Saturday, December 31, 2022

2022 another banner year for Fox Valley music scene

Photo of Billy Branch at The Venue by Eric Schelkopf

By Eric Schelkopf

2002 was another banner year for live music in the Fox Valley.

Here are a few highlights:


Chicago musician Gerald "The Soulkeeper" McClendon performs his song "Let's Have a Party" April 1 at The Venue in Aurora.

Dan Tedesco performs his song "Firecrackers at Dawn" April 8 at The Venue in Aurora.

 Chicago's own Shemekia Copeland performs her song "It's 2 A.M." June 17 at RiverEdge Park in Aurora.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd performs June 17 at the Blues on the Fox festival at RiverEdge Park in Aurora.

Adrian Belew, with Julie Slick on bass and Johnnie Luca on drums, perform the King Crimson song "Thela Hun Ginjeet" July 15 at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.

 Laura Rain and the Caesars perform their song "Sunset" July 29 at The Venue in Aurora.

Boz Scaggs performs his song "Lowdown" Aug. 20 at RiverEdge Park in Aurora.

Ralph Covert performs his song "Death on Holiday" with musical guests Oct. 15 at The Venue in Aurora.

Ralph Covert performs his song "Another Beautiful Day" with musical guests Oct. 15 at The Venue in Aurora.

Noah's Arcade performs the song "Devil Down The Stairs" as part of Noah Gabriel's 20th anniversary show Nov. 11 at The Venue in Aurora.

The Noah Gabriel Band performs Gabriel's song "Black Snake" as part of Gabriel's 20th anniversary show Nov. 11 at The Venue in Aurora.
Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues perform their song "The Sons of Blues" Nov. 26 at The Venue in Aurora.
Chicago blues harmonica player Billy Branch and his band the Sons of Blues perform The Rolling Stones' song "Sympathy For The Devil" Nov. 26 at The Venue in Aurora.

Monday, December 26, 2022

With new album in tow, acclaimed blues/soul musician Derrick Procell to perform Friday at Hey Nonny


Photo by Ryan Bennett 



“Hello Mojo!,” the second solo album from Chicago-based soul/blues belter Derrick Procell, has been enjoying critical and commercial acclaim since its release in August.

With the album, Procell is making his debut on label Catfood Records. “Hello Mojo!” was the No. 1 soul blues album on Roots Music Report for seven weeks. Procell will likely perform several songs from the new album during his appearance Friday at Hey Nonny, 10 S. Vail Ave., Arlington Heights.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at

I had the chance to talk to Procell about the album and the upcoming show.

Q – I am sure you are going to be playing many songs from your new album at the Hey Nonny show.

Well, the plan is to play everything from the new album, quite honestly. 

I have my personal faves, of course, but the fact that every song on the record has been getting significant airplay over the last four months is quite an indictor to me that there’s something for everyone there.

As an overall piece, it’s pretty widely divergent. It’s in the category of soul/blues, but the truth is, it’s a pretty wide reaching album stylistically.

I like to say it’s blues adjacent.

Q – What were your goals for the album and do you think you achieved them?

My goals for the album were kind of modest. I hadn’t really been thinking about putting my stuff out and then I get this offer to release a record on an actual label with some label support. I got pretty excited about that.

The reviews for the album have been over the top. I just tried to put out the best record that I could, which I think any artist does, and hope for the best, hope that the critics like it, hope that the fans like it and hope that the DJs dig it.

Q – It does seem like there is a meaning behind the name of the song “Hello Mojo!” and the album’s title.

My songwriting partner, Terry Abrahamson, came up with these lyrics and I immediately sat down at the piano and came up with this sort of jazzy bluesy piano riff and off we went.

It’s a song of hope and a song of healing. Everyone loses their mojo at some point in their life and it’s always a good day when you get it back.

Q – I am sure that a lot of people lost their mojo during the COVID-19 lockdown.

That’s a fact.

Q – And I’m sure that you were affected by venues being closed for a while.

Q – Oh yeah. Since I have different income streams from songwriting and song production stuff, I don’t depend solely on live performing. So I was thankful for that.

But I did feel a lot for my musical brothers and sisters out there that had to find new ways to put food on the table. I know that my live performing certainly got shut down for almost all of 2020 and things picked back up a little bit in 2021.

But the devastation that the pandemic did to some of the venues that could not afford to keep their doors open was pretty significant.

