I had the privilege of seeing Koko Taylor a few years back at Fitzgerald’s, and her live show pretty much sealed the bar’s reputation in my view as one of the best live venues ever. Not only did she and her Blues Machine band crank it up (catering to an “adult-only” audience, she was able to spice up things a bit), but the intimate space and excellent sound made for a memorable performance that unfolded literally 10 feet in front of me. It was even made more surreal about an hour prior to her show, when I saw Koko get escorted out of her car just as I was walking into the bar. Thank goodness I’m not a stalker.
Since then, I keep my eyes peeled on Fitzgerald’s music calendar, and make sure to visit whenever a fave performer is in town. (It usually draws in indie, bluegrass alt rock and blues acts.) Not only is Fitzgerald’s a pretty historic venue (it’s been used in several big movies), but it’s a friendly crowd that blends in local regulars with visitors from Chicago and the suburbs for the live performance(s) of the evening. The ability to sit or stand up close to the stage is an added bonus—there isn’t a bad view in the place. I don’t know if any trip to Oak Park would be complete without a visit here (even if it’s technically in Berwyn—it’s still right on the border).