Wrigleyville Tap in the Moment

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There are really only two types of people who drink at bars.

Those who dream of tomorrow’s heavens and the others who consider the depths of the past.

The Wrigleyville Tap, 3724 N. Clark, was an exception to that rule.

The Tap tried to live in the moment, a good thing for the mercurial nature of us Cub fans. The Tap ran from Aug. 1, 1984 to Oct. 31, 1999. It was my favorite Wrigleyville bar. The beer was cold, the smiles were warm and the rock n’ roll was real. The Tap was located next door to the Metro rock club, which contributed to the tavern’s sense of urgency.

In the summer of ’99 Joe Strummer of the Clash wandered into the Tap one afternoon before a gig at Metro……..

…..”At the time I didn’t know it was him,” recalled the Tap’s owner Jim Jones. “I told him he had to turn down his boom box because it was disturbing my bartender Floyd and a couple customers who were watching ‘Jeopardy.’ He was very gracious about it. He apologized and turned it off. Once we learned who it was, I showed him we had the (Clash) ’45 ‘Rock the Casbah’ on the jukebox. He got a kick out of that and we had the pleasure of spending a few hours with him. Once ‘Jeopardy’ was over we asked Joe to turn on his boom box to hear what he was listening to. It was all reggae. He turned up the music and we all basked in the music and the presence of this rock icon.”

In the fall of 1993 The Waco Brothers made one of their first concert appearances at the Tap playing hard country covers with Jon Langford and Graham Parker drummer Stephen Goulding in the back of the bar.

The Tap jukebox was stocked with Cheap Trick, Smashing Pumpkins and Johnny Cash (a Jones favorite) and it wasn’t uncommon for a Chicago area artist to be sitting at the bar while their music was being played in the bar.

The Tap’s bartender Charlie Burkett and Jolly Roger, the Hall of Fame stagehand for Jam Productions lived upstairs. Today Jolly Roger works stage production at the Aragon. Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder would often visit them and sometimes slept overnight on their funky couch. Vedder would occasionaly take his Mom to Cubs games.

“I remember them being excited about going to a game because it was floppy hat day,” Jones said. “Eddie also played a surprise concert at the Tap. He told me he invited Van Morrison, but he never showed up. But a lot of the Cubs players did, Kerry Wood and others. I think Kevin Tapani. It was the only time Joe Shanahan (owner of Metro) was envious of me.”

Now, when Vedder is in town he hangs at Murphy’s Bleachers, 3655 N. Sheffield. Murphy’s was once a wonderful dive anchored with a huge pool table and a section of the old Forbes Field scoreboard in Pittsburgh. Ray’s Bleachers was where the original Bleacher Bums planned their road trips with owner Ray Meyer. Now it is the number one Ken and Barbie bar in the neighborhood, at least on game days.

Last summer Vedder sang Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In the Free World” at Murphy’s.

That’s not quite like hearing “Rock the Casbah” in the beautiful grunge of the Tap.

The Tap is now called The Full Shilling Pub and is owned by Vince Pesha, Vice President of the Service Employees International Local 1, who represents beer vendors at Wrigley Field and U.S. Celluar Field. He bought it a few years ago from Fred Hoffman of Ala Carte Entertainment.

“The license is still in my original corporate name, ‘Matsui-Jones Corporation,” Jones said. The full name of Jimmy and Tai’s Wrigleyville Tap was half tribute to Jones’ stepfather Tai Matsui.

“Damn, I still miss the place,” Jones said as the Cubs lost another game while pointing to redemption.

Celebrating a Cubs victory at the Tap–love the Sun-Times stories in the background.

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