The Hideout is the little club that could. It’s one of the smaller clubs in a city saturated with music venues, but few have had a bigger impact on their community, a community that’s like family.
Hideout co-owners Tim and Katie Tuten are a married couple, and fellow owners Jim and Mike Hinchsliff are twins. They have watched musicians who have performed at the club in their 23-year history become parents whose children have also come of age on its stage. They’ve thrown fundraisers for countless charities, staged political rallies, spearheaded civic organizations and hosted everyone from Chicago stalwarts (Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the Mekons, Eleventh Dream Day, Billy Corgan) to up-and-comers-turned-stars (Neko Case, Andrew Bird, jazz luminaries Ken Vandermark and Makaya McCraven).
In addition, the club may be the only bar in Chicago with an in-house “classroom” – which makes sense, because Tim Tuten is a longtime Chicago schoolteacher. The Hideout High School provides informal classes on civic issues, from pot legalization to gerrymandering.
“Little micro communities have sprouted out of the club, like (the science-meets-comedy talk show) ‘A Scientist Walks into a Bar’ and the Soup and Bread program that has generated $90,000 for food pantries and two cookbooks (by three Hideout regulars: author Martha Bayne, designer Sheila Sachs and illustrator Paul Dolan),” Katie Tuten says.
In that sense the Hideout embodies the vital role that clubs play in Chicago: independent, civic-minded platforms for creativity and self-expression. The club’s owners were key in organizing the Chicago Independent Venue League (CIVL) with some of their peers in the music scene. It arose in response to the proposed Lincoln Yards development that initially aimed to bring in Live Nation venues as part of a $5 billion program to gentrify the Hideout’s formerly industrial neighborhood. The organization staged rallies and brought renewed scrutiny to the project and the adverse impact it would have on the city’s music scene.
“I see it as a good thing that the clubs organized themselves to push back,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot told the Tribune a few weeks after assuming office. The Lincoln Yards developers “made a commitment to the clubs in response to CIVL, led by Katie and Tim Tuten of the Hideout. Whatever is put in there, and as long as I’m mayor, we’re going to make sure that nothing there has an adverse impact on those local clubs.”
Tim Tuten realizes that development is inevitable, but that the clubs are turning the tide in making the city newly aware of the independent music scene’s vitality and its pivotal role in defining Chicago’s cultural identity.
“We’re not the next cool thing, because the Hideout (building) goes back 100 years,” Tim Tuten says. “It’s part of a tradition. It’s a city of neighborhoods, not a city of mega developments. We sent a message to the city that we’re models of how a city can grow through the clubs.”
For the 2019 Chicagoans of the Year, the Tribune asked each recipient the following questions about the decade of arts in Chicago:
Q: Looking back over the last decade, what do you think was the most important event that impacted the Chicago arts scene.
Tim Tuten: “The ‘event’ that keeps coming to mind for me is that our punk-rock friends now have grown-up kids that are now the rockers. Jeff Tweedy and (his son) Spencer, Jon Langford and (his sons) James and Tommy,Sima and Liam Cunningham (the children of Peter Cunningham), Twin Peaks, Whitney, Spun Out, Matt Rizzo (son of Eleventh Dream Day’s Rick Rizzo and Janet Bean), and all of the Kids These Days (band members) who have grown up: Vic Mensa, Macie Stewart, Greg (Landfair), Donnie (Nico Segal). Even Chance (the Rapper) would pop in once in a while. I love that Chicago has produced some of the greatest talent in America, in the last decade. And so many of the ‘kids’ went to CPS and started playing in our clubs. The support and nurturing that our community provided has actually worked.”
Q: Looking ahead to 2020, what is the most critical issue that needs to be addressed for Chicago arts and what person or institutions are best equipped now to have an impact on this issue?
Tim Tuten: “Chicago has to deal with the major question of sustainable, green, neighborhood development, instead of the past dependence, or submission to mega-developments that always include ‘entertainment zones’ that are run by (national concert promoters) AEG or Live Nation. Chicago needs to stand up to this banal onslaught of Starbucks-style music venue franchises, and support its local legacy venues and owner-operated theaters, restaurants and clubs. Mayor Lightfoot understands the nuance of our cultural and economic identity, but she needs to show leadership by fully embracing and promoting it.”
This article originally appeared on the Chicago Tribune. Read it here.