Q – Yeah, including a lot of blues clubs, actually.

A lot of them kind of barely operate on a shoestring, you know. And having to shut the doors and try to keep the employees somewhat happy or satisfied, a lot of them didn’t survive it.

It affected everybody, some in more ways than others, for sure. So yeah, it’s good to get our mojo back, all of us, collectively.

Q – And I know the album was produced by Zac Harmon, who also plays guitar on three tracks on the album. What do you think he brought to the table?

Working with Zac was such a gas. I’ve got to confess, I was not that familiar with Zac. I had heard his name, but I was not that familiar with his work.

When it was suggested that Zac produce my record, I did my homework and looked him up and listened to a lot of his previous releases. He had released a couple of very successful records on Catfood Records, so he was a label mate.

We only actually met when we got in the studio. Of course, we had a number of conversations by phone before that and I loved all of his suggestions and ideas about some of the songs.

It was really helpful to me that he was as enthusiastic about the material as he was. And some of the suggestions that he made ended up on the record.

We worked really well together. It was great having him in the studio in that producer’s chair.

He let me be me and when he needed to kind of put a guiding hand in there about a vocal riff or the way something was going down instrumentally, it all served for the eventual good of the record.

Plus, he’s a fun guy to be around.

Q – And I understand you have a new band, right?

Yeah, I’ve thrown together a group, some of whom I’ve played with at various times in various situations. Some of them are from some tribute shows that I do. I do a Joe Cocker tribute show and I do a Van Morrison tribute show.

I’ve got a couple of Chicago blues all-stars, Brother John Kattke on keys, and Darren Jay Fallas on guitar and we’ve got a horn section and a couple of great players, Tom Trinka, who is a longtime Chicago name, on saxophone, and Mitch “The Lip” Goldman on trumpet.

Q – I know you are originally from Milwaukee. Since you’ve been living in the Chicago area, what do you think of the Chicago music scene?

The Chicago music scene is extremely wide and vast. It’s as wide and vast as the Chicago metropolitan area. Chicago is a great music city.

You just name a style of music that you want to hear and it’s happening somewhere.

Q – Now you did your first recording as a lead singer in Nashville when you were 16. What did that experience teach you?

Well, it’s the reason I’m still doing this. I just fell in love with the whole process, of being able to sing into a microphone and have people dig it, you know.

I knew that was it for me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Singer-songwriter Rebecca Jade ushering in the holiday season as part of Dave Koz and Friends 25th Anniversary Christmas Tour


For the second year in a row, singer-songwriter Rebecca Jade will be ushering in the holiday season with jazz saxophonist Dave Koz.

Jade will be part of his 25th anniversary Christmas tour alongside fellow musicians Rick Braun, Peter White and Keiko Matsui. The tour will make a stop Thursday at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago.

The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

I had the chance to talk to Jade about the upcoming show and hew newly released album, “A Shade of Jade.”

Q – I know that last year you were on the Christmas tour with Dave Koz. You must have liked being part of the tour.

Any chance that I get to work with Dave and whoever he has lined up is always wonderful. When he invited me to come back, I was very flattered and grateful.

Myself and Jonathan Butler are the only two vocalists he’s had back-to-back on this tour, so I take that as a very big compliment.

Q – Is there a favorite Christmas song that you like performing?

I’m not really doing anything that I did last year. They’re all kind of new songs.

One song that Dave asked me to learn was the song “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.” That’s a song I actually had never sung.

I thought this was a really cool opportunity for me to lean a band new song that is so beautiful. It is on one of his Christmas albums that featured India Arie.

So I’m grateful to be singing it.

Q – And of course, your latest album, “A Shade of Jade,” came out in October. It seems like it’s getting a lot of play and I know the video for the song “What’s It Gonna Be” has 128,000 views on YouTube to date.

The video has a basketball theme. A lot of people might not know about your background. 

The fact that you received two awards – “Best Music Video” and “Best R&B/Funk/Soul Song” – for the song at this year’s San Diego Music Awards must make you feel pretty good.

Absolutely. I’m very grateful. I wanted to pay homage to the athlete side of my being. That is why we we did the basketball themed video.

I felt like the song could be an empowering kind of song. I like songs that are encouraging.

Q – Following the car/pedestrian accident you were in, you had to give up your dream of being a professional basketball player and you literally changed gears as far what you were going to do with your life. The song seems to reflect what you went through.

