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Talking music and manifestation with JaefKae

I met Jalen Kobayashi in 2017 through Young Chicago Authors’ Louder Than a Bomb poetry festival, where for years we were on separate teams, expressing ourselves through spoken word and sometimes even competing against each other. We’ve since become close friends, connecting through our gifts with the pen and our shared passion for Black liberation. […]

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One of Chicago’s best singer-songwriters drops a new EP

Isabel “Izzy” Olive of Half Gringa is one of Chicago’s finest singer-songwriters and most dynamic performers, so it’s always a red-letter day when she drops new jams into the universe. Gossip Wolf is especially fond of the gently searing rocker “Miranda” and the outstanding ballad “Sevenwater,” the two singles Half Gringa released in 2021 and […]

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Veteran local percussionist Avreeayl Ra celebrates the release of a new documentary

Avreeayl Ra is quite literally a driving force in Chicago jazz. He’s an enduring member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) who’s spent decades drumming for countless local and visiting eminences, including Ernest Dawkins, Ari Brown, Fred Anderson, and Nicole Mitchell. While he can be counted upon to bring emphatic, surging […]

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Percussionist Daniel Villarreal plays songs from the intersection of his many musical lives

Panama-born, Chicago-based drummer Daniel Villarreal is involved with myriad musical projects. He coleads the groups Dos Santos, Valebol, the Los Sundowns, and Ida y Vuelta; he’s collaborated extensively with grab-bag marching band Mucca Pazza, sibling duo Wild Belle, and soulful psych-pop singer Rudy De Anda; and he’s a familiar face on Pilsen’s DJ circuit. At […]

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Jen B. Larson exalts our punk mothers in the new book Hit Girls

I first heard about Jen B. Larson when she played in Swimsuit Addition, whose scrappy, pulse-quickening punk combined doo-wop vocals and surf-rock scuzz. They released music through local DIY labels—Midwest Action, Tall Pat, Impossible Colors—or just put it out themselves. In short, Swimsuit Addition were exactly the kind of band the Reader‘s music writers like […]

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Chicago artists converge to sound the alarm in the fight for reproductive rights

On June 24, the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 landmark decision Roe v. Wade, unceremoniously stripping away half of the population’s right to bodily autonomy and therefore full citizenship. While the ensuing backlash helped shape the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections, downgrading the “red wave” that political pundits and mainstream media had told us […]

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Alash bring traditional Tuvan throat singing to the Old Town School

Alash are a Tuvan trio of singers and multi-instrumentalists Bady-Dorzhu Ondar, Ayan-ool Sam, and Ayan Shirizhik. Founded in 2005, the group perform khoomei, also known as Tuvan throat singing, a traditional vocal style practiced in Tuva, Mongolia, and Siberia, in which singers manipulate their mouths and throats to layer overtones over a fundamental pitch, often […]