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Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen on Touring Illinois With The Nielsen Trust, Bringing a Hard Rock Hotel to Rockford & Moreon February 17, 2020 at 4:26 pm

When it comes to Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame inductees, few artists seem to be as beloved by fellow inductees as Cheap Trick. A true rock band’s rock band, the music of Cheap Trick has been covered by dozens of notable artists, including Pearl Jam, Marilyn Manson, Kid Rock, Green Day, and the Foo Fighters. It has been over 45 years since the group formed in Rockford, Illinois, and Cheap Trick remains one of rock’s hardest-working touring acts, having played over 5,000 gigs and counting.

Yet Cheap Trick guitarist and principal songwriter Rick Nielsen still stays busy as a musician in his off time. During a rare month or so off, Nielsen will be hitting with the roading with The Nielsen Trust. A true “family band,” The Nielsen Trust also features the talents of Daxx Nielsen (Cheap Trick’s stellar full-time drummer since 2010), Miles Nielsen (frontman of Miles Nielsen & The Rusted Hearts), and singer/songwriter Kelly Steward, wife and frequent musical collaborator of Miles Nielsen. That tour kicks off in a few weeks in Wisconsin Dells, just outside of Rockford:

  • March 6 & 7, 2020 – Monk’s – Wisconsin Dells, WI
  • March 19, 2020 – Shank Hall – Milwaukee, WI
  • March 20, 2020 – Hi-Fi – Indianapolis, IN
  • March 21, 2020 – Brauer House – Lombard, IL
  • March 25, 2020 – The Ready Room – St. Louis, MO
  • March 26, 2020 – The Rust Belt – East Moline, IL
  • March 27, 2020 – Tanners – Kimberly, WI
  • April 1, 2020 – Venue 720 – Flora, IL
  • April 2, 2020 – The Castle Theatre – Bloomington, IL
  • April 3, 2020 – Chop Shop – Chicago, IL
  • April 4, 2020 – The Apollo Theatre AC – Belvidere, IL

I had the pleasure of speaking with Rick Nielsen by phone on February 14, 2020, about the upcoming dates for The Nielsen Trust, future recording plans and more, as embedded below; the chat will also air on a future edition of the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast.

On the rumor of him being involved with bringing a Hard Rock Hotel to Rockford:

Rick Nielsen: I’ve been working on that for 12 years. I went down to Springfield and tried to let the state know… Firstly, I don’t need a job but a lot of people where I live do. To have some company as big as the Hard Rock willing to come there, I hoped to be a good spokesperson for them, and it worked.

On having his own chair at the Coronado Performing Arts Center:

Rick Nielsen: I helped raise the money to help rehab that place. I think we raised $17 or $18 million dollars a number of years ago. Being on the National Register, you couldn’t actually install something like that. For my work in helping organize all that, they said, “Rick, we’d like to have something for you. Would you like a front-row seat?” I said, “Heck no, if I’m going to get something, I’d like one where I used to sit, next to the last row up on the balcony.” It’s a regular seat, but I go, “Make a checkerboard seat.” It fits over and they had to lock it because someone tried to steal it. That’s where I wanted something and that was my “thank you.”

On being on the latest and greatest of Rockford like the Urban Forest Craft Brewery, Fire Dept. Coffee, 15th & Chris, and Pigs Mind Brewery:

Rick Nielsen: I’ve been to 15th & Chris a bunch of times. I don’t want to have a big article about me, but I’ve promoted the stuff in town for years. The Nielsen Chorale is a vocal thing that my father [Ralph Nielsen] started from the Mendelssohn [Chorale] Club which he helped years ago. So that’s now been named the Nielsen Chorale. It’s not like a cowboy corral, you know?

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Healthy Places to Eat Near You in Chicago With Excellent Foodon February 17, 2020 at 3:33 pm

Chicago is home to some of the most outrageous, delicious food in America, not all of it being healthy. It can be hard to find food that’s tasty and good for you but more options continue to pop up and below are some of our favorite healthy places to eat near you in Chicago.

Banzai Acai Bowl
Photo Credit: Left Coast Facebook

Left Coast | Multiple Locations

The owner of Left Coast came up with the idea of a convenient, healthy spot after noticing the lack of flavorful, healthy restaurants in Chicago. The California-inspired menu includes plenty of greens, grains, and juices.

healthy restaurants
Photo Credit: Clever Rabbit

Clever Rabbit | 2015 West Division

You’ll find no lack of flavor in the food at Clever Rabbit. This healthy place to eat near you in Chicago makes healthy dishes that feature ingredients such as Thai chili, cilantro, mint, miso, and lemongrass.

