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May 30, 2012 by joesonotheque

Maria’s Package Goods & Community Bar presents
Featuring Groove Merchant “Smokey” Joe Bryl
Friday June 22 – 8PM-2AM – Free, No Cove
960 W. 31st Street, Chicago, Il. 60608 – 773.890.0588 –

In 1971 Melvin Van Peebles (father of actor Mario) wrote, produced, scored and directed his radical untraditional independent film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song”. Partly militant and revolutionary in style and theme, the film would herald in more mainstream Hollywood-based studio movies wanting to cash in on the visible cultural emergence of black pride, political empowerment and urban chic. Previous to this success, earlier African-American films (e.g. “God’s Step Children”, “Paradise In Harlem”, “Killer Diller”, “Juke Joint”) never made a financial impact outside of that of urban black culture and were produced by small independent studios with budgets that were of Lilliputian insignificance. Peebles’ rather surprising success was quickly followed by a slew of action-themed movies like “Shaft”, “Hit Man”, “Super Fly” , “Hammer”, “Cleopatra Jones”, “Coffy” and “The Mack” that combined socially relevant issues with vicarious thrills and enough sex to keep their urban audience glued to their seats.

This genre, which would be later termed “Blaxploitation”, offered a much needed dose of personal pride, gritty reality and emotional release to black American culture still reeling from the lingering aftermath of the civil rights movement, the nationwide urban riots that followed the killing of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., the Vietnam War, President Johnson’s “War On Poverty” and the emergence of Black militancy.

And while many urban American blacks, and even some whites, were flocking to downtown theaters to see these hip exploitation action flicks featuring mack daddies, hot mamas and a lot of acrobatic kung-fu action others were hitting the many blues bars, juke joints, soul shacks, rhythm and blues revues and discotheques that one could party hardy until the early hours to hear the latest soul, funk, R&B, jazz, steppers and even gospel-inspired music emerging from the urban ghetto. These night-time revelers could be found moving and grooving and drinking whatever was available that night at various off-the-path dives that populated the south and west side of Chicago like Theresa’s Lounge (aka T’s Basement),listening to both emerging blues legends Junior Wells and Buddy Guy (who was working as an auto mechanic by day), Florence’s, Pepper’s, Queen Bee, Sylvio’s and Ross & Ma Bea’s.

To re-imagine and re-live some of this soulful essence, Maria’s Package Goods & Community Bar, one of Chicago’s few remaining classic “slashey bars” (part take-out, part tavern) is featuring “Smokey Joe’s Southside Soul Shack” on Friday, June 22 (8pm-2am). Hosted by crate diggin’ groove merchant, soul brother from another planet “Smokey” Joe Bryl, the party will pay tribute to the best soul-drenched songs, funk bombs and underground disco beats from the past and the present. This attitude of black pride tempered with a streetwise sensibility that we respectfully honor was perfectly captured by singer William DeVaughn in his 1972 much-sampled hit “”Be Thankful for What You Got” with its lyrics . . .

Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac
Gangsta whitewalls, TV antennas in the back
You may not have a car at all
But remember brothers and sisters
You can still stand tall
Just be thankful for what you got.
Diamond in the back, sunroof top
Diggin’ the scene with a gangsta lean

So, head on down to the southside where all dapper dudes and hip mamas will be struttin’ their stuff and making the scene for a night of churning and burning dance action. The funk drops at 8PM and continue until 2AM. There is no cover.


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