Chicago / Milwaukee Concert Preview
November 2-8, 2010

First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2010, Volume 17, #11

Written by John Metzger

Mon November 1, 2010, 06:00 AM CDT


Jay Farrar / Ben Gibbard - One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Music from Kerouac's Big Sur

11/4 - Jay Farrar / Bobby Bare, Jr. - S.P.A.C.E. - Evanston - 8:00 p

Jay Farrar has always held Neil Young in high regard. With each passing year, though, the tremendous role that Youngís history has played in shaping Farrarís career has become increasingly obvious. Just as Young has continuously rolled one idea into another as he has oscillated among a variety of projects, Farrar doesnít seem to stay in one place for very long. In fact, even within the scope of Son Voltís output, Farrar has covered a lot of ground. After all, Trace and The Search are miles apart. Only by examining the entirety of his canon ó from his solo set Sebastopol to Gob Ironís Death Songs for the Living to Son Voltís Okemah and the Melody of Riot ó do all of the pieces begin to fall into place to create a coherent picture.

Not surprisingly, after birthing two albums in 2009 ó Son Voltís American Central Dust and a collaboration with Ben Gibbard (One Fast Move or Iím Gone: Music from Kerouacís Big Sur) ó this has been a quiet year for Farrar. For the moment, Son Volt is stuck in a holding pattern, and instead, Farrar has been hitting the road sporadically for small bursts of solo appearances. Save for a handful of Trace-era tunes and a passing nod to his work with Uncle Tupelo, most of his show in St. Louis this past summer was devoted to material that he brought to life in the last decade. Thereís no reason to expect that Farrar will dig much deeper into his catalogue when he performs at Evanstonís S.P.A.C.E. on November 4. Providing the perfect complement to Farrar, Bobby Bare, Jr. will open the concert by tackling selections from his newest effort A Storm, A Tree, My Motherís Head.

Richard Thompson - Dream Attic

11/4 - Richard Thompson - Pabst Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
11/5 - Richard Thompson - Vic Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p

In 2003, Richard Thompson landed at #19 on Rolling Stoneís list of the best guitarists of all-time. Although the magazine didnít spend much time documenting his rich and vibrant history ó no more than six sentences were used to summarize his entire career ó its editors made a point of imploring newcomers to see Thompson in concert whenever he toured with an electric band. It is precisely in this format that Thompson will appear when he performs at Milwaukeeís Pabst Theater on November 4 and Chicagoís Vic Theatre on November 5. The sojourn is designed to showcase material from Thompsonís latest endeavor Dream Attic, a collection of new songs that he recorded live at a series of shows that were held in February. In many ways, the collection echoes the eclecticism of Thompsonís catalogue, which makes it very easy for him to also offer expansive interpretations of tunes he first performed with Fairport Convention as well as with his ex-wife Linda.

Los Lobos - Tin Can Trust

11/6 - Los Lobos - Vic Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p

Long before it was properly recognized for its work in the studio, Los Lobos was heralded for its riveting concert performances. Nearly 30 years later, the intensity of the bandís shows hasnít slipped one iota. At the same time, Los Lobos also has woven a broader range of styles into its music. Its latest effort Tin Can Trust doesnít really push the envelope like the outfitís prior efforts have. Nevertheless, bolstered by a fresh batch of new material ó including a superb cover of the Grateful Deadís West L.A. Fadeaway ó Los Lobos undoubtedly will sound rejuvenated when it descends upon Chicagoís Vic Theatre on November 6. In fact, considering the amount of time that David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas have spent participating in the Experience Hendrix project of late, Los Lobos might sound bluesier than ever.

Azure Ray - Drawing Down the Moon

11/6 - Azure Ray - Schuba's - Chicago - 9:00 p

Often after an extended period of growth, the only option a band has left if it wants to continue to survive is to take a break to pursue other projects. This is, of course, a common practice, one that generally yields positive results. After all, exposure to new ideas is exactly what artists require in order to avoid slipping into a formulaic routine. Although it had reached the peak of its popularity in 2003 after the release of its third, full-length effort Hold on Love, Azure Ray surprised everyone the following year when its principal members Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor decided to place the group back on the shelf for a while. Taylor recorded a pair of solo sets (11:11 and Lynn Teeter Flower), while Fink started out on her own (Invisible Ones) before assembling Art in Manila, which issued its debut (Set the Woods on Fire) this past August. More recently, Azure Ray has re-emerged with Drawing Down the Moon. The songs on the outing boast arrangements that are more complex than their predecessors. At the same time, though, the overall ambience of the affair is too monochromatic to be successful. At the very least, Drawing Down the Moon provides a fresh batch of material for Azure Ray to weave into its performances, and the effort likely will be heavily highlighted when the duo performs at Schubaís in Chicago on November 6.


Of Further Interest...

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: October 26-November 1, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: October 19-25, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago: October 15-18, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago: October 8-14, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: November 2-9, 2009


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