Local Concert Preview for Chicago:
February 19-22, 2009
First Appeared in The Music Box, February 2009, Volume 16, #2
Written by John Metzger
Thu February 19, 2009, 06:30 AM CST
2/20 - Mark Olson and Gary Louris - Park West - Chicago - 8:30 p
Strange as it may seem, success has a way of scuttling the plans of even the greatest bands. The rest are damaged by shifting loyalties. After the release of Tomorrow the Green Grass in 1995, The Jayhawks seemed poised to strike it rich, but when the album failed to make a mark outside the outfitís home in the Midwest, Mark Olsonís patience grew thin. By the end of the year, he departed to pursue projects with his soon-to-be-wife Victoria Williams, while Gary Louris, the groupís other principal songwriter, began to push The Jayhawks in a direction that was more pop-oriented. Time, however, has the ability to wash slates clean. On its 2003 endeavor Rainy Day Music, the Louris-led version of The Jayhawks returned to its roots. By late 2005, Louris and Olson had begun touring together again, which, in turn, paved the way for their acoustic-oriented reunion effort Ready for the Flood. The duo will perform material from the endeavor ó as well as fan-favorites from The Jayhawksí canon ó at Park West on February 20.
2/20 - Thievery Corporation - Aragon Ballroom - Chicago - 9:00 p
Thievery Corporation originally was slated to appear at the Riviera Theatre on February 20. Due to overwhelming demand, however, the concert was moved to the much larger confines of the Aragon Ballroom. Nevertheless, the groupís success within such a cavernous venue will be governed by how transcendently it can render its work. As fans are aware, Thievery Corporation turned political on Radio Retaliation, its latest endeavor. Although the line-up of special guests that grace the affair ó including Anoushka Shankar and Femi Kuti ó lends weight to the bandís global perspectives, it remains to be seen whether the message behind the outing will enlighten or dampen the festive atmosphere of its shows.
2/20 - Warren Haynes - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p
Guitarist Warren Haynes will step outside of his gigs with Govít Mule, the Allman Brothers Band, and The Dead to perform a pair of solo acoustic concerts at the Old Town School on February 20. Because of his busy schedule, Haynes typically reserves these types of appearances for his annual benefit concerts, where too frequently his delivery is overshadowed by his surroundings. The stripped-down nature of these sets combined with the intimacy of the performance space will provide Haynes with a unique opportunity to illuminate his roots and present himself as a songwriter, rather than just a first-rate blues guitarist.
2/20-21 - Bobby Bare, Jr. - Schuba's - Chicago - 10:30 p
Is it any surprise that Bobby Bare, Jr. has started a Pixies tribute band? Although his style has always been centered around classic country song forms, he also has managed to keep one foot firmly planted in the post-punk, indie-rock scene that was spurred by the outfit that transformed Charles Thompson into Black Francis. As part of its 20th anniversary celebration, Schubaís has lined up a special treat for Bare, Jr.ís Chicago fans: On February 20, heíll tackle the Pixiesí canon with Is She Weird, Is She White?, his latest outfit. On the following night, heíll delve into his own catalogue.
2/21 - the subdudes - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p
There was a time when it didnít look as if the subdudes was going to survive. After firmly establishing itself with a pair of terrific albums ó its self-titled debut from 1989 and Lucky, which was issued two years later ó the outfit moved from New Orleans to Colorado and dared to tinker with its sound. Drifting away from its sparse, acoustic-based approach, the group clearly had lost its focus. By the time it released Primitive Streak in 1996, the ensemble seemed to be standing on shaky ground. Since re-emerging in 2004 with Miracle Mule, however, the subdudes has been determined to make its broader vision work more effectively. Nevertheless, it took a national catastrophe, the repercussions of which are still being felt in and around New Orleans, to spur the subdudes to new heights. In paying tribute to its devastated birthplace on its 2007 endeavor Street Symphony, the subdudes very well may have turned the corner, more than a decade-and-a-half after it went astray. In recent years, the collective has settled comfortably into Chicagoís premiere saloons, but within the pristine atmosphere of the Old Town School, where the subdudes will perform on February 21, the collective's music truly will come alive.
2/21 - Jorma Kaukonen/Robben Ford/Ruthie Foster - McAninch Arts Center - Glen Ellyn - 8:00 p
2/22 - Jorma Kaukonen/Robben Ford/Ruthie Foster - James Lumber Center - Grayslake - 7:00 p
There is something to be said for truth in advertising. Jorma Kaukonen, Robben Ford, and Ruthie Foster have joined forces for a nationwide trek that stops at the College of DuPageís McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn, Illinois on February 21 and at the College of Lake Countyís James Lumber Center in Grayslake, Illinois on February 22. Considering the sojourn is being billed as Jormaís Guitar Blues Tour, thereís little doubt that fans will get their fill of old-school folk and blues. Ford may have turned soulful on his latest set Truth, but the veteran, who has worked with the likes of Jimmy Witherspoon and Miles Davis, has always been a bluesman at heart. Ford also guests on Ruthie Fosterís latest set The Truth According to Ruthie Foster, which makes this pairing a natural one. As for Jorma Kaukonen, heís been mining the blues for decades, on his own as well as with Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane. Kaukonenís latest set River of Time was recorded with Dylan alumnus Larry Campbell at Levon Helmís studio in Woodstock, New York.
2/21 - Justin Roberts - Tivoli Theater - Downers Grove - 10:00 a
Justin Roberts - Old Town School - Chicago - 12:00 p & 3:00 p
Anyone with young children who isnít familiar with the work of Justin Roberts is missing something special. Since entering the family-music scene 12 years ago with his sterling debut Great Big Sun, Roberts has become something of a godsend for parents, primarily, because he so deftly has managed to create an ingratiating soundtrack that can usher their kids from the curious, diaper-wearing toddlers to identity-seeking elementary students. His songs are filled with lessons that address academic and social issues, and they are underscored with melodies that never grow tiresome, even after the 500th time that theyíre played. With his latest set Pop Fly, which was issued last spring, Roberts now has six albums under his belt, and each is a gem. His ability to enchant young and old alike extends to his concerts, too. This weekend, the former Montessori school teacher will perform three shows in the Chicago area: On February 21, Roberts will be at the Tivoli Theater in Downers Grove, and on February 22, heíll make a pair of appearances at the Old Town School.
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