Saturday, August 16, 2014

August 9, 2014 Spending Time With My Cousin Michelle

This is my cousin Michelle. She stayed with us for the last seven weeks because she got a job stage managing at the Oil Lamp Theater in Glenview. Because of our work schedules, there were times I didn't see her for several days at a time. Since this is her last weekend with us before heading back to college, I took her out for dinner in the city.

We had dinner at Bottlefork because I know a chef that works there. Anyway, we got seats at the bar with a great view of the food being prepared. Now I wished I brought a better camera than my small pocket camera. Sorry for the poor quality of the photos.

They had great napkins, I wanted to steal one...but I didn't.

The food was damn tasty here. We had Salmon Crudo, then the Smoked Suckling Pig Flatbread with
Green Garlic + Almond Pistou + Pickled Spring half has cheese, Michelle's doesn't due to lactose intolerance. Also pictured are some delicious Kennebec Fries with
Malt Vinegar Aioli.

Then we had Mussels with Rye Ale + Ham Broth and  Rye Fries. Now I will admit this was really good food. But I did spend the next couple of hours trying to find public toilets in downtown Chicago so my guess is the raw salmon or the mussels brought on a post dinner digestive disturbance I could have done without as we walked over to Michigan Avenue...

...along the way we passed this famous Chicago institution.

We walked up Michign Ave to the Water Tower, then back down to Grant Park.

The Michigan Avenue Bridge...

...with Michelle posing on it with the river in the background...

...then the Wrigley Building in the background.

We watched the fireworks at Navy Pier from Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. It was a beautiful night in the city. We spent the entire night talking about this and that, life, college, future plans, the sorry condition of our country right now both socially and politically but the one thing I will always remember is....

...when Michelle told me that she likes Chicago but couldn't live here because she wants to live in a city where you don't need a car to get around. I said you grew up in Southern California without any public transportation, so where do you plan on living. New York City was her reply. I asked why besides a really good subway would you choose NYC. "This is gonna sound strange but when I'm in New York City I feel something special...something different from anywhere I belong there" is what she said. With a huge smile on my face I told her I know exactly what she means because I know that feeling...I get it every time I visit that city. I felt as happy as the Bee Girl in Blind Melon's "No Rain" video when she discovers there are people just like her in the world. 

We had a late dessert at Mercat Ala Planxa. I had some fried custard with blood orange sorbet...

and Michelle had  Croquette De Xocolata with Banana Marshmallow, Rosemary Infused Caramel & Arbequina Olive Oil.

So these videos are for you Michelle. It's going to take a lot of hard work but it will be worth it. Then someday you'll live in NYC and I'll come visit you and we can dance in Bee costumes in Central Park with all the other people that feel the same way in NYC.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August 6, 2014 The Stooges Brass Band and Brother Joscephus & The Love Revolution (Concert #33)

Here's Michelle and Chrissy on our way to City Winery in the Fulton Market section of the city. This area has been undergoing the dreaded G word....Gentrification. Right now it is still a cool area full of restaurants and bars along with warehouses that haven't been converted to condos....yet. 

This is me. After three days at Lolla and right back to work on Monday morning, I am fucking exhausted right now. But I am excited about seeing some live music. I watched one video online of Brother Joscephus and bought these tickets a few weeks ago. Here's the video that convinced me that I had to see this band in concert.

We had seats right on the edge of the stage. The opening band was The Stooges Brass Band but I also saw them called Stooges Musical Group. Either way, they were fantastic. Great entertainers both musically and as performers. They had the whole place up and dancing for a good part of their set. 

The Stooges Brass Band is from New Orleans where it seems like being a performer is required to live there. They did a bit where the trumpet player and the tuba player each bet that the crowd on their side of the stage could dance better. Our side lost, probably because of my dancing. So the trumpet player kept his dreads and got the tuba from his bandmate.

The energy from the stage filled the room as they played traditional New Orleans music mixed with contemporary music.

Here they were going back to their high school marching band days and were winded by the end of the song because they were high stepping while playing. Performances like this is why I tell everyone I know that loves music to visit New Orleans...soon & often.

