WILD BELLE’S CHICAGO
the afro-soul band gives us a global tour of the windy city.
's Natalie Bergman may have moved to Chicago from Brooklyn just a year ago, but she's no neophyte of the Windy City--after all, she grew up there with brother and bandmate Elliot. "Chicago is a brilliant city," says Natalie, adding, "It's a very living city; it's got lots of culture, lots of amazing restaurants, versatility in music and fashion. It's completely different from New York but it's its own gem and I'll always call this my home." Like Wild Belle's sound, which fuses everything from jazz to reggae to African drumming with sultry '70s singing, Natalie's guide to Chicago is equally diverse.
(130 N. Jefferson Street) "It's an old warehouse of artifacts, just ancient African art, ancient Indian art, and its got tons of cool stuff. It's a neat spot. For Christmas my dad will get me a lot of African jewelry, so I have some beautiful [pieces], like an Ashanti ring--it's a tribe from west Africa. I also have a necklace from the Tuareg tribe."
(1733 W. Chicago Avenue) "It's filled with rows and rows of cowboy boots. I love that spot! We've just been growing up going there, you get really good cowboy boots. A lot of them are just family finds over the past 20 years. I remember going there when I was super young and cruising the aisles. It's a fun place when you're surrounded by colorful boots, and it's in a fun neighborhood."
(4802 N. Broadway Avenue) "It's an old dive bar on the north side of Chicago. Every Thursday night tthere's this guy, Alan Gresik, that conducts the Swing Shift Orchestra. That's so fun because it's a total throwback to '30s, '40s swing music. I'm not a great swing dancer, but you've got to dance! People dress up in '30s attire, and it makes you feel romantic. There are also old school cocktails; I just get champagne when I'm there--they have little bottles. It's just a real dreamy night at the Green Mill.
(6120 N. Broadway) "It's honestly just cool ambiance, good food, and there's a horn player that plays there that used to play in Sun Ra's band. Usually you'll get a little platter with the bread that comes underneath all the plates, they have lots of vegetarian options. It's different colored mush but it's so good [
(1120 N. Ashland Avenue) "Another fun place is Dusty Groove, which is a record shop. They have a cool selection of lots of Brazilian music that's hard to find, lots of good Tropicalia, they have lots of African music…it's a world music shop, so I like it! If I'm just in the mood for a new compilation of reggae or African music or Brazilian music, I'll go in there because they have a really good selection."
(6019 West Irving Park Road) "It's hit-or-miss--sometimes it's just crappy stuff, but sometimes you can find something really cool. Like a little guitar, or I found this vintage amp from the '70s. It's a good place for used instruments at great prices."
(2035 North Damen Avenue) "It's a beautiful boutique. The store is cool--it has really pretty mahogany floors, and then there are brick walls and [the owner, Roslyn Clayton], has the designers spread out. Elise Bergman (my sister's clothing line) and Mineralogy are my two favorite lines they carry. Mineralogy is this girl who just takes all these cool gems and stones and makes [all of the jewelry] herself."
Visit wildbelle.com for more info and tour dates!