Chicago / Milwaukee Concert Preview
January 5-17, 2011

First Appeared in The Music Box, January 2011, Volume 18, #1

Written by John Metzger

Thu January 6, 2011, 06:30 AM CST

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Buddy Guy - Living Proof

1/6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 26-28 - Buddy Guy - Legends - Chicago - 9:00 p
1/8, 1/15, 1/22, 1/29 - Buddy Guy - Legends - Chicago - 9:30 p
1/9, 1/16, 1/23 - Buddy Guy - Legends - Chicago - 7:30 p

Buddy Guy’s annual residency at Legends begins on January 6. Following his customary approach, he will headline 16 shows at the Chicago venue over the course of the month. These performances will mark Guy’s first extended run at Legends since he moved the club to its new location earlier this year. Guy’s set lists have a tendency to be as predictable as his schedule. Nevertheless, Guy is forever the showman, and he has ways of making familiar fare sound fresh, vibrant, and alive. With the release of Living Proof — the 26th album of his career — he also has a solid batch of fresh material to explore in concert. Naturally, Guy’s opening acts will vary from one night to the next, each providing a distinctive flavor to the evening. All of the opening acts — including Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues, Jimmy Johnson, Larry McCray, and John Primer — are frequent visitors to Legends’ stage. There really is no better way of spending a cold January night in Chicago.

Weezer - The Blue Album

1/7-8 - Weezer - Aragon - Chicago - 7:00 p

Just a few months ago, Weezer issued Hurley, the eighth album of its career. Although songs from the affair — as well as the group’s other post-hiatus outings (Raditude, The Red Album, Make Believe, and Maladroit) — presumably will surface during its opening sets, Weezer’s concerts at the Aragon on January 7 and January 8 were designed largely to celebrate the band’s distant past. Much like the other stops on its Memories Tour, the first night of its Chicago engagement will feature The Blue Album in its entirety, while the subsequent evening will focus on the 10 tracks that appeared on Pinkerton. Initially, the latter affair was dismissed by fans and critics alike. Even front man Rivers Cuomo once referred to the endeavor as a "hideous record." In recent years, however, Pinkerton has been embraced by the indie crowd, which likely explains why Cuomo has since changed his tune. After all, money talks, and at the very least, as fans get in line to hear the two most cherished efforts in its canon, Weezer will have an opportunity to showcase its newer material as well.

Peter Himmelman - The Mystery and the Hum

1/13 - Peter Himmelman - S.P.A.C.E. - Evanston - 8:00 p

Last June, prior to releasing The Mystery and The Hum, Peter Himmelman trekked across the Midwest, stopping at Evanston’s S.P.A.C.E. in order to highlight selections from the effort. Save for an outing aimed at children (My Trampoline), it is his first album in three years. Oddly enough, it has sat on the shelf for just as long. The genesis for the project occurred when Hollywood writers went on strike in 2007. Armed with a new supporting cast, one that was composed of Minneapolis session players, Himmelman wrote and recorded The Mystery and The Hum at a rapid pace. Inspired by the deaths of his sister and Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl, the outing understandably is fueled by mortality and tinged with regret. The urgency of the music — which evokes the aura of a live performance — further enhances the importance of his words. Himmelman will continue to showcase material from The Mystery and The Hum when he returns to Evanston’s S.P.A.C.E. on January 13.

James McMurtry - Just Us Kids

1/13 - James McMurtry - Shank Hall - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
1/14 - James McMurtry - Montrose Room - Rosemont - 8:30 p
1/15 - James McMurtry - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p
1/16 - James McMurtry - S.P.A.C.E. - Evanston - 8:00 p

Is it possible that a new studio album from James McMurtry is imminent? His last three efforts (Saint Mary of the Woods, Childish Things, and Just Us Kids) were all separated by three-year intervals. If his track record holds, 2011 should mark the debut of a fresh batch of material. His five shows in the region over the course of four dates — January 13 at Milwaukee’s Shank Hall, January 14 at Rosemont’s Montrose Room, and January 16 at Evanston’s S.P.A.C.E. as well as a two-performance engagement at Chicago’s Old Town School on January 15 — provide further indication that McMurtry is getting ready for something big. Considering that he has spent the better part of his career documenting the decline of America’s middle class, one would think that he might have plenty of ammunition at his disposal in the wake of the economic havoc unleashed by Wall Street. Unlike some songwriters, McMurtry doesn’t just yell about the issues either. Instead, he creates characters and captures their experiences with a novelist’s eye, a process that makes his songs more potent than most of their ilk.

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Of Further Interest...

Concert Preview for Chicago: December 20, 2010 - January 4, 2011

Concert Preview for Chicago: December 10-19, 2010

Concert Preview for Chicago: December 1-9, 2010

Concert Preview for Chicago: November 23-30, 2010

Concert Preview for Chicago: January 7-31, 2010

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