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Monday, February 09, 2009

The Morse Theater, Chicago IL

The two pictures above represent the present and the past of the Morse Theater on Chicago's far north side. Opened in 1912 as a nicklelodeon, the Morse has gone through many incarnations - a furniture warehouse, an independent cinema house (with air conditioning!), a synagogue and an abandoned wreck. I got to know the building during its sad years as a deteriorating, unoccupied space. The Morse was empty for thirty years. Now, the place is a bright and shiny state-of-the-art new music venue - an unbelievable change, really. And this change happened due to the dreams of three guys - Andy McGhee, Willam Kerpan and Devin McGhee (Andy's son).

I have a feeling that these three did not conduct a scientific consumer demand study prior to launching this project. It is driven by heart and soul, not flinty-eyed calculation. This venue is very musician-friendly (Mr. G and the Mystery Band got to play there on January 31, so I was able to experience the joy of a top-knotch venue with dedicated, attentive professionals in charge of the operation), I know Andy McGhee pretty well, and i think he is inspired by a deep love of music and an equally deep love of the East Rogers Park neighborhood. The trio behind the Morse went through hell to get the joint open - zoning hassles, construction delays and even an arson. The least we Chicago area folks can do is get out and support this marvelous place

You can check out the Morse Theater's schedule and story here.

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