An entertainment entrepreneur best remembered for his popular Shades nightclub in southern Lake County is making a live-music comeback.
Mark Aleckson is now bringing well-known acts to his hometown at Sharky's, inside Lakes Bowl on Railroad Avenue in Round Lake. Out of the music game since Shades closed in the mid-1990s, Aleckson returned as Sharky's entertainment director about a month ago.
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"I missed it," said Aleckson, 57, who had been a Shades partner and manager.
Shades was a go-to place for residents from across the suburbs with live blues, reggae and jazz five days a week at the southwest corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Aptakisic Road, in what had been unincorporated Lake County. Blues legends such as Buddy Guy, the late Koko Taylor, and Lonnie Brooks were among the acts Aleckson brought to Shades.
But Shades closed in the mid-1990s on property that Lincolnshire annexed for the CityPark development, which includes restaurants, shops and a movie theater.
In his comeback at Sharky's, Aleckson said he's aiming to create a relaxed atmosphere similar to what he had at Shades, catering to live-music lovers who also may find other fun in the adjacent bowling alley. He said the Round Lake venue will feature a variety of music genres.
"There's a lot of new, great bands out there that will be performing," Aleckson said Tuesday.
Sharky's plans to present Skip Towne and the Greyhounds on Friday night and Roughhouse Blues Band on Saturday. Skip Towne lead vocalist Peter Quinn is known for the 1983 Three Stooges song "The Curly Shuffle," back when he fronted the Jump N' the Saddle Band.
Round Lake Mayor Daniel MacGillis is among the local officials enthused about the bigger-name musicians playing in the village's downtown and the opportunity to draw out-of-town visitors. He said a plus for the location is its proximity to a Metra commuter rail stop.
MacGillis, a veteran guitarist who's played in French gypsy jazz, blues and country bands, said Aleckson became known in the music industry for having good relationships with known bands and catering to their needs at Shades. He said he expects Sharky's to have a similar reputation with Aleckson in charge of the music in a venue with a well-placed stage, good lighting and quality acoustics.
"Shades, it turned into a legendary, iconic place that people remember," MacGillis said. "Twenty years later, it's still talked about."
MacGillis said he's already attended performances, including Howard and the White Boys, staged by Aleckson at Sharky's. He said he's ecstatic about what's happening at the venue.
"I'm rather passionate about the arts, and I'm passionate about their decline in our society," he said.