Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Stage Buzz: Chicago Afrobeat Project and Carly Rae Jepsen

| December 14, 2012

Chicago Afrobeat Project

If the Chicago Afrobeat Project sent out snail-mail invitations to this weekend’s 10th anniversary/CD release celebration, we imagine that a sprinkling of golden saxophone-shaped confetti and the dulcet tones of Sam Cooke’s “Having A Party” would explode from the colorful notes upon opening. Since musical cards are bulky (not to mention expensive, just ask Hallmark), a Facebook event page will have to do. The collective prefers to save the fireworks for the stage anyway. Saturday’s wild rumpus commemorates two milestones in the group’s history – a decade in the biz and the unveiling of a fourth full-length, Nayash Up! (Jan. 8).

From Lake Street loft parties to cross-country tours and shared bills with Seun Kuti, son of Afrobeat architect Fela Kuti, these locals revere the genre’s socially conscious percussive traditions without succumbing to its constraints. Nayah Up! finds guitarist David Glines along with Garrick Smith (baritone sax), Kevin Ford (keyboards), Angelo Garcia (tenor sax), Graham Czach (bass), Justin Boyd (drums), and Danjuma Gaskin on (congas) toying with rock (Led Zeppelin), new wave (Talking Heads), and metal (System Of A Down). By filtering the familiar through CAbP’s unique, floor-shaking prism, the band drains Radiohead of its frosty sterility, like a vampire turn in reverse. This warm-blooded flush overpowers “Inner City Blues Makes Ya Wanna Holler” thanks to full-bodied vocals from Ugochi and Squair Blaq. More Sonia Dada than originator Marvin Gaye, the single features the band’s signature burning horn blasts – the musical equivalent to Truman Capote’s “mean reds.”

Specials guests JC Brooks (of Uptown Sound fame), Nathaniel Braddock, Ugochi and Ayodele Drum & Dance movers and shakers add to the carnival atmosphere. (Saturday@Double Door with Occidental Brothers Dance Band, Fatbook, and Bloco Maximo.)

How famous is Carly Rae Jepsen? Forget Grammy nominations (she nabbed two – Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance), YouTube views (358 million and counting), and cheeky parodies (from Olympians to Cookie Monster) as a gauge. These days the number of naughty pictures inadvertently floating about determines celebrity status. The “Call Me Maybe” singer narrowly escaped a hacker’s attempt to shop photos of her unmentionables. The man turned himself in to authorities before Jepsen’s privates became as ubiquitous as her hit song. Justin Bieber deserves credit for pushing the Canadian into the spotlight (our fruit basket is in the mail), but the bouncy simplicity (and a killer fool-proof pickup line) of “Call Me Maybe” did all the heavy lifting. Her sophomore release (who knew?), Kiss makes a solid case for the 26-year-old’s longevity with the equally spritely and starry-eyed “This Kiss” and the besotted partnership with Owl City on “Good Time.” Jepsen shares a bill with The Biebs at the B96 Pepsi Jingle Bash on Saturday at the Allstate Arena, but catch her without all the pomp and circumstance at a sanctioned after show in Arlington Heights. (Saturday@House of Entertainment & Music.)

— Janine Schaults

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Category: Featured, Stage Buzz, Weekly

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