A day-by-day guide to our Critic's Choices and other previews | Essay | Chicago Reader

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A day-by-day guide to our Critic's Choices and other previews

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friday17

buffalo killers The first wave of garage rockers owed a giant debt to the Beatles, but the scene's revivalists--the guys who got started after the Fab Four discovered the sitar--have never shown them much love. These Cincinnati dirtbags, three-fifths of Thee Shams (RIP), demonstrate the folly of this reverse elitism on their self-titled debut for Alive: they wrap the lanky blues and wah-wah guitar of George's White Album material in a thick blanket of scuzz, and the results sound like Dr. Dog coming off of a weeklong Pabst bender. The Saturday Nights headline; the Cassettes and the New Messengers open. a 10 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $7, 18+. --Miles Raymer

canada See Monday. Felix Culpa headlines and Hanalei opens. a 7 PM, Lily Reid Holt Memorial Chapel, Lake Forest College, 555 N. Sheridan, Lake Forest, 847-735-6038. F A

ckali z. fasteau Kali Z. Fasteau first got noticed in the mid-70s while working with her husband, Chicago-born bassist Donald Rafael Garrett (who died in 1989), but she's since made a name for herself on her own. Though primarily a saxophonist, she plays piano, cello, percussion, and various Asian instruments too--and also runs Flying Note, the label that's just released her 12th album, People of the Ninth. That's "Ninth" as in Ninth Ward: recorded in September 2005, the disc memorializes the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and features Kidd Jordan, the patriarchal New Orleans free-jazz saxist. It's pretty crazy stuff, a throwback to the experimentation of the 60s and 70s--Fasteau inhabits a world of pure sound, in which traditional elements (melody, harmony, even form) exist abstrusely, to the extent they exist at all. Her approach is undeniably effective at conveying mood and texture, though if you can't let go of your preconceptions (and sometimes even if you can) it may come off as gibberish. But I'll give her the benefit of the doubt for these Chicago shows, especially since the quartet she's leading will include a grounded reedist in Mwata Bowden. Bassist Harrison Bankhead and drummer Dushun Mosley round out the group. See also Saturday. a 9 PM, Velvet Lounge, 67 E. Cermak, 312-791-9050, $15. --Neil Tesser

cbert jansch, steve mackay & the radon ensemble It's tempting to think of BERT JANSCH's new disc, The Black Swan (Drag City), as a comeback, but the veteran British folkie never retired from playing live or making albums--he's just recording for a hipper, more high-profile label (which also happens to be the first in the U.S. to sign him). Jansch's 60s and 70s work--as a solo artist, with the influential folk-rock-jazz group Pentangle, or in duets with fellow Pentangle guitarist John Renbourn--has become a touchstone for younger musicians, and on the new album he's practically annexed by the freak-folk crowd: he's joined by Beth Orton, Devendra Banhart, David Roback, and others, and coproducer Noah Georgeson has worked with Banhart and Joanna Newsom. Still, Jansch sounds very much himself on this casual outing. He was one of the first of the 60s British folk artists to eschew traditional songs and write his own, and he still does that, singing in a comfortable, lived-in warble and playing acoustic fingerstyle guitar that's unfussy but technically sharp and colorful. --Peter Margasak

Though STEVE MACKAY will probably always be best known for his wallpaper-peeling sax freak-outs on the Stooges' Fun House back in 1970, he's been working steadily through the years. He recently toured with the reunited Stooges (which helped quash those rumors that he died decades ago), and he's also played with the collective Smegma (see Sunday), the Turkish punk band Rashit, the Violent Femmes, Commander Cody & the Lost Planet Airmen, Andre Williams, Grails, and his own Radon Ensemble. His latest, Michigan and Arcturus, was released earlier this year by the Radon collective, which runs a booking company and a network of studios as well as a label. Mackay and associates create a shivery, boiling sound, rationing out eruptions sparingly and atmospheric tension generously. The group will be joined by Yakuza reedist Bruce Lamont. --Monica Kendrick

This show is part of the Three Million Tongues Festival; see page 26 for a complete schedule. Bert Jansch headlines; Steve Mackay & the Radon Ensemble, Spires That in the Sunset Rise, and Nick Schillace open. Frankie Delmane, Folk & Violence, and Michael Young give "sideshow" performances between sets. If you're reading this on Thursday, November 16, you may still be able to catch the free Three Million Tongues preparty with Sikhara (which includes members of the Radon Ensemble) at 10 PM at Rodan, 1530 N. Milwaukee; call 773-276-7036. a 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12.

