Posted inArts & Culture

Happy Birthday to You

Happy Birthday to You, Mom & Dad Productions, at the Performance Loft, Second Unitarian Church of Chicago. Joseph Feliciano and Renee Phillippi’s collection of short vignettes is intended to showcase the full spectrum of human life–and by the play’s end we feel we’ve passed an entire lifetime. Unfortunately, it’s a life drained of passion, emotion, […]

Posted inMusic

Lonnie Sheilds

LONNIE SHIELDS Lonnie Shields hails from the blues stronghold of West Helena, Arkansas, but until the late 70s, when he allied himself with sometime Sonny Boy Williamson sideman Sam Carr, he considered himself more of a funk musician. Even nowadays Shields’s style is a custom blend of modern funk, soul, and R & B, as […]

Posted inMusic


PELT Plenty of rock musicians are dabbling in improvised music these days, but none goes to quite the lengths Pelt does. The Virginia trio’s five albums map its journey into the void. Its 1995 debut, Brown Cyclopaedia (VHF), is a loose but essentially song-based album; woozy verses and raw-throated choruses float above the rumbling guitars […]

Posted inMusic

Pinetop Perkins

PINETOP PERKINS Even at the grand old age of 84, Pinetop Perkins sometimes sounds as if he’s discovering the glory of the blues for the first time. The pianist, who began his career in the jukes and barrelhouses of the Mississippi Delta in the late 20s and appeared for a time alongside Sonny Boy Williamson […]

Posted inMusic

Charlie Hunter & Pound for Pound

CHARLIE HUNTER & POUND FOR POUND Few musicians in the 90s have managed to personalize 70s funk as adeptly as guitarist Charlie Hunter–he digs a deep groove but lines it with silk. To do so he puts on a bit of a freak show, simultaneously playing bass lines and guitar solos on an eight-string guitar […]

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Tom Varner-Ryan Shultz Quintet

TOM VARNER-RYAN SHULTZ QUINTET When Tom Varner last came to town, in 1996, he had agreed to spend almost a week working with four local strangers to present his own stark and sometimes challenging compositions. That alone would have qualified him as somewhat intrepid–but he’d already earned that description by deciding to play jazz on […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

Hey, Faggot: Like you, my work entails providing folks with information about sexuality that is accurate and nonjudgmental. At times I have to wonder if you take that responsibility seriously. In a recent column, your advise [sic] to a young man is, “The next time you go for a visit, take him out, get him […]

Posted inMusic

Ravi Shankar

RAVI SHANKAR For many Americans, Ravi Shankar is Indian music, and it’s easy to picture him woodshedding somewhere in his native land as a young prodigy. But the tireless promoter of North Indian classical performance is in fact a lifelong globe-trotter–at age nine he left India with brother Uday Shankar’s dance troupe, which based itself […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Happy as Clams

dawson.qxd Reader, While Peter Margasak’s article in the 3/13 Reader [Post No Bills] was very well written, as his pieces always are, I feel compelled to comment on a couple of things. In my dealings with Zoo Records A and R man (now Minty Fresh guy) Jim Powers, I’ve always found him to be honest, […]

Posted inMusic

Assif Tsahar Trio

ASSIF TSAHAR TRIO I’ve often touted the strength and breadth of Chicago’s free-jazz and improvised-music scene, but it’s still dwarfed by what goes on in New York City. We have no one on par, for example, with brawny tenor players like Charles Gayle and David S. Ware, both of whom are well into middle age […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY 4/10, HOUSE OF BLUES If you can get past the racist shtick of the name–though why should you?–you’re rewarded with stale fashion-model swing pop that makes the truckload of new ska bands sound downright innovative. These spats-sporting beach boys from Ventura, last heard on the Swingers sound track, claim to be […]