Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

February 2011 Archives

Save the date: Pitchfork Music Festival, July 15-17

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The annual Pitchfork Music Festival has announced its 2011 dates: July 15-17 back in Chicago's Union Park.

No lineup yet, but tickets go on sale Friday, March 4: single-day tickets are $45 and three-day passes are $110. The three-day passes sold out within a few days last year. But last year was cheaper, too ($40 single tickets, $90 passes).

Tickets will be available on the festival website.

CD review: Ron Sexsmith, 'Long Player Late Bloomer'

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(Thirty Tigers) 3<br />
and a half stars

sexsmithbloomer.jpgCanadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith has been knocking around since the mid-'80s, earning consistent, superlative accolades from fellow musicians. None of this has ever translated to huge sales, and Sexsmith's career has never approached household name status. He's got a difficult case of Nick Lowe Syndrome -- all cult status and critical praise. He's even the subject of a new film, "Love Shines," titled for a song on the new album; it's a documentary about the making of this record, but it's really an opportunity for famous fans -- including Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Daniel Lanois, even Kiefer Sutherland -- to look into the lens and ask why you rubes haven't clued into this pop genius.

Chicago's Smith Westerns face an age-old quandary

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Mick Jagger was a knockout at the Grammys last week -- and that's part of the problem. We've become alarmingly comfortable with very old men peddling rock 'n' roll. It distances us from the music's roots -- in teenage lust, teenage angst, a teenager's general unfocused yearning and yowling. So when a blemishless band like Chicago's Smith Westerns gets noticed for a lo-fi debut they recorded while still in high school, they find themselves grilled in every interview about their youth. How'd they do it? What do they feel they have to say? Did they finish their homework? It's "Rock and Roll High School" again instead of Bieber fever, and we're strangely intrigued.

"It's so old," sighs Smith Westerns singer and guitarist Cullen Omori, possibly oblivious to the irony. "I really don't like it when they describe us as 'kids' or 'brats' ... stuff like that. A lot of times, it's 'young upstarts.' Why don't people write about the 38-year-old upstarts? It's not supposed to be a gimmick. I have no control over the fact we're this age. ... But Robert Plant [formed] Led Zeppelin when he was 19. 'Dark Side of the Moon' was made when [Pink Floyd] was super-young. In rap and hip-hop, everyone's super-young. Taylor Swift is super-young. I think it's cool that we've moved past the fact that you don't have to be young to make rock 'n' roll, that you can still be old and successful -- as long as it's good quality -- I just don't know why it's such a big deal that we're so young."

Reunited Dismemberment Plan is invited for all time

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It's cruel, really. First, back in 2003, the Dismemberment Plan up and quit at the top of their game. The albums had honed and perfected the band's creative and intelligent emo-rock, and the stage shows had become must-see affairs, electric and engaging. But then suddenly, nothing. Other than a one-off charity show in 2007 in their hometown of Washington, D.C., the band stayed dismembered until this new, short tour in support of a vinyl reissue of its 1999 masterpiece "Emergency & I" -- and damn if they don't sound even better.

CD review: Radiohead, 'The King of Limbs'

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(Radiohead/XL) 2<br />
stars

radiolimbs.jpgIt sounds like easy listening, but it's not. It's no landmark, it's occasionally predictable, it's even a bit dreary, but it's also occasionally challenging and subtly sublime. It's definitely not the dubstep album readers of singer Thom Yorke's esoteric "Office Chart" blog posts might have expected. It's weird. It's pretty. It makes no great leap forward. It all runs together, and if you played it on repeat you might not know -- or care -- which song was the ending and which was the beginning. Which might be the whole point.

"The King of Limbs," a sudden new album from Radiohead (announced last Monday, released Friday), is a fairly logical continuation of the band's post-rock, post-record label career -- a woozy electronic sound that took shape around 2000's "Kid A" and a pioneering, Internet-based distribution system that began with the expiration of the band's Capitol/EMI contract and the pay-what-you-want pricing experiment of 2007's "In Rainbows." This time, the band fixed a value on its work; "Limbs" is available now as a $9 .mp3 download ($14 for .wav files) at radiohead.com. A physical CD comes next month, and a vinyl boxed set in May.

Like "Rainbows," however, the creativity of the business seems slightly greater than that of the music, at least right now.

Dismemberment Plan takes apart career on new tour

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Revered '90s emo band the Dismemberment Plan has re-membered. The quartet (singer Travis Morrison, guitarist Jason Caddell, bassist Eric Axelson and drummer Joe Easley) is back together for one more go-round, a tour celebrating a classy vinyl reissue of the band's best artistic achievement, 1999's "Emergency & I."

