Sunday, January 12, 2014

January 11, 2014 New Year, New Idea (Also The First Show of the Year - The Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival)

Happy New Year to anyone who reads this blog. I hope this is the year you realize all of life's amazing possibilities. Everyone has big plans at this time of the year, do not end this year by saying "I should have done that" the Nike ad says...JUST DO IT! Here's what I am going to attempt. Last year I created a Social Club to try and get people to hang out at various events. I want to thank everyone who showed up to any or all of those events. I really enjoyed the idea but I have decided to try something else this year. The Social Club may have a few events this year but it will not be a monthly occurrence like last year. That said, here's my idea for 2014. I love music. I love live music even more. A few years ago, I read a story about Robert Christgau. He has been the rock critic for the Village Voice for as long as I can remember. (I know he no longer works there). For his 60th birthday, he went to a live music show for 60 straight days. Since I am turning 50 this year, I have decided to try to see 50 shows this year and I am inviting everyone to join me. You can contact me if you want to either invite me to a show you are going to or check which shows I am already going to and join me. The shows can be as big as Lollapalooza and as small as an open mic night at the corner pub...I just want to see someone playing music. My plan is to use this blog to report on the shows that I attend. Hopefully some of you will discover that you like one of the bands that I have seen play live and check them out. As I have said repeatedly, "Please support live music as often as you can." 

A few days ago, I read about The Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival in the Chicago Reader. It is a month long festival that takes place in various clubs from January 10th until February 8th. So I decided to see the show at the Tonic Room tonight. This place is a very small narrow small...imagine a band playing in your living room. This is not a bad thing, actually it is a very good thing. Because the sound is fantastic mostly due to the talented guy running the soundboard. 
 The first band was The Howlin Brothers from Nashville. I spent a few minutes talking music and Nashville with Ian, the fiddle and banjo player, before they played. He recommended Layla's Bluegrass Inn, Robert's Western World and The Wheel for anyone visiting Nashville. They sounded great. The music was upbeat and people were dancing on the small dance floor. All three of them took a turn or two on lead vocals, which I love when bands do that. It gives a different sound to each song and all three of them play and sing exceptionally well. Jared loved to dance while playing guitar. He even brought along a small dance floor that he used on stage so he could two step while he played. Whenever they switched song tempos they kept the crowd into the songs, like when they switched from the rave up of "Monroe" (I think that was the title of the song) to the slow smoky "Tennessee Blues". I loved the music, the sound and the well worn look of the guitar and stand up bass. The best description I can give is they play infectious dance hall ravers if your dance hall is located in a barn...and I mean that as a huge compliment. I'd like to thank the bass player Ben for telling me that my idea to see 50 shows because I am turning 50 this year was one of the coolest things he's heard. After their set, Dr. John's "Right Place, Wrong Time" played over the PA system. Perfect. It's gonna be a good night.
Like I said before, this place was small, so changing bands was quite a challenge with equipment everywhere. So I took pictures while the next band set up. This band has the best band name I've heard in years...ClusterPluck. And they were great on stage tonight.
Once again tonight, I got to see a talented band that loves to play live and have did the crowd.
This five piece band from St. Louis swapped instruments and lead vocals while harmonizing throughout their set.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture of the guitar player on the right side of the stage because he was an incredible singer. This band has stage presence and is great at setting the mood of a song whether it was a fast dance number or a soulful slow song. I loved every song they played tonight. I also enjoyed talking music and artistic talents with acoustic bass player, Justin. Check these guys out if you enjoy good music.
I always judge music clubs by the bullshit written on the bathroom walls. The crazier the graffiti, the better the music club. This places passes the test. 

I loved this sign above the stage.

This artwork pretty much covered what the crowd looked like in the Tonic Room tonight.
 Acoustic Anonymous was the headliner tonight. Another very talented band that straddled the line between picking and grinning and just plain jamming. Again multiple lead vocalists with various styles. It seemed to be a theme tonight and I really enjoyed it.
 The only electric instrument all night was the bass player for AA. I am not the biggest fan of jam bands, but when these guys stretched out their songs, I enjoyed the groove. I really enjoyed the wide variety of songs but by the end of the night, the crowd wanted to dance and ignored the slower songs...which was too bad because this band was very good at playing both types of songs.
He's playing bongos here, but he was really good on harmonica all night. Sorry but I could not find the names of the guys in this band. But I would like to thank the young couple, Craig & Becca that talked music with me all night. They recommended the following bands to me...Altan, Steel Drivers, Trampled By Turtles, Railroad Earth, Elephant Revival and Signal Ridge. So check them out, I know I will. I have 49 more shows to go.

1 comment:

  1. At least one live music show a week means booze in your belly and a song in your heart. Cool idea.