Sunday, December 16, 2018

2018 provides plenty of musical sparks in Chicago suburbs

2018 proved to be an exciting year for live music in the Chicago suburbs. Here are a few highlights from the year:

Singer Pete Jive and other musicians, including noted guitarist Pat Bergeson, perform Michael Heaton's song "The Good Times" Sept. 1, 2018, at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora as part of a benefit concert for Heaton, who is battling cancer. 

Chicago blues musician Toronzo Cannon performs "John The Conquer Root" on June 16, 2018, at the Blues on the Fox festival at RiverEdge Park in Aurora. 

Fiona Grey joins her father, Ralph Covert, and his band The Bad Examples, on the song "Not Dead Yet" on Sept. 8, 2018, at the Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ.

Joe Louis Walker and his band performed Aug. 9, 2018, at College of DuPage's McAninch Arts Center.

The band Chicago Samba performs on July 14, 2018, as part of Jazz Up Glen Ellyn in downtown Glen Ellyn.

The band HOSS performs the AC/DC song "Hells Bells" on Dec. 1, 2018, at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora as part of its annual Holiday Show and Toy Drive to benefit Hesed House homeless shelter in Aurora.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Novo Management, Chicago musicians team up to help Albany Park Food Pantry as part of holiday benefit showcase


Novo Management & Publicity along with a group of Chicago musicians are teaming up to make the holidays brighter for those in need.

Novo Management & Publicity will hold its Holiday Showcase at 9 p.m. Dec. 22 at Montrose Saloon,  2933 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago. The showcase will feature Donnie Biggins from 9 to 9:30 p.m., Todd Kessler from 9:45 to 10:15 p.m., Jared Rabin from 10:30 to 11 p.m. and Mark Panick (plus backing musicians) from 11:15 p.m. to midnight.

There is a $5 cover charge and all proceeds will go to the Albany Park Food Pantry. I had the chance to talk to August Forte, of Novo Management & Publicity, about the show.

Q – I understand the Novo Management & Publicity Holiday Showcase will benefit the Albany Park Food Pantry, with the door proceeds from that night going to the food pantry. How much are you looking for the event to raise for the food pantry?

Montrose Saloon charges $5 for shows on Friday and Saturday nights and the venue holds about 100 people. With four artists performing from 9 p.m. to midnight, I hope that the room will be packed all evening and we can raise $500.

That said, any amount will help the APFP, especially at this time of year when so many folks find it difficult to put food on the table. 

Q – How did the lineup for the night come together? Do you think the bands complement each other? What should people expect?

I reached out to all four performers (Mark Panick, who will be joined by his Black Friars Social Club band members) along with Jared Rabin, Todd Kessler and Donnie Biggins directly as I have had the pleasure of handling press and marketing for all of them over the years. 

While all four musicians draw from different music wells (Panick’s writing is dark and poetic; Rabin has a classical and jazz background but plays an accessible strain of Americana; Kessler leans toward pop and folk and is a fantastic story teller; Biggins is a true wordsmith in the tradition of Dylan and Springsteen), they are all very talented singer-songwriters.

People should expect to hear great original music and, possibly, some holiday tunes.

Q – Does Novo Management & Publicity enjoy the times when music can not only entertain, but also raise money for a good cause? 

Definitely! I did some pro bono press and marketing for a benefit show at Metro several years ago and my business partner’s group just played a benefit (for the family of a former band mate who passed away) at Beat Kitchen. 

Q _ I see that Novo Management will hold another artist showcase in January. Do you see your showcases as a way to introduce people to bands they might not know? 

Yes, our showcase on January 19 at Montrose Saloon will expose three emerging Chicago bands – Faux Co., She Rides Tigers and The Thin Cherries – to a wider audience. All three bands have gotten some local airplay and attention from Chicago press, but getting gigs can be difficult as we live in a city with a very competitive music scene.

Montrose Saloon has been very welcoming to up-and-coming bands and that is one of the reasons that I promote shows there.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The band HOSS creates plenty of holiday cheer while collecting toys for Hesed House in Aurora

Pete Lindenmeyer and his band HOSS performed at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora on Dec. 1 as part of the band's annual Holiday Show and Toy Drive to benefit Hesed House homeless shelter in Aurora.

The band HOSS helped kick off the Christmas season with its annual Holiday Show and Toy Drive to benefit Hesed House homeless shelter in Aurora. 

HOSS, with help from the Pawnshop Horns, performed the AC/DC album "Back in Black" as part of the show.

HOSS also performed many seasonal favorites as part of the benefit show on Dec. 1.


