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Paul Dempsey Shares 5 Of His Favourite Chicago Hangouts

The songwriter has just finished recording his new solo album in America’s Windy City.

There’s no denying Paul Dempsey is Australian rock royalty at this point. Whether it’s his work in Something For Kate, or his ARIA charting solo work. 

Dempsey recorded his freewheeling and lyrically charming Strange Loop, in the United States with Tom Schick (producer/engineer for Wilco and Ryan Adams) at Wilco’s The Loft Studio in Chicago.

This charming city (sort of like Dempsey himself) is full of hidden wonder, so we asked the songwriter to share five of his favourite places around town.


#1 Adler Planetarium, Museum Campus

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I’m a sucker for a good planetarium and the Adler is America’s oldest. The original building is an impressive and somewhat intimidating dome with a sharply angular, modern glass and steel addition circling around it. It’s located right out on a point in Lake Michigan which offers the best views back across the water over Chicago’s stunning skyline.

If you walk around the back along the water’s edge there’s another observatory where you can sometimes catch the resident astronomers doing some sky-watching and they’re always happy to let you take a look through the scope.


#2 Schuba’s Tavern, Lake View

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Schuba’s is a Chicago institution and a fantastic place to see a band in the back room, grab a drink in the bar or just a feed in the bistro. The band room hosts local and touring acts from all over the world, but the bar and bistro have a laidback, friendly and local atmosphere.


#3 Museum of Contemporary Art, Millennium Park

This is a really excellent gallery with a great permanent collection of modern and contemporary art, plus consistently excellent travelling exhibitions.

The building itself is beautifully designed with huge light-filled spaces and it’s located right downtown in the lakeside Millennium Park/Grant Park area where there’s plenty to walk around and see.


#4 The Boiler Room, Logan Square

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There are plenty of bars, venues and fun stuff to check out in Logan Square, but The Boiler Room is a personal favourite. Great food, a long list of excellent beers and a good atmosphere. You can sit up at the bar or the high tables in the front or even go out back to the courtyard and lounge about for a lazy afternoon.


#5 Chicago Music Exchange, Lake View

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If you’re a guitarist or musician of any stripe, then you really must check it out the Chicago Music Exchange – it’s one of my favourite music stores on earth. It’s a little bit overwhelming and it’s probably got the most jaw-dropping display of vintage guitars I’ve ever seen in one place. All the staff are serious aficionados, too.