McNally's Bar at center of racial allegations after band claims music set cut short

February 25, 2014

The Reprieve Blues Band says what happened Saturday night at McNally's Bar near Western and 111th really had them singing the blues.

The band's members say the bar had a full house there to see them. And after playing the first two sets everything seemed to be going well, the crowd was having a good time and there were no problems. But for some reason, they say the man they believed to be the owner, canceled their third set and asked them to leave.

What really upset them was the reason he gave.

''The owner talked to one of our band mates and gave him our compensation and told him he was shutting us down. And told him the reason for that is there are too many black people in the bar,'' said band member Brandon Bailey.

Bailey estimates that there might have been nearly 100 people jammed into the bar. He also estimates that as many as 25 percent of the patrons were African American.

Bailey is the only African American member of the band.

The man the band believes to be in charge is a Chicago police officer. Department rules prohibit officers from owning a bar, although records show the liquor license is in someone else's name.

The story has gotten out into the community and is drawing fire from several civil rights leaders including Father Michael Pfleger.

''I hope the moral leadership as well as the government leadership would make it clear this is not going to be tolerated in Beverly,'' Father Pfleger said.

Band members say they were disappointed because they wanted to keep playing.

''There were no troubles, there were no problems. The mix of the crowd was professionals, educators, you can run the gamut. Everyone was having a good time and to have the music cut off because of that was absolutely stunning,'' Bailey said.

McNally's is open for business Tuesday night, however, the man the band says cut their set short was not there.

A neighbor says he believes this had to do with capacity at the bar, not anything to do with racism. Band members of course disagree.

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