Yeah, it’s for me, definitely. Also, I wrote this song before the pandemic, but a lot of people dealt with some tough times during the pandemic.

Without even of course knowing the pandemic was going to happen, the song is geared toward people who have just dealt with tough times and yeah, including myself. We endure, we go through tough times but we can get through the other side.

I truly believe that.

Q – During your career, you’ve performed with a lot of notable people, including Shelia E. and Sir Elton John. What did you gain from those experiences? Did they give you any advice?

Performing with Elton John was a one time thing. It was an amazing experience performing at the Oscars.

The experience itself was incredible. I toured with Shelia E. pretty regularly for four years was amazing.

I just learned from watching and just seeing how she maneuvered and how she was on stage.

I tried to take as much of that and kind of make it my own.

Q – I understand that your mom was a professional jazz singer. Does your love of jazz music come from her?

Definitely. Growing up, my mom was a jazz singer and she still sings in choirs and at church now.

When I was really young, she definitely exposed me to a lot of great music, particularly jazz. But she also listened to Patti LaBelle and Barbra Streisand.

We also listened to a lot of Latin music. I was partly raised in Puerto Rico.

Stevie Wonder was also big in the house along with Ella Fitzgerald. I was really exposed to lots of wonderful music.

She didn’t force me into it. I kind of just got into the business by chance, maybe because I was exposed to music at a young age.

Her and my husband are my number one fans.

Q – Do you have any dream collaborations?

Living legend Stevie Wonder would be a dream for me, if I could go as big as I want to.

Q – Why would you want to work with him?

Because his music to me is so eclectic and I know so many of his songs. He’s an incredible songwriter and musician.

His music is fascinating and interesting and timeless. And he has a catalog that is incredible.

I would love to just be in the room with his genius and see if soak up any of it. I would love to have that kind of a career where I can create some music that is hopefully everlasting.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Acclaimed Chicago band The Claudettes will bring their garage cabaret sound to The Venue in Aurora



With a new album in tow, acclaimed Chicago band The Claudettes will bring their garage cabaret sound Friday night to The Venue in downtown Aurora.

Also on the bill is Chicago band Daisychain. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $15-$20, available at

I had the chance to talk to founder Johnny Iguana about the band and its latest album, “The Claudettes Go Out!” Iguana, 2021 Blues Music Award nominee for piano player of the year and 2022 Living Blues Award nominee for most outstanding musician (keyboard), first gained attention for being the pianist for the legendary Junior Wells. 


Q – You are an in demand musician. Do you feel honored to be in demand?

There's a few things. Number one, I got hired by Junior Wells when I was 23 and I moved out to Chicago. He was a hero of mine and a hero to many and that got me better known than I would have been if I had a more linear rise within the music business.

I went from playing in a band in Philadelphia and New York to all of a sudden touring the world with one of the greatest living blues heroes. And so then I got introduced to a lot of people and got to tour with Otis Rush, who was another favorite of mine when I was a teenager.

I got in my first blues band when I was just old enough to drive. We would play three sets a night, all white kids in a black part of Philadelphia.

We were too fast and too loud, but people recognized our enthusiasm and our love for the music. 

I do get a lot of good compliments from good musicians and I think what they're appreciating in me is just how many hours I put into it and how much I've learned along the way.

Q – So as far as the name of the band's latest album, I would imagine it's a reference to everything being locked down when the pandemic first hit, including music venues. Do you view this record as being the best thing to come out of the pandemic?

The album title seems to suggest the lost pleasure of being able to go out over these last few years when we were all staying in. And so I rented a party bus and we took a photo shoot dressed up and going out on the town.

So there's that on the surface. But to be honest, it's really hard to keep a band together.

Bands are really ships passing in the night. The four of us have probably been together for five years now.

And I think that's kind of an amazing achievement. So with the title “The Claudettes Go Out!", I almost printed on the disc itself or on the back, "with a bang."

I just felt like it's very possible that this will be our last album, this will be our final statement. I wrote it kind of as a note to myself.

I felt like this album was a really special, really great album with a lot of emotion in it. It was kind of done in two stages, where we did it piecemeal, COVID style,  recording parts separately and assembling them and then the other half we were able to play in the studio together.

And yet the tracks mix and match really great I was worried about the cohesiveness of it, but I think the tracks play great together.

