I've got a whole city to hold down

April 23, 2004

All's Fair

The second annual WLUW record fair is upon us. Featuring loads of vinyl, CDs, all manner of music collectibles, DJs, live sets and more, the fair takes place tomorrow, Saturday 4/24, at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse (1419 W Blackhawk St., which is south of North Ave and east of Ashland), from 10am to 6pm. We found some treasures amidst the crates of musty junk last year, but even if you don't, your price of admission goes to an excellent cause.


There's a decent lengthy feature on Kanye West in the current issue of Vibe (Usher cover). Also a gritty photo spread by a Chicago photog whose name escapes us at the moment (as does the magazine itself ... if you know the guy's name, please post in comments below).

A little date to Burch

Today's free acoustic Lunchbreak show at the Chicago Cultural Center features Bloodshot country crooner and Lambchop member Paul Burch. Music starts around noon.

Pass the hat

In today's Trib, Kevin Williams looks at the trend towards more suggested-donation or pay-what-you-will shows, especially in the improvised music and free jazz scenes. Includes some nice ink for Michael Zerang's Candlestick Maker and the Emerging Improvisers series at the Hungry Brain.


...and the Bottle is busy. Here's a rundown of early June-July-August highlights at Finkelman's Friendly Dump: Lying in States (6/3), Mountain Goats/Archer Prewitt (6/4), Trans Am/Bobby Conn (6/5), Funkstarung (6/7), Longwave (6/10), Mum (6/26 at LSA), Wolf Eyes (7/3), Black Dice (8/19). Also the venue's typically strong roster of improv/jazz talent, including Josh Berman, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Aram Shelton, the Loose Ensemble, the Thread Quintet, Nicole Mitchell, Dragons 1976 and more.

April 22, 2004

Recommended reading

The cover of today's Trib Tempo section boasts a terrific Kevin McKeough profile of blues piano legend Pinetop Perkins. You can read it here, but really should seek out a hard copy for the great photo.

Roll over Beethoven

Ever thought old Igor Stravinsky would really rock if only he'd lived in the post-punk era?

Okay, neither did we. But apparently Nad Navillus does.

Here's the scoop: "Spring is upon us and with it the Butchershop Quartet gives you Igor Stravinsky's 1913 masterpiece "The Rite of Spring." ... In 1998 Dylan Posa (drums), Rob Bochnik (guitar), Dan Sullivan (guitar), and Rob Sullivan (bass) started rehearsing regularly in Chicago to complete what had started as a college dorm room daydream: to arrange Stravinsky's masterpiece for 2 guitars, bass, and drums (a "Rock Band")."

The original Quartet has evolved, with Nathaniel Braddock replacing Bochnik on guitar and Dan Sylvester spelling Posa on drums. Now the group is set to release a 2002 studio recording (done at Electrical Audio) of the piece on local hip-hop imprint Galapagos4, and to perform "The Rite of Spring" live at Subterranean on May 21.

April 21, 2004

Kot clarifies

Yesterday, we wrote that Trib critic Greg Kot's forthcoming Wilco book, Learning How to Die, "is hamstrung by a lack of historical perspective. Because the band and its members are very much living, breathing, working entitities, real life has already outpaced [the book, which] doesn't mention A Ghost Is Born, new players Pat Sansone and Nels Cline, or Tweedy's current rehab stint."

But in a message to Chicagomuzikblog Central, Kot clarifies. The final version of the book "includes a pretty substantial section on A Ghost is Born," the scribe says, "as well as covering Bach's departure, the addition of Cline and Sansone, and Tweedy's rehab. Editions of the book now in circulation are early galleys that do not include all the updated information, so I understand where the misunderstanding could occur. Final updated edition will be available around mid-May, and in stores June 15."

Kot also has some kind words for the site. We appreciate the kudos and clarification both.

Might add that we're nearly done with Learning How to Die, which becomes steadily more compelling as it progresses. (That may reflect the author's relative lack of passion for Tweedy's early work in comparison to his latter efforts.)

Might also add that the general depiction of Tweedy as a human being is by no means rosy. Portrayed through the comments of those closest to him, the songwriter comes off deeply flawed and often unlikable.

We look forward to Kot's take on the tale's latest twists.


New from Jam: Velvet Revolver (Riv, 5/19), Grant Lee Phillips/John Doe (Park West, 6/17), B-52s (Vic, 6/18), Primus (UIC Pavilion, 6/26), Allman Brothers (Rosemont Theatre, 9/1).

