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Saloon felt authentic but not quite perfect

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Updated: July 18, 2012 6:19AM

John Jeremiah of the Alliota-Haynes-Jeremiah folk group, famous for the 1971 hit “Lake Shore Drive,” once pointed out that his name was misspelled in the Earl of Old Town’s window. Earl Pionke responded by showing Jeremiah the huge misspelled sign (seen at right) promoting “Enterainment Nightly” and sternly telling him, “Look, this place is built on mistakes.”

The Earl of Old Town inspired that sort of reverence. On the liner notes for the club’s 1962-1982 anniversary album, WFMT’s “Midnight Special” host Ray Nordstrand quoted singer-songwriter Charie Koster’s tune “Saloon”: “Saloon, saloon ... can it be that all its glories are forgotten? Hardly, if it’s the Earl of Old Town ... the Earl is not a phony cafe or a cabaret but something with the spirit and accent of Chicago.”

Dave Hoekstra

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