Photo Credit: FARE Chicago

Fare | 205 West Wacker Drive

With one goal in mind, to create flavorful dishes with clean ingredients, Fare is a great quick-service healthy restaurant option when looking for meals that support a healthy lifestyle.

Photo Credit: Centre Street Chicago

Centre Street Kitchen | 1224 West Webster Avenue

Centre Street Kitchen not only uses locally sourced ingredients to create delicious dishes, but also has a focus on philanthropy in addition to eating well, doing well, and being well.

healthy restaurants
Photo Credit: The Handlebar

Handlebar | 2311 West North Avenue

Handlebar specializes in making vegan and vegetarian comfort food from scratch. We recommend visiting this healthy restaurant to try their Nashville Hot Fried “Chicken” served with mushrooms, pickles, hot sauce and slaw on a ranch brioche bun.

Photo Credit: Range

Range | 1119 West Webster Avenue

Range is the epitome of farm-to-table. Using only the most sustainable, locally sourced ingredients, this healthy place to eat near you in the city creates seasonal, small-batch, fresh meals for dinner and brunch.

The Chicago Diner
Photo Credit: The Chicago Diner Facebook

Chicago Diner | Multiple Locations

Don’t let the name fool you, Chicago Diner is meat-free, serving healthy, delicious vegetarian meals. Try the Cajun Black Bean Burger at this healthy restaurant or the Buddha’s Karma Burger made with a curried sweet potato-tofu patty, grilled pineapple, and chimichurri sauce.

At UrbanMatter, U Matter. And we think this matters.

Tell us what you think matters in your neighborhood and what we should write about next in the comments below!

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Walk Among Life-Sized Dinosaur Models at Navy Pier When Jurassic Quest Comes to Chicagoon February 16, 2020 at 5:23 pm

See over 80 life-sized dinosaur models, including a T-Rex and a Megladon, on display at Navy Pier from March 6 – 8, 2020, when Jurassic Quest takes over Chicago. The largest and most time expansive dinosaur exhibit in North America features walking dinosaur animatronics from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Late Cretaceous eras.

jurassic quest
Photo Credit: Jurassic Quest

You won’t believe your eyes when you embark on this Jurassic Quest; life-like dinosaurs, like the adolescent T-Rex and Spinosaurus, tower over you as they walk by. You can pet and cuddle interactive baby Triceratops, Camarasaurus, and more, at the Baby Dinos exhibit, and even get a ride on one of the special animatronics dinosaurs, designed to walk on their own! Jurassic Quest now also features an Ancient Oceans attraction, which gives you a first-hand look at now-extinct, prehistoric sea turtles, the earliest discovered dolphins, and, the crowning jewel of the exhibit, a 50-foot Megladon, the largest shark known to mankind.

Raising a future paleontologist? Get your young ones interested in fossils at the dig site, where they can uncover dinosaur bones in the sand. If you’re interested in a guided tour around Jurassic Quest, one of the many dinosaur experts on site can give you the inside scoop on these prehistoric beasts, including the most complete T-Rex skull ever found. There are plenty more attractions for your kids to enjoy at Jurassic Quest, including craft and science stations, face painting, a bouncy house, and more!

Jurassic Quest
Photo Credit: Jurassic Quest

When you buy a regular kids ticket, your child gains access to The Dinosaur Exhibit, The Baby Dinosaur Show, The Walking Dinosaur Show, The Dino Tour, Dino Cinema, Science Station, and Crafts & Coloring Station. But, if you upgrade to the VIP ticket, your kid gets unlimited access to rides and activities, and includes a whole lot: The Dinosaur Exhibit, The Baby Dinosaur Show, The Walking Dinosaur Show, The Dino Tour, Dinosaur Rides, Dino Bounce Houses, Bungee Pull, Fossil Dig, Jurassic Jeeps, Dino Scooters (for ages 3 & under), Excavation Station (One Turn Per VIP Ticket), Dino Cinema, Crafts & Coloring Station, Science Station, and more! The only activities NOT included in the VIP ticket are Face Painting and Green Screen Photography, which require Activity Tickets that are purchased at the Tickets For Activities booth inside the event.

Jurassic Quest Information

Dates: March 6 – 8, 2020 | Friday 3pm-8pm; Saturday 9am-8pm; Sunday 9am-7pm

Location: Navy Pier, 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Tickets: Kids & Adults, $24; Kids VIP, $38; Seniors, $22. Buy your tickets before they sell out!

This is expected to be one of the most epic displays in Chicago this year. Don’t believe us? See for yourself.

