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Bloodshot Briefing: Tasting The Dollar

By Matt Harness

In a little more than a week, five Bloodshot bands invade Grant Park and take over their own stage at the Taste of Chicago. We here at Beachwood Music decided to lick our lips early and asked Chicago treasure Dean Schlabowske to offer up a menu of his insights. The Logan Square resident plays guitar and sings in both Dollar Store and Waco Brothers, two of the bands that will shower suburbanites with their sweet sounds.

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Beachwood Music: "Schlabowske" sounds like one of SNL's Super Fans. Where are you from?

Dean Schlabowske: Milwaukee, but I've lived in Chicago for 20 years. I've lived in the Logan Square/Humboldt Park area for four years. The whole other time I kicked around Bucktown, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village. I lived in way too many apartments to remember. When I finally got around to buying a place, I had to move a little west.

The truly starving artists got pushed out of there, but I still own a business, the Cellar Rat, in Wicker Park. I'm still pleased with the nice mix of people. People talk like it's another Lincoln Park. It's not that quite homogenous yet.

Beachwood Music: What is the Cellar Rat? Sounds like something you call 311 about.

Dean Schlabowske: It's a wine shop. I opened the store about two years ago, but I've been selling wine going on 20 years.

Beachwood Music: Seen Sideways? Just kidding. But hard-rockers like yourself don't seem like oenophiles. How did this happen?

Dean Schlabowske: Like most people, I fell into it by accident. In the band prior to Waco, I was on the road a lot and needed a job where I could come and go. I had a friend who worked for a company that sold old and rare wines, and they needed part-time help. I got regular hours when I was in town, and then I could leave for two months.

It's what I've always done in Chicago.

Beachwood Music: I read a Wall Street Journal story that reported nearly every big-box retailer is exiting Detroit. The only national retailer making any money are the dollar stores. Same for Dollar Store?

Dean Schlabowske: If my recent royalty statement from Bloodshot is any indication, these aren't going to be boom times for Dollar Store. The health of the music industry is tough right now. It's hard to sell things when people get it for free.

Beachwood Music: As a longtime Chicago guy, what's your go-to record store?

Dean Schlabowske: Reckless Records. But I buy stuff online, too. But I want to keep supporting those indie places as well.

Beachwood Music: Where do you enjoy playing music here in town?

Dean Schlabowske: All this time in Chicago, I've come to a point where I really enjoy seeing shows and playing shows at Schubas and FitzGeralds. Both have a vibe that they are nice, family-run businesses. They are not these wall-painted-black rock clubs that I played in an awfully lot through the years. These places, the owners care about making it a great experience.

And of course, the Hideout. Those are the big three.

Beachwood Music: With your upcoming appearance at the Taste, I have to steer the ship toward those waters. What do you imagine the experience will be like?

Dean Schlabowske: We laugh about the fact Dollar Store gets on bills with these Bloodshot bands, and we are a pretty loud and raucous rock and roll band that often doesn't appeal to the sensibilities of the twang crowd. I think the suburbanites might be more receptive to what we do. They still listen to rock and roll.

Beachwood Music: Pair a food with Dollar Store.

Dean Schlabowske: Ribs. Messy and greasy. You'll need plenty of napkins.

Beachwood Music: How about Waco Brothers?

Dean Schlabowske: Sausage fans. I mean that in every possible way.

Beachwood Music: Jon Langford told me Waco Brothers are working on some new material. How about Dollar Store?

Dean Schlabowske: I've been writing some stuff, hoping to record some stuff with the guys. With the Dollar Store, though, we've decided to keep everything on a scale that makes sense to everybody. We don't want to twist Bloodshot's arm to release an album every year. When it makes sense and comes together, we'll do something.

Beachwood Music: It's become a tradition of Beachwood Music to ask about jukeboxes. Give me five songs worth your coins.

Dean Schlabowske: Well, I like them to be beer-drinking songs. "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," Hank Williams; "Smokestack Lightning," Howlin' Wolf; "You Got Me Runnin'," Jimmy Reed; "Bartender's Blues," George Jones; "My Lover's Prayers," Otis Redding.

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Dollar Store occupies the middle slot on the Illinois Lottery Taste Stage on June 27, while the Waco Brothers headline. Check back next week for another preview. And in the meantime, here's a taste:

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Bloodshot Briefing appears in this space every Friday. Matt welcomes your comments.



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Posted on June 19, 2009


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