Davenport's resident pianist, George Howe, announces that he's going to play one note—and one only—and the audience of local theater buffs must guess the song title. He pauses for suspense, and then places an ordinarily spirited finger lightly on a key. One second later, a middle-aged man quips the winning song title, and the ensuing applause culminates in a raucous chorus. It's Sunday evening, which means Davenport's Broadway Bingo Night is in full swing.
A Wicker Park fixture for quality cabaret since 1998, Davenport's is one of the few authentic, clearly defined venues in proximity to the six corners. Though it often offers specials, like $2.50 for a Miller Lite on Wednesday, the higher drink prices and serious appreciation for theater weed out the local hipster riff-raff, creating an environment refreshingly devoid of pretense. The bar's regulars, a primarily male crowd of music teachers and director-types, eventually warm up to newcomers and won't judge the theater-deficient, though they'll probably ask if, "you perform." Patrons stocked with a sufficient degree of enthusiasm and respect for the establishment will find themselves quick favorites of the crowd. Those with a case of stage fright should shake it off on Monday's open mic night.
Stop into Davenport's Monday and Wednesday-Saturday for live music by well-known artists and even bartenders on staff, or make new friends by swapping musical trivia any day of the week. Scene kids with an agenda should march their designer Nikes right past, as they surely won't "get" Davenport's laid-back and honest appeal.
Centerstage Reviewer: Libby Ramer