The Hideout's owners celebrate the bar's 15th anniversary in 2011. Brothers Jim and Mike Hinschliff (far left, far right) and married couple Katie and Tim Tuten (center left, center right) bought the bar in 1996. Credit: Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

The Hideout is holding a reunion celebration this Saturday, but you won’t need to trim your hair or suck in your gut to impress people you haven’t seen in decades—the party promises to be a laid-back affair, fit for friends and families. This anniversary marks 20 years that the Hideout, tucked away just off Clybourn on Wabansia by a Department of Streets & Sanitation fueling station, has been owned by brothers Jim and Mike Hinchsliff and married couple Tim and Katie Tuten.

Over the past couple decades the Hideout family have observed the occasion by throwing weekend-long music festivals, sometimes partnering with local record labels such as Bloodshot and Touch and Go. But this will be a lower-key event, explains Tim (by far the most publicly vocal of the owners).

“We do a party every year,” he says. “What started as an outdoor party turned into the Block Party, which was more like a festival. This time we want to party like it’s 1997—we’ll have bands on the patio, like we used to, unlike the Block Party when we had bands on stages set up on the street and a barbecue. It’s more like a garden party. We’re calling it a 20th-anniversary reunion. We’re taking donations; we’ll add it up when we’re done, and it’s all going to charities.”

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Adds Katie, “The magician Mr. Ash, who did our first kids’ party, is going to be there. And Tim Samuelson, the city historian, will give a presentation about the history of the Hideout.”

Built as a residence in the late 19th century, the Hideout became a speakeasy during Prohibition and went legit in 1934. The Tutens and Hinchsliffs bought the bar in 1996. Inspired by another of Tim’s favorite watering holes, they set about making the Hideout a place that reflected the owners’ social and cultural concerns without sacrificing its neighborly vibe. “Weeds is the bar I hung at all through the 80s and 90s, and we were like Weeds West,” Tim recalls. “Sergio Mayora had poetry on Monday nights there. It was totally uncensored.”

The Hideout has hosted benefits that reflect the Tutens’ engagement with the community, including Soup & Bread, a weekly dinner that raises money for food pantries. Katie is a social worker and Tim has worked for the Chicago Public Schools and the U.S. Department of Education. The bar has also hosted a yearly Christmas pantomime, an early screening of the documentary Plaster Caster, and WTTW’s The Interview Show. But it’s best known as a music venue with a wide-open booking policy, rec-room decor, and supportive relationships with musicians. Some, such as vocalist Kelly Hogan, end up working behind the bar as well as onstage. Others, such as singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks, have settled into lengthy residencies that have allowed them to get loose, experiment with material, or just have a bit of fun. Fulks plays at the Hideout most Mondays when he’s in town, and he’s as likely to work up a set of songs by Merle Haggard or Michael Jackson as to play his own work.

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One early beneficiary of the Hideout’s support was rock trio Mr. Rudy Day, who will re-form for the reunion. “Tim and Katie were and are real fans,” says bassist Geoff Greenberg. “They wanted to help us and nurture us. They gave us a month-long residence of Saturday nights in 2004 when we released our second record, Duty. They let us pick all the opening bands, guests, DJs. It was unreal—what bar gives that much to one band? We did great Halloween shows where we would dress as and perform others’ songs—ZZ Top was awesome, Hall & Oates had some hiccups. We also had great guests with us through the years.” Greenberg’s favorite memory is the time a well-lubricated Robyn Hitchcock joined Mr. Rudy Day onstage to play the Doors’ “The End” and David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream.”

More recently, Eleventh Dream Day polished the material for their two most recent records at the Hideout. The band’s two singers, guitarist Rick Rizzo and drummer Janet Beveridge Bean, say it isn’t like anyplace else they’ve played. “You can’t enter the Hideout without feeling you’ve stepped into a place that feels like home,” says Bean. “It’s my hometown bar, so the shows feel different because it has that hometown love. There’s nothing better than a Chicago music audience, and then there are the shaggy-dog-tale introductions by Tim. He can start rambling and go so far off course—but just when you’re ready to get the Gong Show hook out and have someone pull him off, he brings that damn story back around to make a beautiful, funny summation bringing the whole thing together.”

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“The Hideout seems like it could be plunked down next to a lake in the North Woods,” says Rizzo. “The wood paneling inside, the decor, the strings of lights all make it an oasis in the middle of nothing. It just so happens that this middle of nothing is the city vehicle fuel center rather than the woods, and there are garbage trucks in a lot instead of canoes. The room for performance is small, so even with a modest number of people it never feels desolate—it always feels like you invited people over to join you in the experience. When I go to a show at the Hideout, I feel part of the family.”

Rizzo and Bean used to be a couple, and their son, Matt Rizzo, recently played the Hideout with his noise-metal duo, Horizon of Darkness. Says Bean, “As Tim pointed out in one of his intro-monologues, Matt has been coming to the Hideout since he was a very small child, and now he’s on the stage with his own band. That makes the Hideout not just a bar for me, but part of my family. In a nutshell, that’s what sets it apart.”

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The Hideout’s 20th-anniversary reunion will start at noon on Saturday with a performance by the Vision Celestial Guitarkestra, led by Reader contributor Steve Krakow, aka Plastic Crimewave; anyone who shows up with a guitar (or other stringed instrument), an amp, and a power strip is welcome to jam along on an E chord. The lineup also includes Devil in a Woodpile, Kelly Hogan, the JC Brooks Band, Jon Langford & Skull Orchard, the Lawrence Peters Outfit, Eleventh Dream Day, White Mystery, and Mr. Rudy Day; Robbie Fulks will crash the stage throughout the day to “interrupt” other artists’ sets, according to Hideout talent buyer Sullivan Davis. Admission is a $20 requested donation. The complete schedule is below:

Noon: Plastic Crimewave Vision Celestial Guitarkestra
Noon: Late Late Breakfast Pancake Brunch
1 PM: The Girl Talk interviews Hideout Residencies!
2 PM: “Mantina” (Nora O’Connor, Gerald Dowd, and Liam Davis)
3 PM: White Mystery
4 PM: The Amazing Mr. Ash
4:20 PM: Gregorio Gomez reads “The City”
4:30 PM: Kelly Hogan & Andy Hopkins
5 PM: Mr. Rudy Day
5:45 PM: Tim Samuelson, official historian for the City of Chicago
6 PM: Jon Langford & Skull Orchard
7:30 PM: JC Brooks Band
8:30 PM: Chances Dances DJs
9 PM: Eleventh Dream Day
10 PM: Devil in a Woodpile
11 PM: Lawrence Peters Outfit