Q&A with Judy Night..Performing Artist and Live Music Venue Entrepreneur!
Judy Night and her Trio performing at 210 Restaurant and Live Music Lounge in Highwood
Judy Night has been a mainstay on the music scene for many years. She recently started working with and became part owners of the fairly new restaurant and music venue in Highwood, IL called 210 Restaurant & Live Music Lounge. We thought we would talk with Judy about her background and also about this wonderful new venue in the Northern suburbs.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: You are not only one of the owners of 210 Restaurant and Live Music Lounge in Highwood, IL you are also a musician who leads a group at the club, and various other locations throughout the area. Let's talk about how you first started on piano and who where some of your main influences?
Judy Night: I started playing in the 2nd grade, and felt a real connection improvising to the blues form when it was introduced in junior high. I’ve been a jazzer ever since. In high school I was greatly influenced by my teacher, John Campbell, who is now based out of LA, and Bill Evans, who was a great influence on John. I’ve also been moved by Chick Corea, Phineas Newborn, Keith Jarrett, and my favorite, Miles Davis.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Did you pursue music throughout your high school and college years?
Judy Night: I performed in the New Trier Jazz Ensemble in high school and toured Switzerland and Germany with the band. I went on to Harvard and played in the top ensemble there along with Sasha Lewis, John Lewis’s son, and Josh Shedroff, who subsequently changed his name to Joshua Redman, taking on the name of his father, free jazz saxophonist Dewey Redman. We had the opportunity to play with some greats there, including Gerry Mulligan, Illinois Jacquet, Carla Bley, Clark Terry, Lester Bowie, Benny Carter and Wynton Marsalis. I also spent 2 summer semesters at Berklee during my college years and grew tremendously musically during those times.
Here's a video of Judy in a Wynton Marsalis Master Class
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Was there a specific performance or event that helped you know you wanted to pursue music on a professional level?
Judy Night: I used to be a morning person. I remember sitting in a practice room at Berklee and thinking that I couldn’t live a life of late nights and smoky bars. My dad was and, incredibly, still is a smoker at age 89. Anyway, I didn’t want to live that kind of life, and pursued science, medicine and a career in Pediatrics.
I suppose I would have to say the event that brought me back to music was a very dark cloud with what has become a beautifully silver lining. The cloud for me was breast cancer, diagnosed in 2000.
The silver lining was a result of internal growth through meditation practice that I cultivated in order to manage the chemo. The growth helped me to leave an unhealthy marriage and a career that wasn’t right for who I am. Meditation practice has allowed my heart to grow and has deepened my connection with both my inner self and the people and world around me.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Tell us about your name, you go by Judy Night but is that your legal name?
Judy Night: Haha! My legal and business name is Judy Shatkin. Several years ago I played in a blues band with "Chainsaw" DuPont, "J.B." Bartlett and Julian "The Lion" Daniell. Judy Shatkin wasn't working for a blues name so I shortened Knight (my old married name) to Night and it seems to have stuck. My "morning person" days are officially over!
Chicago Jazz Magazine: You are also one of the owners of 210 Restaurant and Live Music Lounge in Highwood IL. The location has a very interesting history which includes being a bowling alley and in the 1970's a live music venue that hosted performances by the Ramones, Styx and many others. Tell us about how you got involved with the restaurant and how you decided on the current location.
Judy Night: After getting divorced, leaving my medical practice, and ushering my daughters to their adult lives out of the nest, I jumped into the local music scene, hitting many of the major jams in the city. I scored a monthly with Rudy at Serbian Village and developed an ensemble under my name.
I knew the owners of 210 when it was The Alley, as they are also musicians and I had jammed with Steve Goldstein at what we called the Purple Jams at my own home in Glencoe years prior.
Steve is a real estate broker who turned the bowling alley 10 years ago into a split space with bowling and live music. He met up with our executive chef Jeff Tomchek 3 years ago when Jeff left a 6 year country club gig to open his own Mexican restaurant. The two of them got to talking (and Jeff got to cooking) and they developed the 210 concept, which is essentially “supper club turns nightclub”.
