Since the start of the pandemic, Chicago has lost an incredible number of artists whose contributions to the local music community helped shape the sound of the city and beyond. They include drummer and vocalist Joe Camarillo, who passed away in January following a stroke. Since the mid-80s, when he was a high school student in Midlothian, Camarillo had played in dozens of bands. He was best known for his work in rock trio Hushdrops and country-punk outfit the Waco Brothers, but he also became a go-to studio collaborator and backup musician with Kelly Hogan, NRBQ, Dollar Store, the Renaldo Domino Experience, and many others. Because Camarillo passed away before COVID-19 vaccines were widely available, safety precautions prevented his enormous network of friends from coming together in one place to share their grief. They vowed to do so when the time was right, though, and this month an in-person celebration of Camarillo’s life, music, and legacy will finally happen. Dubbed the Joe Show and held on the patio of the Hideout, this sweet, intimate concert features four acts with whom Camarillo had played: pop multi-instrumentalist Phil Angotti, singer-songwriter Nora O’Connor, the Waco Brothers, and Hushdrops (whose new album, The Static, due via Pravda in November, features their last recordings with him). The venue’s website suggests that had it not been for the pandemic, a much larger extravaganza might have taken place. But given Camarillo’s outsize talent and personality, it seems like any tribute now is just a foretaste of how he’ll be celebrated in Chicago’s music community for years to come.
The Joe Show featuring Waco Brothers, Hushdrops, Phil Angotti, Nora O’Connor, Sun 9/26, 6 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, sold out, 21+