To the editors:

What do George Benson, Grover Washington Jr., David Sanborn, and Kenny G all have in common? The answer is that they would never receive a “Critic’s Choice” in the Reader.

Unfortunately, the rock critics call their style of music “too mellow,” while the jazz critics deem it to be “too commercial.” The Reader certainly has critics that are knowledgeable in the world of music. However, these critics shun many types of popular music. For example, the Reader staff cannot recommend the style of music played on the top five radio stations in Chicago. One must ask the question whether the musical taste of the Reader’s critics resembles that of its audience.

It is certainly appropriate for critics to have their own opinion, no matter how much their taste may differ from that of the general public. This is especially true of “underground” newspapers who cater to a specific audience.

However, the Reader is viewed as the newspaper to read when deciding what type of live music to listen to in Chicago, in part because virtually every music club in town advertises in the third section. This gives enormous power to the music critics, who support very specific types of music and their respective venues. Those who perform contemporary jazz barely get any mention. For example, Sade was lucky to have her concert squeezed into Bill Wyman’s Early Warnings concert calendar among the seven events at the Lounge Ax.

We at the Bulls nightclub host the young talent hoping to become the next Anita Bakers and David Sanborns of the world. We are the place where the likes of Grover Washington Jr., George Benson, Pat Metheny, and many others love to visit and sometimes play with the band. The Reader will likely not give our musicians a “Critic’s Choice,” but tens of thousands of people have loved our music. We hope that someday the Reader will love it as much as the people who live in and visit Chicago.

Rick Johnston


The Bulls nightclub