At the time of this writing, the Hideout is Chicago's greatest music spot -- headquartered in an antiquated balloon frame house located in an industrial section near the Chicago River -- it's the hippest yet coziest bar in town, a home-away-from-home for the best local performers as well as national touring acts. What's most impressive about the Hideout is its staff -- not only do these folks know how to operate a bar you never want to leave, but virtually everyone is a gifted musician or artist in their own right. Hideout Workers' Comp is the first in what promises to be an outstanding series of discs spotlighting the staff's best and brightest, its two-dozen tracks running the gamut from punk to honky tonk to avant-noise, interspersed with on-stage announcements from effusive owner Tim Tuten. A few names might be familiar to national audiences -- Kelly Hogan teams with Scott Ligon for a reading of the Free Design classic "Kites Are Fun," and sibling duo John and Laurie Stirratt check in with the lovely "Can't Stand Yourself" -- but by and large the contributors are secrets as well-kept as the bar itself: they don't call it the Hideout for nothing. Even if Hideout Workers' Comp doesn't bring new attention to this music, it's an important record regardless, simply because it documents a time and place even those of us on the sidelines will never forget.
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