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One Love, Wild Hare

After 25 years as Chicago's reggae headquarters, The Wild Hare closed out a two-week celebratory jamboree on Sunday and shut its doors. Let's take a look, first in words and then in video.

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"Late last Friday night, Chicagoans were streaming into the Wild Hare, a landmark reggae club in Wrigleyville," Howard Reich wrote for the Tribune last month.

"As the band Flex Crew played its buoyant music, young men and women swayed freely on the dance floor to a joyous beat, the palpable optimism of the sounds inspiring smiles all around.

"But the fun-loving scene at the Wild Hare - which has been presenting reggae on North Clark Street for 25 years - will end May 15. That's when Ethiopian owner-musician Zeleke Gessesse will close his widely admired club and prepare to open a new one in his homeland.

"In essence, a major chapter in Gessesse's life - and in reggae music in Chicago - will come to a close."

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"Gessesse was a member of Dallol, a band that was once signed to Bob Marley's Tuff Gong label," the Jamaica Gleaner notes. "They also toured as opening act for Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers."

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"Owner Zeleke Gessesse is moving back to his native Ethiopia, where he's building a Wild Hare in the capital, Addis Ababa. Jerome McDonnell, Radio M host Tony Sarabia and Zeleke reflect on some of the club's legendary performances."

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"Originally called the Wild Hare & Singing Armadillo Frog Sanctuary, the club opened in 1986 at 3530 N. Clark when Wrigleyville was still an up-and-coming neighborhood," the Sun-Times reports.

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"[O]ne of the premier reggae clubs in the country," according to the Chicago Bar Project. "The Wild Hare is located on Clark, across from Sluggers and next to John Barleycorn Wrigleyville and just south of Wrigley Field. It is a reggae oasis surrounded by sports bars filled with drunk Cubs fans in the summertime. Some Cubs fans filter into the Hare, but most of the crowd are reggae fans - people that know where to go for the best reggae around. Just look for the sign with the half-lidded rabbit chilling out with a beer-toting armadillo, and you've found the self-billed Reggae Capital of America."

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Flickr photostream by Rose Mountain Photo.

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The Flex Crew plays the last days, uploaded by JAHN0321.

1. Carry on.

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2. Feelin' alright.

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3. Steely.

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4. We're jammin'.

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5. More jammin'.

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6. Backstage.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on May 18, 2011


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