Tomeka Reid and Junius Paul, who play Elastic on April 8, perform in Jackson Park in August as part of the Hyde Park Jazz Festival's Jazz Postcards series. Credit: Courtesy Elastic Arts

With its relaxed atmosphere and dependably adventurous programming, Elastic Arts is high on the list of local spots Gossip Wolf has been pining to visit since the pandemic hit—especially because when it suspended in-person events last spring it had just introduced a sensational 16-speaker, 16-channel sound system created by the Chicago Laboratory for Electroacoustic Theatre. This wolf’s next date with the CLEAT system will have to wait, but this month Elastic is ramping up its online programming after staying pretty quiet since the end of September.

On Friday, March 19, reedist Ken Vandermark and Lebanese trumpet player Mazen Kerbaj will inaugurate a new quarterly performance series called Bricolage. Curated by Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis and German pianist Magda Mayas and supported by the Goethe-Institut, Bricolage is an international collaboration between Elastic and Berlin art center Ausland. On Saturday, March 20, Elastic hosts an Asian Improv Arts Midwest event with solo sets from shamisen player and Tsukasa Taiko drummer Kioto Aoki, Ono guitarist Da Wei Wang, and Hanami saxophonist Mai Sugimoto, all of whom are celebrating debut solo albums. Cristal Sabbagh’s cross-disciplinary event Freedom From and Freedom To, which mixes and matches improvising dancers and musicians, returns on April 2 and 3, and on April 8, the duo of cellist Tomeka Reid and bassist Junius Paul shares the bill with a quartet led by saxophonist Mars Williams. The performances will be streamed via Elastic Arts’ Twitch channel, and they’re free to watch; donations of $10 or more are encouraged, though, and you can give at

  • Trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj made these recordings early in his COVID lockdown.

  • The first solo album by Ono guitarist Da Wei Wang

On Friday, the Chicago Independent Venue League opened applications for grants from its CIVL SAVE Emergency Relief Fund, which benefits venue staff waylaid by the pandemic—roughly 7,000 people worked for CIVL venues at this point last year. (The venues themselves are still waiting on federal grants from December’s Shuttered Venue Operators program to trickle in.) The SAVE money comes from donations to the virtual concert series CIVLization, from merch sales, and from fundraising partnerships. For now only venue staffers are eligible to apply; deadline is Sunday, March 21. (Update: Deadline has been extended until Sunday, March 28.) Future rounds of relief will extend to artists and performers as well as to venues. CIVL is also seeking Illinois residents to volunteer as jurors to help approve applications—venue staffers may not serve in this capacity, but other industry workers are welcome. You can find the SAVE application and more information at

On Monday, March 15, the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers of Chicago will demonstrate outside Spotify’s local headquarters at 225 W. Illinois. It’s part of a coordinated international wave of protests called Justice at Spotify Day of Action, which aims to throw a spotlight on the streaming giant’s predatory behavior and generate publicity for UMAW’s demands. The group wants Spotify to pay artists at least one cent per stream, adopt a user-centric payment model, and end pay-for-play systems, among other things. The Chicago protest begins at 1 PM.  v

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