Local Concert Preview for Chicago & Milwaukee
February 17-25, 2010
First Appeared in The Music Box, February 2010, Volume 17, #2
Written by John Metzger
Wed February 17, 2010, 06:30 AM CST
2/18 - Trey Anastasio - Pabst Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
2/19 - Trey Anastasio - Riviera Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p
Now that he has gotten his life back on track, Trey Anastasio is reinvesting in his music career with a vengeance. Last year, he not only rejuvenated Phish’s concert persona, but he also served as the primary force behind Joy, the finest studio set of the band’s career. Much like the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, Anastasio knows that the key to his continued success is to pursue outside interests through which he can explore other sonic terrains and develop fresh ideas to fold into Phish’s repertoire. With this in mind, Anastasio has assembled a string of concerts with his side project Classic TAB. For this excursion, the ensemble has added a trio of horn players that also will serve as Anastasio’s backing vocalists. Fans can expect to hear a mixture of new songs, solo material, and nuggets from Phish’s repertoire when Anastasio brings Classic TAB to the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee on February 18 and the Riviera Theatre in Chicago on February 19.
2/19 - Evan Dando - Double Door - Chicago - 9:00 p
The Lemonheads was a mainstay on the alt-rock scene of the early 1990s, but the outfit abruptly vanished in the wake of its tour behind its seventh studio set Car Button Cloth. Although founder and front man Evan Dando sporadically emerged to give low-key performances as well as to make guest appearances on albums by his pals, his creative juices were zapped completely by his personal travails. Over the past few years, Dando has been trying to reignite his stalled career. Nevertheless, from his lone solo outing Baby I’m Bored to The Lemonheads’ self-titled endeavor to the group’s recent cover collection Varshons, Dando’s efforts have felt somewhat slight. Rumors have been swirling that a new song cycle from The Lemonheads is in the works, which likely explains Dando’s latest sojourn. To drum up interest in the project, he’ll perform an acoustic set at Chicago’s Double Door on February 19.
2/20 - Patti Smith - Park West - Chicago - 8:00 p
With the release of Twelve, it certainly appeared as if, after all these years, Patti Smith finally had run out of ideas. There is no denying the fact that her interpretive skills are quite good. Her renditions of The Who’s My Generation, Van Morrison’s Gloria, and Grateful Dead’s Black Peter certainly attest to this notion. At the same time, though, their magnificence helped to put Twelve into perspective, essentially by dwarfing its contents. Fortunately, Smith has since come roaring back to life, largely by reminiscing about her close friend Robert Mapplethorpe. Last year, Smith issued a pair of live renditions of The Coral Sea, a poem she wrote in his honor; more recently, she detailed the duo’s relationship in her new tome Just Kids. In the midst of a series of readings from her book, Smith will make an appearance at Park West on February 20 as part of Hopefest, a benefit on behalf of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
2/21 - Bela Fleck: The Africa Project - Old Town School - Chicago - 5:00 p & 8:00 p
Over the course of more than two decades, Bela Fleck has made music that is as varied as anyone’s. Strangely enough, he hasn’t done it with a piano, a guitar, or a drum; instead, his instrument of choice has been a banjo. Just when it seems as if there is no further ground left for him to explore, he finds another barrier to smash to pieces. After putting The Flecktones on hiatus, Fleck ventured to Africa in order to obtain a better understanding of the banjo’s heritage. His story is told in the documentary Throw Down Your Heart as well as in the film’s two companion soundtracks. Flanked by Anania Ngoliga, John Kitime, and the 7-piece outfit N’goni, Fleck is continuing to explore the intersection of American and African cultures on his latest tour, which stops at the Old Town School in Chicago for a pair of concerts on February 21.
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