They're losing bassist Tom Smith to the woolly wilds of SF later this summer, but until then 1900s side project Mazes are gigging up a storm, with shows Friday at the Empty Bottle and Saturday at the The Old Town Arts Festival
Old Town School's Chicago Folk & Roots fest. Despite rumors to the contrary, Smith's departure doesn't signal a breakup—the band is planning on keeping it up via long-distance collaboration and "the Internet," says Jim Kelly at the band's label, Parasol. Meanwhile the quintet are putting the finishing touches on a sophomore album, and a remix of their 2009 album and their latest seven-inch will be available as a free download June 15 on mazes.bandcamp.com
Local hip-hop producer Mulatto Patriot is finishing up The New Deal, a concept album about life during the recession, with Czar Absolute of Animate Objects and the Chicago Afrobeat Project. He tells Gossip Wolf it connects "what President Roosevelt accomplished during his term to the work President Obama is doing to fix our economy," but it also contains summertime and romantic jams for good measure. It's slated for August release.
Pugs Atomz released a new album last week, Kinda Like A Rapper (Coalmine/Fat Beats), produced by Coalmine honcho Grant Parks (Sadat X, Twista).
WGCI's up-and-coming DJ Moondawg dropped a mixtape of Lupe Fiasco rarities, Before There Were Lasers, this past weekend. The track "Could of Been" features Moondawg musing on what certainly sounded like a dis to Gossip Wolf's hairy, pointy ears: "I can't help but think! What would hip-hop be like today! If there were no lasers! If my nigga Lupe was still on that real hip-hop shit! No shots! I'm just sayin'!"
The third annual Blues on the North Shore Harp & Soul Festival happens Thursday, June 10, at 8 PM at SPACE in Evanston (1245 Chicago). Special guests include Chess legend Sam Lay, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, and Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith. Sunday at SPACE it's David "Honeyboy" Edwards's 95th-birthday celebration. More info on both at bluesonthenorthshore.com. Several artists also play the Chicago Blues Festival, which kicks off tomorrow; see page 50 for details.
Almost-locals Maritime started recording a new LP this week at Howl Street in their hometown of Milwaukee, and the rest of the band will continue tracking while front man Davey Von Bohlen is busy with the Cap'n Jazz reunion tour this summer. The album is their first for LA indie Dangerbird and is being executive produced and mixed by Garbage engineer Billy Bush.
Nathaniel Braddock, guitarist for the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, is also a six-string instructor at the Old Town School. This fall he's introducing a new ensemble class, SST Ensemble, based on the early-to-mid-80s SST Records roster, featuring songs by Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr, the Minutemen, and Black Flag, among others. By the end of the eight weeks students should be able to play a version of Sonic Youth's "Schizophrenia" that Braddock has worked out in standard tuning. If it goes well, next spring Tim Kinsella will teach a Henry Rollins-inspired course, "Level 3: Loose Nut Ensemble"; students will be expected to provide their own gym shorts and rub-on tattoos.
Please Don't Feed the Hippies: Rechristened Chicago Peace Fest, the altered-state fest previously known as Hemp & Peace Fest takes place in Lincoln Park, a block south of the zoo, June 18-20 between "high noon" and 9 PM each day. Some 30-odd acts including Poverty Tax, Genral Patton & His Privates, and Wanton Looks will provide the soundtrack for the many Hacky Sack highlight videos soon to hit YouTube. Organizers promise vegetarian food, free admission, and dogs allowed. v