That does not mean they'll be playing the whole album in concert.

"I hate that! I hate that!" Morrison cries. "Who would want to see that? Who, who would want to see that? I don't want to go see a band play the album start-to-finish. What kind of parlor trick is that? Why not pay $30 to hear them play longest to shortest, or alphabetical, or group them by key? Part of the joy in seeing a band live is seeing all the places they've been over time all scrambled up. Hearing them young next to old -- I love that. What they have to say now adjacent to what they were doing then. Any band that reads this that does that album-in-concert thing: I am no longer a fan!"

CD review: Bright Eyes, 'The People's Key'

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(Saddle Creek) 3 stars

brighteyeskey.jpgBeing a fan of Conor Oberst is like being a fan of Morrissey. When you were both young, he changed your life ("Hatful of Hollow"). Shortly after the solo career debuted, the shame slunk in ("Kill Uncle"), the proselytizing ceased, the relationship became closeted. Eventually, maybe in your 30s, the consistency and sharpness of his lyricism dawns on you ("You Are the Quarry"). You become aware of what a steady companion he's been even as you put away childish things -- and realize, with genuine surprise, that he didn't turn out to be one of them.

Oberst fans are just about to reach that realization, guided in their first steps by this surprising, grandiose album, available today (Oberst's 31st birthday).

The most common question on so many minds -- about two acts, in particular -- last night and today seems to be: Who the @#$%! is that?

Sunday night's Grammy Awards, never a bastion of youth and fresh thinking, contained some real wrenches -- surprise awards to genuinely creative talents that are not, by any means, household names.

This may not be a watershed moment, no Tahrir Square-worthy revolution in the establishment thinking of the Recording Academy -- to wit, Paul McCartney's Grammy for "Helter Skelter," for Pete's sake -- but this particular commercial democracy produced some head-scratching results that made for one of the most interesting Grammy ceremonies in a long, long time.

The aftermath of Arcade Fire and Esperanza Spalding ...

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Eminem sailed into Sunday's night's Grammy Awards on cruise control as the odds-on favorite, with 10 nominations and much love for his comeback album, "Recovery," and his appearance in a pride-swelling Super Bowl ad last week. He was the Rahm Emanuel of the Grammys. Most folks just assumed he would sweep the whole shebang.

Denied! The Detroit rapper lost most of his categories, but did win for best rap album. As the night wore on -- another three-and-a-half-hour marathon of few awards and a lot of fiery performances -- his odds worsened for album of the year. That final category shocked everyone, including the winner: Canadian alt-rock band Arcade Fire for "The Suburbs."

Again, the 53rd annual Grammy Awards ceremony continued its recent trend, going light on the trophies while packing in mashed-up collaborations that seemed contrived on paper. But they resulted in a Grammys show that was the most entertaining -- and musically rich -- in memory.

Lady Gaga hatches from egg to express herself at Grammys

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Lady Gaga finally entered an awards show without causing a stir about her outfit -- because we couldn't see what she had on. We couldn't see anything. The "controversial" pop diva -- notorious for some wild event outfits, including a dress made of raw meat at September's MTV Video Music Awards -- was carried along the Grammys red carpet inside a mostly opaque, greenish-white egg.

After the top-volume Aretha Franklin tribute opened the show, Gaga's egg was carried on stage, from which she began singing her new single, "Born This Way." Since its release on Friday, the song has been the subject of a blogging frenzy about its uncanny resemblance to Madonna's "Express Yourself." In her Grammys performance, wearing a subdued flowy dress of muted cream and yellow tones, the similarities were enhanced by choreography that mimicked the right-angle joints of the "Express Yourself" video as well as every forearm weave from "Vogue."

Before the egg hatched, Gaga had won two ("Bad Romance" picked up pop vocal performance and short-form music video) and lost two (dance album, pop collaboration with vocals) of her six nominations. Midway through the show, she won for pop vocal album ("The Fame Monster"). Her acceptance speech sold the same against-all-odds story Justin Bieber sells (who was actually telling these people they wouldn't succeed?) and thanked Whitney Houston: "When I wrote 'Born This Way,' I imagined she was singing it because I wasn't secure enough in myself."

Grammys open with decibel-busting Aretha Franklin tribute

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"Music's biggest night" opened with a larger-than-life production number: five throaty women singing a half dozen Aretha Franklin hits.