Friday, November 30, 2018

"On Big Shoulders" celebrates Chicago's rich musical history


Old Town School of Folk Music teacher and fiddle player Matt Brown set out to educate himself about Chicago's rich musical history.

That mission turned into the album "On Big Shoulders." A CD release party for "On Big Shoulders" will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at Old Town School of Folk Music's Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.

Tickets are $20 for the general public and $18 for Old Town School of Folk Music members, available online at

I had the chance to talk to Brown about the album.

Q – What was your inspiration to make the album? 

It had two facets that were originally unrelated. In my teaching at Old Town School of Folk Music, I do a certain amount of class preparation.

One week, I was looking for a song for my early country guitar class. I had success teaching a Delmore Brothers song. They were a duo from rural Alabama who played on the Grand Ole Opry in the 1930s.

One of my colleagues suggested another Delmore Brothers song called “I’m Mississippi Bound." I went to do a little research just so I could tell my class about it, and discovered that The Delmore Brothers had recorded several of their songs, including the two that we learned, “I’m Mississippi Bound" and “Brown’s Ferry Blues,” in Chicago in 1933.

That blew my mind. And it got me thinking about who else might have recorded here. And it turned out that Bill Monroe, when he first recorded with the seminal formation of the Blue Grass Boys that included Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt and Chubby Wise on fiddle, they also recorded here in Chicago in the Wrigley Building on Sept. 16, 1946. And that blew my mind.

And then I had an idea of putting together a lot of my favorite Chicago artists into an all-star band, not to tour, but to make a record that would fall into the genre that we now call Americana. And I put those two ideas together, that I could assemble a crew of some of my favorite singers and musicians and have them play songs that either were originally recorded in Chicago or also cover artists who are from Chicago.

On the album, we have a Wilco cover and we have a Sam Cooke song. He lived here for a formidable part of his life and career.

Q – I understand that Chicago musician Robbie Fulks contributed a new song to the album. Why did you want one of his songs represented on the album?

He's beloved here in town and around the country. I travel a lot as a musician and there are a couple of people who always come up when I say I'm from Chicago. People always bring up Robbie Fulks.

I asked him to write us a song and he did. He delivered this absolute gem that I love. It's right in the middle of the record. It's called "How Lonely Can You Be?"

He knew that Steve Dawson was going to sing it on the album. And he and Steve go way back. I feel like that is one of the highlights of the record.

Q – Did the record turn out the way you envisioned? What kind of feedback have you been getting so far about the record?

It definitely turned out the way I envisioned.  I have to say, I wasn't really certain what the record would sound like, I just knew that I would like it.

My co-producer, Liam Davis, also sings on the album and plays keyboards on a couple of songs. But he did all the editing and mixing and he injected some incredible arrangement ideas and sonic ideas that weren't part of my original conception.

Liam created this great arc in how he mixed and edited the album and also how he sequenced the tracks that wasn't anything that he and I discussed. So I'm thrilled with how it turned out and I keep listening to the album and keep discovering and appreciating it.

The feedback I've been getting has been very warm and a lot of people are surprised by the album, surprised by the diversity of the songs and the genres represented and I think that's a good thing. 

And hopefully they're learning that all these great musicians that maybe they didn't associate with Chicago either spent time here as residents or came here to make their records.

If they like the sound of the record and if they've learned a couple of things by hearing the record, then our mission is thoroughly accomplished.

Q – Is part of your mission to educate people about Chicago's musical history?

Totally. And honestly, this started out just educating myself about Chicago's musical history. I'm from Pennsylvania. I've lived in Chicago for seven years and I'm still just barely scratching the surface of my own awareness of all the great art that's been made here when it comes to music as well as all other art forms.

The process of researching this music was initially one to educate myself so I could educate my students at the Old Town School. And then it became this larger mission to make good music that anyone could enjoy but also educate an audience just a little bit so that they could be reminded that Chicago isn't only a hub for the electric blues.

And we didn't get into other genres that are so important to Chicago's history, like house music and hip hop and gospel. But I feel like we still did a good job with the musicians involved of showing the breadth of musical experiences that goes beyond the electric blues that fits within our wheelhouse.

Q – Do you think this album could kind of kick off a music series celebrating Chicago's music?

I would love that. I actually have another 30 or so songs or at least artists that I want to pay tribute to should this one album turn into the first of several or the first of many.

I'm not done educating myself about Chicago's history and what I've discovered is that there are so many great musicians living and working as musicians here in town. I'd love to get them back together and get new collaborators involved to continue to celebrate Chicago's history but also our contemporary songwriters.