Lonesome Organist | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Lonesome Organist

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In this push-play era, when even live music is increasingly automated, you've got to give props to Jeremy Jacobsen, aka the one-man band Lonesome Organist. He's the organ grinder and the monkey, wrasslin' what seems like a zillion instruments at once--among them accordion, singing saw, tape delay, steel drum, steel pan, guitar, harmonica, marimba, toy piano, vibraphone, and (duh) organ--while twirling drumsticks and tap-dancing. His third release, Forms and Follies (Thrill Jockey), was recorded on eight tracks (fewer, for some songs), so the DIY vibe is there, but it lacks a sense of spontaneity--all the arrangements were apparently written out on paper beforehand, and you can kind of tell. Jacobsen is definitely impressive as he coaxes an alarming variety of styles out of his scrap heap of gear, but he doesn't really know where to stop. Dusty vaudeville, flanged-out cock rock, mildly unpleasant Chick Corea-style fusion--Jacobsen does it all, and then he does it all again. His la-la land seems sweet at first, but the whimsicality gets cloying halfway through. The CD comes with a two-sided flip book of him dancing and playing accordion and drum; like the CD itself, it's charming, but after you've flipped through it a few times it starts to feel like a waste of paper, time, and talent. It doesn't do him justice; better to just see him live. This is the release party for Forms and Follies. Friday, July 11, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Newberry.

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