Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee:
October 25-November 1, 2009

First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2009, Volume 16, #10

Written by John Metzger

Fri October 23, 2009, 06:30 AM CDT

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Leonard Cohen - Songs from a Room

10/29 - Leonard Cohen - Rosemont Theatre - Rosemont - 8:00 p

Was it food poisoning or exhaustion that felled Leonard Cohen prior to a gig in Europe five weeks ago? Since returning to the stage in a bid to rebuild his financial portfolio, Cohen has been pushing himself harder than artists who are 50 years younger. His legacy didnít need to be refurbished, and considering how rarely he has taken to the road, he could have waltzed through these appearances without breaking much of a sweat while still sending his audience home happy. Cohen, however, is a perfectionist as well as a committed performer. On night after night throughout his current tour, he has been delivering three-hour shows that feature a hefty sampling of material from his back catalogue. There likely wonít be any dramatic changes to his set list since his multiple-night run at the Chicago Theatre this past spring, but anyone who missed these performances will have another chance to see Cohen in the flesh when he takes the stage at the Rosemont Theatre on October 29.

Richard Thompson - Sweet Warrior

10/29 - Loudon Wainwright III / Richard Thompson - Vic Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p
10/30 - Loudon Wainwright III / Richard Thompson - Pabst Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p

Richard Thompson and Loudon Wainwright have drawn an abundance of acclaim from critics and intellectuals. Nevertheless, they remain woefully underrated by the rest of the record-buying public. How else can anyone explain why their collaborative trek across the country has been relegated to mid-size venues such as the Vic Theatre in Chicago and the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee? Wainwright and Thompson have been on a tear of late, and their frequent unions on stage have brought out the best in each of them. Thompson is currently touring to draw attention to his new boxed set Walking on a Wire, while Wainwright assumed the role of a legendary 1920s songwriter to create his latest endeavor High, Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project. Itís safe to say that the duoís relatively intimate shows at the Vic Theatre in Chicago on October 29 and the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee on October 30 will be highly entertaining.

10/29-31 - Bob Dylan - Aragon Ballroom - Chicago - 7:30 p

Bob Dylan - Christmas in the Heart

A few weeks ago, Bob Dylan confounded plenty of his fans when he checked off a surprising new item on his to-do list. Christmas in the Heart, the first holiday-oriented album of his career, features his renditions of classic tunes, such as Little Drummer Boy and Winter Wonderland. Better still, Dylan is donating his share of the proceeds from the effort to charity. Considering that he is spending Halloween night in Chicago, itís possible that he might don a Santa Claus suit and run through a few tracks from the endeavor. More likely, however, is the appearance of material from the other outing he issued this year: Together through Life. Although the collection is the weakest of his recent offerings, its roadhouse romps are well suited to a concert setting. With guitarist Charlie Sexton back on board after a seven-year hiatus, things are sure to get raucous and rowdy, too. When Sexton joined Dylan for a show in Texas earlier this year, he jumped right into the fray, pushing Dylan at every turn. Consequently, this three-night engagement at the Aragon has the potential to be Dylanís best local appearance in years.

Monsters of Folk - Monsters of Folk / self-titled

10/30 - Monsters of Folk - Auditorium Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p

Five years ago, M. Ward, Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, and Jim James began to collaborate during shows, backstage, and in the recording studio. As their relationship grew, they gave their on-again, off-again project a name: Monsters of Folk. Their self-titled debut is a relaxed and easy-going collection of songs that is both utterly unpretentious and throughly engaging. There is no doubt the cooperative spirit that spawned the endeavor will spill into the outfitís concerts. After all, the chemistry among the musicians seems to have sparked a reaction that is highly unstoppable. For certain, Monsters of Folk will highlight a lot of the material from its new endeavor, and considering how strong it is, this is a wise decision. Yet, it might be even more interesting to hear which cover tunes they opt to tackle as well as how they manage to reinterpret tracks from each otherís back catalogues. Taken in full, Monsters of Folkís appearance at the Auditorium Theatre on October 30 ought to provide an insightful glimpse into the minds of four of todayís top indie songwriters.

Los Lobos - Los Lobos Goes Disney

10/31 - Los Lobos - Northern Lights Theater - Milwaukee - 9:00 p
11/1 - Los Lobos / The Duhks - Symphony Center - Chicago - 7:00 p

Despite the critical success of its 2006 endeavor The Town and The City, Los Lobos inexplicably was dropped by Hollywood Records. Then again, it never truly fit into the framework of the labelís increasingly pop-oriented leanings. Recently signed to Shout! Factory, Los Lobos is preparing to record the 18th album of its career. The band, however, is notorious for waiting until the last minute to write new material. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the group will provide its fans with a sneak preview of its forthcoming album when it performs at Milwaukeeís Northern Lights Theater on October 31 or Chicagoís Symphony Center on November 1. Los Lobos will instead offer a vigorous, career-spanning set of Tex-Mex flavored roots-rock with a dash of soul. The Duhks might seem like a strange choice to share the bill with Los Lobos in Chicago. Nevertheless, the collective blends Americana-oriented fare with the sounds and styles of its native homeland. The difference, then, is merely a matter of which international border is closest to its place of residence.

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Of Further Interest...

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: October 17-24, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: October 9-16, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: October 1-8, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: September 24-30, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: September 14-23, 2009

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