"You have to wear heavy eyeliner and overaccessorize to be a rock star," Johnny Colt, the bassist from Rock Star: Supernova (and previously The Black Crowes and Train), told me recently. Colt was in town for an RSS gig, followed by a charity event for the Chicago Music Commission at the newly opened nightspot Pharmacy (1450 W. Chicago Ave.).
Left: Bargoers get a taste of Pharmacy's medicine; center: Rock Star: Supernova's Gilby Clarke (left) and Johnny Colt flank Pharmacy co-owner David Lehtman; right: Colt and photographer Paul Natkin
Colt, who replaced the original RSS bassist, Jason Newsted, in the wake of the band's reality-show run, has the look down, but the happily married father of two says he doesn't go in for other rock-star stereotypes-such as that whole cheating-on-tour thing. I got an earful of good stories that night, from Colt and Paul Natkin, the legendary Chicago rock photographer and founder of CMC, an organization that supports the local music community with resources like free better-business seminars. The Pharmacy event served as a fundraiser showcasing Natkin's work, which has appeared in publications from Chicago to Rolling Stone.
While fans trickled in from the RSS concert across town at the Rosemont Theatre, Colt and Co., including RSS guitarist Gilby Clarke, held court in an oversize booth in Pharmacy's backroom (drummer Tommy Lee was spinning across town at Enclave). The seating area has been dubbed the "voodoo booth," thanks to the giant color photo of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood hanging over it. "They're singing ‘Jumpin' Jack Flash' in that photo; I can tell," said Sandy Diamond, a Rolling Stones fanatic. Natkin confirmed Diamond's speculation; the shutterbug shot the photo during the band's 1994 Voodoo Lounge tour.
It was a rock 'n' roll kind of night, which is the sort of thing one should expect from Pharmacy, the slickest among a slew of new rock lounges. Inside, a long African wenge wood bar holds court opposite a permanent display of Natkin's photography. There's wallpaper inset with little white pills, a light installation featuring 600 empty amber pill bottles, and a 1960s drugstore sign hanging above the bar. Rock and blues (think the Stones, Chili Peppers, and Muddy Waters) issue from the DJ booth, and the menu serves up burgers and fries. Every detail of the bar was designed with music and lounging in mind, courtesy of co-owners David Lehtman and Brian Eldridge. Colt liked the bar so much he's coming back to spin later this year.
Despite the name and nod to drugs, this isn't a place that promotes illegal activity. "I just want people to leave feeling good," Lehtman says. And we did.
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Jamie Foxx caused quite a scene at Enclave following a recent concert date in Chicago. "Hordes of people were barraging the VIP area," says publicist Lindsay Hays. "The girls were like piranhas around him, and Jamie wasn't shying away from the attention." Foxx sang a few of his songs ("Golddigger" and "Unpredictable"); poured Sex on the Beach shots for women, saying, "It's all about the ladies…if you're a man, just step away"; and used a flashlight to pick female companions out of the crowd. R. Kelly was there, as was Fantasia Barrino, who opened for Foxx earlier that night…. Jeremy Piven's night out at Stone Lotus was tamer, although it lasted until 2 a.m. and included an entourage of beautiful girls….Vince Vaughn seems to have become a Thursday regular at The Underground. The last time I saw him there, the disheveled-looking actor got up to leave when he saw our Nightspotting photographer's camera. David Schwimmer and Joey Slotnick weren't so shy at the club's official opening. The actors hung out at a a prominent banquette; members of Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco were also in attendance.
Photography: Barry Brecheisen