Q – You have said the album is the band's best effort to date. Why do you think it is the band's best effort?

I think it's a stunner because of the craftsmanship of the songs, the performances and the emotion in it.

The delivery of emotions and ideas to the listener is really clean and effective on this record.

Q –  In forming The Claudettes in 2010 with drummer Michael Caskey, what were your goals? What do you think Berit Ulseth has added since you asked her to join the band in 2016?

Initially, I was inspired by these '60s recordings by Otis Spann and S.P. Leary that were just piano and drums. Michael and I listen to a lot of jazz and soul and R&B and I grew up playing punk music and I kind of wanted all of that in there.

The first recordings we made, I kind of called it cosmic cartoon music and I thought it kind of sounded like old bluesy, vaudeville, burlesque kind of a sound.

And then I met Berit at a time where she was singing backup in a band but someone had told me that she was a really special singer. And she hadn't really been the lead singer of a band.

She came over to my house and did some demos and right away I heard it and said, 'Oh, there's something here.' 

She had to step up into the spotlight. It's different than singing backup.

Over time, she's gone from reluctantly getting up there to I think really owning the stage.


Thursday, November 10, 2022

Aurora native Noah Gabriel to celebrate 20 years of making music with a little help from his musical friends




Noah Gabriel’s emotionally driven songs add to the vibrancy of the Fox Valley music scene.

The Aurora native will celebrate 20 years of making music by performing at The Venue in Aurora Friday night. The show will feature The Noah Gabriel Band, Noah's Arcade, Dave Ramont, Dave Nelson and his latest collaboration with Ryan Carney and Chris Palmerin.

His artwork will also be on display, including portraits of artists featured on the Bluebird Records label who made recordings in the Sky Club situated on the top floor of the Leland Hotel in downtown Aurora.

Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. The Venue is located at 21 S. Broadway Ave. in downtown Aurora.

General admission tickets are $10, available at

I had the chance to talk to Gabriel about the upcoming show.

Q – It makes sense that you’re going to be playing your 20th anniversary show at The Venue for many reasons. Of course, Aurora is your hometown and you also played at the grand opening show of The Venue in 2019.

So how does it feel to do your 20th anniversary show at The Venue?

I’m excited. It’s a beautiful stage and the room sounds great.

They’ve made a point of keeping that room as a listening environment, which is nice. People go there for music and they are there to sit down and listen.

It’s not just music for the background.

Q – And I understand that one of the first shows you took in after you first started playing the guitar was Aurora’s Blues Fest. How old were you?

Oh, I had to be 12 or 13. It might have been the first year they were doing it. It was definitely at the very beginning of the Blues Fest.

We didn’t have a lot of money to go to a lot of big concerts, so having that event for free so close by was awesome.

Q – Do you remember who you saw?

I remember Shirley King, B.B. King’s daughter, was one of the featured performers. And I was lucky enough to meet her just a couple of years ago.

Q – Do you think that the fact you saw Blues Fest at such an early age at an influence on your artwork and/or your music?

Definitely the music. I grew up on popular radio and stuff like that, so seeing Blues Fest and watching guys really play the guitar was awesome.

And right around that time is when Jonny Lang was coming out and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. There were all these guys a couple of years older than me that were burgeoning stars on the blues scene.

It definitely inspired me. I picked up my first Jonny Lang CD at the blues festival at the Kiss the Sky tent.

I went home and I listened to that so many times.

And then the artwork thing, before I even touched a guitar, I always wanted to be an artist. I used to do a lot of pencil sketches and stuff like that. 

Before I was dragging a guitar around with me everywhere, I always had a sketchbook and a pencil and I was just drawing everywhere. And it has grown since then.

I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing with it, but it’s another great way to get out some of the things in my head. Art is always like for me a meditation. You start doing stuff like that, you disappear and become part of the creation.

It’s a good way to clear the head.

Q – Are you going to be playing songs from all your albums during the show?

I wish that I could. With a two-hour show limit and the fact that I can only gather so many people to squish into that time slot, I think we’re doing a good job representing the music from all the different albums and eras, if you can call it that.

I’m hoping to play at least the title track from my first album, “In Aurora,” somewhere in the show, probably as a solo piece, just to kind of all bring it back to that.

My hope is that the show goes well. I’ll be doing a similar show with some different people not too far down the line.

