Chicago is the home of the blues and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Buddy Guy is its elder statesman. His namesake club, Legends is ground zero for some of the best live blues in the city seven nights a week. These are facts repeatedly hammered home at the beginning of each new year when Guy holds his annual month-long residency every Thursday through Sunday night in January to preach the gospel.
Guy has spent the last decade singing about getting up there in years (check out 2001’s “Done Got Old” or 2010’s “74 Years Young”). And yet every year, he gets up on the Legends stage and blows away musicians half his age. The 76-year-old has lost nary a step. And what’s more? His profile hasn’t been higher in decades. Following the release of his autobiography in May (When I Left Home: My Story), Guy was recently awarded the Kennedy Center Honor for “exemplary lifetime achievement in the performing arts” (alongside a who’s who of entertainment industry icons including the living members of Led Zeppelin). The brand new Live at Legends features some of the final live music recorded at the old club in 2010 before Guy moved Legends down the street later that year. The new album pairs classic live cuts with three new studio tracks (one featuring the famed Memphis Horns).
Every single night of the January residency features a different opener as the king of Chicago blues once again does his best to expose the type of live music that can be seen night after night throughout this city (This week’s openers are Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, John Primer, and Samantha Fish respectively). At press time, eight of this month’s 16 dates are already sold out so plan ahead for one of the highlights of the 2013 live music calendar. (Friday, Saturday and Sunday@Buddy Guy’s Legends.)
Taking a break from a long list of day jobs (most notably with The Roots and as leader of the house band on NBC’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon), Questlove joins fellow Philadelphia R&B/soul musicians Kindred The Family Soul on tour.
Trying to explain what to expect from a Questlove show can be difficult. Will he drum? Will he sing? Will he spin? One never knows and the show could end up encompassing all of that and more. What is for sure, however, is that Saturday night at The Shrine, Questlove will be joined not only by Kindred but by fellow Roots bandmate and co-founder Black Thought as well. Jazz pianist and producer Robert Glasper rounds out the bill for what is being dubbed “A Philly Jam Session.”
The roots of The Roots go all the way back to 1987 with their first album Organix actually dropping in 1993. The band’s strength lies in the fact that beyond hip-hop, they’re an actual band – fierce in the live setting with a set of influences ranging anywhere from funk to rock to soul (befitting of their Philly upbringing).
Having toured their major label debut Do You Want More?!!!??! via Lollapalooza ’95 (back when the festival remained a traveling entity) first helped them to appeal to a wider demographic, a notion that performing every night on national television as Fallon’s game sidekicks has only broadened. (Saturday@The Shrine with Kindred The Family Soul.)
Visual artist/singer-songwriter Dan Patrevito doesn’t list any influences on his Facebook or ReverbNation pages, but as a pianist who sings almost as well as he plays, assume along the lines of Randy Newman. Having recently returned from Denver, the Chicago native’s music goes hand in hand with the introspection that comes late at night/early in the morning with a cold drink in a dark club.
But lyrics matter too.
Take for example, Patrevito’s rendition of the Bob Dylan classic “Simple Twist Of Fate.” Tackling the Dylan canon isn’t always recommended but this version of “Simple Twist of Fate” is performed in about as barebones a fashion as it gets. The quiet, subtle tones of the piano are played slow and put the focus not only on Dylan’s lyrics, but Patrevito’s voice (which trades in Dylan’s snarl for something less bloody). Stretching out the four-minute song to over six, the lyrics envelop the listener leaving them awash in the myriad ways Dylan’s tale of love lost can be taken.
A video entitled “King Dinh Demo” features Patrevito on xylophone and keyboard (accompanied by local stalwart Mike Bruno – of Spare Parts fame – on drums), in a far sunnier and more upbeat jazz affair demonstrative of range. (Sunday@Tonic Room.)
— Jim Ryan
Out of Detroit, OttO Vector takes the stage with a creative blend of pop rock and electro that delivers smooth, clear vocals with searing guitar, synth, and percussion. Songs like “Words” clearly have an ’80s pop influence, while others like “Charlie Mix” seem more similar to today’s current crop of poppy artists with an edge. Whatever the inspiration, the band’s lead singer, Renee Miller, uses her powerful vocals to blow through grungy guitar riffs, funky bass, blasting snares, and video game-like synthesizers. Despite the sheer energy of her voice, Miller maintains a steadiness, pushing through at the right moments while staying subtle during the builds. With a sound all their own, the band finds the musical boxes set out for them confining. The songs take turns on which genre gets front billing (electro, rock, pop?), which allows the band to produce something entirely unique. (Sunday@Beat Kitchen.)
— Mary Scannell