Last night was another edition of Studs’ Place at the Hideout. Before Studs Terkel was a disc jockey, he acted and wrote a TV show called “Studs’ Place,” back in the heyday of Chicago programming. The show is about a character, Studs, who owns a bar/tavern. There were a waitress, Grace, and two regulars. It was largely improvised and filmed live. It’s a wonderful show that doesn’t really fall under the rubric of sitcom or drama. Each episode ended with Win Stracke, who would go on to help found the Old Town School of Folk Music.
The show on Sunday was an homage to the original show. The idea is brilliant. The audience sat in the performance area of the Hideout while the show was filmed in black and white in the bar area upfront. It worked well. The basic plot is that Chris, who plays the Studs Terkelesque character, has come back from a Mixology workshop and wants to class up the bar. However, he insults all of his friends in the process. Ultimately, he realizes that he’s been a jerk and trying to be something he is not.
It was a lovely comment about the rise of cocktail bars throughout Chicago. Not that there is anything wrong with fancy cocktails. However some places focus so much on creating new and different drinks that they forget to focus on what they are known for or what they are actually good at. A favorite bar of mine recently underwent a menu change that seems like it’s trying to appeal to a fancier crowd. Since the change, I’ve only had the food there once but I was not impressed.
In addition to the light social commentary, there were even typical low-tech commercials at various points. I love old advertisements. I love to see how social and economic mores are played out. Also, the old graphics are fun to look at. These old commercials were a photo of a glass or a group of men with a voice over selling the product. It was a nice tip of the hat to the old commercials.
The episode of course had singing throughout the show.
Afterwards, Professor Bill Savage interviewed Rob Brenner of the Whistler, Liz Garibay, historian and tour guide of Tales, Taverns & Towns and Andres Araya of 5 Rabbit Brewery. Bill Savage asked Rob Brenner about the rise of cocktails. Ultimately, the most important part of cocktails is that it should taste good. (I’m looking at you Malort). Andres Araya of 5 Rabbit talked a little bit about the founding of 5 Rabbit. With respect to their beers, he sees it as a combination of a lot of art and some science. Liz Garibay talked about she chose to talk about tavern history in Chicago because she liked to drink. More importantly, it was a way to get younger people involved with Chicago history. She was incredibly engaging and I can’t wait to take a tour. She said, “Alcohol is a lubricant for history.” Hah! She also challenged the audience and Bill Savage to find a Chicago event that she could not relate to alcohol. I am up for the challenge.
Bill Savage asked about their favorite places to drink. Rob Brenner commented that he liked the Hideout (yay!) and the Empty Bottle. Andres Araya is fans of Dry Hop Brewery. Finally, Liz Garibay talked about her love of old-fashioned, no-nonsense places like the Old Town Ale House.
Then a musical duo called “Honey and Buffalo” came up. They were delightful. It was a man on guitar and a woman who sang. It was an interesting combination of voices. Their “About Us” page on their website really explains it best: “Two very different voices conspire to complement each other, like french-fries and ketchup; a shot and a beer; unagi and wasabi.” They sang wonderfully dark folk songs. I can’t wait to hear more from them in the future.
I’m looking forward to the next event leading up to the Studs Terkel festival on May 9th-11th.