1SatJune 1, 2019
So much more than just a blues act, DATV's shows are filled with New Orleans charm, Memphis soul swagger, dark theatrical moments that evoke Kurt Weill, and tender gospel passages. Davina's voice and stage presence defy category in a different way. Davina has been compared to Etta James, Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday and Betty Boop, but comparisons don't suffice: Sowers is a true original.
Something unique to this "blues" project is the instrumentation. This rollicking quintet is held together by Sowers' keyboard playing, with acoustic bass, drums, and a spicy trumpet and trombone horn section. The group's focused, clean sound and emphasis on acoustic instruments is novel to both blues and jazz worlds, and sets the show closer to New Orleans than to Chicago. This has set the Vagabonds apart at blues festivals in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Sighisoara, Romania, Sierre, Switzerland, Kemi, Finland, and 2012's New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Davina and band made their debut at the Monterey Jazz Festival this September. Catch this one-of-a-kind live show while they are in town!
2SunJune 2, 20198:00pm $10.00Described by the magazine Rootstime in Belgium as 'One of the greatest talents of our era", and listed as the "2nd best gig" by the major UK newspaper The Independent, becoming the #1 most played artist on Canadian Galaxie Folk/Roots radio, Western Canadian Music Award winning artist Sarah MacDougall is getting known for her honest and poetic songs, passionate performances, and unique voice. Born in Sweden, Swedish magazine Nöjesguiden declared her "One of Sweden's best singer/songwriters".
Since the release of award-winning The Greatest Ones Alive in 2011, Sarah has been touring Canada and Europe endlessly, taking time to work on songs and record between tours. Last winter, she hunkered down under the Northern Lights in Whitehorse and put the final touches on the sonically rich album which was to become Grand Canyon. The album, co-produced by Sarah and Caleb Stull (Field Study, Dominique Fricot, Language Arts), which was recorded in Toronto and Vancouver, features 8 songs and guest appearances from Erika Angell (Thus:Owls), Rose Cousins, Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Dan Mangan), Peggy Lee, and Leah Abramson (Abramson Singers). Stepping outside of traditional folk and flirting with sounds that could have come from The Postal Service or Kate Bush, Grand Canyon keeps the acoustic guitar but infuses the sound with heavier drums and richly textured strings and synths.
The songs are about identity, love, fear, hope, growing up, rootlessness, forgiveness. They are written from the point of view of the hopeful outsider, trying to figure out their place and make sense of the world. Grand Canyon sees Sarah challenging herself and pushing new boundaries musically and sonically, and it is an album that will surely see Sarah reach new levels in her career.
Expertly navigating that rarefied space between elegiac folk and accessible pop, Toronto-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ben Kunder has emerged as one of the most electrifying musicians on the indie scene and a sought-after live performer. Kunder's dazzling sophomore album "Better Human" is poised to dominate 2018/19.
Real life anchors most of "Better Human", the record exploring compelling themes like the birth of a child, the struggle for life balance, the workday reality propping up our outward façade, largely illuminating the human struggle to navigate through the world while sharing darkness in order to see the light.
Produced alongside Aaron Goldstein at Baldwin Street Sound, guests include Oh Susanna, Jim Guthrie, Paper Bird/Bahamas singer Carleigh Aikins, Sarah MacDougall, Maia Davies, bassist Anna Ruddick, Arkells drummer Tim Oxford and keyboardist Anthony Carone, violinist Drew Jurecka, and Wintersleep drummer Loel Campbell, among others. Propelled variously by strings, pedal steel, keyboards, percussion, guitar, bass, and those spectacular before-mentioned voices; renders small moments in precise detail, making his songs both accessible and, occasionally, downright palpable.
4TueJune 4, 2019
In 2015 the band's self-titled sophomore album Quiet Hollers introduced them to a much broader audience, drawing praise both for the breadth of its influences and for Wilde's lyricism. Consequence of Sound called it a "beautiful portrait... breaking the confines of roots music" with PopMatters aptly noting the band's "strong post-hardcore influence." The album brought the band to Europe for the first time, selling out shows there and back at home stateside. Breakout singles found their way onto TV shows, coffeehouse playlists, and a #9 debut on the FMQB college and indie charts.
Quiet Hollers signed with the indie label SonaBLAST! for their third album, Amen Breaks. The album draws parallels between the modern entertainment landscape and the cultural crossover of the 1970s-- another decade marred by division, political corruption, and terrorist bombs. Their shape-shifting palate makes use of orchestral strings and brass, vintage drum-machines and samples (including the Amen Break, the most sampled piece of music in history). Amen Breaks explores themes of spirituality, sexuality, and mental illness.
