sculptures, furniture, and paintings, plus work by the three artists he represents. He also hosts monthly rotating shows by other artists. Wayner finds the rotating artists by posting a call on Craigslist—a method he likes because it turns up people who aren't part of the established art scene. His own sculptures are organic-looking pieces in the tradition of George Nakashima. Most of them are made out of hardwoods salvaged from demolished buildings or trees that fell down naturally. It's worth a visit just to feel the silky, finely sanded surfaces (Wayner encourages hands-on interaction with his work). aThu-Fri 1-7, Sat 12-7, Sun 1-6, 2135 W. Division, 773-772-8870. —JT

Corbett vs. Dempsey Owners John Corbett (a sometime Reader contributor) and Jim Dempsey describe their place as a "destination gallery": with no storefront and only a small sign, it doesn't rely on foot traffic to sell its collection of mostly midcentury American art, which emphasizes local paintings and works on paper. Inside, a wall of windows floods the space with natural light, and exposed brick walls and hardwood floors produce an atmosphere very different from that of the traditional white-walled, track-lit gallery. Corbett vs. Dempsey (whose moniker references boxers Gentleman Jim Corbett and Jack Dempsey) also maintains a small, noncirculating library of art books, and a large table and couch encourage you to hang out and look at them. aThu-Sat 11-4 and by appointment, 1120 N. Ashland, 3rd floor, 773-278-1664. —JT

Country Club Collective The recent change of name, from Country Club Chicago, reflects a change of management for this silkscreen studio cum gallery: after several of the original partners left to take on other projects, Myra Marie Mazzei and Mark McGinnis decided to stay on and form a nonprofit collective. Several screen printers share the basement studio area, while the ground floor is used for four annual art openings and rented out for events. There's no sign outside, and except at those openings, the gallery's not open to the public, even by appointment; members sell their work on the Web site (countryclubchicago.com) instead. a1100 N. Damen, 773-960-1811. —JT

Lotus Keep Gallery Artist Quang Hong, who's owned Lotus Keep with business partner Amish Patel for the past two years, uses it as both a studio and a place to display his paintings. He also hosts shows by other artists, many of them glassblowers from Chicago Hot Glass. Hong says he gravitates toward "lowbrow" work (a preference apparent in his own kitschy paintings of big-eyed girls and fairy sprites) and "root[s] for guys who can't get into regular galleries." There are no regular hours, but the gallery's open by appointment and whenever Hong is there working—usually at night. a1017 N. Western, 773-360-7884. —JT

Rotofugi Gallery Creating this gallery "was honestly sort of an accident," says Whitney Kerr. She and her husband Kirby were starting a shop trading in limited edition collectible toys (aka "urban vinyl;" see separate listing in Shopping & Services) and chose the name Rotofugi Designer Toy Store & Gallery to emphasize the artistic quality of their merchandise. But then a designer toy store in Shanghai contacted them about hosting a show of paintings depicting a vinyl monkey called Fling, and since they didn't have enough inventory to fill their space anyway, they agreed. They've been hosting exhibitions ever since, and in August 2006 moved the gallery to a separate space next door, where they now have an opening on the first Friday of each month. In keeping with the spirit of the store, the gallery mostly shows character-based art and illustrations, often by people who make toys. aSat 12-4 and by appointment, 1955 W. Chicago, 312-491-9501. —JT

museums

Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art The institute, which has been around since 1971, has two galleries: one that hosts rotating exhibits, the other showing pieces from the UIMA's permanent collection of works by Ukrainian artists from 1930 to the present. Only a few dozen of the more than 900 permanent pieces are on display at any given time. According to curator Roman Petruniak, the collection's emphasis on abstract expressionist and minimalist styles bears witness to the institute's history of support for artistic freedom. These styles, he says, weren't allowed in Ukraine during the Soviet era, so artists there had to show their work abroad. Though the rotating shows are often related to Ukraine, they're just as likely to be connected to the Ukrainian Village neighborhood. The next one, opening Sun 5/25, is of prints, paintings, and possibly a few sculptures by Ukrainian cubist Alexander Archipenko. a Wed-Sun noon-4 PM, 2320 W. Chicago, 773-227-5522 or uima-art.org. —JT

Ukrainian National Museum This 55-year-old museum maintains a gallery for rotating exhibits (showing Fri 5/9-Sun 5/25: drawings and paintings by Anatole Kolomayets) and a permanent collection that includes ceramics, painting, beadwork, traditional clothing, and weapons like sabers and daggers. Among the most striking elements of the collection are Maria Shumska-Hrynewych's dolls in Ukrainian regional dress and the hundreds of pysanky (intricately decorated Ukrainian Easter eggs). Also worth seeing are displays on the Ukrainian pavilion at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and on the artificial famine imposed on Ukraine under Stalin. There's a library and archive, too, but most materials are in Ukrainian. aThu-Sun 11-4, 2249 W. Superior, 312-421-8020. —JT

Lit

Libraries

Midwest Branch Library This storefront location of the Chicago Public Library has collections in English, Polish, Spanish, and Ukrainian. aMon and Wed noon-8 PM, Tue and Thu-Sat 9 AM-5 PM, 2335 W. Chicago, 312-744-7788. —Jerome Ludwig

Bookstores

Revolution Books This nonprofit, volunteer-staffed bookshop has been at its present location since 2000, but for 20 years before that it lived in Wrigleyville. Though the inventory leans heavily to the left, you can find more than just Noam Chomsky and Bob Avakian on the shelves; there are sections for philosophy, history of religion, sociology, and even fiction. The store also hosts author readings, discussions, poetry readings, films, and musical events. aWed-Fri 2-8 PM, Sat noon-8 PM, Sun noon-5 PM, 1103 N. Ashland, 773-489-0930. —JL

Vigilante Press Open since October 2006, this comic-book shop also carries graphic novels, toys, T-shirts, posters, and other genre items. aMon-Sat noon-8 PM, Sun noon-6 PM, 1931 W. Chicago, 312-423-6774 or myspace.com/vigilantepress. —JL

Events

Quickies! This monthly series at the Inner Town Pub (see Bars) offers readings of "very short prose" in which each reader has five minutes to get through a complete original piece—no excerpts. aNext event: Tue 5/13, 7:30 PM, Inner Town Pub, 1935 W. Thomas, quickieschicago.blogspot.com. F —JL

Recreation & Education

A Tavola Chef and owner Daniel Bocik passes his skills on to diners at his occasional cooking workshops at this intimate Italian joint (see Restaurants). Classes are held in the kitchen on slow Monday nights; all ingredients are provided, and after about three hours of prepping and cooking the students sit down to a four-course meal. Call to reserve a spot at least four days ahead of time. aSelected Mon, 6:30 PM, A Tavola, 2148 W. Chicago, 773-276-7567 or atavolachicago.com, $50 (without drinks, tax, or tip). —Patrick Daily

Clemente Park This park, like Roberto Clemente High School across the street, is named for the Pittsburgh Pirate who died in a plane crash in 1972. It has a gym and indoor pool and facilities for baseball and tennis. a2334 W. Division, 312-742-7538. —PD

Commercial Club Playground What began as a simple playground in 1903 (built by the Commercial Club of Chicago, which donated it to the city three years later with the stipulation the name never be changed) has expanded to include a baseball diamond and a field house. a1845 W. Rice, 312-742-7558 or chicagoparkdistrict.com. —PD

Creative Claythings Begun in 1979 as Chicago Fire and Earth, this joint claims its pottery classes will provide you with the "well-documented stress reduction and healing properties of clay." Beginning and intermediate classes cost $130-$160 for eight weeks. a2255 W. Grand, 312-421-8000 or creativeclaythings.com. —PD

Electric Guitars by Fred Mangan Mangan's reputation is as a wacky luthier—he builds guitars out of scrap like a satellite dish, a pipe from a church organ, or a 1950s high chair. But he'll also teach you how to play that Ibanez you got on sale at Guitar Center. It's $25 for a private one-hour lesson. Bring a spiral notebook and a blank cassette; Mangan says he'll "learn songs that the students are interested in and teach accordingly." He'll also help you with your guitar-building project. a2351 W. Augusta, 312-497-2418 or fredmangan.com. —PD

Nature Yoga Sanctuary This yoga studio describes itself as a place where "knowledge can be shared, where community can grow and the Divine be celebrated." Classes run seven days a week with prices ranging from $15 for a single class to $1,200 for a year's unlimited access; a private hour-and-a-half session is $100. a2021 W. Division, 773-227-5720 or natureyoga.com. —PD

Ritz Tango Cafe While the last empanada is being digested at this Argentinean eatery, the tables are being pushed to the wall so the tango lessons can begin. They're taught by Jorge Niedas of the Tango 21 dance troupe and cafe owner Dinah D'Antoni. Monday evenings are reserved for intermediate-level dancers; a free open dance follows lessons on Saturdays and Sundays. aMon 7-9 PM, Thu 7-9 PM, Sat 8-9 PM, Sun 6-7 PM, 933 N. Ashland, 773-235-2233 or ritztangocafe.com, $10-$12. —PD

Windy City Scooter & Bicycle Rental This company, founded by Aaron Aggio in 2004, specializes in renting out Vespa and Lambretta scooters (but also rents bicycles and sells new and used scooters and used luxury cars). Scooter rates start at $40 for two hours and work their way up to weekly leases. Bikes are $10-$15 an hour or $30-$40 a day. aThrough Labor Day, Mon-Sat 10 AM-8 PM, Sun 10 AM-7 PM, 2151 W. Division, 773-276-5200 or windycityvespa.com. —PD

Volunteering

ARFhouse ARFhouse is a 100 percent volunteer-run no-kill animal-rescue organization. It doesn't have a walk-in adoption facility; its dogs, cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs are housed in foster homes and boarding facilities and adoptable animals at any given time can be surveyed at arfchicago.org. Besides fostering, volunteers can walk dogs; work at street fairs, adoption events, and fund-raisers; and help with marketing and other administrative duties. a773-305-1960 or volunteer@arfchicago.org. —Patrick Daily

Arts of Life This nonprofit studio (see Galleries & Museums) has three full-time staff members who work with the disabled adults who make and sell their art here. They're looking for artists to help the clientele with certain techniques; people who know how to do custom framing; photographers; archivists; and folks to work on the Web site and the artists' MySpace pages. a2110 W. Grand, 312-829-2787 or artsoflife.org. —PD

Esperanza Community Services Founded in 1969 by a group of parents in the Pilsen neighborhood, Esperanza moved to Ukrainian Village in the 70s, where it now manages several educational and support programs for toddlers, youths, and adults with developmental disabilities. Volunteering opportunities range from one-on-one mentoring to group projects like painting classrooms or landscaping. a520 N. Marshfield, contact volunteer coordinator Linda Romano-Derr at 312-243 -6097, ext. 233, or lromano-derr@esperanzacommunity.org; see esperanzacommunityservices.org. —PD

Ukrainian National Museum of Chicago This repository of Ukrainian history and culture, particularly as it pertains to the immigrant experience in America, needs volunteers to help in its archives and library and with various events. a2249 W. Superior, 312-421-8020 or theukrainianmuseum@sbcglobal.net; see ukrainiannationalmuseum.org. —PD

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Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera Northwestern University Block Museum of Art
September 17
Performing Arts
Krampus! Underground Wonder Bar
October 31

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