Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

This weekend: Joanna Newsom, Ben Weasel

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Joanna Newsom straddles the line between the rock and classical avant gardes: The harpist and vocalist records for Chicago's Drag City label, and her last album, "Ys," was co-produced by the legendary arranger and friend of the Beach Boys Van Dyke Parks. At the same time, she has the world-class chops to perform with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which will join her and her band at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. Tickets are $25 to $45 via, or call (312) 294-3000.

Chicago's irascible, inconsolable but always undeniable punk-rock legend Ben Weasel, last heard on disc with the 2007 solo album "These Ones Are Bitter," is performing two beyond-rare solo gigs this weekend at Reggie's Rock Club, 2109 S. State. The all-ages show starts at 6 p.m. Friday with the former Ben Foster topping a lineup that also includes Jetty Boys, the Chinese Telephones and the Repellents; the same openers kick things off on Saturday starting at 5 p.m. Both shows are sold-out. For more information, call (312) 949-0121 or visit

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Saw Ben Weasel the last time he played at Reggie's on May 25th...and had to pay well above the ticket price to do so as the show sold out before I knew it had been announced. The show was outstanding and worth the premium. Likewise, had I known when tickets were available for these two shows, I'd have bought my admission.

Joanna Newsom is great -- if you like the sound of screeching cats. Seriously, her voice is amazingly irritating. Maybe her voice an acquired taste. But the music doesn't seem interesting enough to spend the painful hours listening needed to acquire it.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on August 19, 2008 4:46 PM.

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