I like doing stuff like this. I spend most of my time doing solo gigs or duo gigs.


I want to do something different and give people a show that they’re not used to seeing.

Q – Now, you also teach guitar lessons at Music Matters in Batavia and as I understand, you are still striving to become a better guitarist.

Oh, yeah. I’m always trying to become a better guitarist and a better songwriter.

To me, if you’re not trying to get better and do something different, what’s the point? I don’t think there is an end goal, per se, when it comes to art and stuff like that.

Whatever I do, hopefully someone else sees it, hopefully they take the baton where I drop it and run even further down the line. I’m always trying to figure out how I can better myself and push myself to do different things.

If you’re comfortable in your art, you should try and do something different. I feel like these things have been gifted to me and I need to do something good with them and push to do my best with them.

That’s all I’m trying to do. I’m trying to figure out my life and the world around me and art is the vehicle with which I navigate those roads.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Australian band Eliza & The Delusionals will headline show Saturday at Subterranean in Chicago

Photo by Luke Henery


Australian indie rock band Eliza & The Delusionals was on tour with Silversun Pickups in March 2020 when the tour was unexpectedly derailed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than two years later, the band is back on the road with Silversun Pickups performing songs from its debut album, “Now And Then,” released earlier this year. Eliza & The Delusionals also is headlining several shows, including a show Saturday at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., Chicago.

Sunday Cruise also is on the bill. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the show starts at 6 p.m.

Tickets are $15, available at

I had the chance to talk to frontwoman Eliza Klatt about the tour.


Q – Great talking to you. I understand that you were on tour with Silversun Pickups in March 2020 when COVID-19 unfortunately halted the tour. What is it like performing in front of live audiences again?

We feel really lucky and grateful to be back on the road with our friends Silversun Pickups. The shows have been so much fun and the crowds have been really lovely.

Q – Did you use the time off the road to write more? Did you work on songs for your debut album "Now And Then" while you were off the road?

Yes, usually. It can be really difficult to jump between touring and writing headspaces sometimes, so we generally use our breaks and downtime to work on new music.

We started working on some of the songs from "Now And Then" during our tour break in 2020 when we were in Los Angeles, but once we had to come home, we didn't really have any other option but to write music and work on the debut record. It's bittersweet really.

Q – What were your goals for “Now And Then” and do you think you accomplished them? Is there a meaning behind the album's title?

I guess we didn't really have any goals, we just wanted to write an album that we loved and felt really proud of, which I think we did. The whole concept behind the record was a perspective on nostalgia, reflecting on growing up and how life is now compared to back then.

Q – The single "Save Me" off the album has connected well with people. Did you expect the song to do so well? Why do you think it is connecting so well with people?

I always felt like "Save Me" was going to connect with people. I think it's because I personally felt a strong connection with it.

It was also one of our favourites from the demos when we were putting the album tracks together. I think if people can find themselves or their situation in a song, they'll make a strong connection with it.

Q – You covered "Motion Sickness" by Phoebe Bridgers. What made you want to cover the song and what do you think you bring to the song?

It's one of my favourite songs, and the first song that introduced me to Phoebe Bridgers. The song is just really beautiful, it's one that we wish we wrote to be honest, so I think that's why it was an easy choice for our Triple J's "Like A Version" cover.

We really felt like we wanted to make it a bit more band-y I guess, and we wanted to elevate the bridge with the guitar dynamics and the vocals.

Q – Would you consider her an influence? Who are some artists that you really admire?

Yes, for sure. She's an incredible musician and songwriter. Her lyrics are unmatched!

Between the four of us in the band, our tastes are wildly different, but for me personally, I love bands like Coldplay, Paramore and Radiohead, to name a few.

Q – I am sure you have had your music described in many ways. How would you describe your music?

This is always an interesting question. I always say indie pop rock when someone asks, but genre is such a weird thing that we use to categorize music. I feel like indie and pop can mean a million styles of music to people,  ha ha.

Q – Do you have any dream collaborations?

For sure, so many. Phoebe Bridgers or Coldplay would be amazing to collaborate with,  I'm sure.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Chicago area singer-songwriter Nora O'Connor talks about new solo album, performs sold out show at SPACE


In many ways, the pandemic helped Chicago area singer-songwriter Nora O’Connor rediscover her own voice.

