Local Concert Preview for Chicago & Milwaukee:
April 22-30, 2009

First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2009, Volume 16, #4

Written by John Metzger

Wed April 22, 2009, 09:30 AM CDT

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4/22 - Tinariwen - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p

Tinariwen - Aman Iman

Of all the bands to appear on the world music scene in recent years, Tinariwen likely has the best chance of making a giant-sized splash. Although it has been together since 1982, the outfit didn’t receive its first real break until two decades later when Robert Plant and Justin Adams joined its members during a performance at North Africa’s Festival in the Desert. As a result, its latest set Aman Iman received more support from the mainstream rock press than otherwise might have been possible. Tinariwen currently is working on its next endeavor, but in the meantime, it has issued Live in London, a concert film that doubles as a retrospective collection. There is, perhaps, no better venue in the Chicago area that is better suited for Tinariwen’s brand of otherworldly blues than the Old Town School, where the outfit will perform two concerts on April 22.

The Hackensaw Boys - Look Out!

4/23 - The Hackensaw Boys / Trampled by Turtles - Schuba's - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p

The Hackensaw Boys might look like an archaic string band, but like Old Crow Medicine Show, the group can raise quite a ruckus. In a fashion that is similar to many bluegrass bands, The Hackensaw Boys leans heavily upon the touchstones of Americana fare. Simultaneously, though, the lifeblood of rock ’n‘ roll also courses through its blues-, folk-, and gospel-imbued veins. Although it has made steady progress in the recording studio, the ensemble truly excels in a concert setting. With Trampled by Turtles lending support, The Hackensaw Boys will throw a modern-day hootenanny when it stops by Schuba’s for a pair of performances on April 23.

Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

4/24 - Neko Case / Crooked Fingers - Chicago Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p
4/25 - Neko Case / Crooked Fingers - Riverside Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p

Initially, it seemed as if Neko Case was bound to be known primarily for possessing a voice that was larger than life. In recent years, however, she not only has refined her lyrics and melodies, but she also has set them free within a series of wide-sweeping arrangements that ultimately capture, inform, and illuminate the truths about which she sings. As a result, Case has taken her work to a whole new level. Her latest set Middle Cyclone provides proof that the growth she demonstrated on Fox Confessor Brings the Flood wasn’t a fluke. When she holds court at the Chicago Theatre on April 24 and the Riverside Theater on April 25, her confidence as a songwriter and performer will be on full display. Denver-based, indie-rock outfit Crooked Fingers will support Case on both nights.

The Flatlanders - Hills and Valleys

4/24 - The Flatlanders - Northern Lights Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
4/25 - The Flatlanders - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p

When it first formed in 1972, The Flatlanders struggled to attract an audience. In fact, the trio disbanded long before its debut received a proper release. As fate would have it, with the solo careers of Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock having been firmly established eons ago, the collective now is considered to be a supergroup among followers of the Americana scene. Its latest set Hills & Valleys continues its string of expertly crafted endeavors, all of which conjure the sounds of the Texas range in a way that also highlights the enormous influence The Flatlanders has had on the alt-country movement. On their own and together, the trio of Ely, Gilmore, and Hancock has amassed an astounding body of work, much of which will be in play when the ensemble performs at the Northern Lights Theater on April 24 and the Old Town School on April 25.

M. Ward - Hold Time

4/24 - M. Ward - Pabst Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
4/26 - M. Ward - Vic Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p

M. Ward has always wanted to be more than just the darling of the indie-folk crowd. The fact that Ward parlayed his Howe Gelb-produced debut Duet for Guitars #2 into a high-profile appearance on Norah Jones’ Not Too Late is a testament to this notion. Still, it took a collaboration with actress Zooey Deschanel in She & Him to cause a real stir. Surprisingly, the results were better than expected, too. The duo reunited briefly during the recording of Ward’s latest offering Hold Time, which also features appearances by Lucinda Williams and Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle. It’s safe to say, however, that it was the buzz generated by She & Him that not only gave Ward confidence but also turned the collection into the most eagerly anticipated album of his career. Ward will perform material from Hold Time as well as its predecessor Post-War when he visits Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater on April 24 and Chicago’s Vic Theatre on April 26. The Watson Twins, which scored a coup of its own with last year’s Fire Songs, will support Ward on both nights.

Soulive - Up Here

4/26 - Soulive - Double Door - Chicago - 9:00 p

Although it flirted briefly with the notion of becoming a genuine rock ’n‘ roll outfit, Soulive always has fared best as an instrumental trio. At the same time, though, the ensemble also has had a problem reaching its full potential because too often it has taken the easy route, settling for uninspired, jam-band posturing instead of weaving its jazz-based expressions into something that can stand on its own. In a move that seemed to provide the missing link to its pursuits, Soulive began to experiment with song-based structures on its last album No Place Like Soul. Untethered from a record label contract, the group now is applying its newfound focus to a wider range of material. Its show at the Double Door on April 26 undoubtedly will highlight many of the tracks on its latest endeavor Up Here.

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Of Further Interest...

Local Concert Preview for Chicago/Milwaukee: April 15-21, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago/Milwaukee: April 8-14, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago/Milwaukee: April 1-7, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago/Milwaukee: March 22-31, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago: March 15-21, 2009

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