Chicago / Milwaukee Concert Preview
March 25-April 3, 2011
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2011, Volume 18, #3
Written by John Metzger
Thu March 24, 2011, 06:30 AM CDT
3/25 - Amos Lee - Riverside Theater - Milwaukee - 8:30 p
3/26 - Amos Lee - Vic Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p
At first glance, Amos Lee seemed inclined to follow in the footsteps of Norah Jones. At least, this is what his record label was grooming him to do. Along the way, though, Lee found the courage to start pursuing his own path. Not only has he shared the stage with Bob Dylan, but on his 2008 effort Last Days at the Lodge, he also began adding grittier textures to his work. His latest set Mission Bell superficially seems to indicate that Lee is now targeting a different sort of audience altogether. Featuring guest appearances by Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams, and Sam Beam, the collection certainly should have widened his purview. The problem, however, is that Lee didn’t allow Calexico’s Joey Burns, who produced the effort, to guide him. In fact, Lee’s tentativeness ultimately scuttles the affair, leaving little hope that he’ll live up to his potential when he performs at Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater on March 25 and Chicago’s Vic Theatre on March 26.
3/31 - Deep Dark Robot - Schuba's - Chicago - 9:00 p
In the mid-’90s, Linda Perry was everywhere. She scored a hit single (What’s Up) with her band 4 Non Blondes, and for a time, she seemed to be permanently attached to Who front man Roger Daltrey. She frustrated Interscope Records by opting to leave 4 Non Blondes at the peak of its popularity in order to pursue a solo career. The label responded by failing to promote her subsequent solo output. Although she has surfaced here and there in the past 15 years, Perry mostly has spent time working behind the scenes, writing songs and producing albums for artists like Pink, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, and James Blunt. The urge to perform, however, never left her. For all of the accolades that she has achieved for her work with pop stars, Perry’s latest project Deep Dark Robot is largely an extension of the crash-and-burn rock for which she initially became known. The collective’s debut 8 Songs about a Girl essentially laces the churning blues of Led Zeppelin with a garage-rock charge. Perry long has been known to cover Led Zeppelin’s material in concert. Consequently, when she performs at Schuba’s in Chicago on March 31, fans likely can expect to hear a healthy dose of Deep Dark Robot’s latest set as well a few tracks from 4 Non Blondes’ canon and, perhaps, a rendition of either Communication Breakdown or Whole Lotta Love.
4/1 - Wood Brothers - Lincoln Hall - Chicago - 9:00 p
There usually are a lot of ties that bind an artist’s main gig and his side projects together. For bass player Chris Wood, the bands in which he performs are strikingly different. With John Medeski and Billy Martin, he typically embarks upon heady, soul-jazz jams that settle somewhere between Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Jimmy Smith. With his brother Oliver, he explores roots-oriented fare. Two years ago, The Wood Brothers sculpted Up Above My Head, an EP of cover tunes that included songs that had been penned by Gregg Allman (Midnight Rider), The Beatles (Fixin’ a Hole), and Allen Toussaint (Get Out of My Life Woman). In one fell swoop, the set not only summarized The Wood Brothers’ influences, but it also broadened the outfit’s horizons. Working in Los Angeles last year, The Wood Brothers forged the tracks that will form the basis for its third full-length endeavor. The group is expected to mix several of its new songs with tunes from Loaded and Ways Not to Lose when it performs at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall on April 1.
4/1-2 - Jeff Beck & the Imelda May Band - Cadillac Palace Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p
At last year’s Grammy Awards, Jeff Beck tapped rockabilly singer Imelda May to pay homage to Les Paul, who had died in 2009. The performance provided a brief preview of the concert that Beck and the Imelda May Band staged in Paul’s honor in June 2010 at New York City’s Iridium Jazz Club, one of Paul’s favorite haunts. As the music on Beck’s newest offering Rock and Roll Party attests, the pairing proved to be remarkably successful. The entourage, along with an abundance of special guests, not only replicated the classic tunes that Paul had recorded with vocalist Mary Ford — How High the Moon and Mockin’ Bird Hill, among them — but they also delivered energetic renditions of early classics, such as Twenty Flight Rock. There’s no reason to expect that Beck will alter the program significantly during his latest tour, which stops at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre on April 1 and 2. Nevertheless, the show might just offer a taste of what fans can expect from Beck in the coming months. After all, he reportedly is working on a new album with Rod Stewart, which would mark their first full-length collaborative effort since Beck-Ola was issued in 1969.
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