It is a place where people come and meet and gather centered around a great space, great food and great music and sound. We have many patrons who come multiple times per week to enjoy what we have to offer. It’s really unique in all of Chicagoland, although a patron yesterday said that New Orleans is full of places like this.
Steve’s wife Peggy is behind the incredible ambience—one of our greatest assets. Kind of chic eclectic with mix-match chandeliers, tables and chairs, including comfy couch lounge seating, bar and hi-tops.
There’s something magical about 210, and people feel it when they come into the club. I think it’s no accident that something is pulling the club back to how it felt in the glory days of the space-- the Minstrel’s Alley days in the 70’s when people were drawn from miles around to see acts like The Ramones, Cheap Trick, Styx and Jump in the Saddle.
To finish the story of how I got involved, I heard that Steve and the new 210 were hiring jazz acts, so I made my way over there and hooked up a gig which turned into another monthly. I soon became a regular patron, as I loved the food and the ambience and felt very comfortable there, in spite of my introverted nature. After learning they were looking for a partner I started talking with them. I had in the meantime also flipped a house and with the proceeds from that project I was able to put a stake in the business. I dipped my toe in, and within a few weeks I had leapt into the pool! Actually more like dove in. I love my new job. It can be stressful, but it’s exactly where I want to be.
The dinning room and live music room at 210 Restaurant & Live Music Lounge
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Let's talk about the food and the music. 210 Restaurant and Live Music Lounge features live jazz 2-3 times per week and live music at least 5 times a week. There is also a very interesting menu which incorporates the onsite BBQ pit and homemade desserts. Tell us about how you schedule the entertainment and what our readers can expect to experience when it comes to dining and listening to live music.
Judy Night: Wow. The food is fantastic. We are only open 5 nights, so I have issues what to do on the off nights because 210 has such great offerings. I like especially that our executive chef, Jeff Tomchek, cares deeply about what he does, and puts his heart and soul in it. He has a creative nature so is always coming up with something new. He also cares deeply about the sourcing for the raw foodstuffs, so he has affiliations with local farmers and he works closely with his purveyors to get the highest quality meats and produce.
As a musician I have connections in the music world and I know who are the top names in the jazz scene. 210 was booking jazz before I came on board, but I’d have to say that we are at a completely different level of quality now. Also musicians love to play at 210 because of the grand piano and the Hammond, as well as the food and ambience, so it makes it easy to book the best the city has to offer.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Tell us about some of the more memorable performances you have had at the restaurant/club so far.
Judy Night: I am working on building a local following for some of my favorite local musicians, including Justin Dillard, Stephanie Aaron and Keri Johnsrud, amongst many others, and their shows have been wonderful and very well received. I’d have to say that an exciting highlight was having Greg Spero’s Polyrhythmic. Greg is from neighboring Highland Park, and brought in with him the masterful Mike Mitchell on drums, Dario Chiazzolino on guitar and Hadrian Feraud on bass. It was a wonderful event booked 2 days before the show and we had a great turnout.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: What performances or events do you have coming up in the next few weeks that our readers should be sure to experience?
Judy Night: We are super-excited to have the internationally renowned Chicagoan Makaya McCraven coming Thursday, April 13 to the club—it’s certainly going to be another awesome night of music. We have the Don Julin Quintet with Ken Hall coming Sunday, May 7. Don, who hails from Michigan, plays jazz mandolin but throws in a bit of bluegrass spice. Joe Policastro is returning Thursday, April 20, with his trio, and they were phenomenal—great grooves and great arrangements of tunes of our generation.
I’m lucky enough to have the soulful Brian Wilkie on guitar and pedal steel in my own quartet. We play monthly at the club, and we are delighted to perform for Chicago Jazz Magazine readers. When you drop in by all means come say "Hello!"
210 Restaurant & Live Music Lounge
210 Green Bay Road in Highwood, IL
For more information about performance schedules, special events and the dining experience