PRATIE PLACE

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bluegrass in Siberia

There's a bar by Port Authority (a.k.a., my least favorite neighborhood on the West Side, a.k.a. "the Hellmouth") and this bar has no sign on the door, no window, only a red light on a black door. It's called Siberia.

My friend from high school is now in grad school, and her roommate works at Siberia as a bartender.

This bar is owned by Tim Curry. It is mostly empty. When I asked why Tim Curry owned such an awful bar in such an awful neighborhood, which he clearly didn't even care about enough to put a sign on the door, I received a variety of answers I didn't really understand such as "He's an actor, and he needs to network" and "He owes people favors, and it's good to have an open bar when you owe people favors." I'm not exactly sure how, but these comments in aggregate gave me the impression of something having to do with heroin.

At any rate, nice place to spend an evening. The bartender, who is actually winsome, sweet, kind, and teetotaling (in spite of her edgy appearance) is also in a bluegrass band, which played its end-of-year concert in the basement of Siberia due to this excellent connection to management. Management said, at one point, "this is the only time a bluegrass band has ever played here."

The basement of Siberia is even weirder than the main room. I was told it was a gay bar. However, when my high school friend and I poked our heads down there to see what was going on, one night, I kid you not, there were like 15 guys sitting around drinking, and watching this one guy who was sitting on the stage in a chair, and another guy was using clippers to cut his hair, and a third guy was shining his shoes with bootblack and a cloth. I thought this was maybe some situation that was too kinky for me even to comprehend but Ma thinks "maybe they just needed haircuts."

The grad students in the bluegrass band played away, for several sets, with varying degrees of competence - timid violinists-turned-fiddlers, ferociously competent mandolinists, fuzzy-haired guitarists who kept missing their cutoffs, and one poor beleaguered bass player in the back trying to keep it all together. Most of them could play decently, but boy they sure sang out of tune... but as we all know, if they have a good time, that's what counts.

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