NOISE: The experimental scene loses its best Enemy
On July 4 DIY experimental-music venue Enemy ended an extraordinary seven-year run—for a DIY space, seven years is usually a few lifespans—with a show headlined by Baltimore weirdos Nautical Almanac. “Nobody’s shutting us down or anything like that,” says Enemy founder and noise artist Jason Soliday. “We could still keep going.” He simply wants to focus more on his own projects: “I need a break.”
Soliday started Enemy in a Wicker Park studio space shortly after moving in; the first show was on July 25, 2005, with Mike Shiflet, Jason Zeh, and Jesse Kudler. He installed the PA that sound artist Rob Ray had been using at his Deadtech space—and it’s still kicking. “Fourteen years of a good chunk of the noise shows in Chicago came through that PA,” Soliday says. “It’s held up pretty well.”
Soliday has had help from roommates over the years, all of them also musicians—Brent Gutzeit, Geoff Guy, Eric Leonardson, and Ryan Dunn. They’ve booked a huge variety of talented locals, touring bands, and acts from overseas: a short list of highlights would have to include experimental guitarist and banjoist Eugene Chadbourne, unhinged San Francisco rockers Sic Alps, Montreal noise punks AIDS Wolf, Lungfish front man Daniel Higgs, German free-jazz reedist Peter Brötzmann, and percussionist and sound artist Z’ev.
Despite its obscure niche—or more likely because of it—Enemy became indispensable, evolving into a community hub for noise artists and experimental musicians. It’s hard for Soliday to discuss the years he invested in Enemy without getting emotional. “Outside of my own music, this place has been me for seven-plus years—this is what I’ve done,” he says. “So I’m really attached to it, and obviously it was a big deal to me.”
Though Enemy has closed—except for an “epilogue” show Fri 7/20, with Jesse Kenas Collins, a duo of Daniel Fandiño and Jason Stein, and a duo of Soliday and Brian Labycz—Soliday knows the noise scene will find a new anchor. “There will be new spaces,” he says. “I may even be involved in one. Just not for a little while.”
Next: Peter Margasak on jazz.
JAZZ: Young trumpeter Marquis Hill has another growth spurt
Marquis Hill says he didn’t hear a lot of music in his childhood home in Chatham, but when he started fifth grade at Dixon Elementary School, he picked up the trumpet. Before long it became an obsession, and by high school he knew he wanted a career in music. Judging by his second album as a bandleader, Sounds of the City, his heart was in the right place—at 25, he’s one of the most talented and exciting young jazz artists in Chicago.
In 2009 Hill graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in music education, and this summer he finished a master’s in jazz studies and pedagogy from DePaul; he credits his music teacher at Dixon, Diane Ellis, for instilling in him an interest in education. Hill makes most of his money giving private lessons and teaching at Brookfield High School and NIU’s annual summer jazz camp, but his flexibility has also helped make him an increasingly ubiquitous presence on the Chicago jazz scene.
Hill started putting down roots in that scene while in high school, thanks to the Sunday jam sessions at Fred Anderson‘s Velvet Lounge—he eventually ended up in the final incarnation of the house band. The Velvet was where he met some of the players he works with today, among them saxophonist Ernest Dawkins, who’d invite Hill into his long-running New Horizons Ensemble—the trumpeter appears on last year’s The Prairie Prophet (Delmark).
Hill excels in avant-garde settings, but his own quintet—tenor saxophonist Christopher McBride, pianist Joshua Mosier, bassist Charlie Kirchen, and drummer Jeremy Cunningham—tackles relatively mainstream hard bop with just as much style and power. Due Thu 8/23, Sounds of the City is more mature, forceful, and substantial than Hill’s debut, last year’s self-released New Gospel. It’s packed with nearly an hour of original compositions, plus a cover of Benny Golson’s “Stablemates”—and as on his debut, Hill demonstrates impressive humility, yielding the opening solo on the first track, “Abracadabra,” to McBride. The quintet plays the Jazz Showcase on Wed 8/1.
Next: Miles Raymer on pop.
POP: Baby Teeth say farewell with “The Last Schmaltz”
After ten years, local light-rock institution Baby Teeth are calling it a day. It’s an amicable split—bassist Jim Cooper, who’s been touring with legendary singer-songwriter Van Dyke Parks, is moving to Los Angeles to write film scores, and as vocalist-pianist Abraham Levitan points out, Parks is the “ultimate insider” in LA. The band will go out in a self-described “blaze of glory” on Fri 7/20 at Lincoln Hall with a show they’re calling “The Last Schmaltz.” (They’ve never been afraid of puns.) Like the Band’s famous Last Waltz, Baby Teeth’s farewell will feature selections from their entire catalog, an assortment of covers, and a parade of guests—including Bobby Conn, members of the 1900s and Cursive, and Outer Minds drummer (and Reader contributor) Brian Costello.
Costello is also Levitan’s collaborator in the musical improv-comedy project Shame That Tune, in which guests are invited onstage to share humiliating stories, which Levitan sets to music on the spot, choosing a style (say, glam rock) and an artist (Ke$ha) by spinning a wheel. Levitan plans to devote more time now to Shame That Tune, and maybe take it out of town occasionally; drummer Peter Andreadis will continue with his side project All City Affairs. Levitan says he’s relieved to leave the indie rat race—he’s skeptical that the big break that often seemed in reach would’ve had much effect anyhow. “Pitchfork darlings aren’t living on estates in Forest Park.”