Local Concert Preview for Chicago
March 4-15, 2010
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2010, Volume 17, #3
Written by John Metzger
Thu March 4, 2010, 06:30 AM CST
3/5-6 - moe. - Riviera Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p
For a time, it looked as if moe. was destined to be the next big force on the jam-band circuit. After toiling for years in the northeastern portion of the country, the group exploded onto the national scene, thanks largely to its prominent appearances on the 1997 edition of the Furthur Festival. On stage, moe. places a prog-rock spin upon the adventurous improvisations of the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band. In the recording studio, however, the collective has yet to conjure the same kind of magic. As a result, its upward trajectory has stalled.
Two years ago, in an attempt to reinvigorate its career, moe. decided to try something different. Turning the tables on its customary approach of road-testing its material before committing it to tape, the outfit assembled Sticks and Stones on its own without any feedback from its fans. Its experiment was only partially successful, though the process that it followed undoubtedly will bear greater fruit somewhere down the road. In the meantime, moe. has been reinventing its latest batch of songs, providing them with context by folding them into older compositions and, on occasion, surrounding them with a careful selection of well-chosen cover tunes. On March 5 and 6, the ensemble will continue its annual tradition of marking the end of winter with a pair of shows at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre.
3/13 - Ray Davies - Riviera Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p
Rumors about a reunion of The Kinks have been swirling for a while, but once again the plans — however sketchy they may be — have been shoved aside. In 2006, front man Ray Davies fully embraced his solo career with the release of Other People’s Lives. Since then, he has been as busy as ever. Working Man’s Café followed relatively quickly, and last year, Davies dusted off a number of his classic tunes in order to re-record them with the Crouch End Festival Chorus. The project had been in the works since 2007, but by strange coincidence, The Kinks Choral Collection arrived just in time to capitalize upon the success of Fox’s hit television show Glee. On his latest trek, Davies is returning to the bare-bones, acoustic framework that spawned his 1998 endeavor Storytellers as well as the VH-1 program that shares its name. Chicago’s Riviera Theatre is hardly the ideal environment for this type of performance, but when Davies takes the stage with accompanist Bill Shanley on March 13, it will have to suffice.
3/13 - Joe Henry - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p
Although he has 11 albums to his credit, many of which are superb, Joe Henry has never managed to move past his status as a musician’s musician. Nevertheless, he succeeded in parlaying his strengths into an effective career as a producer. On I Believe to My Soul, he helped Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, and Ann Peebles to re-establish themselves; he also provided a dusky, atmospheric touch to works by Solomon Burke (Don’t Give Up on Me), Aimee Mann (The Forgotten Arm), and Mary Gauthier (Between Daylight and Dark). Fortunately, Henry hasn’t completely abandoned his career as a recording artist. If anything, the projects he has helmed have further refined and defined his sonic palette. Since issuing Tiny Voices in 2003, Henry has been on a roll, and last year’s Blood from Stars has been heralded by some as his best outing to date. Henry will perform material from the endeavor when he visits the Old Town School on March 13.
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