Chicago / Milwaukee Concert Preview
March 18-24, 2011
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2011, Volume 18, #3
Written by John Metzger
Fri March 18, 2011, 06:30 AM CDT
3/19 - Robyn Hitchcock & Joe Boyd - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p
Robyn Hitchcock’s music has long taken its direction from the 1960s outfits that preceded him. His latest trek through town offers an intriguing twist on the standard approach to paying homage to one’s heroes. Hitchcock will be joined by Joe Boyd, a record producer who was instrumental in shaping the careers of acts like Nick Drake, The Incredible String Band, and Fairport Convention. Boyd’s memoir White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s, which re-emerged in paperback form late last fall, serves as the impetus for a pair of concerts at Chicago’s Old Town School on March 19. Boyd will read from his tome, while Hitchcock will perform songs that are related to Boyd’s tales. In other words, these shows not only will appeal to Hitchcock’s followers, but they also will be of immense interest to a wide array of music lovers.
3/19 - Walter Trout - Backporch Stage at House of Blues - Chicago - 10:00 p
3/20 - Walter Trout - Shank Hall - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
Walter Trout has long been a favorite of blues fans and critics on the other side of the Atlantic. In America, however, it has taken a long time for him to earn the same level of acclaim. With this in mind, 2011 might be the turning point in his career. His 20th effort Common Ground not only has been heralded as one of his better studio sets, but it also is a candidate for Rock Blues Album of the Year at the upcoming Blues Music Awards. Recorded with help from Jon Cleary, Hutch Hutchinson, and Kenny Aronoff, the set applies Trout’s customarily hard-hitting approach to a series of songs that blur the line between rock, blues, and soul. In the midst of a tour to support Common Ground, Trout will perform on the Backporch Stage at Chicago’s House of Blues on March 19 and at Shank Hall in Milwaukee on March 20.
3/22 - Ron Sexsmith - Schuba's - Chicago - 8:00 p
Ron Sexsmith burst onto the music scene in the mid-1990s under the auspices of Interscope Records. Sixteen years later, there isn’t much room remaining in the major-label system for songwriters like him. Perhaps in a bid to prove everyone wrong, Sexsmith tightened the reins and placed more polish than usual upon his arrangements while crafting his latest set Long Player Late Bloomer. The collection also features a stellar supporting cast that includes guitarist Rusty Anderson and drummer Josh Freese. Love Shines, a documentary that traces the past seven years of Sexsmith’s career, including the making of Long Player Late Bloomer, made its debut at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Originally, it was meant to follow the outing to market, but instead, it has served to prime fans for Long Player Late Bloomer’s release. Sexsmith will highlight material from the endeavor — including the semi-autobiographical tune Michael and His Dad — when he performs at Schuba’s in Chicago on March 22.
3/24 - Johnny Winter - Viper Alley - Lincolnshire - 8:15 p
There is no doubt that Johnny Winter’s profile was significantly elevated when his 2004 set I’m a Bluesman was nominated for a Grammy Award. He has yet to craft the album’s successor. Nevertheless, his fans haven’t been left wanting. In recent years, Winter not only penned his long overdue autobiography Raisin’ Cain: The Wild and Raucous Story of Johnny Winter, but he also has raided his archives to assemble his latest DVD Live through the ’80s as well as an ongoing series of audio recordings. His former label also has gotten into the act by dusting off his legendary performance at Woodstock as well as material culled from his performances with Muddy Waters and James Cotton. Winter continues to maintain a ridiculously busy touring schedule, too. On March 24, he will help to draw attention to the Chicago area’s latest music venue with a performance at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire.
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