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Nike Partners With Boys & Girls Club of Chicago to Create NBA All-Star Academyon February 14, 2020 at 7:54 pm

Located just 1.5 miles west of this year’s NBA All-Star celebration is the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boys and Girls Club of Chicago. Founded in 1953, the club has played an important role in supporting underprivileged children in the city’s west side communities. And their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.

In an effort to provide a safe place where kids can stay active, Nike and the Boys and Girls Club partnered together to refurbish the club’s basketball court. But they didn’t stop there. The partnership also includes the launch of the Nike All-Star Academy, which will provide both on and off-the-court programs to members of the Boys and Girls Club. Nike officially announced the renovations this past Wednesday, and the results are breathtaking.

boys and girls club court
Photo Credit: Nike

The New Court

To design the new basketball court, Nike teamed up with the founder of the NikeLab Chicago Re-Creation Center, Virgil Abloh. The court highlights the commitment Nike and Virgil made to the community while shining a light on the city and its youth. Virgil commented on the new space, saying, “This new court and programming not only extend our community work with the NikeLab Re-Creation Center, they provide a positive, free space for kids to engage in activities rooted in sport that will lead to an active healthy lifestyle and teach teamwork and the determination to succeed.”

Photo Credit: Nike
Nike All-Star Academy

After the NBA All-Star weekend concludes, members of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boys and Girls Club will have access to the Nike All-Star Academy. At the academy, children will learn through the game of basketball and beyond it. The programming includes skill-building on the court as well as hands-on learning in the areas of sport design, sport science, coaching, and journalism.

The NBA All-Star weekend will tip off tonight with the All-Star Celebrity Game and Rising Stars game. The skills challenge, 3-point contest, and dunk contest are all scheduled for Saturday and the NBA All-Star game is set for Sunday night!

At UrbanMatter, U Matter. And we think this matters.

Tell us what you think matters in your neighborhood and what we should write about next in the comments below!

Featured Image Credit: Nike




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Local Chicago Breweries You Might Have Overlookedon February 19, 2020 at 8:30 pm

The best breweries in Chicago is a hard list to craft, since the Chicagoland area boasts over 160 breweries and counting. There are several that get lost in the mix, slipped under the rug, or even just forgotten, and it’s our job to keep those awesome breweries in the spotlight. So, these are the best local breweries near you in Chicago you might have overlooked in your thirst for beer, and ones you’re never going to forget again.

Photo Credit: Adams Street Brewery

Adams Street Brewery | 17 W Adams St

You’ve probably seen the old-school, bright lights at the Berghoff Restaurant in the Loop — how could you miss ‘em?! But nestled right under your nose is Adams Street Brewery. Family-owned and -operated, this local brewery near you brings the art of brewing alive with the deep-rooted family traditions. Come for their happy hour and savor their Bavarian pretzel with any of their brews. Fun fact: the brew-master is a third-generation Berghoff Restaurant employee and has been locally featured for his brews, most notably his stout!

local chicago breweries
Photo Credit: Lo Rez Brewing

Lo Rez Brewing and Taproom | 2101 S Carpenter St

First developing brews in a garage, this Pilsen, Chicago-born craft brewery near you is as community-centric and humble as they come. Lo Rez Brewing and Taproom is a gift from a garage: the founders poured their passions into their pours and, in doing so, developed the necessary skills through training and certification. In three short years, what was a passion project became a full-on brewery and taproom. But it’s also more: Lo Rez is a hand-crafted treasure for the community that goes back to developing strong connections. 

local chicago breweries
Photo Credit: Haymarket Brewing

Haymarket Brewing | 737 W Randolph St

Recalling the 1886 riot and bombing in Chicago’s very own Haymarket Square, Haymarket Brewing is a nod to the triumph of workers’ rights while also recognizing the present-day struggle of needing a brew after work. This local brewery is for the working folk — from white collar to blue collar and everything in between. This Chicago-born brewery pours their world-decorated and award-winning brews for all with everyone’s tastes in mind. Hats off, brews up!

local chicago breweries
Photo Credit: Metropolitan Brewing

Metropolitan Brewing | 3057 N Rockwell St

Metropolitan Brewing has come a long way since its inception in 2009. An original of Ravenswood, Metropolitan Brewing has since moved to Avondale with a taproom developed, designed, and crafted by local Chicago architects, developers, and contractors. This local brewery is all about maintaining the sanctity of Chicago’s spirit in every brew while still experimenting with modern techniques and tastes. Be sure to check out their growing list of beers and bring a Metropolitan home with you in a growler!

