Booking the Empty Bottle: A New Tome Celebrates 21+ Years
In a world of increasing corporatization on the live music scene, the clubs in Chicago “are still a community. There’s a tremendous amount of competition between club owners; however, when times have been tough, with the [absurd but ultimately rejected 2009] promoter’s ordinance and the incredible crackdown that followed [the E2 nightclub disaster], for example, the clubs have banded together. Bruce Finkelman, the Schuba brothers at that point, Joe Shananhan of Metro, and the Tutens at the Hideout all know they are in the same boat… Everybody in town, whether you’re in the business or just a fan, should realize how lucky we are to have so many great independent venues.”
So say I, just one among hundreds of voices, celebrating one of those clubs in John E. Dugan’s lavishly illustrated new oral history, The Empty Bottle Chicago: 21+ Years of Music/Friendly/Dancing, recently published by Curbside Splendor.
Dugan’s specific subject may be Finkelman’s long-running club on Western Avenue, with its famous “Friendly/Dancing” awning and always-busy bar. But the interviews with veteran club staffers, music lovers, and musicians (including members of the Flaming Lips, Low, the Vandermark Five, Red Red Meat, and the Sea and Cake) join with the incredible photos (by ace Chicago shooters Marty Perez and Robert Loerzel, among others) to document and celebrate the broader point above: Music is a unifying community, and intimate clubs like the Bottle are its heart and soul. Long may it and all the others in town thrive.
The book’s publication will be celebrated at the Bottle (where else?) on Tuesday and Wednesday in the most appropriate way—with music from Blonde Redhead (June 7) and the Ponys, the Goblins, and Earring (June 8). Click here for tickets.
And that’s not the only event on the music-lit tip next week: On Thursday, June 9, Rich Cohen will sign and talk about his new book chronicling his time on the road with the world’s greatest rock ’n’ roll band in the ’90s. The soiree for The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones (Spiegel & Grau) takes place at 6 p.m. at that venerable used-book institution After-Words, 11 E. Illinois, and the veteran rock scribe and co-creator of HBO’s Vinyl will be joined by blues guitarist Eddie Taylor, Jr.