The Queen of Soul was hospitalized late last year for an undisclosed ailment -- she's denied it's cancer, but she hasn't been more specific -- and the Grammys paid tribute to the 18-time winner by booking Yolanda Adams, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Florence Welch (from Florence and the Machine) to belt out a few of the legend's signature songs.

The brassy production number quickly devolved into a contest of "I can sing louder and sassier than you can!" with Aguilera winning handily. She finished "Natural Woman" with her trademark inflation of syllables ("You're the key to my peace of mi-i-i-i-i-i-i-ind!"), then tore into "Ain't No Way" with such power and precision everyone should forget her National Anthem goof at the Super Bowl. Hudson looked bored but sounded strong on "Respect," ending with a hand on a hip and an Everest-level run up the scale.

grammyaretha.jpgAfter the performance, Franklin herself appeared in a video, looking shockingly thin but regal in a feathery white gown. (Last month, she told "Access Hollywood" that after the surgery she was "down to a rockin' [size] 16!") She thanked supporters for card and flowers "and most importantly your prayers during my time of hospitalization," promising to attend the Grammys in person next year.

Chicagoans rack up early wins, losses at Grammys

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Tonight's telecast of the Grammy Awards will feature a lot of performances but few actual award presentations. The bulk of the 109 prizes were handed out this evening. Among the artists who wouldn't have their Chicago residency contested, here's who got some gold:

Chicago's queen of soul, Mavis Staples, won best Americana album for "You Are Not Alone," her acclaimed collaboration with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. "That was the shock of my life," Staples said as she accepted the award, overcome with emotion and receiving lengthy, loud applause. "This Grammy took along time coming. It was a long time, but it was worth the wait. You haven't seen the last with me. God is not through with me yet."

Robyn concert postponed to Monday

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The Robyn concert scheduled for tonight has been postponed due to the singer's illness, according to the show's promoter Jam Productions.

Robyn will perform instead this Monday. Time and venue remain the same: 7:30 p.m. at the Riviera Theatre.

Tickets for tonight will be honored on Monday. If you can't make it, refunds are available.

This summer's Taste of Chicago won't be silent, but it won't have any big-name headliners, either (if you can call the usual Taste acts "big-name"). In a move designed to settle the matter and get things rolling ahead of festival season, the city has decided to redesign Chicago's annual lakefront smorgasbord and its six other free festivals.

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Justin Bieber (left) and rapper Usher perform together
in Bieber's new movie, "Never Say Never."


Justin Bieber, showing off an impressive talent this month for being everywhere at once, appeared last week in a segment on "The Daily Show." Jon Stewart and the Beeb played as if they'd switched bodies, a la "Freak Friday." As Stewart mopped up the bit and settled into his chair, he mentioned that Bieber was a really nice kid and was surrounded by people who only had his best interests at heart.

That last part was a joke, of course, but "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" -- the 16-year-old superstar's new biopic and 3-D concert movie, opening Friday, 3<br />
stars -- works hard to sell those two points, showing us what a regular guy Bieber is and how well cared for he is by a legion of laminate-wearing, salaried guardians.

What fans of the Church pray for: Three albums, live

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Here's one for the fellow fanboys: I caught up with Peter Koppes, guitarist for Australia band the Church (fair-weather fans know them for 1988's hit "Under the Milky Way," serious fans know them for the fantastic 1992 album "Priest = Aura"), who was in northeast Australia still reeling from January's massive floods there. "A wall of water six yards high moved through the countryside," he said. "There were bull sharks swimming on the streets of downtown Brisbane."

Meanwhile, he was in Sydney rehearsing for the band's 30th anniversary tour, which arrives in Chicago this weekend -- a show in which the band will play not one, not two but three of its albums in their entirety: their latest, 2009's experimental "Untitled No. 23"; the aforementioned "Priest = Aura"; and the album that brought them to the attention of Americans, 1988's "Starfish."

Gang of Four is back -- as 'Content' providers

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When Gang of Four reunited in 2004 for a concert tour, they never expected they'd make another album. But bands never do, do they? So they say.

The band -- whose clangy, political post-punk, beginning with 1979's scorching "Entertainment!" album, proved to be highly influential in defining the braver frontier of '70s and '80s New Wave -- had been silent for a decade by then. One set of shows led to more, and the band inevitably tinkered with new songs. Thus the new album, "Content," the band's first in 16 years. Now comes another tour to support that.