Brother Joscephus & Reverend Right Dawg on piano were backed by Chicago musicians tonight at City Winery. Like the Stooges before them, this was another fun show. The music was as good as the entertaining stage show. I really enjoyed the Reverend on piano and directing the band throughout the show.

If you are looking to have a joyous musical celebration...then check this band out. They played an amazing cover of Sublime's 'What I Got" mixed with The Treme song during which each member of the horn section got his own verse and a solo. The band's original songs were just as good.

I've seen all kinds of music since last Friday. So many styles, different genres & amazing musicians but the best part of the past 6 days was seeing music played live...there really is nothing like seeing a band perform on stage. I arrived at City Winery completely exhausted and left completely exhilarated. Thank you Stooges Brass Band and Brother Joscephus

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August 3, 2014 I Just Wanna Dance and Sing in the Rain At Lollapalooza (Concert #32)

Sure the sky was gun metal gray but things were looking up because we were catching the #808 train to appropriate!!!! Music fans will know why. By the time we got to the Harrison station...the worm had turned. My partner in crime at Lolla this weekend and good friend Patty decided to put herself on the PUP list. Physically Unable to Perform List....two days of Lolla can take a toll and she pulled herself out of the game. To steal a line from my brother Georgie "Alone Again...Naturally".
I caught the end of The Kongos set and they ended with their hit "Come With Me Now". I decided to dedicate it to Patty who tried like hell to make it to Lolla despite the incredible pain in her knee.

Now here's where today's blog got it's name. I simply can not dance. I wish I could but I just can't do it. I want to dance but I have no fucking rhythm at all. Even with Outkast playing last night I tried and failed to move my body in any kind of motion that would be considered dancing. So the band I really wanted to check out today is Nashville's very own, Space Capone.  

These guys were fantastic. Even with the rain pouring down, it was a party at the BMI stage. I tried to dance and failed miserably. But I had fun listening to this band.

They proved my general rule for concerts...if the band is having is the audience.

I caught Delta Rae on my way to see Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. I enjoyed their country rock sound. I thought the lyrics to several songs told a story very well. The band had good energy too....

....but Trombone Shorty had tons of energy. And his band was tight. This is New Orleans party music that covers several musical genres. Even Mother Nature stopped the rain to check out Trombone Shorty.

I caught RAC for a song or two on my way to see Cage The Elephant. The rain had started to take a toll on Grant Park.

Cage the Elephant surprised me because I only know them by their frat rock hit like "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked". Most of their songs sound nothing like that song and I still really liked their set. They really impressed me with an energetic show full of good songs.

After a bite to eat, I caught Glen Hansard on the Lakeshore Stage. FYI, I loved the movie "Once". Today I became a fan of Glen Hansard. The gut wrenching vocals won me over along with that Irish humour and blue collar approach to performing live. Of course, the well written songs also help win me over. Usually I'd rather see a louder act perform at Lolla due to the lack of an intimate space in the huge expanse of Grant Park. Mr. Hansard convinced me that mellower music works when done right. Slainte to you Glen.

The rain has been falling on & off since I got here and the sky has provided some interesting photos with the city in the foreground.

I love the Avett Brothers and this is my first time seeing them live. I have heard they are a must see live act. Now I know why. I was not prepared for the ferocious audio assault and frantic stage presence of this amazing band....  

....and despite the heaviest rain of the day...I LOVED IT!!!! I already knew I liked their music but on record they are much mellower and I love their songs for that reason. Today I loved the songs even more. The best way to describe it would be punk country music or country rock with a punk attitude. Whether it was a fast rocker or a slow ballad, everyone sang along to every song. I loved standing in a driving rain storm to witness this show, especially the heartfelt 'I and Love and You'. Great songwriting + amazing performance = perfect show. 

The cello player, Joe Kwon stole the show with his frenetic playing of a instrument more known for classical music. I am telling everyone that enjoys music to see this band play live.

Young The Giant filled the south end of the park. I listened from a distance and enjoyed the little bit I heard. But I wanted to be up front for Kings of Leon....

