Mister Tom Musick at Gallery Cabaret
Mister Tom Musick at Gallery Cabaret Credit: Get Directly Down

Jeff Semmerling,
mask maker at Semmerling & Schaefer Mask Studios, saves his Wednesdays for:

Mister Tom Musick The Gallery Cabaret (2020 N. Oakley) is the kind of Chicago bar where, on your way back to your seat from the bar, you’re bound to run into the featured performers. They have local music every night of the week, often with no cover. On every third Wednesday, singer-songwriter Mister Tom Musick takes the stage.

Around 9 PM romantic baroque chords seem to make the baby grand leap and roll under the fingers of its master, Tom’s arranger and accompanist, Ronnie Kuller. Tom’s songs are clever, charismatic, sardonic romps of passion. They confirm that all your personal frustrations with your fellow humans are closely related to the richest rewards of loving each other. It’s got to be what it was like to hear Jaques Brel early in his career in Belgium. Certainly Musick competes with Brel’s intellectual and witty sophistication. As an added treat, most appearances are joined by local performance artist and torch singer Meredith Miller, whom I adore. When the third Wednesday comes around I’ll be at the bar, reminding Tom to check the tip can before the next act starts.

Dollhouse Reading SeriesCredit: Dolly Lemke

Michael Robbins,
poet profiled in the Reader‘s People Issue, makes an exception for:

Dollhouse Reading Series I avoid poetry readings whenever I can, although I do like this new venue I read at recently called Dollhouse Reading Series. It’s held in the curator’s house. Dolly Lemke and Ryan Spooner run it [ed. note: with Holly Amos and Stephen Danos]. You just go to these people’s house and you sit on the floor and people get up and read poetry. I think it’s a much neater idea than going to a room where you sit on a bunch of wooden chairs and watch the poet. Just google it and you find it. That’s about the only recommendation I have, because two of the people who run readings in the city I don’t like and then of course there’s the Poetry Foundation, which I do like, but they don’t need any more press.

The ClaudettesCredit: Eric Krause Photography

Zachary Whittenburg, communications manager at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, is becoming obsessed with:

The Claudettes About four times in the past year, I’ve caught this local keys-and-drums band at venues ranging from a closing Blockbuster video store to the Barrelhouse Flat. They sound a bit like early Quasi. Their live shows come wrapped in an elaborate conceit involving a ruthless manager, Claudette, unseen, and her lackey, who hawks cheap beer (e.g., Blatz) and merchandise during each set. The veins throb on Johnny Iguana’s forehead as he pounds on a trompe l’oeil piano. Drummer Michael Caskey’s grin looks manic, maybe desperate. LED displays pinned to their shirts, and another on top of the lackey’s bar, advertise absurd specials and house rules: “Neighborhood Appreciation Wednesdays: 50 cents off Goldschlager or Rumplemint [sic] cocktail!!” “return of: FREE PEANUTS! (restriction applies)” “YOU: FAKE ID . . . ME: REAL GUN” “Welcome to Claudette’s . . . but time to order a beer, though.”