I had this epiphany a few years ago in London, Ontario, where I was covering the No Music Festival hosted by the Nihilist Spasm Band, then just 35 years into its career: the strength of any music community can be measured best by the number of grizzled veterans who’ve kept on doing what they have to do regardless of whether anyone’s listening. Not to question the marketing-savvy-to-sense-of-justice ratio behind the Empty Bottle/Wire fest, but Cheer-Accident oughta be headlining one of those shows. For about a decade and a half this Chicago band has taken its own inimitably unpredictable approach to neo-prog, ork pop, psychedelia, analog-synth cultism, free improv, and countless other subclassifications (usually one at a time) while always remaining rooted in crunchy multimedia art-rock in the Henry Cow tradition. They simply arrange sounds in a consistently delightful way. The band’s future has been in doubt a few times–most tragically after guitarist and production whiz Phil Bonnet died suddenly of an aneurysm in 1999–yet they’ve always managed to rebound in their stubborn, low-key fashion. This is a release party for their ninth CD, Introducing Lemon (on Skin Graft; the band’s earliest recordings exist only on vinyl or cassette), which features heavy use of a horn section, and also for the new Skin Graft Comix book Gumballhead the Cat, which includes another CD of quick ‘n’ dirty, sweet ‘n’ pungent Cheer-Accident music. Bobby Conn and his new band, the Glass Gypsies, open. Saturday, September 20, 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace; 773-478-4408.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Eleanor Balson.