The urban legend about painting the Golden Gate Bridge—by the time the crews finish, they have to start over again—could just as easily be about the task of profiling every interesting person in the Chicago music scene. Thankfully that’s not what we at the Reader have set out to do with our second annual People Issue. Nor do we mean to tag along after the celebrities of the moment—though if you follow music in Chicago, you’ve likely heard of at least one of our B Side subjects. In fact you might say the idea is to give you a glimpse of the profusion and diversity of talented, committed people who pursue their passions outside the glare of the spotlight. These are people who could be friends of friends, or sitting across from you on the train. From the stories that follow, told entirely in their own words, you’ll learn as much about them as if you’d shared an armrest for a transcontinental flight—maybe more, if you’re not the sort of person to start conversations on planes.

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. You can also follow him on Twitter.