A lot has happened in those intervening years. A new generation of bands has stepped up, citing Gang of Four as a primary inspiration, from Franz Ferdinand and the Futureheads to the Rapture and Radio 4. In a recent interview, founding Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill forgave the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who he said "have obviously based their career on Gang of Four." The world also has developed new perspectives on the Marxist philosophies behind singer Jon King's barked lyrics. And despite that, Gang of Four began licensing its songs to films ("Marie Antoinette") and even a TV commercial (for Microsoft's Xbox Kinect gaming system).

We caught up with Gill last week from his London home, and he spoke about the band's enduring legacy, the creation of new "content" and the challenge of applying socially relevant lyrics to something that's definitely not folk music.

Lollapalooza headliner rumors: Eminem, Muse, Foo Fighters

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Anonymous industry sources have confirmed the names of three headliners at this summer's Lollapalooza, according to Billboard. Eminem, Muse and the Foo Fighters allegedly will get the top billing at the three-day concert, Aug. 5-7 in Chicago's Grant Park.

The Eminem news is refreshing for a festival that doesn't always hit hip-hop very hard. It's also no surprise given the Detroit rapper's comeback energy -- he's buzzing from an acclaimed Super Bowl Chrysler ad, and he's expected to make a lot of trips to the podium this Sunday night at the Grammys on the strength of his 10-times-nominated "Recovery" album. It would be Eminem's first Lollapalooza booking.

The Foo Fighters will get back in the game this year with the release of a new album in April and numerous other festival appearances. Muse has headlined Coachella and Glastonbury last year and joins U2's world tour this year.

C3 Productions would not confirm this report. An official announcement is expected in April.

During "Hey Jude," the inevitable encore of "Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles" -- the lifeless gang of Fab Four impostors that opened another weeklong engagement Tuesday night at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts/Oriental Theatre -- Fake Paul filed through the requisite crowd-directing gimmicks during the song's endless nah-nah-nahs. "Right side!" "Left side!" "Only the men!" "Now the women!" If you hadn't nah-nah-nodded off by then, you're made of strong, hardy Midwestern stock.

Then he called out for "everyone under the age of 18!" As you might imagine at this garish baby boomer theme-park ride, it suddenly got very quiet. But there were a few brave voices -- the high pitched sound of the young, or the kidnapped -- who squeaked into the fray.

It's to those young folks I'd like to address this review.

CD review: Cut Copy, 'Zonoscope'

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(Modular) 3 stars

cutcopyzono.jpgIn the early '80s, at the height of the Specials' popularity in Britain's second wave of ska, three of the band's members broke away to form a very different group, Fun Boy Three. By their second and final album, 1983's "Waiting," David Byrne was producing and they were really getting into something -- brooding, deadpan vocals coolly buzzing over icy keyboards and lively, mildly world-inspired beats. U.S. listeners might have heard the album's single, possibly on one of a thousand '80s compilations, a dirge-like reading of the Go-Go's "Our Lips Are Sealed" (which two of the Three had written, with Jane Wiedlin). Their success, which continued later in a new trio called Colour Field, was in achieving a delicate balance between the chilly synthesized sounds and the warmer percussion and human tones. "Our Lips Are Sealed" sounds at once dreadfully dour but also remarkably light and buoyant.

This is also the success of Cut Copy, particularly on the Australian quartet's newest and third album, "Zonoscope."

Watch Bon Jovi concert live at suntimes.com

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During a recent interview with a couple of Bon Jovi's band members -- guitarist Richie Sambora and drummer Tico Torres -- they contemplated the thought of playing a concert in a venue that was not a stadium or arena. Something smaller, more intimate, perhaps?

They're not interested. "It's fun to see people's faces and do the whole thing," Torres said. "To be honest with you, you work all your life to play for as many people as you can." (JBJ told me last summer: "Stadiums are just what we do.")

Wednesday night, Bon Jovi will be playing another stadium -- the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State University in University Park, Pa. -- but they won't be able to see at least some of the faces watching them: The show, which kicks off the latest leg of the megaband's megatour, will be streamed live on the Web, and you can watch it here at suntimes.com. A pre-show starts at 6:30 p.m,, and the show's at 7:30.

In other Bon Jovi news: Chicago suburban band 7th Heaven won a contest and opened for one of the Bon Jovi's Soldier Field shows last summer. Now they're going for it again. The band has entered another contest to select opening acts for Bon Jovi's two more upcoming Chicago shows -- March 8-9 at United Center -- and has again been selected among the 24 finalists. Fans can vote for the finalists here.