6ThuJune 6, 2019Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore with The Guilty Ones
Though Texas born Gilmore was twice named Country Artist of the Year by Rolling Stone, and California native Alvin first came to fame in the hard rocking rhythm and blues band The Blasters, they discovered that their musical roots in old blues and folk music are exactly the same. In these spontaneous shows, audiences enjoyed classic original compositions from the two, and also songs from a wide spectrum of songwriters and styles - from Merle Haggard to Sam Cooke to the Young Bloods. Mutually energized and inspired by these performances, Dave and Jimmie agreed to hit the road again in 2018, this time with a full band, an album, Downey to Lubbock and some new stories to share.
8SatJune 8, 2019
The missteps and failures that followed, the collapse of an industry that once embraced him as its next sensation, are troubles and travails that either ruin a person completely, or they force a change of attitude and staunch determination to gather one's resolve to not only survive, but overcome. McDermott vowed to do both. Ten albums in, it's resulted in Willow Springs (Pauper Sky, June 17, 2016), one of the most honest, daring and defiant recordings of McDermott's career. Named for the small town where he now resides with his wife and young daughter, it reflects a certain circumspect about his life, the situations he's encountered, while realizing that ultimately, his fate resided in his own hands.
"This is an album of reckoning I suppose," McDermott reflects. "There was a real cacophony of change going on in my life at the time... being a new father, losing my own father, leaving the city for the country, dealing with sobriety, grief, death, mortality, shame and forgiveness. It was a veritable emotional tsunami and yet somehow I had to navigate through it all. That journey is reflected in these songs. Willow Springs is the name of the place where I took refuge and had to confront a lot of things".
Recorded at his home in the country and fan-funded, Willow Springs finds McDermott behind the boards as producer for the first time with longtime producer and collaborator, Lex Price doing the mix. Having enlisted a stellar support group of musicians -- including multi-instrumentalist, Price; guitarist, Will Kimbrough; keyboard player, John Deaderick ; sax player Rich Parenteau; and McDermott's wife, Heather Horton on backing vocals - McDermott found himself able to craft the unassuming yet cutting sound he envisioned.
Indeed, the results bear out the fact that Willow Springs is the most honest and expressive album of McDermott's extraordinary 25 year career. Songs such as, 'These Last Few Days', 'Getaway Car', 'Half Empty Kinda Guy', 'One Minus One' and the title track, convey all at once, a sound that's both reflective and confessional - borne by stark emotion and a tattered, battered delivery that's both sobering and sublime. McDermott remains more determined than ever, and Willow Springs is the result. "My enthusiasm is only matched by my desire to continue to evolve as an artist" he insists.
Accolades and kudos can be accumulated one minute and quickly dissipate the next. After all, the music biz is a fickle beast and it doesn't matter how much you pleased the masses last year, last month or even last week, but rather, about what you offer today.
Today, McDermott has offered his best.
Kudos to Michael McDermott - overnight success.
11TueJune 11, 2019
13ThuJune 13, 2019Local H
In The Whale
Local H's widely praised 1998 concept album Pack Up the Cats earned a spot in SPIN magazine's top 20 albums of that year. The band was named "Chicagoans of the Year" by the Chicago Tribune for their 2008 break-up album, 12 Angry Months, more than a decade after their breakthrough hit "Bound for the Floor" ruled the Modern Rock charts. In 2015, Local H celebrated the 25th anniversary of their first show and released a career-spanning coffee table book, Local H: Twenty-Five Years of Skin In The Game. Earlier this year, they re-issued their 1996 album, As Good As Dead, on vinyl for the first time.
14FriJune 14, 2019
With the addition of vocalist Salvatore Marrano, bassist Greg Colacino, drummer Odin Alvarez and violinist Ben Karas, Thank You Scientist's lineup of virtuoso musicians was complete. The band would go on to self-release an EP, The Perils of Time Travel, in 2011 followed by their debut full-length, Maps of Non-Existent Places, in 2012, which caught the ear of Sanchez, a fellow purveyor of progressive stylings, and led to his signing of the band.
Bent Knee is a band without frontiers. Its borderless sound combines myriad influences from across the rock, pop, minimalist, and avant-garde spectrums into a seamless, thrilling whole. Its new album Land Animal--Bent Knee's first for InsideOutMusic/Sony--takes its sound to a new level. It offers a suite of songs full of addictive hooks, lush melodies and enthralling twists and turns that capture the reality of life in the 21st Century--a reality of people and nations in the midst of tumultuous change. It also communicates a ray of hope and desire for listeners to embrace the fact that they're not alone in their struggles.
