Chicago / Milwaukee Concert Preview
November 9-15, 2010
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2010, Volume 17, #11
Written by John Metzger
Mon November 8, 2010, 05:00 AM CST
11/9 - Yonder Mountain String Band - Pabst Theater - Milwaukee - 8:30 p
Over the past few decades, Colorado has served as ground zero for progressive bluegrass outfits. After all, the state not only was the birthplace of Hot Rize, Leftover Salmon, and String Cheese Incident, but it also became a sort of home away from home for outfits like Railroad Earth and Infamous Stringdusters. Yonder Mountain String Band might have arrived late to the party, but it wasted no time assimilating itself into Coloradoís vibrant music scene. Although its studio albums largely have been hit-and-miss affairs, the group has traced its personal history as well as its lineage remarkably well via a series of live recordings under the Mountain Tracks banner. Yonder Mountain String Band simply sounds more comfortable on stage than it does in the studio. The outfit will return to the region on November 9 for a show at Milwaukeeís Pabst Theater.
11/12-13 - Furthur - UIC Pavilion - Chicago - 7:30 p
It is a shame that Bob Weir had to put Ratdog on the back burner for a while. In a post-Jerry Garcia world, the group was perhaps more successful than any outfit at adapting the Grateful Deadís approach to suit its own needs. Although its latter-day personnel changes jolted its chemistry, they didnít force the band to retreat from its core philosophy.
Regardless of its constructs, though, Ratdog never really received the attention it deserved. The band typically was forced to hold court in a variety of small clubs and theaters instead of in the larger venues that the various incarnations of The Other Ones were able to fill. Stranger still, The Other Ones often seemed like a temporary diversion, while Ratdog undeniably was a living, breathing entity that was in it for the long haul.
Right from the start, though, it was apparent that there was something different about Furthur. First and foremost, it was a reunion between Weir and bass player Phil Lesh, one which was completed with members of Ratdog as well as Dark Star Orchestra guitarist John Kadlecik. After drummer Jay Lane left the outfit to rejoin Primus, he was replaced by Joe Russo, but instead of falling apart, Furthurís bond grew tighter. New songs have been introduced, while familiar favorites have been ripped apart and reassembled to reveal fresh insights into their composition. The result has spurred a complete reevaluation of the Grateful Deadís canon. With its shows at Chicagoís UIC Pavilion on November 12 and 13, Furthurís tour for this year is rapidly drawing to a close. Hopefully, though, the next leg of this journey is already being planned.
11/13 - The Flatlanders - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p
There are supergroups that sell a lot of albums and concert tickets by bringing together several headlining artists under a single banner. Then, there are supergroups that earn the title simply by uniting performers who have gained an abundance of admiration in their chosen field. The Flatlanders falls into the latter category, although its life didnít begin this way. In fact, when Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, and Butch Hancock first worked together, their recordings largely went unnoticed. It wasnít until they had established themselves as solo artists that The Flatlanders began to receive some semblance of attention. Rounder pushed things forward when it compiled the aptly titled More a Legend than a Band in 1990. The outfitís contribution to the soundtrack to The Horse Whisperer sealed the deal. Ever since, Gilmore, Ely, and Hancock have been oscillating between solo projects and collaborative efforts. Still supporting last yearís Hills and Valleys, The Flatlanders will stop at the Old Town School in Chicago for a pair of concerts on November 13.
11/14 - Janis Ian - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p
Janis Ianís rebellious streak surfaced at the very beginning of her career. Written in 1964, when she was just a 13-year-old kid, Societyís Child (Baby Iíve Been Thinking) could have been nothing more than song about love and heartache. Of course its message ran much deeper. Even as a child, Ian was able to muster the courage to address interracial relationships and challenge societal norms at a time when the civil rights movement was clashing with the status quo. In spite of the death threats she received, Ian never backed down. Instead, she built a career around her need to provoke a response from mainstream America. In concert, she typically delivers career-spanning sets that mix old and new material with insightful dialogue. Ian recently was forced to take a break from touring after complications from an injury that she suffered 20 years ago became problematic. Fully recovered ó and likely with a few new stories in her arsenal ó Ian returned to the road in September. Sheíll perform at Chicagoís Old Town School on November 14.
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