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Finally, the Super Bowl halftime show was a concert more resembling the Puppy Bowl than the Grizzled Old Cur Bowl.

After several years of fifty- and sixtysomething classic rock acts -- a conservative play following Janet Jackson's controversial "wardrobe malfunction" in 2004 -- the mid-game entertainment was back in the realm of (equally safe) thirtysomethings: the Black Eyed Peas, along with guests Usher and Slash (OK, he's 45).

Amid a field filled with dancers wearing LED-covered suits -- the simple but effective staging alternated between the futurist aesthetics of "Tron" and "Logan's Run" -- the Peas led a medley of eight dance-pop hits, including "Let's Get It Started," "Boom Boom Pow," "Pump It," their remake of "Time of My Life" (from "Dirty Dancing") and bookended by their biggest hit, the party anthem "I Gotta Feeling." The lyrics to "Where Is the Love?" describing many of the nation's current ills made for a rare moment of Super Bowl social conscience, however shallow and brief.

After descending from the arena's ice-covered ceiling on cables, the four Peas didn't move much beyond their marks except when the guests arrived; Slash stood still and played "Sweet Child o' Mine" while Fergie slithered around him doing her best yeowling Axl Rose impression, and Usher leapt over will.i.am into the splits during "OMG." The only real foul at this party was the horrible sound mix; the right microphone never seemed to be on.

The game began with pop tart Christina Aguilera singing the National Anthem. Or something like it.

Toward the end of "The Star-Spangled Banner," Aguilera -- dressed conservatively in black, plus a pair of ruby heels taller than the Hancock Tower -- botched a few of the words. She sang fine, doing her thing and turning each single syllable into three or four, but when she arrived at "O'er the ramparts we watched" she dropped the line, then tried to make up for it by singing, "What so proudly we watched" (instead of "so proudly we hailed").

The flub wasn't that noticeable unless you were singing along, though Twitter did nearly explode. Even superstars get nervous singing what is one of the most challenging songs in the American songbook (but certainly within Aguilera's multi-octave range) in front of one of the largest TV audiences of the year. Hey, she was no Roseanne.

(The videos have already been yanked from YouTube ...)

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That's Chicago fan William (left), in the moment he decided Yo La Tengo, led by Ira Kaplan (right), should open its show with a reading of a "Seinfeld" episode Friday at Metro. (Scott Stewart/Sun-Times)


Yo La Tengo lost the crowd about five minutes into the band's first set. When I say "band's first set," you no doubt assume I'm talking about a band playing music live on stage. That's certainly what the crowd came to see. But it's not what they got, at least for starters.

It almost got ugly, the unfortunate result of a well-meaning trio that's been on the road since the '80s and is trying to shake things up a little -- for themselves as much as for fans.

Who vs. who: The bouts at this year's Grammys

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grammytrophy.jpgThe Grammys are like a graduation ceremony. You only really care about what's going on if you're the one graduating, or a parent. Everyone else scans the notice in the newspaper, sends gift certificates and prays they aren't so closely related as to be invited to the inevitably dull, marathon ceremony.

The 53rd annual Grammy awards, airing at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 on CBS live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, will boast plenty of pomp and likely little circumstance. This year's telecast will contain few actual awards (last year, only nine of the 109 awarded trophies were handed out on-air) and a lot of contrived, collaborative performances, such as Usher singing with his mop-topped protégé, Justin Bieber, and Bieber duet pal Jaden Smith; a trio of 2010's biggest pop-R&B success stories, comprised of Bruno Mars, B.o.B. and Janelle Monae; a first-ever duet between rapper Drake and singer Rihanna; and an FCC-challenging (but no doubt dumbed-down) performance of the hit f-word song by Cee Lo Green, complete with actress Gwyneth Paltrow and ... the Muppets. Even Mick Jagger will join Raphael Saadiq and his band for the requisite obit reel.

Other scheduled performers during the show include the band Arcade Fire, Eminem, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, Miranda Lambert, Muse and Katy Perry. (Rumors persist that a surprise Britney Spears performance is in the offing. There is nothing as yet to substantiate them.)

For those actually interested in the Recording Academy's stated mission "to honor artistic achievement ... without regard to album sales or chart position," there could be a few horse races in this year's Grammys -- if Eminem doesn't sweep all 10 of his nominations. He dominates the field, with Mars bearing seven nominations, and Jay-Z, Lady Antebellum and Lady Gaga each with six. (Full list of nominations is here, plus Chicago nominees.)

