I love the wall adorned with dozens of vinyl records at the Promontory. Each one has been signed by a performer who has graced the stage there: Slick Rick, Ramsey Lewis, Kindred the Family Soul, and Hailu Mergia; the spot’s hosted quite the range of musicians. And, like a vinyl record, the place crackles with excitement every time I go in.
I go there often for shows– one of my favorites featured the South Side Community Big Band, with their soaring horns and some of the most prolific producers and session musicians from the golden era of Chicago Soul. These were people who played on seminal records by Earth, Wind, & Fire, Tyrone Davis, Syl Johnson, Minnie Riperton, and more.
The booking, chiefly handled by native South Sider Jake Austen, is remarkably supple, yet true to the roots of the Hyde Park community it serves: a party for black creative millennials (Party Noire) by day, classic Chicago jazz come the night. And on Mondays, you can catch The Corner, which features fresh, under-the-radar musicians. I usually sit near the bar, sipping a potent amaretto sour (my cocktail of choice), sometimes within whispering distance of a SoundCloud star. Promontory keeps Chicago’s musical heritage alive—and propels it forward—all while pouring some particularly excellent drinks.