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The music of Atlanta outsider artist Lonnie Holley remains as homemade and instinctual as ever

Self-taught Atlanta musician and visual artist Lonnie Holley has accrued ardent supporters since he dropped his first recordings earlier in the decade. Tonight he rolls into town with Animal Collective as the supporting act on their national tour. Due from Jagjaguwar in September, Holley’s new album MITH was cut in various sessions around the globe—from […]

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Pedal steel virtuoso Susan Alcorn moves away from country toward free improvisation, tango, and more

Baltimore pedal-steel guitarist Susan Alcorn occupies a world unto herself in numerous ways that make the sounds she creates unlike anything else out there. Thanks to her parents, she was surrounded by music during her childhood in Florida, and she eventually took up the guitar. During a stint in Chicago in the mid-70s she became […]

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Powerhouse percussionist Greg Fox uses ‘sensory percussion’ to turn his whole kit into a MIDI controller

Update: According to an Instagram post by Experimental Sound Studio, Greg Fox’s flight to Chicago has been canceled. He will no longer conduct his workshop at ESS or perform at the Hideout. Drummer Greg Fox has been duly celebrated over the last decade for his mind-melting work with a range of heavy projects including Liturgy, […]

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Chilean trumpeter Benjamín Vergara returns to Chicago to celebrate the instant bonds he formed with local musicians

One of the most wonderful phenomena in the world of improvised music is that players can come together with little more than an introduction and proceed to create work in which they rapidly forge common ground. Few words need to be spoken, as sound transcends all manner of cultural differences. Chilean trumpeter Benjamín Vergara, whom […]

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Kentucky duo the Other Years evoke the rusticity of old-time music with melodic sophistication

Louisville, Kentucky, outfit the Other Years carry on a vibrant old-time music tradition that summons the spirit and soul of rural mountain music, but the melodic sophistication and instrumental polish they bring make it sound utterly contemporary despite its appealing rusticity. The duo, composed of fiddler Anna Krippenstapel (who’s been working in Freakwater for the […]

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Indie-rock vets Wilder Maker craft dense art-pop in which Paul Simon’s influence rings loud and clear

Wilder Maker is a sophisticated New York quintet helmed by a crew of indie-rock veterans with broad interests, including songwriter and front man Gabriel Birnbaum, who’s previously played with the Ethiopian-inspired Debo Band. Though I’m not sure if his earlier affiliation was inspired by a love of Paul Simon’s Graceland, most of the songs on […]

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Caleb Willitz perpetually refines his pensive folk-rock sound by working with some of Chicago’s strongest improvisers

Singer and songwriter Caleb Willitz has forged a beguiling sound that seems like it only could have emerged from Chicago. With each performance he works with a shifting cast of musicians and ends up reshaping his poetic folk-rock songs. As with last year’s Home (Peace of Coal), most of his bands feature top-notch improvisational voices […]

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Jazz drummer Nate Smith comes into his own as a bandleader with a sleek strain of R&B and funk that showcases his improvisational elasticity

Drummer Nate Smith has taken his time as a bandleader. Last year the 43-year-old musician dropped Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere (Ropeadope), his second album and debut as a bandleader, which shows that his patience has yielded serious dividends. The record is a product of a superior musician and careful thinker who has absorbed ideas and […]