Marz Community Brewing Company
Photo Credit: Marz Community Brewing Company Instagram

Marz Community Brewing Co. | 3630 S Iron St

In all sincerity and love, if Marz Community Brewing Co. were a table in the middle-school cafeteria, it would be the most eclectic yet modern, refined yet approachable table. Really, this brewery is full of the most friendly, creative, community-oriented culinary connoisseurs of Chicago. They combine the rebellious spirit of their hometown with their reverence for connecting others. Bring your adventurous palate and sincere smile — Marz is bound to lift your spirits. 

local chicago breweries
Photo Credit: All Rise Brewing

All Rise Brewing Co. | 235 N Ashland Ave

All Rise Brewing Co. has the ultimate biker aesthetic without being intimidating or gnarly in a scary way. This West Side local brewery puts the pride of Chicago in every pour while still maintaining its rough edges. Fit in or stand out — it doesn’t matter! As long as you’re here, you’re part of the biker gang! 

Hopewell Brewing
Photo Credit: Hopewell Brewing
Hopewell Brewing Co. | 2760 N Milwaukee Ave

Clean, sleek, yet whimsical and top-notch: welcome to Hopewell Brewing Co.  Founded by three friends and graduates of the University of Illinois, whose paths diverged from nonprofit work to sales, this craft brewery near you in Chicago maintains its unpretentious spirit and recognizes the humble home-brewing beginnings that started it all. You’ll feel right at home in their taproom, where you can play a board game, stay a while, and have conversations with your newfound friends. The bartenders are approachable and friendly while still maintaining their brewing chops. Be sure to join for Hopewell’s 4 Year Anniversary on February 29th!

local chicago breweries
Photo Credit: Begyle Brewing

Begyle Brewing | 1800 W Cuyler Ave

In Ravenswood, there’s this hidden gem of a brewery that puts its beer where its mouth is. In other words, Begyle Brewing is the ultimate destination for merging rough and industrial with warm and communal. Featuring house-brewed pours with community events (vinyasa, anyone?), Begyle is a neighborhood and city favorite. You can find their pours in various bars across the city, but if you go directly to their taproom, be sure to learn about their Community Supported Brewery (CSB) Membership. The CSB concept, much like a co-op in agriculture and food, allows members to subscribe and pick up a growler each month along with monthly growler refills. Available in terms of six months or a year, CSB allows consumers and the community to grow while reaping the benefits of the harvest. 

local chicago breweries
Photo Credit: Spiteful Brewing

Spiteful Brewing | 2024 W Balmoral Ave

Looking for an increasingly rebellious yet realistic approach to beer? Look no further than Spiteful Brewing. Conceived on a stove and named after an altercation during a childhood hockey game, Spiteful Brewing is a mighty team of nine, brewing and bringing you craft beers with relatable names. Bring a friend and join a tour to learn more about this local Chicago brewery, bringing you a dose of robust realism in a glass!

Support your local Chicago breweries — we’ll drink to that!

At UrbanMatter, U Matter. And we think this matters.

Tell us what you think matters in your neighborhood and what we should write about next in the comments below!

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Enjoy Evening Access to Chicago’s Best Museums at These After Dark Eventson February 19, 2020 at 4:29 pm

Chicago has fantastic museums. From the Museum of Science and Industry to the Art Institute of Chicago, there are a variety of different museums available. Luckily, you can continue to explore many museums even after the sun goes down. These after-hours events are a fun way to experience the exhibits long after everyone else has left and gone home. Here are some of the best museums after dark events in Chicago.

Photo Credit: Stoptime Live

After Dark at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago hosts regular After Dark events that are 21+. Each event will focus on a specific exhibit at the museum. You’ll be able to appreciate art while listening to live music, eating appetizers, and drinking the event’s signature cocktail.

Photo Credit: Adler Planetarium

Adler After Dark

Welcome to anyone over the age of 21, Adler After Dark has recently been relaunched and is bigger and better than ever. At the after-hours events, you’ll get access to all the exhibits and galleries, as well as unlimited sky shows and guest lectures. When the weather is nice, you can also check out the Doane Observatory!

museums after dark
Photo Credit: Shedd Aquarium

Shedd After Hours

Shedd Aquarium After Hours is for 21+ who want to see some of the unique animals at the aquarium. During this Chicago museum after dark event, you can listen to bands or DJs while sampling snacks and cocktails. Tickets to the event also give you access to all permanent and special exhibits.

museums after dark
Photo Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo will occasionally host after-hour events for both families and adults only. During the summer, you can enjoy craft brews, live music, all while roaming the zoo and checking out the animals.

museums after dark
Photo Credit: Field Museum

Dozin’ With The Dinos at the Field Museum

Kids can spend the night at the Field Museum, learning more about dinosaurs, doing hands-on activities, and exploring the museum after dark with flashlights. They can also learn from some of the top museum scientists.