....and I was....standing in deep mud that required lifting my feet up every so often to free myself from getting stuck and falling over as the crowd swayed back and forth.
KOL put on a great show, cranked through the extensive list of wonderful songs and provided enough energy to keep this old man standing despite being completely exhausted, covered in mud and soaking wet. A great way to end three days of music for me.

I survived another Lollapalooza. I saw a few acts that I knew play live for the first time and discovered a few bands that I'd never even heard of before this weekend....that's what a good music festival is all about. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

August 2, 2014 Saturday In The Park at Lollapalooza (Concert #31)

OK, it's a little lame. But I have always loved this song and it seemed right to use it for today's recap of my Saturday in Grant Park. If you don't like it, then don't play the song while reading this stupid blog.
It looks like a perfect day in the Windy City as we wait for the train in Chinatown.
Here's Patty so excited to be at Lolla...

...then I notice the window washers on the Congress Hotel are just sitting on a board...

....not some fancy scaffold just a board tied to a rope. I don't have time to worry about them. I got here early to see a band at The Grove stage.
Jon Batiste and Stay Human Band were definitely worth getting up early to see...

...they brought The Big Easy to The Windy City...

They ended their way too short set with a little Second Line parade through the crowd.

Check this band out...they were great.

I checked out Benjamin Booker and Vance Joy. Both sounded good and the weather was great.

The non musical entertainment was also great. These two goofballs were bobbing and weaving as they walked around Lolla.

I tried to get pictures of the Gary Busey head on a stick at Eminem's set last night but took about 8 shots and none came out... today I got my pictures on the way to see Parquet Courts.
I've read a lot of hype about this band. I bought their first CD but it never really caught my attention. So after a very long sound check session, I was shocked at how fucking awful they sounded. I thought they were doing it on purpose but during the third song, the sound issue was solved because they suddenly sounded much better.

And when this guy sang a few songs, they sounded great. I really enjoyed his vocals over the guy in the black shirt singing. So maybe the hipster hype on this band isn't overrated.
I liked Desert Noises set. They were rocking the very small BMI stage. But I left to catch Kate Nash on the main Bud Light stage.
I didn't know much about Kate Nash before this week. She has a definite range of styles in her music. I really liked the punk song "Sister". So I was excited when she opened her set with that song.
It turns out that her all female band were avoiding her more pop music songs in favor of rocking out....

...that worked for me because they sounded fantastic.

Another shot of the north end of Grant Park.

Then it was The Last Internationale playing their very young version of rebellion music. They sounded OK while playing but need to improve on their political banter. The singer was rockin' a cool Joan Jett look so I added points for that. 

We walked across the park to see Fitz & The Tantrums. The south end of the park was packed. As usual, they were really good. Fitz & the Tantrums put on  great show. The songs are catchy and the band always seems to be having as much fun as the audience. I stayed for their whole set so I missed two bands I really like Wallpaper and Grouplove. Oh well that's what happens at a festival this big.

On the way to see Spoon we stopped to watch Smallpools. They were very entertaining. Sounded like a mix of Vampire Weekend and Weezer. 

I enjoyed their set.

I listened to Nas while getting up close for Spoon. I have been a fan for years and have never seen Spoon.

 They were really good and the sound was perfect.

The creepy hand over the stage added a special visual quality to the show.

Next up was someone I read about but was unfamiliar with her music. Jenny Lewis.

I liked how her guitar went well with her outfit. 

I also enjoyed her music. Good songwriting and a good performer.

 A couple of Lollapalooza's decorations in the park.

So we ended the night with an amazing performance by Outkast. I have no idea what Big Boi was wearing...some kind of robot or space outfit...Andre had white hair styled flat on his head with a jumpsuit that questioned why people of color are powerless around the world...sure these two are different cats but that just added to the fun dance party of a show which included great songs, an incredible band and a wild stage show. It is times like this that I wish I could dance because this was a show that required the listeners to shake their booty. I can barely do the white man overbite. Hey Ya and good night.