Friday, June 22, 2012

Uptown's Hillbilly Heaven Past

via New City
By David Witter

Carol's Pub at Clark and Leland
It is two-thirty in the morning at Carol’s Pub. Most of the other bars in the neighborhood have closed, and customers of all ages—from twenty-one to sixty—file in to order more beer and whiskey, and to dance to the music of Diamondback, Carol’s house band for more than fifteen years. Some people talk, most drink, and some even dance beneath a sign which features a guitar, cowboy boots and hat reading: “Welcome to Carol’s, The Best in Country Music.”

By four o’clock in the morning, the music and beer have stopped flowing and dozens of people with beer on their breath and cigarettes in their mouths make their way through the streets of Uptown, humming the music of Johnny Cash as they go.

Forty years ago, the same streets were filled with similar spirits morning, noon and night. Take a walk down Clark Street or Broadway near Wilson and you would be sure to see hosts of men sporting Elvis-like sideburns and hair slicked back with the help of generous dabs of Brylcreem or Vitalis, usually wearing green work pants, a dark canvas jacket or nylon windbreaker and vinyl penny loafers with white socks. The women, often with children in tow, wore feminine white or yellow dresses and piled their hair high in a beehive. Together, these southern transplants transformed Uptown into what became known as “Hillbilly Heaven,” turning bars into honky-tonks, delis into diners, streets into drag strips and vacant lots and alleys into auto repair centers. Continue Reading


  1. "Actually, we prefer Appalachian Americans"

  2. Along with Carols Pub some of Uptown's "Hillbilly" past is still with us.
    Like for instance yours truly. My Grandma moved to Uptown in the mid-50's from city of Memphis. Not quite a hillbilly, more like a Delta-Billy... a little different from the Applacian hillfolk.
    The rhytm guitarist for the Carols house band is my mothers old landlord, they used to be friends a while back...not so much anymore. She is cool, has fun with it, a nice jewish girl actually go figure.
    Carols is pretty much cashing in on their honky tonk vibe yet safe to slum kinda thing.
    At least late night, other times its more just a plain old tap room with a few old-timers.
    I remember the time a particularly upset lady threw a pan of lasagna at the front door, not sure why......such a waste of some mighty good eatin'.

  3. Wow. And what a horrible movie that was. Yes, I admit to actually watching it at one time. Now, I'll have to watch it again since some of it was filmed in Uptown. Thanks for nuttin, Toucan. =]

  4. It wasn't a horrible movie. Sure, it was a bit campy, but was still very entertaining.

  5. I visited Carol's a few weeks for the first time since I moved to Uptown. The place stunk like a public toilet no matter where you were. The pool table was being held up by phone books and there were ladders piled up next to it. It was cited and has until July 5th to correct these violations. We got ripped off as well on our beers. We will never go back.

  6. It is really too bad what has happened with Carol's. Back in the day, it was a totally fun bar to go to for country music, and a best kept secret. I had good relationships with all of the staff. One used to be able to go there, listen to some decent country music and drink cheap beer.

    I find it ironic that they now jack up their prices for shitty draft beer and also criticize "yuppies" who are actually keeping that place in business.

    Not that I am against Uptown businesses succeeding, but I no longer go there since the changes were made, it sucks.