History

Sun-Times Pays Tribute to Chicago’s Last Hillbilly Bar, Carol’s Pub

Dancers at Carol's Pub.
Dancers at Carol's Pub. Photo: courtesy Sun-Times

Make no mistake: Carol’s Pub in Uptown is a place where you can get into trouble. It’s a place so tough that its doorman, Jimmy Curry, has been shot twice. (He’s been there 40 years, so that’s really only once every other decade.) But as Dave Hoekstra told its story in the Sun-Times over the weekend, it’s also a place that keeps history alive— musical history and Chicago history. It’s the last remaining honky tonk in Chicago, playing genuine country music (not the slick stuff they play on the radio these days), the last link to the Appalachian migration that filled Uptown with hillbillies seeking industrial work in the north in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

He talks to Carol herself, who wound up with the bar after she married the (married) owner and he renamed it for her; she reveals that she had to fight off beer distributors who strongly urged her to go disco in the 90s, but she’s kept the bar true to its country and western roots. Besides Hoekstra’s story, there’s a gallery of photos (for those afraid to go there late at night), and most charmingly, a video profile of a couple in their 80s who meet up for dancing late at night (“I couldn’t finish a dance till I got the stents,” he helpfully explains). Check it out, it’s a well-crafted profile of a place that is, literally, one of a kind. [Sun-Times]

Sun-Times Pays Tribute to Chicago’s Last Hillbilly Bar, Carol’s Pub