Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee:
June 24-30, 2009
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2009, Volume 16, #6
Written by John Metzger
Thu June 25, 2009, 06:30 AM CDT
6/25 - The Damnwells - Schuba's - Chicago - 9:00 p
The roller coaster on which The Damnwells has been riding for the past decade is a familiar one. After issuing a series of increasingly successful EPs, the group secured a contract with Epic Records, which promptly released its full-length debut Bastards of the Beat without much interference. Not surprisingly, the members of The Damnwells thought they had it made. When their sophomore set was completed, however, they soon discovered how fickle the industry can be. The effort languished in the label’s vaults, and eventually The Damnwells was dismissed from Epic’s roster. Right from the start, though, the ensemble largely has existed to provide a forum for front man Alex Dezen’s songs. Consequently, despite a series of personnel changes that virtually have overhauled the outfit, The Damnwells’ musical vision remains intact. Much like Rhett Miller and Old 97s, Dezen continues to blur the line between alt-country and alt-rock on his latest outing One Last Century. Recognizing that he is more likely to make money from concert tickets than from album sales, he is offering the endeavor for free through his website.
6/26 - Indigo Girls - Ravinia - Highland Park - 8:00 p
There is no doubt that the Indigo Girls has crafted better albums than its latest offering Poseidon and the Bitter Bug. Nevertheless, it also is safe to assume that in concert the duo will be able to overcome the collection’s faulty arrangements. As 1200 Curfews made clear, the Indigo Girls has a commanding stage presence that has allowed the outfit to cover material from Neil Young to Bob Dylan to Joni Mitchell quite credibly. Over the years, the group also has amassed a solid body of work. Although it will focus primarily upon material from its new endeavor, fans can also expect Emily Saliers and Amy Ray to apply their tightly knit harmonies to classics such as Galileo and Closer to Fine.
6/27 - Diana Krall - Ravinia - Highland Park - 7:30 p
Over the course of her career, pianist Diana Krall has flitted back and forth across the dividing line that separates jazz from pop. With her latest outing Quiet Nights, she has shed the big band arrangements that fueled her 2006 endeavor From This Moment On, and instead, she has re-embraced the understated, bossa-nova rhythms that frequently have lurked beneath the surface of her work. In fact, the parallels between her new endeavor and her 2001 set The Look of Love are striking. Not only does Quiet Nights reunite her with arranger Claus Ogerman, who is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Antonio Carlos Jobim, but it also finds her interpreting another Burt Bacharach-penned tune (Walk on By). Songs by Sammy Cahn (Guess I’ll Hang My Tears out to Dry) and Johnny Mercer (Too Marvelous for Words) are also on the menu. In this regard, her performance at Ravinia, where fans can drink wine and have a picnic dinner beneath the stars, makes a whole lot of sense.
6/26 - Counting Crows - Summerfest/Marcus Amphitheater - Milwaukee - 7:30 p
6/27 - Counting Crows - Taste of Chicago - Chicago - 5:00 p
6/28 - The Wallflowers - Taste of Chicago - Chicago - 5:00 p
Apparently Taste of Chicago is turning the clock back to 1997. Both Counting Crows and The Wallflowers — a pair of iconic acts from the mid-to-late ’90s — are slated to perform on consecutive nights during the event’s 2009 run in Grant Park. Counting Crows will be traveling here from a stop at Milwaukee’s Summerfest earlier in the week. Back with a vengeance since last spring, when it issued its fifth studio album Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, the group has always fared better in mid-size clubs and college gymnasiums than it has in massive arenas and amphitheaters. Nevertheless, recent reports seem to indicate that it once again is consistently leaving its fans satisfied. Meanwhile, in the wake of Jakob Dylan’s recent foray as a solo artist — which included stints writing songs for television as well as crafting his the full-length debut Seeing Things — The Wallflowers has reconvened for a month-long jaunt that is designed to support its first-ever career retrospective Collected: 1996–2005.
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