Bars hire bands to bring in crowds, but when one Chicago blues group accomplished just that, the bar's owner allegedly cut their set short for attracting too many black patrons.
Brandon Bailey of the Reprieve Blues Band told NBC Chicago his group played two sets at McNally's, a bar in the city's Morgan Park neighborhood, on Saturday night. Before they could start their third set, Bailey said the bar owner told another member of the band he didn't want them to resume because "there are too many black people in here."
Bailey, the band's only black member, told NBC he invited "a lot of family and friends" to see him perform at McNally's. He estimated roughly a third of the audience was black.
"By 10:30, the place was packed. People of all social, economic and racial classes were shoulder-to-shoulder enjoying a cold cocktail and live music," Bailey wrote on his personal blog. He said shortly after midnight, McNally's owner, Chicago police officer Mike Cummings, "handed over our compensation and made it clear that he was shutting it down."
The bar's Facebook page was inundated with negative comments in response to the alleged incident.
Cummings was unavailable when reached for comment, though a McNally's employee who answered the phone called the allegations "very upsetting." The employee, who says she was not working during the Saturday incident, said, "I know Mike very well and he would never say anything like that."
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