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CBB . . . Bye, BB!

| January 26, 2012

Would, say, Lollapalooza be more enjoyable if it were scattered over a couple weekends? Obviously, tearing down and rebuilding the stages/leaving Grant Park blocked would be bad. But we like how Chicago Bluegrass & Blues takes a break and restarts.

This weekend comes the finale, or part two, or a completely separate event in this winter’s CBB12, and hoes down at an entirely different venue than last week’s Auditorium Theatre, and we still don’t quite understand why “blues” is in the fest title. Maybe Chicago Bluegrass & Americana sounds too narrow or whitebread. Headliners Drive-By Truckers play self-aware Southern rock, though their latest album (Go-Go Boots on ATO) finds them celebrating their inner session musicians and taking it easy on the body count. Reliable, local folk rockers Joe Pug, Bailiff, Van Ghost, Jaik Willis, The Shams Band, Jon Drake & The Shakes, Ben Ripani Music Co., The Future Laureates, Band Called Catch, Michele McGuire, and Paper Thick Walls round out the bill. Maybe Jon Spencer consulted on the lineup (go to 2:13). What’s in a festival name anyway? It’s not like Pitchfork books rural bands.(Saturday@Congress.)

If, two days after CBB, you still can’t shake the feeling, Charlie Parr might show you salvation. Parr’s latest album, Keep Your Hands On The Plow, collects a number of gospel standards and renders them on a drought-plagued prairie at dusk. The Minnesotan’s interpretations aim for grim, fire-and-brimstone tones, but with a distance that suggests Parr doesn’t subscribe to the content. Even the hallowing capabilities of Low guests Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk create a gray area where Parr’s detachment is either totally compelling or a dry turnoff. The battle for the soul should be filled with such ambivalence. (Monday@Reggies with Kent Rose and Me & The Devil.)

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Featured, Stage Buzz, Weekly

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