Chicago / Milwaukee Concert Preview
April 4-11, 2011
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2011, Volume 18, #4
Written by John Metzger
Tue April 5, 2011, 06:30 AM CDT
4/8 - David Grisman Sextet - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p
David Grisman routinely juggles an array of projects, which is due, at least in part, to the notion that he constantly is looking for new ways to interpret his material. His touchstone, however, has always been the collective work he has made with his quintet. Five years ago, Grisman relaunched the outfit by replacing percussionist Joe Craven with drummer George Marsh. For his latest tour — which includes a pair of shows at Chicago’s Old Town School on April 8 — Grisman turned his outfit into a sextet by also bringing fiddler Mike Barnett along for the ride. Craven, of course, had also played fiddle for the band, so the end result likely won’t be a dramatic departure from the David Grisman Quintet’s well-defined sound. Then again, considering that its repertoire shifts effortlessly from bluegrass and jazz to klezmer and swing, there isn’t much that Grisman and his ensemble can’t do.
4/8 - Hayes Carll - Schuba's - Chicago - 10:00 p
Hayes Carll is somewhat of a late bloomer. After all, he was 32 years old when his third effort Trouble in Mind caught the attention of the roots-music scene. Immediately thereafter, Carll was hailed as the savior of its Texas-born faction, which features a lineage that includes Townes Van Zandt, Kris Kristofferson, and Guy Clark. In February, Carll returned with KMAG YOYO, and the outing instantly became his highest-charting album to date. Once again, he built a fusion of country, rock, and folk that suitably magnifies the underlying emotions that lurk within his finely crafted tales of soldiers, musicians, and everyday Americans. Carll will perform at Schuba’s in Chicago on April 8, but take heed: His star is rising so fast that this may be the last time that fans will be able to see him in a venue this intimate.
4/9 - Stevie Nicks / Rod Stewart - United Center - Chicago - 7:30 p
Now that the commercial juggernaut that is Fleetwood Mac has gone dormant once again, Stevie Nicks has resumed her solo career. Her latest album In Your Dreams won’t hit store shelves until next month. Yet, she already is knee-deep in a cross-country tour with Rod Stewart that will stop at the United Center in Chicago on April 9. Nicks is planning to preview material from the set — including its first single Secret Love — during the show. She’ll also run through a healthy sampling of her best-known songs. Last year, Stewart released Fly Me to the Moon, the fifth chapter in his journey through the Great American Songbook. Still, there are hints that perhaps he is ready to reawaken his Muse. He not only is planning to sing duets with Nicks on tunes like Reason to Believe and The First Cut Is the Deepest, but he also is in the midst of rekindling his collaborative relationship with guitarist Jeff Beck. In many ways, this concert might demonstrate just how serious he is about reconnecting with his roots.
4/9 - Robert Plant / North Mississippi Allstars - Auditorium Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p
4/11 - Robert Plant / North Mississippi Allstars - Riverside Ballroom - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
Robert Plant’s reunion with Alison Krauss might not have gone as planned, but to his credit, he didn’t allow the problems they faced to slow him down. Instead, he placed his latest project into the hands of guitarist Buddy Miller. Together, they twisted the mystical atmospherics of Plant’s Grammy-winning set Raising Sand into Band of Joy’s glimmering slice of Americana. At times, Miller’s production is at odds with the music, but this won’t be a factor that weighs upon the material when Plant visits Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre on April 9 and Milwaukee’s Riverside Ballroom on April 11. Plant is keeping his set lists flexible, and although the bulk of the show’s songs will be drawn from Band of Joy, he also has been reinventing several classic Led Zeppelin tunes, including Black Dog, In My Time of Dying, Houses of the Holy, and Tangerine. The North Mississippi Allstars will open both concerts. The outfit recently issued Keys to the Kingdom, which has been widely received as its best album in years.
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