Photo Credit: Museum of Science + Industry

Museum of Science + Industry After Hours

The MSI After Hours lets adults explore the museum and exhibits after the door. You’ll be able to drink cocktails and beer while nibbling on snacks and enjoying the programming put on by the event. The events take place on Friday evenings from 7 pm to 10 pm.

Photo Credit: Museum of Science + Industry

Science Snoozeum at the Museum of Science + Industry

MSI also offers kid-friendly evening events on select Fridays and Saturdays. Kids aged 6 to 12 can have an unforgettable night watching movies in the Giant Dome Theater, making science toys, completing a scavenger hunt, and then spending the night at the museum.

museums after dark
Photo Credit: wndr museum

wndr After Dark

wndr hosts after-hour events, where you still can get the full museum experience while dancing to the live DJ set. Other after-hour events will be themed. For example, you might be able to play games after hours, watch movies, or even participate in a speed dating event. Each month’s theme changes, so check out their event page to see what it is coming up.

Have you enjoyed Chicago museums after dark? Let us know how it was in the comments below!

At UrbanMatter, U Matter. And we think this matters.

Tell us what you think matters in your neighborhood and what we should write about next in the comments below!

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Where to Find Cheap Drinks & Bars in Chicagoon February 19, 2020 at 3:20 pm

We, like you, are not made of money. And while we personally love going out to get a fancy cocktail – or, like, 4 fancy cocktails – from time to time, our wallets are not always quite so enthusiastic. Given that drinking anywhere in Chicago is often times soooo damn expensive, we’re guessing that you might feel the same way. So, in a last-ditch effort to give your bank account and ours a much-needed respite, here are the various destinations to get cheap drinks in Chicago.19

No need to thank us, you’re already welcome.

Cheapest Drinks Chicago
Photo Credit: Estelle’s Instagram


2013 West North Avenue – 1/2 off everything 5pm–7pm M-F, $5 Tito’s cocktails on Thursdays 

Estelle’s is one helluva neighborhood bar – and it’s definitely got the drink specials to match. It is one of the cheapest bars in Chicago that offers daily happy hour specials that run from 5pm–7pm, Mondays through Fridays, and offers half off EVERYTHING but food and shots, meaning your average cocktail is only gonna cost you about five bucks. As if that wasn’t enough, Estelle’s also offers $5 Tito’s mixed drinks on Thursdays, $4 Ferent Branca shots on Monday (for when you’re feeling fancy), and a $7 High Life + Four Rose combo on Sundays. I mean, why would you ever spend more than $10 on a cocktail when this exists?

Cheapest Drinks Chicago
Photo Credit: Antique Taco Instagram

Antique Taco

1360 North Milwaukee Avenue – $9 Margarita

Okay, so I get that $9 might not seem like a cheap drink, but in a city where specialty cocktails regularly cost us upwards of $11, nine bucks is a miracle and you know it. Not only does Antique Taco offer a $9 classic marg at each of its three locations, but they also do a mean rosemary and seasonal option for the same price. As an added benefit for all my cheapos out there, margarita pitchers at Antique Taco are also just $30. Gimme, please.

Cheapest Drinks Chicago
Photo Credit: Kincade’s Facebook


950 W Armitage – so, so many specials

Okay, deep breath – Kincade’s offers: $3 Miller Lite and Coors Light drafts on Tuesdays, $1 domestic bottles on Wednesdays, $10 domestic PITCHERS on Thursdays, a $4 draft o’ the day on Fridays, AND, last but not least, $6 Tito’s cocktails, Bloody Mary’s, Jumbo Screwdrivers, and White Trash Mimosas on Sundays.

Did you catch all that? ‘Cause this perpetually full sports bar is pretty much the cheap drink Mecca.

Cheapest Drinks Chicago
Photo Credit: Delilah’s Instagram


2771 North Lincoln Avenue – again, so many specials

Delilah’s is Lincoln Park’s resident beer bar and features nearly 200 different drafts and bottles for you to take for a spin. In a concerted effort to get you to drink as much awesome beer as humanly possible, Delilah’s offers up cheap-as-hell daily specials such as $1 beer and $2 Jim Beam on Mondays, $3 High Life bottles on Tuesdays, $3 PBR longnecks and $3 Evan Williams White Label Bourbon on Wednesdays, $3 Schlitz Bottles and $3 Lot 40 Rye on Thursdays, $3 Labatt Blue and $3 Maker’s Mark Bourbon on Fridays, $3 Molson Canadian and $3 Four Roses Bourbon on Saturdays, and $3 Hamm’s Premium Lager Pints and $3 Redemption Rye on Sundays.