cANDY PRATT This singer-songwriter-pianist scored a minor hit in 1973 with "Avenging Annie," a rambunctious yarn about Annie Oakley and Pretty Boy Floyd that was later covered by Roger Daltrey. Since then he's stayed below the radar: though he never stopped recording and performing, his 1979 conversion to Christianity (and overtly Christian music, at least for a while) and his subsequent move to Europe pretty much sealed his fate as a cultish obscurity. But that doesn't seem to bother Pratt one bit. On Live at the Village Underground (itsaboutmusic.com), a 2003 concert recording, his angelic, impish voice is in fine form, and he plays his unique sort of white-soulful folk-glam with high-spirited zeal--imagine Nick Drake with a backbone or Donovan with testicles. Pratt returned to his native Boston a few years ago and in 2005 reissued his entire catalog online; a self-published memoir, Shiver in the Night, is forthcoming. For this show he's backed by three locals: guitarist Michael Lyons (Clyde Federal), bassist Greg MacAyeal, and drummer Geoff Greenberg (Mr. Rudy Day). Frisbie headlines. a 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. --Monica Kendrick

eric reed trio Sometimes it can take years for a jazzman to figure out his vision, and though great technique is a must, by itself it's not enough for the long haul. Pianist Eric Reed is a case in point: he made a big splash when he arrived on the scene in the early 90s, joining the Wynton Marsalis Septet at 20, but the hoopla was more about the gig he'd landed than his own musical personality, which was still unformed. Since then, though, he's established himself as one of the best pianists in mainstream jazz, informing his command of bop verities with a lifelong love of gospel. His latest album, Here (Maxjazz), is a gorgeous display of his talents, tempered with a restraint he lacked in his early days. He's supported by two locals, bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer George Fludas. See also Saturday and Sunday. a 9 and 11 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $25. --Peter Margasak

saturday18

ARBOURETUM Fronted by David Heumann, former guitarist in Bonnie "Prince" Billy's band, this Baltimore group plays the sort of expansive psych rock that you can do the big-tree-in-a-windstorm hippie dance to, provided you've got the endurance: the tracks on their recent EP, Bringing in the Dawn (Teneral), unfold slowly, with a reverent patience, over eight or ten minutes. There's always one of Heumann's blistering solos to look forward to when things reach critical mass, though. Thrill Jockey will put out their second album, Rites of Uncovering, in January. Sam Prekop & Archer Prewitt open. a 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433 or 866-468-3401, $8. --Monica Kendrick

cCHARALAMBIDES, DREAMWEAPON After more than 15 years of playing together, core Charalambides members Tom and Christina Carter have bid au revoir to outside collaboration, esoteric instrumentation, and free-form improvisation. That's not to say that the new A Vintage Burden (Kranky) is a complete break with the past: the relatively conventional verse-chorus structures, gorgeous folklike melodies, and guitar-dominated arrangements recall the duo's haunting mid-90s Siltbreeze LPs, and Christina's swooping, multitracked vocals defy gravity as fearlessly as the hair-raising wordless maneuvers she executed with Heather Leigh Murray on more recent efforts like Unknown Spin and Joy Shapes. But the nature imagery of new tunes like "Spring" and "Two Birds" stands in stark contrast to the dystopic bleakness of a record like 1995's Market Square (one track was a frantic call to a suicide hotline that wound up on the Carters' answering machine). Even a song like "Dormant Love," which begins on the coldest day of winter and details the end of a relationship, feels somewhat reassuring and hopeful, as if it's all for the best.

When a heavy touring schedule with Prefuse 73, Sam Prekop, and Sticks and Stones drew multi-instrumentalist Josh Abrams away from Town and Country, his bandmates--Ben Vida, Liz Payne, and Jim Dorling--began rehearsing and playing the odd gig as Dreamweapon. Initially the trio sat around a Dreamachine (a device invented by Brion Gysin to induce an alpha state similar to that achieved by meditation) and played hypnotic harmonium and viola drones interlaced with throat singing and chanting. But over the past couple years the band has tripled in size and plugged in: now psychedelic guitar licks and hammered dulcimer thicken the textures while Middle Eastern hand percussion and trap drums amplify the pulse. (Unfortunately dulcimer player Emmett Kelly won't be joining the band for this performance; see the Meter for more.)

