While their hearts are with Irish music, the owners of Chicago Street Pub also like reggae funk.

On this night, the featured act was Bredrens of Zion.

Three years ago, Mike Trizna bought a nondescript bar adjacent to the Rialto Square Theatre in his native Joliet. Since the mid-1990s, the bar had been serving lunch to staffers of the nearby Will County Court House. But Trizna and co-owner John Condron envisioned it as something more: a music venue to support a fledgling Irish music scene. “There are strong Irish roots in Joliet,” says Trizna, 36, who renamed the bar the Chicago Street Pub. “There is no place like this in a 40-mile radius.”

On a recent night, the sounds of the drums inside the pub echoed down the mostly desolate streets that surround it. Inside, a standing-room-only audience sang along to Irish-influenced rock by Condron and his trio. While most Chicagoans might not think of Joliet as the breakout town for live entertainment, the pub’s traditional Monday sessions have been luring people into Will County. The Guinness-fueled evenings attract a stripped-down circle of musicians, from amateurs to touring fiddle players to poets. They convene over guitars and 150-year-old folk songs and bang and blow on traditional instruments such as bodhrans and bagpipes. “What started out as a crowd of regulars-lawyers, electricians, teachers-has become crowds that drive in from Chicago or down from Milwaukee; we’ve even had fans fly in from Ireland,” says Trizna. On Monday, March 17th, the lineup features Jeff Lindblade, the Hatfield Sisters, Condron, and the Irish Session Players.


Photography: Chris Lake