Best shows to see: Extraordinary Popular Delusions, Graham Parker & the Rumour, and People's Temple

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Graham Parker & the Rumour
  • Graham Parker & the Rumour
When the holidays descend upon us each December and the concert calendar cools off, the time is ripe to check out all of the great local talent you tend to take for granted most of the year because they played around town all of the time. It's a good exercise to indulge in, as it can remind us how strong the Chicago music scene really is. On Monday cornetist Rob Mazurek's new trio Alternate Moon Cycles, with bassist Matt Lux and drummer Mikel Avery, ends its December residency at Curio, while musical polymath Robbie Fulks continues his ever-changing residency at the Hideout in bluegrass mold, joined by guitarist Josh Williams and banjoist Greg Cahill (the founder of Special Consensus, with whom they all worked). On Tuesday Raul Malo—lead singer of the recently reunited Mavericks—plays holiday-themed music at Space in Evanston, while Jason Stein's excellent quartet hold forth at Bar DeVille. Tuesday is also your last chance to take in a Chicago Symphony Orchestra program of Bach concertos, Prince of Clouds, a new commission from Mead composer-in-residence Anna Clyne. On Wednesday Mars Williams carries on a recent holiday tradition of combining holiday fare with classics by free-jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler in his group Witches & Devils at the Hideout. Highlights from this week's Soundboard can be found after the jump.

Mon 12/17: Extraordinary Popular Delusions at Beat Kitchen
"Keyboardist Jim Baker, drummer Steve Hunt, double bassist and electric guitarist Brian Sandstrom, and reedist Mars Williams are all veterans with decades of experience," writes Bill Meyer. "Between them they’ve played jazz of every stripe at the Lighthouse Tavern and the Green Mill, funky circus music at the Folk & Roots Festival, and pastel 80s pop with the Psychedelic Furs. But since 2005 they’ve convened weekly as Extraordinary Popular Delusions to play a set of totally free improvisation. In one evening they might touch on rip-snorting fire music, spacy electronics, or delicate, arrhythmic timbral explorations—half the fun is seeing them disappear down a stylistic rabbit hole, then come out the other end sounding like something from a different genre, decade, or planet." This is the final 2012 show of the quartet's ongoing Beat Kitchen residency.

Tue 12/18: Graham Parker & the Rumour at Park West
The great Graham Parker harks back to his soul-streaked days now that he's reunited with his original backing band for the first time in over three decades. As I write this week, "The Rumour still consists of guitarists Brinsley Schwarz and Martin Belmont, bassist Andrew Bodnar, keyboardist Bob Andrews, and drummer Steve Goulding (a former Chicagoan who's in the Mekons and the Waco Brothers), just as it did in the late 70s—the members also turn up in the forthcoming Judd Apatow film This Is 40, playing themselves reuniting. The songs on Three Chords Good lack the fire of classics such as 'Mercury Poisoning,' 'Stick to Me,' and 'Discovering Japan,' but they've got the same irresistible mix of rock, soul, and R&B—and it's nice to be reminded of the days when it was fairly radical to embed that stuff in scrappy, no-nonsense protopunk and play it straight-up, instead of like an overwrought asshole rock star."

Tue 12/18: People's Temple at Empty Bottle
"The opening cut and title track from More From the Masses (HoZac), the sophomore full-length from Lansing band the People's Temple, is a perfectly designed piece of hooky psych garage—dreamy wah-wah guitar, thick bass coating the melody, and an obligatory hat tip to the raucousness of the 13th Floor Elevators," writes Kevin Warwick. "By halfway through the album, though, 'House of Fools' is piling on verses that sound like Lizard King diatribes delivered at a poetry slam, and I'm pining for the more spirited songs that came before." For Warwick, though, the songs on the album's front half are worth the price of admission.

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