This show is part of the Three Million Tongues Festival; see page 26 for a complete schedule. Charalambides headlines; Michael Yonkers with the Blind Shake, Dreamweapon, and Singleman Affair open. Hands of Hydra, J. Glenn, and Yellow Universe play "sideshow" performances between sets. a 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12. --Bill Meyer

ckali z. fasteau See Friday. a 9 PM, Velvet Lounge, 67 E. Cermak, 312-791-9050, $15.

cchris thomas king Louisiana guitarist Chris Thomas King started his career in the late 80s as an acoustic-blues revivalist, though he's also integrated hip-hop into his music--his 2002 album, Dirty South Hip-Hop Blues, merged scratches and sampled beats with guitars and harmonicas. He's back to the acoustic format on his new album, Rise (21st Century Blues), which he recorded after losing his New Orleans home and studio to Katrina. Though the music sounds like soft, unthreatening folk-rock, the lyrics are steely: on the scathing "What Would Jesus Do?" King attacks middle America's complacency about the poor displaced by the hurricane; "Faith" is a politically charged ode to brotherhood and family; and the Celtic-styled "Tis the Last Rose of Summer" is a tribute to his late mother. The whole album is suffused with a deep-blues sensibility: a determination to prevail, laced with outrage at injustice. Guy King opens. a 9:30 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash, 312-427-0333, $15. --David Whiteis

oh my god Oh My God is a power trio with a twist: instead of a guitar it has an organ, but it's so jacked up and cracked out you couldn't be blamed if you mistook it for a Hiwatt half-stack. On their fifth album, Fools Want Noise, they mess with their own formula, enlisting the help of guitarist Jake Garcia, who's also joining them on this tour. The album won't be out until spring 2007, but a four-song preview disc is for sale on the band's Web site. Breaking Laces and Buddy Nuisance open. a 10:30 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $10. --J. Niimi

PORTASTATIC, BENJY FERREE Mac McCaughan's songs on the latest PORTASTATIC album, Be Still Please (Merge), are filled with details about the adult world--politics, marriage, fatherhood, getting older. He knows that being 38 doesn't offer the wild fun of being 18, but he figures that wisdom, love, and family are a fair trade-off, and the record is an honest, sweet, sometimes arresting catalog of real-life complexities. You might have ignored the previous eight Portastatic records or jumped off the Mac train once Superchunk stopped touring, but passing on him now means you'll miss some rare pop grace--and some rippin' guitar solos. --Jessica Hopper

Singer-songwriter BENJY FERREE planned to make it as an actor after high school, moving from his native Washington, D.C., to Hollywood, but the closest he got to stardom was babysitting David Lynch's son. Eventually he returned home and started making music; Leaving the Nest, an EP he self-released last year, was recently reissued with newer songs by Domino Records. Ferree sings with a slightly theatrical flair, and he's got a pronounced classic-rock bent too: his ambling, hooky songs have a music-hall touch a la Ray Davies, and the lyrical guitar solo on the title track could've come straight out of the George Harrison fake book. --Peter Margasak

Portastatic headlines and Benjy Ferree opens. a 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $12.

eric reed trio See Friday. a 9 and 11 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $25.

cshot x shot The self-titled debut by this young quartet from Philadelphia, released on High Two, is one of the year's most striking and satisfying jazz albums. Steering between the poles of pure schematic exercise and pedal-to-the-metal blowing, Shot x Shot arrive via intuition and empathy at a beguiling middle ground. The twin-saxophone improvisations of Lennie Tristano's groups are clearly an antecedent, but the explorations here feel more leisurely and harmonically ambiguous. While the elements of their approach--lovely, melancholy melodies, inventive permutations of written material, shifts between foreground and background--aren't new in themselves, they execute them with distinction; it's impressive simply that tenor saxophonist Bryan Rogers and alto saxophonist Dan Scofield both play nearly the whole time without ever getting in each other's way. It's not as easy to pick out exactly what drummer Dan Capecchi and bassist Matt Engle are doing--the album was recorded in an old church on the University of Pennsylvania campus that gives an appealingly murky reverb to the performances--but when you can, it's always perceptive, precise, and ensemble minded. Shot x Shot open for the Peter Brotzmann-Jeb Bishop Sextet--actually a double trio with bassists Kent Kessler and Ingebrigt Haaker Flaten and drummers Tim Daisy and Frank Rosaly. a 9 PM, Enemy, 1550 N. Milwaukee, third floor, 312-493-3657, $10 suggested donation. A --Peter Margasak

