I've got a whole city to hold down

April 18, 2004

Flack's back

Thanks to Lazlo Hollyfeld and Roy Stalin for holding down this shabby fort whilst we were indisposed. They rocked it como Gardel con guitarra electrica, no?

Meanwhile the e- and voice- and snail-mail are all stuffed to overflowing, so for the moment we're all gonna have to settle for a whizbang rundown of the tastiest morsels on the platter. Here we go:

The Pixies, as you know, sold out four November Aragon shows. That's something like 17,000 tickets. According to the band's publicist, Jam's Andy Cirzan says he's "never seen anything like this. The White Stripes played the Aragon two nights in a row and then came back a few months later for a third show, but no artist has ever played three consecutive shows at the Aragon, not to mention four."

Some hip-hop and DJ dirt: Talib Kweli and Jean Grae are scheduled to appear at the new Harold Washington Cultural Center on Friday, April 23. ... The new RJD2 disc has darkened our doorstep; it'll hit shelves in May. RJ is booked at the Abbey with Diverse on May 19. ... Speaking of which, Savath & Savalas headline the Abbey stage this Friday the 23rd; the lineup behind Scott Herren (piano, Rhodes, electronics) will be Susie Ibarra (percussion), Josh Abrams (bass), Eva Puyuelo (voice, joined by two backup vocalists), and an anonymous pair of classical guitarists.

Sufjan Stevens has added a second show at Schubas this Friday. His publicist sez the Brooklynite songwriter's next album (after Michigan, the second in a purported/preposterous 50-disc series that will assign a song cycle to each state of this union) will be none other than Illinois.

Look for Danny Black to be reunited with former Blacks drummer James Emmenegger on local stages soon. The manic sticksman is moving back to Chicago, with his wife and child, from L.A. Mr. Black is said to be shopping demos of new material.

Chicago expat Eric Babcock (late of Bloodshot and Checkered Past, now sailing under his own Catamount Records flag out of Nashville) has added a local band to his roster. That'd be one Big Breakfast, a sardonic roots-rock outfit whose ill-titled sophomore disc Stripper Music hits May 4. Big Breakfast and its Catamount mates Graham Lindsey and Barn Burning are set to tag-team the Hideout on May 28.

Tim Easton will play Schubas on May 14; that's info we mentioned previously and repeat now only to share Easton's take on a project he's calling Vote Explosion!: "I started a grass roots voter registration organization called VOTE EXPLOSION! with a group of like minded friends after a lot of us noticed how few eligible people actually voted. ... I consider this fact way beyond apathetic and actually quite embarrassing. Here we are living in what is supposed to be the greatest and most powerful nation on earth and we just don't give a damn what happens with our future?" Easton's response is to set up a voter-reg booth at his shows this year. We applaud the sentiment, but note that it is illegal to register voters in bars in the Land of Lincoln. In any case, keep your eye out for further meldings of music and politics as the stump season unfurls.

New gigs on the Schubas calendar include Ron Sexsmith (May 17), Two-Dollar Pistols and Amy Farris (May 25), Janet Bean & the Concertina Wire (June 10), Jesse Malin (June 11), Marah (June 12), McLusky (June 14), Hackensaw Boys (June 16). Also, a reminder that the April 20 Phantom Planet show is off.

Reminder for Monday, April 19 - the Pine Valley Cosmonauts will "celebrate the 80th anniversary of one of Chicago's best kept secrets, the WLS National Barndance," at 7:30 at the Cultural Center. The PVC lineup will include Jon Langford, Sally Timms, Kelly Hogan, Tom Ray, Tracey Dear, Rick Sherry, John Rice and others, plus Barndance vet and violinist Johnny Frigo. Oh and some Corgan guy is playing what's flogged as his first-ever solo show at Metro.

And finally, a regrettable note. The most beguiling country outfit to grace these parts of late, Kelly Kessler & the Wichita Shut-Ins featuring Lawrence Peters, have announced its imminent demise. Perhaps the band was crushed by the unwieldy weight of that cumbersome name? According to Miz Kessler: "It means a lot to me that you all would come out to hear us when it was 20 below, and sing along to 'Damn You', and whistle at Lawrence's pants, and let me know a particular song rang your bell. It seems likely we'll be hearing Lawrence's golden baritone in a honkytonk outfit soon. Look for Robbie [Hunsinger] and me to be playing more straightahead bluegrass. Not sure where Pat Reninger will be playing next, but I am sure it'll sound awful good. We've gotten to play in the best clubs in town, with some of the best country musicians around, singing the songs like they matter. A big thanks from me to you all for showing up and sharing that with us." The band's last gigs are May 1 at 3030 and May 14 (lunch hour) at the Chicago Cultural Center.