I've got a whole city to hold down

December 16, 2004

Greg Kot responds to year-end list debate

From: Chicagomuzik
To: Greg Kot
Subject: You've got fur flying at Chicagomuzik


We posted your year-end lists to the blog this week, and like any list that matters they've started a heck of a debate.

Thing is, the debate is not about WHAT you included, but WHY you did so. Or put another way, the debate is about you and your motives, not the music and its merits.

So while on the one hand we could certainly understand it if you'd rather not get down in the mud, on the other hand we wanted to give you the consideration of a chance to reply on the blog.

In service of doing so, what follows are the comments posted so far. If you'd like to reply via e-mail, we'll publish your response on the blog as we did re your Wilco book - and as we've also done this year in conversations with the likes of Clarence Page, Empty Bottle and MP Shows reps, and more.

In rock (oh no maybe i'm not supposed to say "rock" for fear of being branded with the R word),
Jack Flack


From: Greg Kot
To: Chicagomuzik
Subject: Re: You've got fur flying at Chicagomuzik


Appreciate the head's up, and I welcome the dialogue.

Each of my top 20s (15 and counting, I think) has been guided by the same criterion: These are the records that entertain me the most at the end of each year. The "best examples of vitality" line was the conclusion of a long introductory essay to this year's list that was cut for space reasons at the 11th hour. A better way of saying that is that these records are vital to me: I played Kanye, Madvillain and Streets (as well as Isis and Fiery Furnaces) more than any other records this year and I still haven't tired of them. When I road-trip cross-country next week, they'll be the first three in the CD player. What makes a record resonate? If I can keep coming back to it and be dazzled each time by something new. I like records that seem to expand with repeated use.

Re: Wilco. As I've said/written several times this year, A Ghost is Born is Wilco's third best album, behind Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Summerteeth. For my money, Fiery Furnaces made their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot this year.

I'm not particularly aware of what the "insider's darlings" are each year. If I am an insider, it's by accident. I have yet to see any year end-lists besides my own. I do know that I enjoyed the Gris Gris record, which I picked up at a show they played in LA last spring, a lot more than Arcade Fire, which I hear everybody except me loved.


December 14, 2004

Margasak on the airwaves, in the blogosphere

Ten months since his ceding his Post No Bills column in the Reader, Peter Margasak's ears haven't stopped adventuring - and now we can join those journeys via radio and the Web.

On the air, he's spinning an hour's worth of international sounds every Tuesday morning at 11 am CT on WLUW. The show, called Mosaic, will be expanded to two hours beginning January 3, which Margasak says will allow him to include artist interviews and more in-depth genre surveys. Today's playlist is typically eclectic - the show opened with cuts from Benin, Romania and Brazil.

On the Internets, Margasak has dipped a toe into the blog world via Worldly Disorientation. His posting has been sporadic so far (launched in October, the site has seen fewer than 20 posts to date) but the content is promising (regular MP3s put theory into practice, while musings on movies, food and world affairs supplement the music mix). Two small suggestions for the author: Clean up the coding, 'cause about three-quarters of the content is now posted in strike-thru. And how 'bout posting the Mosaic playlists?

Update: Worldly Disorientation's strikethrough-gone-wild has been tamed. Enjoy.

Buddy Guy named to rock hall

"Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy is the dean of the new performers being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. ... Guy, 68, gained entry on his first nomination. 'I'm a bit hyped,' Guy said Monday night from Buddy Guy's Legends, his South Loop club. 'I have to wait for this to set in. This is a dream come true.' [It's] a million miles away from Guy's roots as the son of a Louisiana sharecropper [who] migrated north in the fall of 1957. 'When I came to Chicago, you had to play the top 10, records on the jukebox,' Guy explained. 'Every blues bar had Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Muddy Waters. If you could play all them, you could make $2 a night. In the 1960s they started calling that rock 'n' roll.'"
- Dave Hoekstra, Chicago Sun-Times

"'It's better late than never,' Guy said Monday night. 'Actually, I'm happy. The sad part is most of the great black musicians get more recognition after they die.' Guy, who lives in Orland Park, said he'd like to dedicate his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame entry to Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and other legends who showed him the ropes here in the city of the blues. Howlin' Wolf died in 1976 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the same year. Waters died in '83 and was inducted in '87. Guy said it is his duty to carry on a tradition started by greater men than he is. 'I'm trying to carry the load on my shoulders,' he said humbly. 'Everything I know I learned from them.'"
- Vickie Snow, Daily Southtown

December 13, 2004

Best of 2004: DJ Wednesdays at the city's SummerDance series

Reader David Drake (author of I'm So Sinsurr and contributor to We Eat So Many Shrimp) writes: One of the biggest stories in Chicago music in 2004 was the series of house DJ nights at Chicago's SummerDance series. Finally acknowledging the legacy of Chicago's very own house music, the city not only allowed artists like BadBoyBill and Steve "Silk" Hurley to DJ in Grant Park to crowds of thousands, but it even recognized the godfather of Chicago House, Frankie Knuckles, with a street-naming ceremony.

The nights in Grant Park were magical: "Silk" Hurley's entrance, accompanied by a Martin Luther King a capella that had the whole crowd yelling "Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" Bad Boy Bill's filter-disco fever dreams. Green Velvet dropping "Personal Jesus" in the middle of a set of his own classics, including the "Percolator." And the final night of the SummerDance DJ series, where Frankie Knuckles, DJing for a massive crowd in the sweltering heat and mud and rain, played record after record. Even when lightning hit the Sears Tower - sending cheers through the crowd - he played on. It seemed he was controlling the weather as well as the music that moved your body.

David's right on - these shows were special. Best of all was the inescapable sense that showgoers were part of one great egalitarian, communal democracy. These were massive and eclectic crowds, but divisions of race, gender, geography and sexual orientation were demolished by the beat. Whether dancers, DJs, tourists or activists (and with the election season simmering, political cause-pushers were everywhere in those crowds), on those Wednesday nights we were a vibrant, powerful and unique community - the Chicago we aspire to be.

By the way, we loved David's first-blush recap of the Frankie Knuckles gig, published on his blog in August. While we're at it, here's Bob Mehr's Reader tete a tete with the mind behind DJ Wednesdays, DJ Warp/Brian Keigher.