Bill MacKay and Ryley Walker push back against winter’s bleakness with their second annual holiday party | Bleader

Bill MacKay and Ryley Walker push back against winter’s bleakness with their second annual holiday party

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Let these two merry gentlemen ring in your holiday season. - MICHAEL VALLERA
  • Michael Vallera
  • Let these two merry gentlemen ring in your holiday season.

The state of the world is bleak, that's for sure—not just politically but also economically and environmentally. I know it, you know it, and Bill MacKay and Ryley Walker know it. That's why the Chicago guitarists decided to host a holiday party at the Hideout last year. "We just thought we all could use a lift," MacKay says. "So why not have a concert and emphasize the already joyous theme the holidays are supposed to embody?"

MacKay and Walker gathered a solid lineup of friends and put on a show. As MacKay puts it, they hoped to "kick out the jams, kick our energy up a notch again, get ourselves out of the mire and muck, and rise above the evil mojo." It was such a good time that they're hosting a second edition this Friday, December 22.

Headlining the stacked bill is MacKay and Walker's duo. They've been playing a lot at the end of this year to support their latest record together, the excellent Drag City release SpiderBeetleBee, and on Friday they'll deliver what MacKay describes as "the high-voltage, electric version of our duo set." Expect them to add layers of amplifier volume and fried noise to their take on jazzy, primitive folk.

Opening the show are a duo of top-shelf improvisers, Jaimie Branch and Ben LaMar Gay (on trumpet and cornet, respectively), and Chicago-based electronic musician John Daniel performing his haunting soundscapes as Forest Management.

Throughout the night, visual artist Kim Alpert will drench the performers in psychedelic projections; Doug McCombs of Tortoise and Brokeback will spin records before, between, and after the live sets.

MacKay says he and Walker are hoping to make Bill & Ryley's Holiday Feel Good Night of Live Music & Cheer a yearly tradition, and it sounds like it'd be a welcome fixture on any holiday calendar.

Friday's show at the Hideout starts at 9 PM. Cover is $10.

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