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Slight Return

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 2, 2005 4:15PM

Two pieces of good news this morning for anyone hoping that Chicago becomes a nationally-known mecca for fans of live music:

After two years of plans and protests, the legendary Checkerboard Lounge will re-open for business on November 17th. Famously known as a hangout 2005_11_02_checkerboard.jpgfor Chicago blues legends like Muddy Waters and Howin’ Wolf, the club’s new name will be The New Checkerboard Lounge for Blues ‘n’ Jazz. The New Checkerboard will seat about 145 people.

Formerly located at 423 E. 43rd St. in the Bronzeville neighborhood, the club’s move to Hyde Park comes with some baggage. In 2003, several neighborhood activists protested owner L.C. Thurman’s decision to move the club into a building owned by the University of Chicago at a rental rate so low that some accused the University of stealing part of Bronzeville’s “authentic cultural experience.” Thurman’s argument has been—and continues to be—that the Bronzeville community didn’t support the club near as much as the liberal denizens of Hyde Park.

The second piece of good fortune comes courtesy of the Chicago Park District. In a win-win situation, Chicago residents will not only be spared a park district tax increase but will also be gifted with more music acts in the various green spaces around the city.

District officials cited the revenues from this summer’s Lollapalooza ($400,000) and 20 shows on the new Northerly Island ($800,000) as reasons for the tax break. The city is negotiating for Lolla’s return next year and plans to increase the number of Northerly shows by 30 percent.

One particular paragraph from the Sun-Times article caught our eye. Park District superintendent Timothy Mitchell noted that because The Rolling Stones show at Soldier Field “went smoothly, other name groups have inquired about the stadium.” Chicagoist wonders two things: A) How is it that other “name” acts were unaware of Solider Field’s existence? Did it get left out of a brochure or something? And: B) Were there expectations that all the Dads from Schaumburg coming into the city to hear “Brown Sugar” were going to tear shit up, Altamont-style?