Note too that the following Jam shows are sold out: Yellowcard/Something Corporate (Riv, 4/23), Strokes/Raveonettes (Aragon, 4/23), Muse (Metro, 4/23), Indigo Girls (Auditorium Theatre, 4/24), Damien Rice/the Frames (Riv, 4/27), Dido (Chicago Theatre, 6/5), and the Pixies (Aragon, 11/13-15).

Also, the Cui Jian show (Park West, 4/29) has been postponed. Send your complaints to John Ashcroft.

Crits on Corgan

Here's the returns on Billy Corgan's much-hyped Monday solo show at the Metro:

"A mixture of musical brilliance and bombastic self-indulgence" - Jim DeRogatis

"The more underwhelming songs sounded fragmented, infused with forced metaphors. ... [But] the show was not without moments of stunning immediacy." - Mark Guarino

"The songs early in the set weren't particularly distinguished ... [but] Corgan closed with an impressive string of songs" - Greg Kot

"Corgan's 'premiere performance as a solo acoustic act'? To be nitpicky, that was in fall '02 at the Hideout, during the Jack Sweeney open mike nights" - Jack Flack

April 20, 2004

Escovedo returns

The Double Door has announced a June 3 gig with the Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra featuring Alejandro Escovedo. This would be Escovedo's first local appearance since collapsing due to complications of hepatitis C in April 2003. His only performance in the past year came at a private event during SXSW week in Austin last month.

Rock Talk Alert

Tonight on Sound Opinions, Kot and DeRogatis offer a record review roundup focusing on "aging rockers" and "maturing producers." If that sounds like an unmissable two hours, tune in to XRT at 10 pm.

April 19, 2004

Shut up you Fiery Furnaces!

The new David Cross album (entitled It's Not Funny and due in May from Sub Pop) is riddled with disses of music figures from Evanescence to Scott Stapp and Lee Greenwood. But it includes at least one rock tip, too: In the liners, right after the thank-yous, there's this note: "Also, check out the Fiery Furnaces' album, Gallowsbird's Bark. It's great." Nice props for the Oak Park natives.

Update: Our neighbors at Pitchfork have the dirt on "Chris Michaels", a track from the Furnaces' forthcoming full-length Blueberry Boat.


New on the Abbey schedule: Eyedea & Abilities with Blueprint (May 26), Acid Mothers Temple with Wolf Eyes (May 28), Califone with Sally Timms (May 29), Beulah with the Stratford 4 (June 10 and 11), Iron and Wine (July 2).

Breaking news: John Stirratt sneezes

Not really. But we've been tracking Wilco so closely of late that such a headline doesn't seem too far-fetched.

Anyway, as noted in the comments for a previous post, Wilco has announced a hometown show at the Vic, set for June 12. We'll add ticket info when we get it.

In other news, we've had the chance to snoop through Greg Kot's pending book Learning How to Die. Our first reaction is that it's more a Jeff Tweedy bio than a Wilco bio ... but then, as fans certainly have realized in recent years and as the book itself makes plain, Wilco is more a Jeff Tweedy project than a Wilco project, too. Also, predictably, Kot is hamstrung by a lack of historical perspective. Because the band and its members are very much living, breathing, working entitities, real life has already outpaced Learning How to Die. The book doesn't so much as mention A Ghost Is Born, new players Pat Sansone and Nels Cline, or Tweedy's current rehab stint.

On the latter topic, though, the book is riddled with references to Tweedy's reliance on pain medication, his emotional problems, and his overuse of alcohol and pot. Substance abuse, Kot holds, was long identified by Tweedy and those close to him as a potential pitfall. Referring to Tweedy's decision to go cold turkey on booze in the middle Uncle Tupelo days, a longtime friend named Dave Dethrow says, "his brothers and his father had their difficulties with drinking, and Jeff knew he had to be careful. He knew where he'd be heading if he kept it up, because he saw it in his own home."

There's now a website for Kot's book.

Update: The Daily Herald's Mark Guarino warmly reviews ex-Wilco guitarist Jay Bennett's new disc, Bigger Than Blue (Undertow), released today.

Update II: This post's judgments about the timeliness of Learning How to Die have been superceded by a following post, "Kot clarifies" (see above).

Update III: Bob Mehr gives Jay Bennett a shoulder to cry on.

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.