Toyota Park Or Bust
Wouldn’t it just fall in line with Bob Dylan‘s sardonic wit and sly sense of humor to base the name of his summer jaunt with Wilco and My Morning Jacket on that bastion of frilly ’80s excess, Bananarama? Only those within spitting distance of his iTunes account can say if “Cruel Summer” shows up anywhere on a playlist, and they probably signed some sort of non-disclosure agreement tighter than Oprah’s suits could draft. Truly, we’re not concerned with who pitched the Americanarama Festival of Music moniker to the Grammy winner as much as how to divvy up our paycheck to attend both Illinois stops on the 26-date tour (July 11 at Chiefs Stadium in Peoria and July 12 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview). To reiterate, the blockbuster of a lineup includes Dylan, homegrown wonders Wilco, the coolest group ever to feature a cape-wearing frontman, My Morning Jacket, and, as an extra bonus for the Land of Lincoln, the Richard Thompson Electric Trio. As a dyed-in-the-wool South Sider, it’s nice to see such a prestigious roster hitting closer to home. We might even be able to snag a ride to and from the venue (thanks Mom!) or revert to the old days and rent a big ol’ yellow school bus to transport us and 40 of our closest friends.
Two guitars, a bass, and drums. That’s all The Butchershop Quartet needs to recreate Igor Stravinsky‘s classic ballet score, “The Rite Of Spring.” Brothers Dan and Rob Sullivan of Arriver, Frames/Swell Season guitarist Rob Bochnik, and Dan Sylvester haven’t performed the piece live since 2005. Who can blame them? It’s a doozy. Hell, it took the band (along with original instigator Dylan Posa and Nathaniel Braddock) four years alone to come up with and master the intricate arrangement. “Somehow the ambitiousness made the whole thing more enticing,” Dan Sullivan explains via email. Since May marks the centennial of the symphony’s Paris debut, it seemed like the perfect time to dust off the cobwebs and once again tackle the opus. “We can’t recreate the broad timbral range of an orchestra, but the music translates surprisingly well. Our arrangement is note accurate – we take no liberties with the score, nor do we try and make it more ‘rock’ in the phrasing or rhythms. When we [play] it I lose all sense of time: 35 minutes never felt so long or so fleeting,” Sullivan writes. Listening to The Butchershop Quartet’s unique take has the same effect. As to why the music endures, Sullivan can only say, “It is really one of the most iconic pieces of art of the 20th century. Its influence can’t be overstated. It still manages to sound modern, and its appeal reaches far beyond classical music.” See the foursome create a ruckus at Township on May 26.
Meet ‘N’ Greet
The first of many Jeff Buckley flicks (there’s also a musical in San Diego being groomed for an eventual Broadway run) hits theaters this month, but – newsflash! – Greetings From Tim Buckley showed up on video on demand a few weeks ago, thanks to its participation in the Tribeca Film Festival. If you’re keeping score, this one is notable for casting Penn Badgley of “Gossip Girl” loathing as Jeff and failed to gain permission to use the late singer’s music. Surprisingly, count Badgley as the least of the film’s problems. Sure, he’s still skulking around Manhattan with all of his “Dan-isms” intact, but show us an actor capable of tapping into Jeff’s goofy electricity. Admittedly, his octave jumping warrants a golf clap. A shot of espresso can’t save the plot from clunking along. Centered on Jeff’s unofficial New York coming out as a performer at a 1991 tribute to his father, Tim Buckley, with flashbacks of the elder Buckley chasing tail in the ’60s while his pregnant wife waits at home, the film never explores Tim’s motivation for abandoning his family or why Jeff decides to participate in an event celebrating a man he saw twice before an overdose killed him at age 28. A meet-cute and a confusing train ride kill time until the film’s penultimate scene where Jeff finally showcases his heavenly voice on his father’s “Once I Was.” It’s remarkable and reason to stay until the end. Too bad AOL posted the clip early in March.
Etc, Etc . . .
Ever feel like no one takes your suggestions seriously? Are you always outvoted when it comes to choosing a dinner spot or what band to see on a Friday night? Well, fight for a few of your favorite Chicago things by filling out the Chicago Reader‘s annual Best of Chicago survey. And the next time someone doesn’t want to get tacos at the joint you offer up, maybe you’ll be able to point to the completed list and say, “Hey, obviously a whole bunch of people agree with me! Now put a lid on it!” Lots of music categories here: Best Record Store, Best Musical Instrument Shop, Best Local Label, Best Band Name, and Best Gig Poster Designer. However, we don’t see an option for Best Free Music Magazine. What gives? Let’s start a write-in campaign. Ballot closes on May 22 at chicagoreader.com.
