6501 W. 79th Street
Burbank, IL. 60459
by Gary Gand
Gary Gand here from the Blue Road band in Chicago. We have recently been picked by ChicagoBluesGuide.com for Top 11 CD picks of 2009 for our album “Live at Gabe‘s Backstage Lounge.” We are a quintet playing crossover blues-rock, with stinging guitar and juicy B3 organ leading the pack and rip snorting bundle of dynomite-Jimy Rogers on vocals. Please check us out.
We gig all over Chicago and recently had a chance to get in on the ground floor of a new venue in the South suburbs called the Voodoo Lounge. It is part of a fabulous restaurant campus that includes Chuck’s Southern Comforts Café, serving top notch Mexican food, and the Voodoo Lounge, which as the name implies is the Cajun way station and BBQ depot. This is where the bands play and is in the French Quarter tradition: a painted concrete floor and low tile ceiling.
The room sports a casual friendly vibe with loads of funky vintage signage (see photos). The band sets up in the back corner opposite a huge rectangular bar, which is just fine for jumping up on to solo (as I have known to do with my wireless guitar) and allows one to walk all the way around for a good view of the bar crowd. It is also made of cement and is quite stable for showing off your new boots.
The night we played, it was snowing like we were in Dr. Zhivago. Midwesterners like to prove their metal by going out into a blizzard to tip a few cold ones and prove that neither snow nor sleet will keep them from performing their duty. I believe the US Post office stole that line from a tattoo on the arm of little known Chicagoan. We trudged in the conveniently located back door which goes right up to the band area and set up our PA as they do not have their own yet. Sound in the room is smooth; full and loud in front and easy to talk over in the back.
Chuck and I discussed plans for a portable stage, sound and lights for the upcoming season, once they get the band promo going. The crowd was enthusiastic and liked to party and dance. Our kind of folks. The Voodoo Lounge plays great classic R & B and blues on the overhead speakers, which kept our soulful vibe simmering between sets. We will be back in the spring to rip it up again.
Lets talk about the chow. My wife and I were in MemphisTN in August on a BBQ trip on our way down to ClarksdaleMS and the Crossroads. I also spent part of July in New Orleans sampling the local eats from catfish to crawdads. As an accomplished foodie (I‘m actually from a family of chefs and musicians) I‘ve spent much time at tables all over the world. I have to say that Chuck knows BBQ. I would go back to the Voodoo Lounge just for the food, even if I didn’t have my guitar with me. Pulled pork, oysters, gumbo, muffaletta, blackened anything, its all there. He even has “gator on a stick” and you know everything is better when its “on a stick.”
Here is the background on proprietor Chuck Pine and where his cred comes from. He was born in Burbank, and still lives there. Chuck took formal chefs training at JolietJunior College, and graduated with honors. He spent several years gathering experience under Rick Bayless, one of America‘s top chefs, in his renowned Mexican restaurant Topo La Bampo. You may recognize him from television cooking specials and his many cookbooks.
Chuck said, “My heart has always been in BBQ, not the BBQ you could do in your backyard but the very slow, specialized process of super slow smoking. For a true quality smoked product, it has to cook for hours, allowing the smoke flavor to permeate the meat. This is the process used at CHUCK’S BBQ! Before I opened my own restaurant, I took an extensive tour of the famous and not-so-famous BBQ restaurants in the Midwestern and Southern states. In total, this tour covered 13 states, over 3,000 miles, and an unimaginable number of BBQ restaurants. Along the way, I met with the owners, managers, and cooks from each, getting secrets and tips from all of them. Naturally, I tried all of their products to test their sauces and cooking techniques. I still haven’t lost the weight put on while spending weeks sampling BBQ products. It”s my belief that it was worth it, though, and if you stop in, I think you”ll agree.” Amen.
Here’s what the Chicago Reader had to say: “Chuck Pine opened a small barbecue shack in the meat-and-potatoes parking lot of south-suburban Burbank in 1992. Pine wants to show his customers the great variety within Mexican and Deep South cooking, at prices much lower and in an atmosphere more casual than at other shops around town started by Bayless”s flock. Cinco de Mayo and Mardi Gras are the best times to visit, when month-long blowouts warrant daily specials like a trio of homemade chorizos and chilies en nogada — poblanos stuffed with meat and fruit, covered in walnut sauce and grapes. Now in a new location, he”s offering live music and a bar menu available up to an hour before closing.”
Chuck”s Mardi Gras Line Up & Ticket Info:
This years event will cover four nights of that one of a kind buffet that only Chuck can put together, drink specials, and the best Mardi Gras line up of New Orleans Funk & Zydeco, along with the best in Chicago Blues. Each night will feature a new band, as well as new items on the buffet.
Friday Feb. 12th. Hurricane Gumbo will kick off this year’s party.
Saturday Feb. 13th The Special 20”s will bring their style of Chicago Jump Blues
to the party.
Monday Feb. 15th Daryl Coutts will be pounding out the tunes on his piano
Fat Tuesday Feb. 16th Nick Moss will close this year”s Mardi Gras.
Gary Gand is from Blue Road, and you can find out more about them at www.blueroadchicago.com or http://www.myspace.com/blueroadchicago.