Why you would ever buy another beer for more than $3 again, I don’t know.

Cheapest Drinks Chicago
Photo Credit: Boleo Instagram


122 West Monroe Street – $8 Disco Punch, $6 Beer, and $5 Anticuchos during happy hour

There is nothing we love more than getting a sweet deal at an expensive restaurant — and happy hour at Boleo is just that. This swanky rooftop bar is usually mixin’ up $12 cocktails, but starting at 4:30 pm on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights, that price is slashed nearly in half to accommodate cheap drinkers like yours truly. Plus, Boleo’s happy hour goes until about 7 pm, meaning I can have my deal with dinner this time around. Order up a $5 Anticuchos for a traditional Peruvian street skewer.

Cheapest Drinks Chicago
Photo Credit: The Owl Instagram

The Owl

2521 North Milwaukee – 1/2 off cocktails and beers from 6 pm – 8 pm

The Owl is Logan Square’s original hipster haven. Serving up good drinks, excellent beer, and uber-chill vibes (if chill vibes can even be “uber”), The Owl’s Sunday – Friday Early Bird Special is a must for anyone trying to save a couple of bucks with half-off cocktails. What’s more, this laid-back watering hole also offers $5 Absolut wells on Sunday, $2 – 3 beers on Tuesday, and so many more.

Photo Credit: Joe’s Instagram

Joe’s on Weed

940 West Weed – $9 domestic pitchers, $19 domestic buckets and $8 Bloody Marys on Saturdays & Sundays

A classic sports bar, live music venue, and country hot spot all rolled into one, there should be no doubt in your mind that Joe’s is offering some sweet drink deals on the cheap. Though their specials rotate pretty regularly, the best deal we could find was the bar’s Saturday/Sunday/Game Day special, which lists pitchers for under $10, buckets for under $20 and loaded Bloody Mary’s for the low, low price of just $8, in the mornings only.

Cheapest Drinks Chicago
Photo Credit: The Kerryman Facebook

The Kerryman

661 North Clark – lots o’ daily drink deals

The Irish know how to drink. This is just common knowledge. So it really shouldn’t come as a shock when I tell you that The Kerryman – an Irish pub – has some of the best damn cheap drinks in town. Their specials include, but are not limited to: $4 Corona, $4 Corona Light, and $4 Michelob Ultra on Mondays, half-price BOTTLES of wine and $6 glasses on Tuesdays, $4 Truly Cans and $4 White Claw Cans on Wednesday, $8 Old Fashioneds on Thursday, $4 Guinness, $5 Jameson shots, and $6 Tito’s cocktails during Happy Hour on Friday, AND $5 mimosas, Bloody Marys, and Chambord Kir Royales on Saturday & Sunday. Whew.

Photo Credit: The Whistler Instagram

The Whistler

2421 North Milwaukee – cocktails usually start around $6

The Whistler is a relatively upscale stage/gallery/bar/restaurant in Wicker Park where they could easily be charging you 12 bucks a drink. And they totally do. That being said, being the kind, gentle souls that they are, The Whistler’s daily drinks menu usually includes at least one drink under the $8 mark, meaning that even the brokest (broke-est?) of folk can swing by and enjoy this cool space.

Cheapest Drinks Chicago
Photo Credit: Jack and Ginger’s Facebook

Jack and Ginger’s

2048 Armitage Ave – daily drink deals, $5 Jack and Gingers DAILY!

Jack and Ginger’s is one of our favorite neighborhood dives, through and through. Stop by any night of the week to cash in on some of their fantastic deals :

Monday: $4 shots, $10 domestic pitchers

Tuesday: $4 flavored vodka, $1 off ALL DRAFTS

Wednesday: $4 Revolution beer, $3 “J” shots (Jim, Jack, Jose, Jager, even Jepson – you get the idea)

Thursday: $5 all bombs, $14 domestic buckets

Friday: $4 well drinks, $2 off Bulleit Whiskey

Saturday: $5.50 Tito’s drinks, $4 Bloody Marys and mimosas, $9 (for 3) or $14 (for 5) retro cans

Sunday: $4 Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas, $10 domestic pitchers, $2.50 domestic drafts

Cheapest Drinks Chicago
Photo Credit: Roger’s Park Social Instagram

Roger’s Park Social

6920 North Glenwood – $6 Happy Hour

From 4 pm – 7 pm, Mondays through Fridays, Roger’s Park Social is serving up a $6 happy hour specials. The menu features house wines, $1 off Illinois draft beers, and a “pick yer mule” deal that lets you choose whatever, whether your feelin’ vodka, tequila, or bourbon that day.