sunday19

EARLY DAY MINERS, UNWED SAILOR Early Day Miners are the project of Daniel Burton, a Bloomington-based producer-songwriter mentored by Daniel Lanois. Burton wears the Lanois influence on his sleeve: his songs pulse and billow with warm waves of reverb and guitar chords that ring out softly and infinitely. On the new Offshore (Secretly Canadian), Burton teams up with members of Black Mountain, Unwed Sailor, and Windsor for the Derby, who help him shake off some of the slowcore cliches that marked the first four EDM records and flex some heretofore unheard muscle. They don't exactly crank it, but it's nice to finally get a bit more meat, depth, and good oldfashioned volume. --Jessica Hopper

Talk Talk cover designer James Marsh did the artwork for Unwed Sailor's 2006 releases, Circles and The White Ox (both on Burnt Toast Vinyl), and it evokes prog's pop-surrealist ambitions: think a combination of Allan Holdsworth's 70s albums and that Dali poster at least six people you knew in college had in their dorm rooms. But Jonathan Ford, Unwed Sailor's lone constant, isn't obsessed with noodly structures. His mostly instrumental music plays out like a murky, airy sound track, which sometimes it actually is: 2004's For Jonathan was the score to a seven-minute short film of the same name, and 2003's The Marionette and the Music Box has since been turned into a ballet. --Monica Kendrick

Early Day Miners headline, Unwed Sailor plays second, and Gaberdine opens. a 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8.

FRIDA HYVONEN This Swedish singer and pianist could stand to learn a few things about rhythmic variety--nearly half the songs on her debut, Until Death Comes (Secretly Canadian), have the same two-beat oompah feel. Luckily, Hyvonen gets just about everything else right, using her strong but gentle voice to put across lovely melodies teamed with ambiguous, defiantly romantic lyrics; on "I Drive My Friend" she sounds contented as a fleeting encounter comes to an end, while on "Valerie" she sings, "Seduce me again Valerie don't be a fool." A full band plays behind her for "Come Another Night," but otherwise it's basically just Hyvonen and her piano, which is all she needs. Bishop Allen headlines, Hyvonen plays second, and Brice Woodall & the Bots open. See Section 1 for more. a 7 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $10. A --Peter Margasak

eric reed trio See Friday. a 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $20.

cfazil say One of the most striking elements of Maxim Vengerov's 2004 recital was his choice of pianist, the fiery, technically brilliant Fazil Say. At times he was too much--too much volume, too much physical motion--but he displayed intelligence, musicality, a vast tonal palette, a willingness to take risks, and the rare ability to get big, rich sounds from the keyboard. In his recording of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata he brings an exhilarating energy to the opening (even if it's a little too fast in places) and warmth and elegance to the adagio and the gloriously delicate theme of the last movement's rondo. Occasionally a note is harsh, but he brings out the work's improvisatory character in a way I've never heard before, and the end is pure thunder, calling to mind Beethoven sitting on the floor, playing his piano with the legs sawed off so he could feel the vibrations. For this concert, his Chicago recital debut, Say will perform another spectacular Beethoven sonata, the Tempest, as well as Liszt's dramatic Sonata in B Minor. He'll also play two Bach organ works, one arranged by Liszt, the other by Say himself. You may not always agree with what he does, but you might be thrilled anyway. Say, who's also a composer, will give a free informal lecture and concert at 5 PM on Saturday in Northwestern University's Lutkin Hall; see listings for more information. a 3 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $15-$38. --Barbara Yaross

csmegma Difficult to pinpoint, challenging to describe, and positively revolting to google, this collective oozed into being in LA more than 30 years ago, back when the city was cheap, tawdry, and perfectly comfy for Beefheart disciples. But that wasn't enough to keep Amazon Bambi, Dr. Id, Ju Suk Reete Meat, and the rest of the crew from abandoning Tinseltown for the northwest, where they've been steadily kicking out the hair-raising jams ever since. The Beast (De Stijl), a collaboration with Wolf Eyes released last year, is pretty fascinating: a relatively tight, hipster-friendly noise unit coming together with a bunch of hairy hippies who've been around long enough to count the Butthole Surfers among their pop progeny. Wolf Eyes must've felt like a British Invasion band creaming at the prospect of playing with some old bluesmen. This show is part of the Three Million Tongues Festival; see page 26 for a complete schedule. White/Lichens, Burning Star Core, and Aleks & the Drummer open; Joy Poppers, Skog Device, and Th' Exceptional Child give "sideshow" performances between sets. a 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12. --Monica Kendrick

