By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA (aka The PRDude)
During these (fill in the blank with your favorite adjective) times, many pass time by completing a 1,000-piece puzzle, binge-watching six seasons of a program offered on one of the premium channels or diverting attention to the past.
Me? Well, we have a nice puzzle, but I haven’t started it yet. As for television, I watch enough already, but I have found reruns and current episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit provide a welcomed 60-minute escape before the 10 p.m. evening news.
And like many, I find ways to escape to a different time, specifically, the 1980s when I employed my passion for rock and roll and ability to write to take part in the vibrant Chicago rock community.
For around a dozen years, I was a regular contributor to the Illinois Entertainer, a free monthly that’s still published.
I relive those often raucous, often loud days and nights by reading posts, listening to music by local artists found on YouTube and scanning print ads from the scores of now-gone music venues that appear on the Chicago Bar Bands 1975 Through 1982 Facebook public group.
The group name is a bit of a misnomer, as many of the acts covered on the site gigged through the end of the ’80s decade and beyond. Some are still making noise today.
This was a time when club rock music was dominated by bands with big hair, big guitar sounds from big amps and big dreams. It was an era defined by a musical gumbo of post punk, metal, New Wave and other less discernible genres. To be part of this scene came cheap: Two dollar (perhaps three or four on weekends) cover charges and week night specials featuring quarter beers.
And, I was part of it — visiting clubs, conducting interviews backstage, writing record reviews — in essence being a cog of sorts in a scene that’s mostly gone.
Contributors to the just-mentioned Facebook group, specifically Illinois Entertainer founder and former publisher Ken Voss,add nuggets of history on artists and bands that may largely be forgotten had the information not be shared digitally. Display ads, like the one shown above, capture the depth and breadth of the local live 1980’s club scene, one that’s, of course, now much diminished.
On occasion, I’ll add a Facebook comment regarding shows I remember or the acts I covered. (For the record, I was the de facto metal correspondent for a while; surprisingly, my hearing is intact.) My huge binder of print clips was tossed prior to a move years ago, however I still have the October 1989 issue of IE featuring a cover story I wrote on the still vital band Enuff Znuff.
Stepping back three-plus decades to revel in an era of Chicago rock and roll allows me to press the pause button on the fears and confusion that dominates our world today — even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Two buck cover charges and quarter beers assuredly won’t return. But when the fallout from the pandemic, economic meltdown and unrest is gone, perhaps live rock and roll played in small clubs will return, and hopefully provide new memories to savor.