To the Editor:
I am what you would probably refer to as a “music enthusiast.” I enjoy all different types of music, some, I will admit, more than others, but I will always give a listen to something new–a fresh approach.
Bill Wyman’s weekly column entitled Hitsville has become, in one woman’s opinion, a bit samey. When this column made its Reader debut, it was an interesting read containing enough controversy to keep the faithful amused and impressed.
Lately, I’ve noticed that this column is barely worth reading in its entirety. Wyman’s approach is incessantly boring–it’s the same old stuff. The column is far from living up to its Hitsville moniker. It’s more like “Missville” now. Why not try a different approach with this feature?
The Reader has many knowledgeable and worthy critics and writers who listen to music with open ears, not only in the city’s “hip” neighborhoods but everywhere there is music to be heard. They’re usually “right on” with their Critic’s Choices, and they appear to spend a lot of time listening and talking to the people who make the music they write about. Why not rotate Wyman’s Hitsville with these other music writers, who could bring a different view on Chicago’s different musics?
For example, Chicago’s folk scene has a long and honorable history (think of Bob Gibson, Steve Goodman, and the Quiet Knight, etc). Even today it’s one of the most active in the country, but it’s rarely explored in the Reader. To cite just one example, Richie Havens was in town last year–that would have made a nice feature piece.
Or, how about Neil Tesser doing a feature on jazz; David Whiteis on blues and R & B; Ted Shen on classical? Peter Margasak on any of the many kinds of music he writes about so well? It would be a refreshing change of pace to read someone else’s new story rather than barely being able to read through Wyman’s same old, same old.
You may argue that Rock, Etc. is supposed to be geared to the rest of Chicago music, but that argument falls on deaf ears with this reader. The Rock, Etc. feature reads more like a series of record and concert reviews rather than a feature with any kind of in-depth approach.
To Bill Wyman’s credit, he’s focused heavily on local artists and at least part of the local recording industry, and I’m sure he’s helped a lot of careers in the process. But Hitsville is solely limited to that which Wyman himself thinks is the “cutting edge” (or else to denunciations of whatever he thinks is not). Meanwhile, there are a lot of innovative and exploratory things going on in town that Hitsville usually ignores.
HotHouse on Milwaukee Avenue, for example, is known for having a wonderfully diverse mixture of Latin, African, progressive jazz, and other tantalizing acts that are worthy of mentioning and exploring in print; the Equator Club in Uptown books African and World Beat acts almost every night of the week; neighborhoods like Pilsen and West Town are filled with bars, cantinas, and other venues that book Mexican and Puerto Rican artists who are as famous in these communities as Junior Wells and James Cotton are to the audiences at the Checkerboard. Some of them even record here in Chicago.
Branch out and have some fun with the music we have here in this wonderful city. Bill Wyman seems to want to sell us to the world as “Seattle by the Lake,” but we don’t need that. We should be proud of the fact that we have a wonderful, diverse music scene right here and that Hitsville can apply to all of it.
Most of your readers are educated consumers of the 90s who want to be informed about a variety of interesting topics. A Hitsville with more variety would add punch to Section Three, and I’m sure you’ll have some very satisfied readers who will thank you for the change.