monday20

CANADA More so than Asia or Europe, Canada makes music that convincingly evokes its namesake: these are kids who knit scarves for each other on tour and played last Halloween dressed as characters from The Royal Tenenbaums, and as you'd expect they play quaint, pleasant mope pop with a touch of chamber-music preciousness. Stylistically the Ann Arbor seven-piece is a good match for this show's headliner, Champaign indie-pop trio Headlights, though Canada lugs more instruments to the studio; the band's debut CD, This Cursed House (Quite Scientific), features glockenspiel, cello, and, on "Hey Garland," the catchiest manual typewriter I've ever heard. Skeletons & the Girl-Faced Boys, the Beauty Shop, and Caleb Engstrom open. See also Friday. a 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401. F --J. Niimi

shareefa Shareefa brings a nice touch of Mary J. Blige-brand soul to Ludacris's Disturbing Tha Peace crew, but her recent debut, Point of No Return, is a mixed bag. On "Need a Boss," which benefits from a typically sharp Ludacris cameo, she slaloms through the dry, twitching beats with style, but on conventional ballads her singing is just average. Lyfe Jennings headlines and Emily King opens. a 9:30 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $29.50, 18+. --Peter Margasak

CORKY SIEGEL'S CHAMBER BLUES WITH HOWARD LEVY As far as I know, only one harmonica player--lyrical, innovative bluesman Corky Siegel--has ever headlined the Jazz Showcase, so this concert represents a 100 percent increase. Siegel will lead his Chamber Blues band, which comprises a string quartet and exacting percussionist Frank Donaldson, playing mostly tabla. That's an unusual enough arrangement, but the wild card at this show is Howard Levy, who's used techniques of his own invention to turn the standard ten-hole blues harp into a full-fledged jazz horn. I heard Levy last weekend, and his unequalled virtuosity has actually grown, thanks to a series of newly customized harps that give him an even greater range. This meeting of the Marine Bands is a benefit for the Jazz Showcase, which loses its lease December 31 and is looking for a new location. a 8 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $100. --Neil Tesser

tuesday21

VENOM LORDS The two dudes and two ladies in the Venom Lords--new wave suit-and-tie folks who used to play in Not Rebecca and the Pillowmints, among other bands--keep it simple on their self-titled, self-released EP. They stick to the midwestern aesthetic laid down by bands like Sarge and the Smoking Popes, playing fresh-out-of-the-garage pop rock with few frills besides the occasional guitar solo. Farewell Captain and Panther Style open. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $7. --Jessica Hopper

wednesday22

KID KOALA On his latest foray into pure turntablism, Your Mom's Favorite DJ (Ninja Tune), Kid Koala (aka Eric San) does two rare and laudable things: crafts an engaging narrative and displays a sharp sense of humor. (It figures that one of San's other passions is puppetry.) The disc is his fifth full-length for the label founded by the duo Coldcut, whose music influenced the young cub long before they introduced the world to his physical and playful DJing style. Hollywood Holt and Kevin Franck aka Linus open. a 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $15 in advance, $18 at the door, 18+. --J. Niimi

panic! at the disco Panic! at the Disco's surprise hit single, "I Write Sins Not Tragedies," wallows in so many overcooked emo cliches--hollow bombast, kicked-puppy vocals, faux-profound lyrics--that it almost sounds like a parody. If you're predisposed to despise emo, their sole album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out (Decaydance), will serve as absolute confirmation of the genre's inherent badness; if on the other hand you've got a soft spot for half-time breakdowns and teary-eyed, anthemic choruses, it'll make bands like My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy suddenly seem nuanced. Even when Panic! try to stretch out, they use the cheapest available shorthand for "edgy sonic exploration," yoking their uninspired songwriting to shitty drum-machine programming. Neither is much improved by the effort. Plain White T's and Jack's Mannequin open. a 7 PM, UIC Pavilion, 1150 W. Harrison, 312-413-5740 or 312-559-1212, sold out. A --Miles Raymer

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