Photo Credit: Big Chicks Facebook

Big Chicks

5024 North Sheridan – select drinks for $6 and under all week long

Big Chicks is a no muss, no fuss LGBTQ-friendly bar offering squeal-worthy drink deals all week long. Stop by on Sundays for $4 vodka lemonades, $2 off pitchers of draft beer and $5 Well Vodka + Select Mixers on Mondays, $7 “Kick Ass” Mezcal Mules and $5 bottles of Corona on Tuesdays, $1 off all local craft beers, and more specials, on Wednesdays or, if your feelin’ extra cheap, $6 Absolut cocktails on Thursdays.

Cheapest Drinks Chicago
Photo Credit: Brando’s Instagram

Brando’s Speakeasy

343 South Dearborn Street – late night and happy hour specials 5-7 pm daily

This speakeasy and karaoke lounge offers cheapskates like ourselves both happy hour and late-night specials on a daily basis. Some of Brando’s best deals and steals include $4 Moscow mules, $5 Bulleit Rye Old Fashioned, $5 Bombay Sapphire G&T, $5 Boiler Maker with Carlsberg and Jameson Caskmates, and $4 3 Floyds bottled beers. Did we mention that’s all daily?

Photo Credit: The Franklin Room Instagram

The Franklin Room

675 N Franklin – $1 beer and wine menu

Last, but certainly not least, the piece de resistance – the $1 beer $1 wines, and $3 martinis at The Franklin Room. Though it may only be served from 11:30 am to 2 pm, Mondays through Fridays, this standard bar and restaurant does offer a full menu of drinks for just one dollar apiece. We should probably mention that you have to buy lunch in order to cash in on the deal, but who cares? $1 drinks are worth it.

Photo Credit: Del Toro Facebook
Photo Credit: Del Toro Facebook

Del Toro

2133 South Halsted Street – $7 mojitos on Tuesdays, $4 Latin beers on Wednesdays, $5 well drinks on Thursdays

You can’t go wrong when you stop into this Mexican haunt. It’s located a little off the beaten path in Pilsen, but well worth the trip, especially during their daily specials. Every day holds something new, like Latin Wednesdays with $4 Latin beers and $7 margaritas, or $5 well drinks on Thursdays. Topping it off with $7 mojitos on Tuesdays, Del Toro knows how to bring all the boys to their yard.

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Freedom Ride gives voice to an important chapter in American historyon February 13, 2020 at 2:00 am

Dan Shore started working on his one-act opera, Freedom Ride, nine years ago. It was the 50th anniversary of the Congress of Racial Equality-organized protests that actually integrated public transportation in the United States, after the Supreme Court had ruled that segregation violated the constitution. Shore, a composer who also writes his own librettos, was teaching at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans and had been asked to create something that would celebrate both that city and the civil rights movement. When he saw the 2011 PBS Freedom Riders documentary (based on Raymond Arsenault’s 2007 book of the same title), and also learned that Xavier had provided housing for some of the riders, he had found his subject. Research, writing, and workshopping followed.

Freedom Ride’s world premiere production, commissioned by Chicago Opera Theater, opened Saturday at the Studebaker. Under Tazewell Thompson’s direction, it’s a fast-paced 90-minute account of how a fictional New Orleans woman, Sylvie Davenport, decided to sign on for the risky ride to Jackson, Mississippi. We see her motivation grow, from a hoped-for personal relationship with the recruiter at the start, to something broader and more deeply principled. Ultimately she makes the trip in spite of his rejection of her and over her family’s well-grounded fears. In real life, freedom riders were beaten, fire-bombed, arrested, and imprisoned.

There’s a large cast of characters, including Sylvie’s mother, brother, and best friend, Ruby; preachers and organizers; assorted volunteers, and two sizeable choruses, one of which is made up of children. It’s a lot of people and story to process in a one-act, and the result, on opening night, was arguably more successful as a song cycle than a fully-developed opera. It might not have helped that the announced lead, soprano Lauren Michelle, was missing (for personal reasons, according to COT), though her understudy, Dara Rahming, stepped smoothly into the role of Sylvie. In fact, Rahming has sung this role before, and, Shore said in a pre-performance talk, he created it with her in mind.

