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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Thursday, March 23

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Review Tue Jun 29 2010

Review: Sahara Smith, Mason Jennings @ Lincoln Hall, 6/26

I have such high hopes for young up-and-comer Sahara Smith. She's clearly a talented singer, has a sweet stage presence, and a charming, love-sick alt-country songwriting sensibility that would do well in radio play. In the dim light of her show Saturday night, couples moved close to one another on the broad main floor of Lincoln Hall and swayed to and fro to the sound of her voice. The only flaw I found in her performance, in support of Mason Jennings on last weekend, was her stage confidence. She's young, yes (all of 21 years), but she's got a pretty sweet set of pipes, as evident on her songs from her upcoming album Myth of the Heart. Songs like "All I Need" drive home the young Austinite's lovesick dreaminess that I'm sure we'll hear on XRT soon enough. But she's still a little green on stage — her voice not quite reaching its obvious potential. I want to hear her open up, watch her stand confidently in the spotlight, and sing to that man she loves (and the ones that got away). I want to be rattled by how her voice fills the room the way it fills the speakers on the stereo. Maybe that's some of T. Bone Burnett's magic (who oversaw the album) in what you can hear in her songs that's not quite traveling with her over state lines with her yet. Or maybe she just needs a little push in the right direction — solo in the spotlight — just her and her guitar and the microphone. I want to see her again after she's had some highway under her wheels, and maybe even a little more love, and a little more heartbreak, in her soul.

The opposite of a young ingenue is the veteran of the tour bus, Mason Jennings. Hailing from up the road in Minneapolis, Jennings played two shows in Chicago last weekend, both at Lincoln Hall. His second night, Saturday, he came on stage to thunderous applause, and announced the show, while acoustic, would also be shaped by fans' requests from the previous night. Jennings, who mentioned he'd been performing for 18 years, has a Dylan-like lilt to his singing voice, and a mop of curly hair I couldn't help but compare to writer Dave Eggers. But even in his well-worn Earth shoes he's mesmerizing on stage. The range of his songbook spanned two centuries. He went through newer songs like "The Field" off of 2009's Blood of Man and simple, playful (yet-unrecorded) ditties like "So Many Ways to Die". He ran through "Your New Man", "I Love You And Buddha Too" and the beautiful "Fighter Girl" from 2008's In The Ever. There was also the sweet "Summer Dress" from 2002's Simple Life and "Butterfly" from his self-titled 1997 debut album. Jennings has almost a Steve Goodman-esque storytelling quality in his songs. As they follow, one after another they are whimsical and then serious, beautiful and then brooding. He has a way of capturing an audience's attention (as demonstrated by the superfans down front who swayed and sang along to every song) and surely has many years of guitar playing and songwriting left in him.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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