How ‘Situation Chicago’ Is Working to Save Chicago Music Venues


These records are being smashed for a good cause. They’re for a new benefit album called, “Situation Chicago” with all proceeds going to 25 Chicago music venues.

Those venues are: Beat Kitchen, Cafe Mustache, Cole’s, Dorian’s Through the Record Shop, Emporium Arcade Bar, Empty Bottle, Fulton Street Collective, GMan Tavern, The Hideout, Liar’s Club, Lincoln Hall, Martyrs’, The Metro, Moe’s Tavern, The Promontory, Reggie’s Rock Club, Schubas Tavern, Silver Room, Sleeping Village, Smartbar, Subterranean, Thalia Hall, Tonic Room, Uncommon Ground and The Whistler.

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Started by Trey Elder of nonprofit, Quiet Pterodactyl, the multi-genre album features 25 Chicago artists. Those artists are: Dee Alexander, Ang13 ft. Shockwave, Big $ilky, Bumbac Joe, The Cool Kids, Girl K, Anthony Gravino, Justice Hill, Hood Smoke, Rich Jones, Quinlan Kirchner, Lowdown Brass Band, The Oh Yeah’s, OKGO, Ovef Ow, Poi Dog Pondering, William Steffey, The Streets on Fire, Sam Trump & Acoustic Audile ft. Harold Green, Jeff Tweedy, The Twilite Tone, White Mystery and Ric Wilson (feat. Kiela Adira).

“We’re all in this bizarre situation,” Trey Elder said. “By calling it ‘Situation Chicago,’ we are all in this situation, but this project is how the music industry and how this situation in Chicago how we’re all going to get through this together.”

The project is sponsored by Chicago businesses like Smashed Plastic. The record plant says they’re doing their part to keep the city’s music community alive.

“I look at this music community as an absolute ecosystem,” Andy Weber, co-founder and owner of Smashed Plastic, said. “We can’t have one of those arms break down. It’s essential to be helping the venues because it works for all of us. A lot of the bands that press here, those guys also bartend at these venues and obviously play there as well. It’s also where they sell a lot of their records.”

Proceeds from “Situation Chicago” will go toward local music venues in the city, like Dorian’s. They’re a part of the Chicago Independent Venue League and say they need all the help they can get.

“A lot of you know independent venues owners say ‘first to close last to open.’ It’s not a cliché term,” said Zack Eastman, owner and operator of Dorian’s Through the Record Shop. “It’s the reality. A lot of our space, pretty much all of our spaces don’t have patios, don’t serve food and we don’t have many ways to pivot. It’s independent venues that gives folks a shot is really important.”

The artists involved aren’t getting paid to be on the album. But Justice Hill, one of the featured artists featured on the album, says support between musicians and music venues is synonymous.

“Personally, I feel happy about it,” Hill said. “But I know it’s going to do a lot to support people, so how could I not be behind it, you know.”

Video: Justice Hill performs “If and When It Ends” also featured on “Situation Chicago.”

While the impact is unknown, Elder says he’s grateful to have created an opportunity to help the future of Chicago’s music scene.“I recognize no matter how many records we sell, I’m not necessarily saving any individual business. But I think we could have a really big impact on helping them get through this time when they’re not.”

Situation Chicago drops Thursday at midnight. Visit the album’s website for more information, including how to buy it.

Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3

Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.


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