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Catholic school house

In November 2021, news broke that filled the Chicago house-music community with pride. Hometown house legends Ten City were nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronica Album for Judgement, their first full-length studio recording since 1994. Many Chicago fans remembered that around the time of the group’s formation in the mid-1980s, their producer, house pioneer […]

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Duranguense: made in Chicago

A style of music, dance, and dress: duranguense, which surged in Chicago at the turn of the 21st century, encompassed all of this. Duranguense is a hybrid genre, with roots in the northwestern Mexican state of Durango as well as the music known in the industry as Regional Mexican—it includes popular genres linked to rural […]

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Before Detroit had Motown, Chicago had Vee-Jay

Vivian Carter and James Bracken formed Vee-Jay Records in 1953 to produce the “good music” that listeners of Vivian’s radio broadcasts and customers of her record store in Gary, Indiana, wanted to hear. By “good music,” her audience—largely southern-born African American migrants to the Chicago region—didn’t mean classical or pop. They hungered for electric blues, […]

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Chicago’s 1920s nightlife incubated world-changing musical and social experiments

The Roaring Twenties have often been portrayed as a time of wealth, glamor, and social change. Technological advances, including more widespread electrification and increased use of automobiles, plus the growth of mass media such as radio and movies, drove a booming economy—though then as now the benefits were inequitably distributed. Inspired by movie stars and […]

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Chicago’s Black musical visionaries charted paths for their communities in the 1950s and ’60s

Since the 1950s, Chicago has hosted a succession of visionary Black musical groups and societies. They’re best known as purveyors of avant-garde jazz, but that characterization sells short Sun Ra and his Arkestra, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and Phil Cohran’s Artistic Heritage Ensemble. Each was—and in some cases still is—a […]

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New-music feast the Frequency Festival returns after taking a COVID year

Former Reader staff writer Peter Margasak has been programming the Frequency Series at Constellation since 2013, bringing in artists from across the wide spectrum of experimental and new music for weekly showcases. Since 2016 Margasak has also booked the annual Frequency Festival, which skipped 2021 for obvious reasons; the festival will return for its sixth […]

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Earthless return to form on the psychedelic Night Parade of One Hundred Demons

Earthless started releasing anachronistic 40-minute jams steeped in 70s hard-rock riffing at a time in the early 2000s when spindly postpunk seemed to dominate the underground rock landscape. A new wave of psychedelic metal was also beginning to take shape, though, and the Southern California trio’s studio debut, 2005’s Sonic Prayer, opens with a track […]