"The silo-smashing Bent Knee's unique mix is equal parts ingenuity and deliciousness," said Jim Fusilli of the Wall Street Journal in 2016 when he first heard the group. "Bent Knee breaks new stylistic and temperamental ground," declared Steve Smith of The Boston Globe. Other media outlets worldwide have reacted with similar enthusiasm, including NPR and the BBC, which have playlisted the band.
Bent Knee formed in 2009 as a democratic collective determined to push the boundaries of pop and rock. Lead singer and keyboardist Courtney Swain's soaring vocals are instantly arresting. Guitarist Ben Levin is one of the most dynamic and versatile guitarists around, shifting between the raging and raucous to the sublime and meditative. Bassist Jessica Kion and drummer Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth combine into an enthralling rhythm section that's equal parts powerhouse and nuance. Violinist Chris Baum's kinetic violin work provides drama, grace and intrigue. World-class producer and live sound designer Vince Welch weaves it all together with a captivating, expert touch.
The band has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Its last two albums, 2016's Say So and 2014's Shiny Eyed Babies, were hailed as significant art-rock achievements. The group has performed hundreds of shows across the world to date. During the fall of 2016, the band played for ecstatic audiences as an opener for the U.S. leg of The Dillinger Escape Plan's farewell tour.
With Land Animal, Bent Knee has elevated its storytelling ambitions to create narratives that reflect and refract the currents we're exposed to in the news every day.
"We're at this bizarre point in history when our species can almost actively play God," explained Baum, when discussing the themes running through the album. "We're getting closer and closer through communication and technology. On the flip side, we still have many primal urges that have yet to evolve. There's a strange balance between our technology and our biology that's tremendously difficult to find. Land Animal explores where those animalistic urges come from and how we can harness and transform them to create a better reality."
"The album has all kinds of songs about struggle," added Levin. "We look at global warming, family strife, technology-mediated relationships, racism, and societal polarization. Each song is imbued with a dichotomy between who we are now as a species and where we're going."
As the band hits the road in support of the album, it intends to explore the diversity of thought amongst its ever-growing audience in a world where it's increasingly easy to live inside one's echo chamber of ideologies.
"I think our music is powerful and capable of uniting people with different perspectives," said Kion. "They may think about things differently, but they're there together, part of the concert. The fact that music and art can bring people together in that way is a really significant force that's needed right now."
"We haven't made a political album with Land Animal," said Wallace-Ailsworth. "However, it's definitely motivated by the difficult state of the world at the moment. If people are able to take some comfort in our music or create dialog through it, those are great things for us."
Like the band's previous work, Land Animal is full of fresh, sophisticated arrangements and beautiful vocal harmonies, but it's also its most direct statement to date.
"It's a really juicy and immediate album," said Swain. "With our previous album Say So, I think it took people a few listens to absorb its themes. That's not the case with Land Animal, which delivers more instant gratification."
"We tried to balance that with an appealing narrative arc," said Welch. "The album starts with 'Terror Bird,' a song about individuals and communication issues and ends with 'Boxes,' a song that explores the fact that we're all marching towards our own demise, so we better make the most of the time we have. Land Animal is an epic journey."
At the end of the day, the band believes strongly in music as a force for positive change and delivering ideas no other medium is capable of.
"We believe music is the most efficient way to get a point across," said Baum. "The only way to cut through the noise of a confused, globalized world is to create something that speaks directly to the soul, and that's what we hope we've done with Land Animal."
15SatJune 15, 20198:00pm $8 advance / $10 doorWho's Who is a band from Chicago that set out to recreate the magic of TOMMY, power of QUADROPHENIA, and energy of WHO'S NEXT. From The Who's first hit single, "Can't Explain" through the Live at Leeds, Tommy, Who's Next and Quadrophenia albums, Who's Who covers The Who's greatest hits and best-known classics!
Who's Who entertained music lovers of all ages at many of the best venues and fests in Midwest such as the Arcada Theater, Naperville Ribfest, Rock Fest (Cadott WI), Tribute Fest (Duluth MN), Edison Park Fest, Jefferson Park Fest, Lake County Fair, West Chicago Railroad Days, Cubby Bear, The House of Blues, Lisle Eyes to the Skies, Navy Pier, Live Chicago Music Fest, The Glen Town Center, Morton Grove Days, Austin's Fuel Room and many others.
