Search This Blog

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bye Bye Bill's Blues Bar

Back in August 2003, the first "real" blues club in Chicago's northern suburbs opened its doors. On November 10, 2009, those doors closed for good. Bill's Blues Bar is another failed small business.

Bill Gilmore, the leader of the club, deserves respect for his determination and grit. Lots of people invested money and time into the club (including me). The club never did well; it was always barely hanging on. Over the past few months, things got worse. While the recession played a role, the primary culprit was accumulated desperation - as things got tougher, service deteriorated and fewer customers came out - it was a spiral.

Bill Gilmore brought big-time blues to Evanston IL. James Cotton, Son Seals (RIP), Magic Slim, Rod Piazza, Lurrie Bell, Big Time Sarah, 'Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials, Eddie "the Chief" Clearwater, Melvin Taylor and the Slack Band - just to name a few. Bill's Blues Bar is also where my band, Mr. G and the Mystery Band, was born. We are coming up on the 6th anniversary of the Mystery Band's first gig (on Thanksgiving). Bill's Blues played a significant role in the development of my blues harmonica addiction.

I am sorry to see the club go, but I never thought it would stay open for six years -I thought it would be gone in 36 months. So it was a valiant effort. Think good thoughts about Bill Gilmore, and go out to hear some live blues in your community - if you don't, the clubs that present these acts will all die.

Bye Bye Bill's Blues Bar

1 comment:

Uncle Dizzy said...

Remembering those last desperate days at Bill's--- figuring out how to remove the sound gear and where to take it. Dealing with the sense of loss and not seeing those folks in the blues and folk community I had gotten to know and love. Working with Mr G and all the blues greats he listed, as well as some pretty creative Jazz players like Saxophonist, Mike Finnerty, violinists Edgar Gabriekl and Rachel Barton Pine, playing Led Zeplin, Paul Botts and crew. We saw the growing careers of singer/songwriters, like Sue Fink and David Hawkins, local, regional and national folk performers like Bonnie Koloc and Chad and Jeremy. The Sunday afternoon open mics, hosting performers who went on to place on American Idol. Etc!

Bill's Blues Bar was one of the most eclectic NEIGHBORHOOD venues on the North Shore. Homey and comfortable, it WAS the place to be for those 6 years! We "resurrected" the feel of the bar in 2012 at the Globe Cafe and the Indigo Lounge at the Orrington Hilton through March of 2013. Sad to see that go, too. Fun while it lasted. Bill Gilmore has done more for any kind of culture in Evanston beyond the mainstream, and should be lauded for his efforts, along with every artist who ever appeared at Bill's
Blues Blues Bar!