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Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

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84-Year-Old California Clipper Hopes Revamp Can Attract Larger Acts

The Humboldt Park tavern is hosting a Grammy-winning drummer and hopes to give neighbors more free shows

Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

In late February in Humboldt Park, the California Clipper woke from its pandemic slumber with a few cosmetic changes and brand new ownership. Change isn’t anything new for the 84-year-old tavern space which has seen different regimes, drink menus, and clientele come through its doors near the corner of California and Augusta.

Local musicians have entertained customers utilizing the small rear stage. New ownership, Orbit Group — which also owns the reborn Italian restaurant across the street, Segnatore — say they’ve upgraded the space’s sound system and made other updates. They say the stage was underutilized and hope better sounds and other changes will draw larger acts on occasion.

WIth that in mind, on Wednesday, April 6, the Clipper will host the Dave Miller Quartet, featuring Jeff “Tain” Watts, a Grammy-winning jazz drummer. It’s a free show. Watts was scheduled to perform at other venues, but those dates fell through and the Clipper was ready to pounce.

The bar and concert venue industry are linked at the hip, and the pandemic hurt both. As COVID restrictions loosen, concert-goers feel more confident in attending shows. Clipper management says they want to host bigger names, like Watts, a few times a year. Clipper beverage lead Kristina Magro says the key will be to offer locals the entertainment without a cover, whereas other venues across the city may be more inclined to charge for a ticket.

Regardless, Clipper’s new management seems intent on finding new ways to attract customers. Check out the show tonight and stay tuned for announcement throughout the year.

Dave Miller Quartet, at the California Clipper, 1002 N. California Avenue, 9 p.m., Wednesday, April 6, free for 21+

The Clipper hopes to host more big names from different genres.

California Clipper

1002 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (773) 384-2547 Visit Website
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