Pushing Tin
Now, I’m not one to turn my nose up at concept bars, but when I sought out the newest haunt on Damen Avenue called Cans Bar and Canteen (1640 N. Damen Ave.), I was a tad disappointed to find that I was one of the only suckers actually drinking beer out of aluminum.

(Despite the name, Cans also serves draft and bottled beer.) I ordered a Heineken, my standard suds, which came in that cute mini-keg-like can. More adventurous quaffers might opt for Old Speckled Hen, Beamish Irish Stout, or Young’s Double Chocolate Stout from among the 27 canned brews offered. As with the libations, anything-or anyone-goes here. I dug the motley crowd of Abercrombie-wearing postcollegians, scruffy bikers, local artsy types, and the ladies who love them. The space, which formerly belonged to Mad Bar, once a staple of the Bucktown nightclub scene, has been recast as a simple, spacious watering hole courtesy of Tommy Wang, Jay Runnfeldt, and Matt Lindner, the same guys who brought us Bird’s Nest and Big Wig. Better-than-average bar food-a good caesar salad, juicy chicken wings with a variety of sauces-and a stellar (and very loud) jukebox distracted us from minding that we couldn’t get a signal from our cell phones. No signal! Those late-night booty calls had to wait till we left the bar. . . .

A Win for the Green Party
If you were one of the more than 2,500 people who attended this year’s Green Tie Ball outside the A. Finkl & Sons Co. steel plant, then this little fact won’t surprise you: The live auction raised more than $100,000 for Chicago Gateway Green, an organization dedicated to the beautification of Chicago. And that’s just the money raised from the auction. Tickets went for $100 to $250 each; multiply that by 2,500 people and . . . well, you do the math. Chicago’s affluent young professionals came out to support the cause, and roughly 20,000 drinks were served over the course of the evening. Yes, that’s an average of (gulp!) eight drinks per guest. The 11th annual event paid homage to the 1933 World’s Fair, with such touches as a full-size Ferris wheel and merry-go-round, as well as snake charmers and belly dancers (left). But the best part of the evening was when the eighties cover band Hairbanger’s Ball took the stage. Watching Chicago’s A-list throw down moves to cheesy covers of Guns N’ Roses and Bon Jovi was absolute enjoyment. And although I didn’t see her myself, sources tell me Maureen McCormick, a.k.a. Marcia Brady, was roaming the grounds.

Sticky Situation
Here’s a tip: Head over to Webster’s Wine Bar (1480 W. Webster Ave.) on any Monday night around 10 p.m. to hear melodic hooks by Chicago’s own Sticky Lupree. Although they’ve been playing at Webster’s for six years now, I just recently caught my first show. I grabbed a seat upfront, ordered a flight of wine, and chair-danced to covers of Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, and Marvin Gaye, and to the band’s own numbers. Lead singer Dupee Lupree bears a resemblance in sound and style to Jamiroquai’s lead singer, Jay Kay. If the folks at Fox’s American Idol catch wind, Lupree might even have that snooty Brit Simon Cowell singing his praises. Until the group comes out with a planned album, sate your music appetite with the crowd-pleasing “Josie,” which often closes the show.

This story was originally published in the November 2002 issue of Chicago.