When Andy Downing landed a plum gig covering the music beat at Madison’s 77 Square, Wisconsin’s win was Chicago’s loss. However, we’re not completely devoid of Downing’s astute observations – his name routinely pops up in Redeye. It seems the Milwaukee Press Club shares our admiration. Downing received awards for both Best Beat Coverage and Best Critical Review for a write-up of a Bonnie Raitt/Mavis Staples show. Congrats!
MOBFest takes over Wicker Park (or at least two of the neighborhood’s most popular venues) on Aug. 9 and 10. Double Door and Subterranean host the annual weekend of showcases by unsigned up-and-comers and industry panels. Bands hoping to get in front of the conference’s “bigwigs” should submit music through Sonic Bids (sonicbids.com) before June 19.
Our date to senior dance ended up playing regularly with Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater after high school, proving we had impeccable taste in both music and escorts even back then. We actually never thanked that fella for introducing us to the music of the West Side blues legend. Regrets, we have a few. Don’t say the same thing about never catching Clearwater live. You have two chances this month: May 10 at Buddy Guy’s Legends and May 17 at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire . . . With the wealth of artists playing here on any given night, having to make tough choices just goes with the territory. Master of the mouth harp, James Cotton appears at Mayne Stage on May 10. We know it’s the same night as Clearwater. What are you gonna do about it?
When a hankering for the ’90s uncontrollably bubbles up, step away from the flannel and put down the Zima. The key to satisfying the craving to revisit the past without succumbing to its power lies in the music. The tunes will never let you down. Enter in The Neighborhoodlums, a local cover band specializing in the alternative favorites of yesterday (Smashing Pumpkins) and the indie soon-to-be classics of today (Two Door Cinema Club). When you feel the urge, know that you can find the seven-piece collective at TwelveWest Nightclub (May 1 and 15) and Elbo Room (May 24).
Soon, countless college seniors will leave the warm cocoon of academic life and head out into the terrifying unknown. Many will return home to their old bedrooms and old curfews while competing with applicants with more experience, more degrees, and more bills for a dwindling pool of jobs. At least that’s what the media says. For now, until the fear sets in (and it will by August), let’s celebrate the achievements of Columbia College’s graduating class. Manifest, the school’s annual end of the year urban arts festival lands in the South Loop on May 17 with performances by Chance The Rapper, Electric Guest, Now Now, Legit, and Carbon Tigers. The music starts at 2:30 p.m. on the main stage at the Wabash campus.
Winning “American Idol” does not a career make. Good thing someone’s got Lee DeWyze’s back. The Mount Prospect native and 2010’s champion signed with Vanguard Records, which will release his sophomore album later this summer. If first single “Silver Lining” is any indication, DeWyze will be waving to Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks from the cool kids table at the next “Idol” reunion . . . Lights Over Bridgeport signed with Chicago’s Stayposi Records and will head into the studio on May 6 to record an EP. Keep tabs on the quartet’s progress at lightsoverbridgeport.tumblr.com . . . Chicago duo The-Drum defy categorization with their mix of hip-hop, R&B, and spooky blips and burps. We don’t envy the person in charge of assigning a filing genre to the band’s June 25 debut, Contact.
Some things will be forever synonymous with the late Mouseketeer Annette Funicello: those cute little ears, the beach, and Frankie Avalon. Those two crazy kids made everyone watching wish summer lasted all year. Avalon will honor his onscreen sweetheart on May 4 during his appearance at Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. A portion of the ticket sales will benefit the Annette Funicello Research Foundation for Neurological Disorders.
When Richard Marx headlines the second annual National Piano Conference at the Raue Center for the Performing Arts in Crystal Lake on June 29, will he be allowed to touch his guitar or are strings off-limits? That’s probably unlikely, but we’ll use any excuse to convince Lake Bluff’s favorite crooner to belly up to the ivories and belt out “Right Here Waiting” on a repeating loop.
Time for the monthly roundup of dearly departed musical luminaries. Howling Woodstock opener Richie Havens died at the age of 72 on April 22 after suffering a heart attack . . . Australian rocker Christina Amphlett, famous for fronting the Divinyls and that ode to self-pleasure – “I Touch Myself” – succumbed to breast cancer and multiple sclerosis on April 21. She was 53 . . . British graphic designer Storm Thorgerson died on April 18 from cancer. Thorgerson designed album covers, most notably for Pink Floyd, including the band’s iconic The Dark Side Of The Moon image . . . Chicago singer-songwriter John McCandless took a spill in his North Side home and died on April 16 at age 68. He released his most recent album, Lucky Day, in February. The WNUR Folk Show on WNUR-FM (89.3) paid tribute to the singer. That episode can be found, along with a January 2012 interview with McCandless, in the archives at wnurfolk.org.
— Janine Schaults