Local Concert Preview for Chicago:
December 11-22, 2009
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2009, Volume 16, #12
Written by John Metzger
Fri December 11, 2009, 06:30 AM CST
12/11 - John Sebastian / David Grisman - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p
The reunion of John Sebastian and David Grisman has been a long time coming. The duo first performed together in the Even Dozen Jug Band, an outfit that floated through the Greenwich Village folk scene in the 1960s. After going their separate ways, Sebastian turned his attention toward pop music, creating a sensation with the Lovin’ Spoonful. Meanwhile, Grisman took an expansive view of roots-oriented fare by forming Earth Opera with Peter Rowan as well as the progressive bluegrass outfit that still bears his name. No matter where their musical journeys have taken them, however, both Grisman and Sebastian have remained wholly captivated by the traditional folk songs from their jug band days. After sharing the stage at a benefit concert in 2005, they decided to rebuild the connection to their past by collaborating on an album. The result was Satisfied, a solid, if somewhat unsurprising set of material, some of which was written by their progenitors. Ever since, they’ve been uniting on stage for brief strings of concerts, including the show slated for the Old Town School on December 11. Not surprisingly, they’ll recreate the relaxed, low-key ambience of the endeavor, mixing songs by the likes of Mississippi John Hurt with several of the hits that Sebastian scored with Lovin’ Spoonful.
12/12 - Justin Roberts - Martyrs - Chicago - 3:00 p
Because Chicago is his home, there never is a shortage of Justin Roberts’ concerts in the area. He liberally blankets the region each year, performing in schools, churches, and traditional performance spaces as well as at numerous regional festivals and events. Last month, he ushered in the holiday season by returning to the stage at the pre-Thanksgiving Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. On December 12, he’ll perform a more complete set in the middle of the afternoon at Martyrs. With his full band in tow — the group has been dubbed the Not Ready for Naptime Players — Roberts will keep kids and their parents fully entertained with a mixture of material from his magnificent back catalogue, including songs from his latest outing Pop Fly as well as from the utterly brilliant Meltdown, which arguably is the finest family album ever made. Roberts is planning to enter the recording studio early next year, so a few new tunes likely will be tested at this sugar-fueled show of melodic silliness.
12/12 - The Verve Pipe - Schuba's - Chicago - 9:00 p
The Verve Pipe never officially disbanded, but after the release of its 2001 effort Underneath, the group went dormant so that front man Brian Vander Ark could explore his options as a solo act. It seemed to be the perfect time for a break, too. After all, the group’s career had begun to flounder in part because Underneath’s glossy, pop-oriented sheen, courtesy of Adam Schlesinger, had confounded The Verve Pipe’s newer fans who had grown attached to the harder-edged, arena-sized rock of Villains and its self-titled sophomore set. Beginning with a brief trek through the Midwest last December, The Verve Pipe has shown signs of springing back to life. In addition, the outfit issued A Family Album, a 10-track set of songs aimed at kids, in October. Almost immediately thereafter, Vander Ark began intimating that additional material from the outfit would follow suit in the near future. In the meantime, The Verve Pipe is in the midst of another mini-tour that will stop at Schuba’s in Chicago on December 12.
12/14-17 - Andrew Bird - Fourth Presbyterian Church - Chicago - 8:00 p
Andrew Bird has had quite a year. His latest outing Noble Beast has earned rave reviews from all segments of the population. As a result, he has been forced to perform in concert spaces that are so large that it isn’t as easy for him to establish a true connection to his audience. To counter this trend and regain the intimacy that has been missing, Bird has lined up a series of concerts in traditional houses of worship, including three shows at Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church on December 14, 15, 16, and 17. Instead of performing music from his recent endeavors, though, Bird will perform a sequence of original instrumental passages. The intent is to capture the essence of classical works like Handel’s Messiah, which he fondly remembers seeing each year as a child. These shows might prove to be too arty for his casual followers to bear, but anyone who has ever been enthralled by his finely crafted compositions and his virtuosic abilities will find these evenings to be quite magical.
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