HOLDING A NOTE
Lonie Walker has ended up where she planned to be long ago--singing and playing the piano at her own unpretentious joint. The neon sign sums it up: REAL FUN MUSIC
IT'S 11 P.M., NOT QUITE THE WITCHING HOUR, yet something magical happens when Lonie Walker struts into the Underground Wonder Bar, at 10 East Walton Street. This is her place, her home-away-from-home base, and she performs here every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night. Most of the customers know her--they have, in fact, been awaiting her arrival, and now that she is striding onto the small down-front stage, the place begins to buzz.
Walker is a striking woman, 47, with a whiskey-stained voice and a long silver mane that she tosses freely as she plays the piano. Surrounded by her six-piece Big Bad Ass Band, she commands the rest of the evening with her original jazz and blues compositions and Janis Joplin covers until 4 a.m. The neon sign in the window sums up the critical response of her faithful audience: REAL FUN MUSIC.
"It's totally unpretentious place, " says Robin Kay, who has also been singing at the bar for the past 12 years, ever since Walker brought the former blue humor club and turned it into a late-night hangout. "Snobs go somewhere else."
The next afternoon, Walker is back at the Underground Wonder Bar, swigging Evian from a bottle and explaining how she developed into an entrepreneur. "I always had a plan," she says. "A master plan, 1 15-year plan that by the time I was 20 I'd either be a millionaire or the equivalent in my career. OK, I had to add a few years because I took some time off when I had my kids, but in the end I made it. I worked hard, I never lost sight of my plan, and I ended up buying this place when I was 34." She acknowledges the accomplishment wit a laugh. "Hey, the 'Wonder' in the bar's name comes from me being Wonder Woman."More >>>