Here's a look at a few of the bouts set up for "music's biggest night" ...

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As the new Decemberists album began to take shape -- in late-night song swaps, in writing sessions snuck into tour schedules, in those "Hey, I've been tinkering with this" moments -- the band began referring to it as "the country record." After the wildly ambitious, rock-opera album "The Hazards of Love" in 2009, the emerging tunes were simpler, more succinct, with stringed instruments in mind.

"It's being pegged as this Americana sort of record, and that's sort of what we used in our brains to be the guide," says Valparaiso, Ind., native Chris Funk, the Decemberists' founding multi-instrumentalist. "We found ourselves looking back to our first record [2002's 'Castaways and Cutouts'], to that pedal steel, accordion, upright bass, that kind of setup. We wanted to return to making songs and not worry about song cycles or concepts. ... It's different from 'Castaways' in the narratives. 'The Legionnaire's Lament' is on that album. This one is more about Colin's family and personal experiences. There are songs about war, of course -- a traditional Decemberists theme -- but there's no character-driven material beyond his own person. It's very naturalist. It all felt more like acoustic instruments and that kind of flavor. You can't get away from who you are, even when you go off trying to be a psychedelic prog-rock band like on 'Hazards.'"

Detroit rock duo the White Stripes announced today that they've split up for good.

The duo of Jack White and drummer and ex-wife Meg White has been on hiatus since 2007's "Icky Thump" album, so you'd be forgiven for thinking they'd already called it quits.

"The White Stripes would like to announce that today, February 2nd, 2011, their band has officially ended and will make no further new recordings or perform live," said a statement posted on the band's website. They go on to say there are "a myriad of reasons" for the split, specifying only that "the reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue, nor any health issues as both Meg an Jack are feeling fine and in good health." They simply want to "preserve what is beautiful and special about the band," the statement says.

Jack White has spent his energies in recent years on other projects, from two new bands (the Dead Weather and the Raconteurs) to producing other artists (such as the new CD from rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson).

So do we want to start a pool for guessing when the reunion tour will be announced?

If you are a dedicated rock 'n' roller and will not be deterred from your pursuits by a little wisp of snow, here's what we know about shows scheduled over the next few days, and I'll update this post with any other related news:

The only rock show canceled thus far due to the blizzard, which is blowing in now, is the Buckcherry concert scheduled tonight at the Congress Theatre. The venue indicates the show will be rescheduled, and Congress PR says fans should hold onto their tickets for news of a new date.

The Jazz Showcase has canceled Wednesday night's Billie Holiday tribute show with Joan Collaso.

[UPDATED 6:05 p.m.] Other promoters and venues we've checked with seem undaunted:


  • • Shelby Lynne is still up for playing tonight at Evanston's S.P.A.C.E. for those brave enough to venture out. If that changes, the venue will email ticketholders.

  • • Chicago's Scott Lucas & the Married Men and Danish singer-songwriter Tina Dico are still on at Schubas, tonight and Thursday respectively.

  • • Sallah tonight and Ode tomorrow at the Empty Bottle, still on.

  • Tonight's Mar Caribe show at the Hideout is canceled (they'll be back March 1) as well as tomorrow night's Soup and Bread event, but the rest of the week's slate is still on.

  • • As far as we know, the farewell tour stop by New Orleans mainstays the Radiators is still on Thursday-Saturday at FitzGerald's in Berwyn.

By Thursday and especially Friday, things get cooking, with Yo La Tengo, the Decemberists, Poi Dog Pondering and more, but by then we'll all be wondering what all this fuss was about, right?

Keep an eye on things here throughout tonight and tomorrow. And here's a list of other closures 'round town.

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David Lowery has a way with the college kids. A quarter century ago, his first band, Camper Van Beethoven, kept '80s college radio stocked with smart stoner songs ("Take the Skinheads Bowling," "Pictures of Matchstick Men"). He capitalized on that formula for the upper classmen with his next band, Cracker, dipping a toe into the mainstream ("Teen Angst," "Low"). He still tours -- with both bands, frequently at the same time -- and this week he releases his first solo album, "The Palace Guards," out Tuesday.

But now he's back talking to college kids again -- only this time, there's going to be a quiz.

This spring, Lowery is teaching a class on pop music business at the University of Georgia. He previously had been a guest lecturer in the school's music business certificate program. When we caught up with him, he was making his lesson plan, and he said something that's pretty much all an aspiring musician or label exec needs to know: "I can make more money teaching than playing live shows, in general."

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