2105 South State Street
For the venue Spotlight of the month we are going to wander our way to the Windy City, to the Southside where our President is from, close to the Lake and Navy Pier and all the other wild goings on in Chicago, and check out a club that is somewhat new in the Chicago-land scene, Reggie’s. The interesting thing about this club, is that it is not just a club, it’s not just two clubs, and it is not just two clubs and a record store. It really is a lifestyle. The folks who are running Reggie’s believe in music as a way of life, and are building their club around the idea that perhaps they are not the only place in Chicago that live music happens, and that people who love music might love other things too like sports, or beer, or Frisbee. So the result is something that is more than a club, it is more like a country club for music fans.
So we spend some time there recently, hanging out at the club, checking out the record store, ogling the beautiful bartender, sampling the fine local brews, and even looking into the technical aspects of the venue. We talked quite extensively with Brendan J Joyce, who is booking the smaller capacity room (approximately 200 folks could fit there) and has a hand in the record store and most everything else that happens at Reggie’s.
Over the years the clubs have played host to virtually everyone including Woodbox Gang, Chicago Afrobeat Project, Bumpus, The Filthy Whores, Kris Meyers Project (Umphreys), the Bama Lamas, Mr. Blotto, and countless record releases, benefits and showcases.
LMN&R: How did Reggie’s come about?
Reggie”s started as a record store called Record Breakers out in the northwest suburb of Hoffman Estates about 17 years ago. It was one of the first and most definitely one of the best record stores in the area. People would drive from downtown Chicago to shop and find rare records there. Record Breakers would have concerts in the store every week so all the record racks would be moved and a stage would erected. After a good amount of shows with future legends of the punk scene as well as local bands just looking to play, the city threatened to shit them down if it continued. The concept of Reggie”s was spawned from the lunatic mind of Rob Glick who owns and ran Record Breakers from the start. He would go to about 8 shows a week- sometimes 3 or 4 venues in one night. The record business was going where it was going and the place would not sell the building so we packed up shop in the middle of the night and brought all of the product, poster racks, lp racks, cd racks into what was the hollow shell of Reggie”s before the transformation was finished. The store was set up on the 2nd floor and amazon sales paid the bills until Reggies opened in September of 2007 as a Venue/ Bar Venue Grill/record store.
LMN&R: The two rooms (Reggie’s Rock Club and Reggie’s Music Joint) have vastly different programming styles, but it seems like some things could fit in either room. What is the philosophy there?
It is a pretty simple plan with the Music Joint. We just want to bring in “good” music so people can just come to the place without expecting the same thing everytime. “Lets go to the joint!” In so many words its house built by music lovers and musicians. The Rock Club has been the home to the punk and indie rock scene in Chicago. (MP Shows books the rock club.)
LMN&R: We noticed a lot of cool events happening, like the Pig Roast, the shuttles to games and shows- tell me more about that.
We do “events” with bands to spice things up and make it fun. We have done a dating game on Valentines Day, All Girls Arm wrestling on the first Thursday of the month, LP day, movie nights, and pig roasts are more and more common. The pig roast came about when we brought the mechanical bull in for a party, and the pig with a bull riding machine just made sense.
The pig roast and White Sox combination promotion is a no brianer, as the Sox park is just blocks away and people like to eat pig- so we made it happen. We do events like this to highlight the Reggie”s bus more, a 60 person 60s school bus painted black with gremlins and skulls all over it. We use it for things like:
-All Sox home games, 2 or 3 cubs games
-All Bears home, some Blackhawks
-Southside Irish Parades
-Music Fests (lollapoluza, pitchfork, bluesfest and other grant park fests,)
-The Reggie’s Reginaldos Softball team (take our team there and invite other teams back)
-Concerts (we just did a trip to motorhead at HOB,and Widespread panic at Northerly Island with the Allman Brothers Band.)
-No rules, and anything goes, pretty much
So fans can come to Reggie’s, get a beer and a burger, then hop on the bus and take it to some of the best events that are happening throughout Chicago. They get the benefit of a ride and not having to deal with parking around the event, and we get to bring more people to the bar and create an atmosphere where our customers are more to us then just beer swillers coming out of the city in order to give us money. Reggie’s is a lifestyle, and we want people to enjoy it for more than just a night they are catching a show by a band.
LMN&R: So it seems like you guys are developing a whole lifestyle establishment- that Reggie’s could be the entertainment and cultural compliment to your customers.
Thats what the record store was always like, you can shop anywhere but why not go to a place that is inviting and has personality and attitude. It for sure is a lifestyle, starting our own scene on the Southside, off the beaten track and the heavy foot traffic- we all end up working harder and longer doing multiple things but all for the common goal of making it happen for Reggie”s.
LMN&R: How does the record store fit into that whole vibe?
Everybody always remembers the record store when they see it and its a great place for bands to hang out and shop while they are waiting to play or between other bands sets. The musicians always freak out when they find out about it and will talk about it for the rest of the tour.
LMN&R: Where is Reggie’s going in the next year.
Well you just never know, were just going to keep trying out new ways to get people out to hang, as well as keep up with what has been working. We plan on doing Street fests out in front for 2010. A roof top patio will be up by the spring time, and were just going to keep on trying to be a bigger and better presence in the music scene.
LMN&R: How did you personally get involved?
I was hired on to work at record breakers in 1996 when I was in high school. I worked for a long time at the store until I moved to the city and was working at various music industry jobs until Reggies was ready to open and I was brought in to do some booking.
So don’t just go to a bar and drink beer. Go to Reggie’s, drink beer, take in a ball game, wrestle arms with your neighbor, buy an LP, take a bus to a ballgame or a concert, learn not to drink and drive, catch a punk band, buy a button or a poster- join the club and make friends, and hang out with like minded people in an establishment that shares your interests, supports bands both local and national, and employs some five dozen music lovers in Chicago.
For more information check out Reggie’s: