As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block is on indefinite hiatus. The site will remain up in archive form while we evaluate our options, which may include a redesign or sale. ✶ Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. ✶
Thalia Hall will finally (re)open its doors on May, 21. And christening the event - and ushering in a whole host of amazing artists after them - is experimental rocker, Panda Bear.
Originally founded in 1890 by John Dusek, the building was closed to the public in the 1960s' and has since been out of use. A campaign to reopen it was spearheaded by Empty Bottle's Bruce Finkelman and Longman and Eagle's Craig Golden - a duo certain to create lots of foot traffic to Pilsen.
The concert hall itself is the third and final installment of openings in Thalia Hall. Prior to this grand finale, the restaurant Dusek's and cocktail bar, Punch Bar opened to much applause. Bartender Carlos even took home the venerable title of RedEye's Best Bartender this year.
To get a glimpse of the soon-to-be-open venue, check out hometown heroes' Martin Van Ruins' music video for Put It Away below.
At this time, you may have heard of the immense amount of hoopla concerning the renovations of the Congress Theater, the main music hub of the Logan Square / Wicker Park area. However, there is a new music venue in town as Congress Theater's newest neighbor, emerging to showcase much of the music clientele that would have played at the Congress during this time of updates, with a new and fresh identity arriving with it.
Concord Music Hall, located at 2047 N. Milwaukee Ave., was founded by three promoters notable for the advent of dynamic music festivals Riot Fest, North Coast Music Festival and Spring Awakening. Associated with React Presents and Silver Wrapper, the venue is certainly going to book high-caliber acts with a range of musical genres. As the Congress did, the venue is looking to book expansive music ranges, from electronic music, to rock, indie, and hip hop. 20,000 feet of square feet adorns the venue, with capacity set to 1,600 maximum. The name arises from the definition, focusing on agreement between groups, and in this venue's case, genres, as it focuses on variety and balance.
Chicago's City Winery (photo by John Zomot, courtesy of City Winery)
The Chicago outpost of New York's City Winery has sort of been slowly rolling out the welcome mat over the past three weeks with a flurry of soft-opening and press events, a week's worth of Lewis Black shows, and a few musical acts to break in the venue. Last night, the second of two sold-out shows by legendary guitarist Lindsey Buckingham provided a great opportunity to really see how the new venue is settling into Chicago's musical landscape.
First, the venue itself. Chicago's iteration of City Winery represents the "2.0" version of New York's City Winery, the creation of Michael Dorf, founder and long-time CEO of legendary jazz and rock venue The Knitting Factory. Building on the success of the New York outpost, Dorf brought the concept to Chicago, where it has been fully realized in a very heavily re-purposed warehouse space on Randolph Street, just west of that area's burgeoning restaurant zone. Intended to be something of a one-stop shop for your nightlife needs, City Winery incorporates a large restaurant, several informal lounge areas, various spaces that are intended to serve as flexible private areas, and a functioning winery that will soon take its first delivery of grapes and begin serving its own house wines early next year. Attached to the attractive public spaces is a roughly 300-seat well designed "listening room" that will feature mostly musical acts, booked by Old Town School alum Colleen Miller. While the restaurant, lounge, and winery spaces are perfectly nice, it is the venue that makes City Winery unique in Chicago, and in this way, it is less filling a niche in a town with an already vibrant musical scene, than finding its own way.
A bombshell dropped in an offhand comment from one of the organizers of the Neutron Bomb reading series: Cal's Bar is in danger of closing later this year.
"I can't say yes, and I can't say no," said co-owner Cal Feirstein. He said that the building at 400 S. Wells St. is under contract to be sold by the bank that has owned the property since the 1980s, and the future of the bar won't be known until the new owner takes control. "There's nothing for sure," co-owner Fred Feirstein said. "So for now it's the status quo."
The South Loop bar and liquor store has long been a favorite of the punk scene as well as the city's bike messengers. Cal's has served as an important stage for punk and experimental music, making space for bands that are just starting out or not able to find a venue elsewhere. Gapers Block's The Grid documentary series visited Cal's in 2011.
Tickets for the 2012 season at the Ravinia Festival go on sale Thursday, April 26. Offering up a near-nightly soundtrack to Chicago summers since 1904, this will be the first year you can use a special Ravinia smartphone app not only for your purchase, but also for connecting with friends while attending a show. If you have never been to a concert at Ravinia (located north of Chicago in Highland Park), there are two seating options: a reserved seat under the pavilion (with views of the stage) or a GA lawn ticket which is generally under $20 for most shows, with no sight of the stage. The benefits of a lawn seat are many, besides the lower price. First, you can picnic (with alcohol) on a blanket under the stars or beneath some of the ancient leafy trees on the site. Secondly, you can corral all of your friends together for an outing where everybody gets to enjoy some cheese, wine, and music in the fine summer weather. The "corralling" however, is the tricky part, especially given Ravinia's lack of distinct landmarks besides "right" "left" and "tree." Typically, there's a lot of people standing up with their cell phones clutched to their ears and waving with the other arm, that is, until the sun sets.
Tickets for the Ravinia Festival's 2011 season go on sale April 27 at 5am (for the doughnut makers, bond traders and teachers who want to order before work, I guess). The non-classical scheduling is rather sleepy, with Maroon 5, Jennifer Hudson, Los Lonely Boys, Guster and Carrie Underwood (with orchestra) representing the younger generation of musicians. On the other hand, The Go-Gos and B-52s, Hall & Oates and the season-closing John Hiatt/Big Head Todd shows will likely have some pull. Also, the CSO performing live accompaniment to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
The long-dormant Morse Theatre is re-opening with a bang in 2010 - and primarily as a music venue. After six million dollars of renovations, a temporary set-back of arson last year, and new management, the venue is ready to open in its new form. But in keeping with the modern tradition of beloved/normal name removal, the venue has been saddled with a new puntastic moniker of the "Mayne Stage" (site presumably forthcoming). The former Century Public House will be also be reborn as the Act One Cafe, with Jimmy Madla of Coobah in the kitchen as executive chef. The venue is waiting on various licenses, so an exact opening date is unknown at this time.
The Trib has a video tour of the space's renovations here.
I have spent many a night at that music club under the tracks at Wicker Parks' six corners. I have waited outside in the rain and/or cold to get into a show, stood inside the (formerly) smoky confines along with many many other music-lovers, punks, rockers, and most recently hipsters. The venue has even had it's own "15 minutes" of fame, appearing in major motion pictures such as High Fidelity and Wicker Park.
This summer our dear ol' Double Door is turning 15. The birthday celebration kicks off this Saturday, March 21st with a performance from Brutal Truth in what will be a cd-release show for the recently reunited grindcore group. Festivities will continue throughout the year, with Double Door paying homage to and hosting many of the bands that have made the club what it is today, including: Local H, OK Go, Smoking Popes, Electric Six and Kill Hannah.
So come out and reminisce about all the good times you've had there, the first time you saw *that* band there, or that night you got waaaay too drunk and puked on the bar--or were just yelling inappropriate things at people in the Dirtroom (it was a friend, I swear). Whatever your memories, come celebrate and make some new ones.
For dates, and additional information on upcoming 15th anniversary events check out Double Door's website.
*And, just in case you were curious (or wanted a bit of trivia to impress your friends), Double Door's first show was June 12th, 1994 featuring Lloyd Cole.
The North Howard Neighbors Association is reporting on its blog that the owners of the troubled Morse Theatre (previous coverage here and here) have reached "an agreement in principle". The Theatre had announced it would be closing after the performance on Saturday, March 7. On Friday, the Morse announced that the somewhat mysterious group 86th Ohio LLC will be taking over management of the venue from current management which includes Andy McGee. No word on if the types of bookings will change at the Theatre in coming months, and if they will move away from their current programming which includes live jazz, world, classical and soul performances.
As early as Saturday morning, word was making the rounds that the non-profit performance space AV-aerie had (once again) run into zoning issues with the City of Chicago. A benefit show being held at the venue on Friday evening had been raided and shut down by authorities, and now the venue (with the help of the Empty Bottle and other parties) was reportedly scrambling to move future AV-aerie shows to other venues around the city. This morning, TOC's Areif Sless-Kitain blogged about the AV-aerie's troubled state of affairs.
Sadly, the Morse Theatre in Rogers Park, whose financial troubles we discussed last week, has announced it will close after a performance by Paris Delane slated for March 7. This was confirmed after Time Out: Chicago talked with owner Andy McGee. No word on if the restaurant, Century Public House, will remain open or not.
Fingers crossed that another group will step in and use this lovely restored venue in the near future.
Just four months after it opened, the Morse Theatre in Rogers Park may be facing sudden closure. Citing disputes with the theater's investors, owner Andy McGee is no longer booking future dates. The venue has showcased local and national jazz, classical and other often underserved performances, including even a special free neighborhood viewing party for the inauguration last month. It would be a very sad thing to see this unique theater close, especially after such a brief lifespan.
Owned and operated by the crew at the Shape Shoppe studio and members of affiliated groups Icy Demons and Chandeliers, the recently-launched Obey Your Brain label aims to showcase the work of the Shoppe's allies, associates, and fellow travelers alike -- of adventurous musical artists from Chicago and from across the country. This Tuesday evening, the folks at OBY take the venture one step further as they kick off a series of monthly events that will be hosted by Sonotheque.
The lineup for the first show of the series features a headlining set from the Mahjongg side-project Waterbabies, and DJs Alex Valentine and Smart Cousin are scheduled to spin. Piling onto the bill at the eleventh hour are DJ HoloGram Trav (of the band Killer Whales) and a set from Warhammer 48K offshoot CAVE. Word has it that Nashvillian underground hip-hop emcee Count Bass D, who recently recorded some new material to be released via Obey Your Brain, might -- repeat: might -- also be in the house. Admission is free and doors open at 9 PM. 1444 W. Chicago Ave.
Location can be everything, indeed. The best live recordings come from such circumstances, occasions where an artist finds herself at home with a warm, and responsive crowd, and the result is a friendly and intimate interaction between performer and audience. Live albums like Etta James Rocks The House and Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison and Roland Kirk's Kirk In Copenhagen leap to mind, but there are plenty of others in the history of recorded music that serve as evidence to this effect.
Better yet, there's nothing like returning to a welcoming fold of friends after a long journey. Such was the case when Mavis Staples played a homecoming show at the Hideout this past June. Alighting from an extensive tour, Staples and her band played a 14-song, career-spanning set to a sold-out house. Given the Hideout's modest digs, the crowd topped out at about 200 attendees, making for a cozy and up-close show. Reviews and reports of the performance were radiant across the board, and the Anti- label was on hand to document the whole thing.
And now from the Hideout and the artist's website comes word that the resulting disc, Mavis Staples Live: Hope at the Hideout, is scheduled for an official release date of November 4th. Check the Hideout's website for the full tracklisting, links to reviews, and photos.
The sweet sounds of clubland can now be downloaded from the "Interweb." As of August 1, you can listen to a live performances from Smart Bar (as well as other clubs and venues around the world) via Awdio.com, the first system to broadcast 100% music live over the web. The system was founded in Paris in 2006 by a team of young entrepreneurs in music, entertainment and design. A free 45-day trial membership is available to Smart Bar patrons. For more details visit the Awdio website. Word on the street is that Sonotheque is joining up as well. Now you can go to clubland without stepping away from your computer.
The guys in the L.A.-based noise-rock outfit HEALTH haven’t exactly made things easy for anybody, least of all themselves. First there’s their choice of a Google-that-again name, and the fact that their debut album of last year threw the trend jockeys for a loop with all of its abrasive jolts, asymmetrical arrangements, and spectral vocals. Throwing another curveball into the mix, the band managed to somewhat placate pop-minded listeners when they recently released the follow-up HEALTH//DISCO -- a bubble-wrap remix affair in which artists like Crystal Castles, Acid Girls, and Drop The Lime gave the band’s debut a club-oriented workover.
HEALTH will be playing this Friday night at the Hideout. Better yet -- in an act of astute matchmaking for the evening’s billing, they’ll be appearing alongside Chicago’s own electro Afro-funk experimentalists Mahjongg. Both groups will be performing early on the Sunday schedule for Pfork Fest; but if you’d rather experience both groups in the more cozy and conducive confines of a club, Friday’s show makes for an ideal opportunity. Alex & the Drummer are also slated to play. Doors open at 10 PM and tickets are $10.
For Saturday night’s post-Pfork soiree, the Hideout will be hosting a special edition of their Saturday night dance party event. To celebrate being named “Best Dance Party” by the Chicago Reader, the Hideout’s throwing a big eight deejay pile-up of a throwdown. Scheduled to spin for the evening (in order of appearance) are: DJ Treetop Lover, the East of Edens Soul Express DJs, Gutterbutter DJ Logan Bay, Bald Eagle and Mother Hubbard of the Life During Wartime DJs, and Smashing Time DJs Mary Nisi and Carrie Weston. It all gets underway starting at 9 PM and admission is free.
For further details, see the Hideout’s website, and our own feature run-down of this year’s Pitchfork lineup.
Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, the premier venue for seeing live Jazz in Chicago for over 60 years now, will reopen after a year-plus relocation hiatus this Thursday, June 12th. Pushed out of their previous location on Grand Ave after their rent bill nearly doubled, their new location is in the historic Dearborn Station in the Printers Row area.
The Showcase is one of the only places in the city you can hear national jazz acts every week. Joe Segal began presenting jazz as a student at Roosevelt University in the 1940s and turned it into a lifetime career. Over the history of his club, he has presented (nearly) every big name in jazz: from Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk to Cecil Taylor and the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
On top of their usual national acts, the Showcase is going to expand into more local programming, and their format will now be set up so that after the jazz sets the club will transform into a local hang for musicians to jam and audiences to enjoy. Stop by and check out the new location of the Jazz Showcase at 806 S. Plymouth Court, on the eastern side of Dearborn Station.
There's a really easy way to get the $10 tickets and then see the entire show: Stand on the ramp that leads down to the bathroom. For some reason Millennium security doesn't bother people that stand there, and it's a better view than a lot of people with the expensive seats have!
Now, don't everybody go out and try it all at once, or that loophole will be closed right quick!
Agreed: this "spring" weather is officially, uh, bullshit. Here it is nearly June in Chicago and we're still having to keep some layers handy. Be that as it may, that hasn't stopped some of us from breaking out the summer tunes weeks ago and trying to absorb some warmth from vicarious sources.
So, as you close your eyes and picture July and tell yourself that it will (eventually) get warmer, Austin's DJ Chicken George has something that'll help pull you through the lingering chill. By way of the latest Blentwell podcast, he's served up a summery mix that was recently recorded at Chicago's own Darkroom. It's a deep set of hip-hop, nu-jazz, neo-soul, dope beats, and some remixed dusties; all of it building into an uptempo homestretch that caps off -- in a solid Southside summer barbeque tradition – with a tight reworking of a classic Roy Ayers cut. Recommended. Soak it up until the higher temperatures finally kick in.
Since I've been a Chicagoan, I've always looked forward to the release of the new season of Jazz at Symphony Center. A halllowed space and the chance to see and hear some of the greats and up-and-comers makes for a great night out and a way to patronize one of the city's most celebrated institutions, especially if classical isn't your thing.
So, the schedule's been released for the 2008-09 season, and once again Chicago will be blessed by some big names and some people who you've probably heard of if your jazz collection goes beyond the usual Miles, Trane, and Billie. What's so disappointing to this writer is that this lineup has nowhere near the power, artistic or name-wise, to stand up against the 2007-08 season, which will end with the arrival of legend Wayne Shorter in a couple of weeks.
Dudes named Marsalis, three of them (don't tell me you forgot about Jason!) show up at various times, which will unquestionably fill some people's need for what they know as "jazz." Highlights seem to be Dee Dee Bridgewater,Cassandra Wilson, and Keith Jarrett. We'll keep you abreast of any new schedule developments.
Since they first came together on the Osaka noise scene of the mid-1980s, The Boredoms have always been one of the music world's most unwieldy and inexplicable acts. Starting out as an outfit of frenetic, genre-mulching rawk'n'roll destructivists, they've since undergone a circuitous musical evolution over the past decade. Like a supernova constricting into a neutron star, the band refocused its musical energy to become purveyors of dense and droning space-rock in the late 1990s before finally arriving at their present trance-inducing, tribal incarnation as the most apeshit drum circle on earth.
Boredoms fans will have a chance to see the band play a special "in the round" performance at the Congress Theater next Wednesday evening. The show will be one of the few dates on their current U.S. tour where the group will be able to perform the way they want to -- interfacing in a circle in the center of the venue while the audience will be free to gather around on the periphery.
The Metro just announced a new Wednesday night concert series, "Rock Against Recession," featuring local acts across a wide range of genres.
The first show will be March 5 and features Airiel, Slings and Arrows, Yourself and the Air, and Empires. The doors open at 8pm, and there's free admission till 9pm; after that it's $5. The shows will all be 18 and over, but there will be drink specials for the of-age crowd: $3 Leinenkugels in Metro, and you're welcome to wander down to Smartbar, where Jessica from OFFICE will be deejaying and the SoCo and Jack Daniels cocktails are $3 and PBRs are $2.
Nestled amidst all of the recent development in Printers Row, the loft venue and recording studio The Shape Shoppe has been an intimate, off-the-path hub for fractured pop and DIY experimental merriment. Aside from being a local nexus in the Elephant 6 network, a number of fringe-dwelling luminaries have either played or recorded on its premises over the past few years—including Dan Deacon, Beirut, Man Man, Icy Demons, Pit er Pat, the Bird Names, and Akron/Family.
But this past spring, proprietor Griffin "Blue Hawaii" Rodriguez began renovating the recording studio in order to give it a much-needed upgrade. To help offset the costs of the undertaking, the Shape Shoppe will be throwing a big ree-raw benefit show at The Hideout this Friday. The Killer Whales, who recently reformed after a lapse in activity, are scheduled to play. Also on the bill are ramshackle pop-folksters The Bird Names, Michael Columbia, and swingin' 70's west-coast groove revivalists Bronze. Given the line-up, its' the sort of show that'll provide non-stop opportunities to shout, sing, and dance along. DJs Hologram Trav and White Lightning spin between sets. 1354 W. Wabansia, 9pm. Admission is $10.
Fresh from their last trip to Home Depot, and still a little buzzy from the paint fumes, local experimental music arts venture Lampo announces the grand opening of its new home, a second floor space on Chicago Avenue, between Franklin and Wells (216 W. Chicago, to be precise). Residing over a former post office, the new Lampo looks forward to bigger and better performances in the years to come, and happily announces show #101 this Saturday!
Electro-digital puppet master Marcus Schmickler returns after a five-year absence (two if you count his duet with Thomas Lehn) to grace Lampo with one of his most recent compositions, an eight-channel beast called "Altars of Science," this Saturday (Dec. 15) at 9 p.m. ($12 admission) Expect the sounds of digital ghosts getting to work grinding, mulching, and spinning horrible around your head at a dizzying rate. The Lampo press release mentions a lot of things like "Granual synthesis" and "cellular automata treatments of a string quartet," and that all sounds like biology homework to me. The proof, however, is in the burbling, crazy pudding that Schmickler with bring to a boil before your very ears. Take the processes with as many grains of salt as you wish, but don't miss the sonic tempests that result!
Lampo will return to its full seasons in early winter 2008. Check the Lampo site for more information about subscribing to their announcement lists (I highly recommend the postcard treament, as their design job is superb, and the postcards are a nice heavy cardstock...a welcome relief from more magazine renewal notices that arrive every other day).
For three consecutive evenings in the second weekend of November, Plastic Crimewave and the Empty Bottle will be hosting the fourth annual installment of the Million Tongues Festival. That means three nights of "acid folk," New Weird Americana, and a cross-spectrum array of experimental music. As of Tuesday evening, the final roster for the festival has been announced, and it looks like (once again) some additonal support is being contributed by the folks at Arthur magazine.
We're passing along the full schedule below. Note that, due to an especially packed billing and some resulting spill-over, all shows start at 9pm at the AV-Aerie except the Valerie Project. Check the Empty Bottle's website for more information regarding scheduling and tickets.
Look out Chicago, there's a new rock club in town. In fact, there's a new rock club/rock restaurant/rock record store that's ramping up this month with an amazing looking calendar of shows, including West Coast noise wunderkinds Health, Skin Graft's Pre, and indie dark lords Murder by Death! With a swank, iconic punk rock interior and Animal House-esque black tank-bus in check, Reggie's looks to be one of this season's most exciting additions to Chicago!
If you've caught sets by Kid Sister or Hollywood Holt or any of the other recent up-and-coming South Side hip-hop club artists, then chances are you might’ve heard the above question posed to the audience from the stage at some point. Any local culture-cognizant North Side club-rat is probably going to say "yeah" by way of response. But while the acts in question have been responsible for bringing the sound of "juke" to new audiences—slipping in something akin to juked beats under a few tracks as their sets propel into the crowd-moving home stretch—the music is still very much an exclusively South and West Side thing, as are the moves that go with it
That may change as of next Friday night when Smart Bar hosts Juke-It-Palooza, The event, its organizers hope, will give club-goers a chance to experience the music from two of the biggest names on the local juke scene.
The Metro held a private party this past Saturday to celebrate the club's 25th anniversary. Billed as a "family reunion," employees past and present were in attendance in abundance. Smartbar featured DJs throughout the evening, while the Metro stage was given over to speeches, a spoof "Historical Moments from History" video and DJ sets by Life During Wartime, Brad Owen and New Order's Peter Hook. But the highlight of the evening was definitely Nicholas Tremulis' ode to the club, busting owner Joe Shanahan's, uh, desk. I managed to catch most of it on video (I didn't get my camera out fast enough, but you only miss a couple words.)
As reported last week, the Empty Bottle was hosting a weekend-long shindiggity series of afterparty shows to coincide with the Pitchfork Fest. The cornucopia spilled over, proved too much for yours truly to take in to its fullest. And while there's nothing like a "scene report" thing to rub your face in the business about the party that you missed, couldn't get into, etc., this one leaves plenty of room for reciprocal nyeh-nyeh payback…
This weekend, there'll be no shortage of clubs hosting afterparties for the Pitchfork Music Festival, but it looks like the Empty Bottle has pulled out all the stops by stepping up with the most ambitious of all. Entitled "We ♥ Chicago," the Bottle's series of afterparty events offers three straight nights of merrymaking and dancing with a top-shelf selection of bands and DJs.
Looking down the schedule for the series, you probably notice a lot of exclamation points. And hey, that sense of excitement is perfectly appropriate because the whole affair is poised to be one of the biggest party events of the year. In case you missed it, here's the whole swoll package:
According to TimeOutChi and a few other sources, the South Loop nightclub and music venue HotHouse issued a press release this week that confirms the uncertainty of its future. Due to an ongoing lease dispute, the club's schedule will be suspended as the owners look for a new location. For those who've paid attention, HotHouse has encountered its share of problems throughout its history, perhaps none so public as the recent shake-up on its board of directors. Over the years, the place has served as one of the city's most indispensable venues for world music, poetry slams and spoken-word events, local hip-hop, jazz, and plenty of top-shelf DJ appearances. No word yet as to where it plans settle next.
A big evening at Darkroom is shaping up for this Friday. It's the big DJ LA* Jesus Benefit Birthday Bash, and plenty of participants have piled on to celebrate and make the thing happen for a worthy cause. DJ LA* Jesus been an amusing fixture on the local club scene these past few years, and not unlike his namesake, has landed his own devout following around town. He's slung a good many crafty bootleg remixes (Missy E's "Pass The Dutchie" atop New Order's "Blue Monday," anyone?), and has recently done some legit remix work for The Flaming Lips and Apostle of Hustle. And this Friday is His his birthday, and a big to-do is in order. Entertainment-wise, DJ LA* Jesus himself will be spinning, as will Bald Eagle of the Life During Wartime crew, and deejay Lipschitz. But wait, it ain't over! The evening will also feature an appearance by dance-popsters Walter Meego, who will reportedly contribute to the DJing and perform a live set, as well.
As for the Benefit portion of the evening is concerned, proceeds will go to Rock For Kids, the Chicago non-profit organization that helps provide music education and lessons to homeless and underprivileged children. A lot of folks have signed on to provide incentives, and there will reportedly be giveaways that might allow you to chance to get free stuff from Threadless, studio time at Rax Trax studios, a free haircut from Ben Mollin, and tickets to upcoming shows around town (word has it that the Metro will be holding a raffle for tix to see Clap Your Hand Say Yeah and Cold War Kids). 2210 W. Chicago. It all gets underway at 9pm. $6 at the door or you can buy advanced tickets from the club.
This week sees a pair of events celebrating the release of the new album from two Chicago jazz titans, tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson and percussionist Hamid Drake. Entitled From The River To The Ocean, the album was recorded by John McEntire at Soma Studios and it's a full-ensemble affair that features outstanding accompaniment from multi-instrumentalist Harrison Bankhead of 8 Bold Souls affiliation, bassist Joshua Abrams, and AACM guitarist Jeff Parker (of Tortoise, Chicago Underground Quartet, et al.) who steps in for three of the album's five tracks. Tuesday night, the full ensemble will be playing at an RSVP event at the headquarters of Stop Smiling magazine. The performance will be hosted by local author, curator, and musician John Corbett, who'll be conducting a public q&a with the band throughout the set. And on Wednesday night, the band will playing a regular evening set at Anderson's Velvet Lounge.
Into the rumor mill again we go, this time following the lead of Greg Kot, who's got it in his Trib blog that Live Nation is apparently exploring the idea of selling off some of its underperforming venues, including the Tinley Park venue currently known as the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre. Disparaged by The Dead for poor sound quality back in 1990 and losing ticket sales due to the unwillingness of patrons to fight traffic to get out there, it may be hard to unload this stone.
Chances are good that you know Carlos Santana's "Smooth," which means you've heard at least one classic shingaling groove. Which may beg the question: What's a shingaling? It's partner to the boogaloo, but…hmmm. Okay, tell you what. Let's skip the musicology breakdown and I'll simply tell you this: It was all part of a much-forgotten chapter in the evolution of Latino music, one very specific to these shores, and is hands-down some of the most deeply soulful and vibrantly joyous music ever recorded. It was a style of music that exploded out of the Spanish Harlem scene of the 1960s, combining Latin jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms with r&b and rock, and which quickly became the sound of young Nuyorica. The recordings in question are, sadly, hard to come by, since the movement itself quickly faded into obscurity, having disappeared through the cracks somewhere between the more enduring popularity of mambo and salsa. But before fading it inspired later crossover Latino funkateers like Santana, WAR, and El Chicano to step up and go for theirs in the years that followed.
This Friday at Sonotheque, DJs Supreme Court and Joe Bryl (of African Hi-Fi association) present "We Got...Latin Soul!" The duo will be digging back to pull from their crates and serve up an evening's worth of the guacha guaro, spinning their selection of solid retro barrio groove from the likes of Pete Rodriguez, Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria, Joe Cuba, Willie Colon, and Latin soul brother number one Joe Bataan. 9pm-2am. 1444 W. Chicago. Cover is only $5.
[mp3]: Pete Rodriguez - "Oh! That's Nice" [mp3]: Joe Bataan - "What Good Is A Castle?"
If you missed Prefuse 73 at Sonotheque the other night, then this one'll help you split the difference. The Empty Bottle's free Monday night event serves up a full spectrum of beats for urban music heads tonight—from block-rocking to head-nodding to shoe-gazing. First up is local emcee/DJ/producer Vyle, who's been getting a considerable amount of attention nationally for his "hoodtronic" style of leftfield track production. He's sharing the bill with Hefty and Eastern Development recording artist Eliot Lipp. Headlining is Lymbyc Systym, the sibling pair of Mike and Jared Bell, who—like Eliot Lipp—share an affinity for vintage keyboards and breakbeats. Their recent album Love Your Abuser offers a array of rich, downtempo beat compositions that provide the ideal soundtrack for dreamy, rainy-day meditations. Which, given the forecast for the week to come, just might be in order. 1035 N. Western. 9:30 pm. And it's free.
[mp3]: Vyle - "Strobemouth" (Drop The Lime remix) [mp3]: Eliot Lipp - "Eyesore" [mp3]: The Lymbyc Systym - "Carved By Glaciers"
Rumors abound in Trib theater critic Chris Jones' latest blog entry about the possible future of the shuttered gem on the far north side, the Uptown Theatre. Jam Productions has apparently been sniffing around, with the potential to buy the venue, if only to protect its interests in the Broadway and Lawrence Ave. area where it already owns the Riv and the Aragon. Even if they do buy the place, however, don't hold your breath that they'll be able or willing to pony up the nearly $100 million it'll take to get the Uptown back into shape. Sigh...the wait continues.
Sunday night was the swan song of Chicago and Grand's no longer best-kept secret: The Ice Factory. Not only an underground venue, the hub that was quite literally named for it's former occupation also hosted independent label FP Records, film showcase The Ice Capades and poetry showcase The Urban Sandbox. Seth Vanek, departing Ice Factory resident (and drummer for Velvetron and Crap Engine) cited deterioration of landlord relations as the chief cause for the Factory's demise. Earlier this year, the residents had attempted to gain proper licensing for the venue, but apparently to no avail. But for a final hoorah, the gang could have asked for nothing finer: food, drinks, and people flowed freely through the space, talking, dancing, and eventually all participating in the Ice Factory's signature Good-Time Sing-Along Chorus, with no less than Devin Davis on drums backing the hoarse-throated crowd. As of this time, there is no word as to the re-location of the Factory's many permanent or occasional inhabitants.
First let's all make a promise that once the media hype dies down over saving the Earth, we'll still understand how important it is to change our habits and keep our world a clean place. That's the philosophy Funky Buddha Lounge has been preaching and demonstrating for 11 years and now their taking their actions to a new level. Tonight in coordination with Earth Day and the Green Festival, is the grand opening of highly anticipated Butterfly Social Club next to and ran by the Funky Buddha owners.(the club opened last night with a huge bash outdoors and in with Michael Kang of SCI, DJs and organic food) BSC is about as environmental as you can get for a spot in the city, let alone a night club. Serving up such goodies like Berry Happy Chocolate, from pure Ecuadorian chocolate, a Yerba Matte fused energy drink and green grass powder, designed with a truly earthy tone (local and natural material) and partially powered by solar and wind, Butterfly Social is truly a joint to love. Opening night features many green give aways, smoke-free atmosphere and ambient dancing sounds. Free before 11 p.m.
It's hard to keep an indie business running these days. Sadly another really good place has ran its short-lived course. Muse Cafe was a nice spot for culture and music in the surprisingly barren corner of Ogden, Chicago and Milwaukee. Progressive jazz, poetry and delicious eats made Muse a spot for the city to be proud of. According to their MySpace blog, many of the projects at Muse (The Electro-Acoustic Workshop, The Jazztronik Experiment) will continue at other locations. Remember to do your best to support local business because they need all our support in offering an alternative to the big guys. Thanks to Muse Cafe for giving us that option for the past year and a half.
If lively dancing is what you're looking for on a weekend, then this Saturday is a good time to hit Darkroom in Ukranian Village. The second Saturdays of each month are when the club hosts "Sunny Side Up," an event that always draws an enthusiastic crowd of party people. As the floor gets jumping, you might see couples getting busy with some advanced Latin steps, or maybe a gaggle of Brazilian youngsters flexing with Capoeira-type moves. But don't let any of that intimidate you, because it's a loose and mixed affair -- a come-one, come-all night where the dancefloor stays packed and bustling with folks who are there to move and have a good time. DJ 4BZ spins a solid selection of jazzy downtempo, trip-hop, afrobeat, and funky, breakbeat-heavy fare that puts the groove in solid rump-shaking mode. The other resident deejay on hand is Mwelwa, who specializes in a blend of Latin, Caribbean, and African dance-pop flavors that always keeps the crowd going until closing time. This Saturday night's "Sunny Side Up" will also feature a special performance by Ghanian guitarist Dan Boadi and his Ghanatta Internationale. 2210 West Chicago Ave. The party runs from 10pm-3am, and admission is only five bucks.
The Reader's Miles Raymer reports that The Subterranean is now booking all-ages shows, helping to fill the void left by the ending of shows at the Fireside Bowl and the demise of the Bottom Lounge. Other venues mentioned included South Union Arts, Beat Kitchen and Schubas. Glad to see some serious efforts to give kids a place to see live music!
Though false starts are par for the course for the Uptown, the Sun-Times brings news today that entertainment conglomerates AEG and Live Nation are sniffing around Chicago's diamond-in-the-rough Uptown Theater. According to 48th Ward Alderperson Mary Ann Smith's office, one or both of the companies will likely submit a proposal this month to preserve the theater as a live performance venue, and perhaps incorporate some rehearsal space for community theater. Both AEG, which owns Toyota Stadium in Bridgeview and the resident Chicago Fire Soccer team, and Live Nation, owners of the World/Tweeter/Midwest Bank Amphitheater in Tinley Park and the recently acquired House of Blues chain, have the truck to pull off a deal, though look for city help with acquisition, tax relief, or flat out grants to rescue the theater. Acquisition will likely be the easiest and cheapest part of the deal, with restoration after 25 years of neglect presenting huge hurdles. Also unclear, how the 4,500 seat Baroque movie palace (second in size only to NYC's Radio City) will fare in direct competition with other Chicago venues of similar capacity, such as the Aragon, Chicago, and Auditorium. It would be nice to see top flight acts gracing its stage again.
The landmark Uptown Theater, the hulking building on the corner of Lawrence and Broadway, may be inching closer to salvation. Built in 1925, this 4,500 seat movie palace was the crown jewel of the Balaban & Katz theater empire, and is the second largest single screen movie palace in the nation after Radio City Music Hall. After a long career as a theater, and a stint in the late '70's and early '80's as a venue for acts such as the Grateful Dead, Bob Marley, Peter Gabriel, and the J. Geils Band. The venue has suffered from a lack of upkeep for nearly 40 years now, and is in need of a major renovation. News this week that the city's Community Development Commission has at least begun tossing around the idea of purchasing the theater, and apparently turning it over to a private operating group to manage it (think someone like Jam, or Broadway in Chicago). Agenda for planning meeting here. Still no news on where the city or a private entity would come up with the tens of millions needed to restore the incredibly ornate, and largely handcrafted building.
The Hotel Intercontinental abruptly ended its 15-year-old jazz program last week, the Tribune reports, leaving featured performer Judy Roberts without a Chicago venue. Roberts had played piano in the hotel's streetside lounge since 1991, except for 2001-2003, when other musicians regularly filled in. Her last performance was Friday.
No replacement plans have been announced by the hotel. Fans can only hope that some other hotel or venue will pick up where the Intercontinental dropped off, and Roberts will be back to playing Thursday through Saturday every week. She still has a regular gig at Chambers in Niles; check her website for news of future shows in the city.
On the verge of a huge weekend for Chicago jazz (see Slowdown), one Chicago jazz landmark, The Jazz Showcase, has announced it's lost its lease. The second-oldest jazz venue in the nation, the Showcase must vacate its Grand Ave. digs by January, and owner Joe Segal doesn't exactly know where they'll land. Maybe they'll get a boost from another newly-relocated jazz venue, the Velvet Lounge, and put up bebop stakes in the South Loop.
Where would this city be without a little Jazz in its diet? Now there's a newly re-opened space just to fill that need. Viewed as a training ground for many of Chicago's creative jazz musicians since 1982, The Velvet Lounge is celebrating their grand re-opening this weekend with music performances by Fred Anderson(sax), Kidd Jordan(sax), Harrison Bankhead(bass), and Alvin Fielder(drums).
More than $100,000 was raised in private contributions to build out two new storefronts for this joint, and in it you're sure to love the added little touches from a vintage Chicago art deco bar to a musician's locker rooom. Don't worry, the old Velvet is still around, they've hung their trademark chandeliers and the 'Velvet lady' painting.
This party is on Friday Aug 11 and Saturday Aug 12 9pm. This is a non-smoking bar.
New Velvet Lounge
67 E. Cermak Rd. btwn Michigan and Wabash
How many times have you found out that your favorite band is coming to town, only to realize that they totally played last weekend?
Building on the premise of the online social event calendar Upcoming.org, the recently launched site Tourb.us takes note of your favorite bands and reminds you when they’re coming to town, alerting you via e-mail or text message.
There’s a dopey social network feature where you can make concert-going friends (P.S. friend me!), and you can also import your playlists from your iTunes and Last.fm accounts to get recommendations for shows you should be seeing based on your listening habits.