18TueJune 18, 2019
The songs on Blood and Bones reflect this. Recorded quickly with producer Dwight Baker, who has worked on Schneider's last 6 releases, the album highlights the chemistry that Schneider and his backing band of Austin's very best musicians have developed while relentlessly playing live, most notably at the monthly residency Schneider has held at Austin's Saxon Pub for the last 17 years. "I didn't want to overthink the songs," Schneider says. "I really respect Dwight's ability to make great calls when it comes to what works and isn't working when we are recording the songs. I felt pretty good about the quality of the songwriting, so I figured that would come through in the end if we just went in and played them the way I do live."
While the performance and production are stellar, the songwriting finds Schneider in a particularly reflective mode. Sure, there are live favorites like "Make Drugs Get Money" and "Texaco" that will get even the most reserved crowds dancing. But more often the album finds Schneider reflecting on marriage, parenthood and mortality. "I wish I could make you see how wonderful everything is most of the time, but I'm only blood and bones," he sings on the title track, a meditation on the beauty and the limits of marriage. Later, on "Easy" he tells his daughter "it's always been a scary thing to do, to let my heart fall down into the endless blue, but it's easy with you." Through it all, there is a clear sense of mortality, of just how fleeting all of this is. "The hours and days stack up in the mirror," he sings on "Hours and Days". "We're just snowmen waiting for the summer" he signs on "Snowmen", before adding "we can't bring them back, can't bring nothing back."
One thing Schneider has excelled at in his career is bringing audiences back. Though he has received little national press or major label support, he has managed to become one of the biggest acts in Austin, if not Texas. His fans, who often discovered him after being brought to his shows by their friends, are fiercely loyal. Many have attended dozens or even hundreds of shows. Thanks to these fans, Schneider has won more Austin Music Awards than any other musician, including Best Songwriter, Best Musician, and Best Male Vocals.
In retrospect, it appears inevitable that Bob Schneider would become an artist. He was born in Michigan and raised in Germany, where his father pursued a career as a professional opera singer. As a boy, Schneider studied piano and guitar, often performing at family parties and backing his father on drums at nightclubs throughout his youth in Germany and Texas. He went on to study art- his other primary passion and avocation- at the University of Texas El Paso, before moving to Austin and establishing himself as a musician. He performs relentlessly, writes songs compulsively, writes poetry and regularly shows his visual art in galleries around Austin. With Blood and Bones, Schneider further cements his reputation as one of the most versatile, inventive and engaging songwriters working today.
20ThuJune 20, 2019
Maybe Semi-Twang should have tried something else. Back in 1988 when Warner Brothers released their first record, Salty Tears, someone was thinking their kind of country-tinged midcoast rock and roll was sorely needed. That proved to be true a few years later -- it's now called "Americana." That record drew comparisons to The Band, Creedence Clearwater and other luminaries like Doug Sahm. Alas, critics were not the record buyers of the late 80's -- a time when groups like Fluke Of Seagulls ruled the roost. Anyhoo, the band regrouped in 2009, things were more favorable and, as the band is set to to release their fourth album, Kenosha, what they do is less outlier and just outright good. Check out the title song you'll get the same jolt of recognition believers like Talking Head Jerry Harrison felt when he first heard them and passed their demo on to the folks at WB. Listen to the rest and you'll understand why artists like Dwight Yoakam and The Bodeans have covered leader John Sieger's songs. They knew this stuff has always been around and they also understood why: It's as real as the factory floor and as sturdy as a pair of steel toed boots.
21FriJune 21, 2019
A group hailing from the Chicago area, Ethel Shank combines elements of alternative, punk, and grunge to make a memorable modern rock sound. Mix that with intense live shows and a passion for flair, you won't want to miss them.
The Almas are a high energy hard rock band based out of Kenosha, WI. Influenced heavily by rock, punk, blues, post hardcore and everything in between, they take from each members' eclectic tastes to create a sonic fusion that has spread throughout the south eastern Wiscosnin and Chicagoland area. The Almas have released a self-titled EP in 2017, and have released the full length album Back To Bad in the spring 2018. In support of the full length album they will be going on the "official" Back To Bad tour in 2019.
27ThuJune 27, 2019Folk Uke
Don't believe the rumors. Folk Uke is not totally amazing. They're just kind of amazing. If you find yourself at a Folk Uke show, you are in for a treat-- but maybe not the kind of treat that you like the taste of. Come to a show and see for yourself.
Better yet, buy their albums first and you may save yourself the trouble. And if you make it to a live Folk Uke show, do your best to enjoy it...and then give them two more chances. They are hit and miss, but so are you most likely, and that is their charm. We live to inspire and we're tired of writing in third person.