The switch also allowed us to see soprano Kimberly E. Jones, a Chicago favorite, in Rahming’s place as Ruby. Among the rest of this talented cast: baritone Robert Sims, hitting the right dramatic and vocal notes as the organizer, Clayton Thomas; recent Ryan Opera Center alum Whitney Morrison in a bitter protest against rocking the boat; and a winning performance by tenor Tyrone Chambers II as Sylvie’s brother, Russell. The music–which Shore says was inspired by everything he was hearing in the Big Easy–ranges from gospel, blues, and spirituals to a “barbershop” quartet. It’s not nuanced: when a Jewish character thinks of his past, for example, the audience is flashed a hora. But Shore has produced an often rousing score that brings an important chapter of American history to life. COT Music Director Lidiya Yankovskaya conducts the Chicago Sinfonietta. v

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We found love in a Matches placeon February 12, 2020 at 10:00 pm

After years of reading the women-seeking-women Reader Matches ads and never seeing any I felt called to respond to, I just could not get hers out of my mind: “kick-boxing babe,” “Xena-lover,” “giver of tender back rubs,” “looking for articulate romance with a queer cutie.” She didn’t mention a size or shape of body that she was looking for. She didn’t talk about anything I found boring or stupid. The ad stuck with me all week, but I didn’t act. I was fat. I had almost zero dating experience. Calling a stranger was SCARY.

My roommate locked me in my room on the last night that the ad’s voice mail was active and refused to let me out until I left a message. So after wasting hours alone in my room, I finally left a voice message: “I’m fat and swear like a sailor,” “I grew tomatoes for the first time this year,” “I’m an art student.”

I could not believe it when she called me back! I was so nervous when the phone rang, but we had a long and easy conversation touching on things like the fact that her brother and I had the same pinup girl mobile, why marriage is stupid, and all the ways that monogamy is fraught. Then we set a time to meet in person the next week for our first date.

That was in October 1998. She gave me a tender kiss as I was getting out of her car. I gave her a tiny box of the tomatoes I grew in my garden. Twenty-one years later, we have a ten-year-old kid, a solid, loving relationship, and a yard with too much shade to grow tomatoes. –Searah Deysach

Josh: We were both recent divorcees looking for love.

Sheri: A friend asked me to help her write a personal ad in the Reader, and I decided to create one for myself too.

J: This was back in the days when online dating was shameful. I complimented her on her book choices, except for Ayn Rand.

S: Rand is great dark fiction. I waited a month until Christmas to respond.

J: After some e-mails back and forth, we talked on the phone and met for pizza.

S: I was training for the marathon and had just run ten miles, so I almost cancelled.

J: We both had friends call us as backup plans to bail just in case things went south.

S: Or in case he was a psychopath. We immediately connected on books, cats, and all things nerdy. It was love at first sight.

J: After dinner we went to the Green Dolphin ballroom with friends. The band started playing “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire.

S: He asked me to dance and that sealed the deal. The conversation turned to architecture. I was curious about the Baha’i Temple.

J: My friends suggested we go on a tour. Our second date was set for the next morning!

S: Before the tour he took me to breakfast at Walker Brothers for pancakes. We started hanging out every day and the rest is history!

J: Fast-forward six years to our wedding.

S: Fast-forward again to 2019 when we both had articles published in the Reader side-by-side!

J: That’s what I call a full-circle Reader Romance! –Josh and Sheri Flanders v

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Emma has its charming moments, but little staying poweron February 12, 2020 at 9:50 pm

With Autumn de Wilde’s new film version of Jane Austen’s Emma being released next week (the seventh time it’s been adapted for film or TV, not counting Amy Heckerling’s Clueless), it seems propitious that Chicago Shakespeare has Paul Gordon’s musical adaptation currently on the boards. I missed Gordon’s world-premiere musical of Sense and Sensibility on Navy Pier in 2015. But with Emma, Gordon and director Barbara Gaines create a world that, while charming, doesn’t really do much to expand the dramatic universe of Highwood, the bucolic country estate where self-involved Emma (Lora Lee Gayer) plots the romantic futures of others–with unforeseen results.

Part of the problem is that the songs and narration, while tidy and efficient at streamlining the story, lack deeper resonance. There’s a distinct sense that we’re being steered along, rather as if we’re on a Regency-era reenactment, chuckling at the social faux pas unleashed by Emma’s meddling. But the actual stakes here feel too low. The social distinctions among Emma, the self-assured poor-but-clever Jane Fairfax (Erica Stephan), and “natural child” Harriet Smith (Ephie Aardema)–an orphan of uncertain parentage and limited worldly awareness–are glossed over, despite the fact that marriage means something quite different to all of them.

Emma’s conscience and foil, Mr. Knightley (Brad Standley), sings the title song with emotion and fire. But as the spark to this flame, Gayer remains too much on the surface. Strong supporting comic turns from Bri Sudia’s affected Mrs. Elton (an Austenian take on Moira from Schitt’s Creek) and Larry Yando’s hypochrondriacal Mr. Woodhouse deserve note, and it all looks and sounds quite handsome. But it never makes the case for why we need to hear this story told in song. v

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