Chicago / Milwaukee Concert Preview
August 20-24, 2010
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2010, Volume 17, #8
Written by John Metzger
Thu August 19, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT
8/20 - Herbie Hancock - Northern Lights Theater - Milwaukee - 9:00 p
8/21 - Herbie Hancock - Symphony Center - Chicago - 8:00 p
Herbie Hancock managed to surprise everyone when his 2007 set River: The Joni Letters landed the highly coveted Album of the Year award during the 50th annual Grammy Awards ceremony. Almost immediately thereafter, one almost could hear the incessant clicking of cell phone keypads as record executives began to construct a roster of artists to appear on Hancock’s subsequent endeavor. Sure enough, The Imagine Project is loaded with special guests, ranging from Tinariwen and India.Arie to James Morrison and Los Lobos. Like clockwork, critics immediately began to scold Hancock for cashing in on his crossover success. Although there is some merit to the accusations that have been leveled at him by the latter group — at the very least, their cynicism is excusable, given the current state of the music business — Hancock’s credentials in the universe of jazz are impeccable. With The Imagine Project, to his credit, Hancock pushed beyond the inclusion of pop stars to also collaborate with high-profile acts from the world-music scene. Hancock obviously won’t have all of the glitzy star-power at his disposal when he performs at Milwaukee’s Northern Lights Theater on August 20 and Chicago’s Symphony Center on August 21. Nevertheless, with the help of a stellar backing band that includes drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, pianist Greg Phillinganes, bass player Tal Wilkenfeld, guitarist Lionel Loueke, and vocalist Kristina Train, Hancock will weave a richly variegated tapestry of ideas culled from across the full scope of his output.
8/21 - The Black Crowes - Chicago Theatre - Chicago - 7:00 p
The past two decades have not always been easy for The Black Crowes. Nevertheless, by taking breaks, changing personnel, and finding ways to forgive and forget, the group has managed to weather the storms that were spurred by the sibling rivalry of Chris and Rich Robinson. Now in its 20th year, The Black Crowes seems to have found a new level of comfort with itself. In the process, the ensemble’s creative resurgence has been remarkably rewarding for fans. Last year’s Before the Frost... might not have been a perfect endeavor, but built during sessions held at Levon Helm’s rural recording studio, the album — as well as its digital counterpart ...Until the Freeze — joyously signaled a new phase of The Black Crowes’ career. Its latest set Croweology is a greatest-hits retrospective with a twist: Essentially, the band created acoustic frameworks for its best-known songs. The Black Crowes’ latest tour, which will stop at the Chicago Theatre on August 21, continues the celebration by featuring three hours’ worth of music. Half of the show will be devoted to stripped-down arrangements; the rest will be fully amplified. Considering that The Black Crowes is planning to begin a long vacation in 2011, fans ought to get their fill before it’s too late.
8/22 - The Rhythm Devils - House of Blues - Chicago - 9:00 p
8/24 - The Rhythm Devils - Pabst Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
Capable of keeping time as efficiently as Ringo Starr and anchoring freewheeling improvisational excursions as eloquently as Jack DeJohnette, Bill Kreutzmann is certainly one of the finest drummers to have emerged on the rock ’n‘ roll scene during the latter half of the 1960s. Mickey Hart, his frequent collaborator in the Grateful Dead and beyond, is a highly regarded ethnomusicologist as well as an adventure-seeking explorer of polyrhythmic mayhem. Inexplicably excluded from the Furthur tour, Hart and Kreutzmann rekindled their on-again, off-again side-project The Rhythm Devils for a casual slate of appearances at festivals and small theaters. As always, the collective will revisit a number of classic tunes from the Grateful Dead’s canon, including several tracks that were closely associated with the group’s founding keyboard player Ron "Pigpen" McKernan. Armed with a new line-up that includes bass player Andy Hess, guitarist Davy Knowles, drummer Sikiru Adepoju, and Mother Hips guitarist Tim Bluhm, The Rhythm Devils will perform at Chicago’s House of Blues on August 22 and Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater on August 24.
8/22 - Crosby, Stills and Nash - Ravinia - Highland Park - 7:00 p
Crosby, Stills and Nash’s highly anticipated album of cover tunes, which is being recorded under the guidance of producer Rick Rubin, is long overdue. This time, however, rather than being derailed by internal squabbles, the delayed release of the collection might have something to do with the trio’s desire to get it right. There is, of course, a wealth of material that would be well suited to Crosby, Stills and Nash’s magical harmonies. The Beatles’ Norwegian Wood, The Rolling Stones’ Ruby Tuesday, and the Allman Brothers Band’s Midnight Rider are among the songs that are rumored to be included on the outing. If there are any tunes that Crosby, Stills and Nash hadn’t already stumbled upon, they likely were brought to its attention when it curated a portion of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th Anniversary Benefit Concert last October. Its latest tour, which will stop at Ravinia in Highland Park on August 22, is a roving laboratory designed to mix selections that might make it onto the Rubin-produced endeavor with highlights taken from every stage of the outfit’s career.
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