O’Connor recently released her third solo album, “My Heart,” her first solo album since her 2004 album “Til the Dawn.” Three of her fellow members from Chicago vocal supergroup the Flat Five join her on the album – Casey McDonough on vocals, bass and acoustic guitar; Scott Ligon on organ, Wurlitzer and guitars (Casey and Scott are also current members of NRBQ) and Alex Hall on drums, percussion, piano, Wurlitzer, mellotron, vibes and vocals.

O’Connor performed at SPACE in Evanston on Oct. 22 as part of a CD release party. The show was sold out.

I had the chance to talk to her about the new record.

Q – I actually saw you and Casey perform at The Venue in Aurora in August during the first night of the Americana Music Fest. That was a great night.

You played at least one of your new songs, “Outta Space,” at the show, which is a song that I love. To me, it has such a haunting melody that sticks in your head.


Of course, you live in Evanston, where the venue SPACE is located. Is the song’s title a reference to SPACE in any way?

No, not at all. I wrote the song early in the pandemic, so I think the reason it might be haunting is because we were all in a bit of a mood back then. It was weird and kind of scary.

It’s kind of about our friends who are birdwatchers. The song is about being up in your head and not being grounded and how when you’re up there, you’re going to miss the birds, you’re going to miss stopping and smelling the roses.

It's kind of about watching the birds and being in the moment versus just being out to lunch and you're out of space.

Q – That makes sense because when the pandemic started, we all had different thoughts in our heads and we kind of got caught in whatever what was in our head at the time.

Yeah. And I also got some bird feeders and started bird watching in my own backyard.

Q – I understand that this album was kind of born out of the pandemic, that you could only perform outdoors.

Yeah, I was playing these outdoor shows in people’s backyards and I just kind of realized that I needed more original songs if I want to play these solo shows.

So I decided to write a batch of songs and they felt good. And I just went and kept going with the process of recording and releasing, just to have that whole experience of creating and producing and playing and singing.

It’s fun stuff, man. It’s fun stuff.

Q – Is there a meaning behind naming the album “My Heart”? Do you view these as heartfelt songs?

I think so. When I was writing these songs, I was just trying to trust myself and get over myself at the same time.

Some of the songs do talk about my heart. There’s actually a song called “My Heart.”

When we recorded that song, it was a really fun experience. In the morning, it was a song on an acoustic guitar and at the end of the day, it was a total piano pop song.

I didn’t see that coming. The song just took on a life of its own in the studio and it was just a really fabulous experience.

Q – As far as working with Casey and the other members of the Flat Five, why do you enjoy working with them?

Well, no one’s better than Casey, so there’s that. And Casey and I were playing a lot of duo shows.

When we started playing out again but only being able to do outdoor shows, Casey and I put together a half dozen songs and started doing these duo shows. And then I started bringing in my new songs into the duo shows.

Honestly, no one plays bass better than Casey and he was kind enough to come into the studio and record. And we recorded at Alex Hall’s studio. He knows my voice and he knows what microphones to use on my voice.

I love working with him. And I couldn’t resist asking Scott to play a little bit.

Q – And you also have Steve Dawson on the album.

We’ve known each other, my gosh, since the mid-‘90s. I took his songwriting class and I really respect him as a songwriter.

Q – You’re such an in demand singer/musician. You’ve performed with pretty much everybody, including the great Mavis Staples. Did you ever think that you would be such an in demand musician? And why do you think so many people like working with you and what do you get from working with people like Mavis?

Well, she’s the queen. I’ve been doing this for a really long time. I’m in my 50s and I’ve been playing out since I was in my early 20s.

Over time, I just kind of found my niche of kind of being an auxiliary member of different bands, like coming into the studio and singing harmony and doing backup singing and playing acoustic guitar,

I guess word just kind of got around. The Chicago music community is very rich and vibrant. We sing on each other’s records.

That kind of morphed into touring with different bands. Word of mouth is a nice favor the more I get it.

Q – Your parents are from Ireland. Did they have a lot to do with your musical upbringing?

My dad is a really great singer and we always had Irish music playing in the house. Something was always on the record player.

Q – Have they gotten to see your perform?

They live in Palos Hills and they do come out. It’s nice, they’re local, so they come see me when I’m playing whenever they can.

Q – Do you have any dream collaborations?

I do. I’d like to make some music with The Decemberists and I would like to make more music with Kelly Hogan. We have this side project called Lady Parts, but we’ve only had three or four shows.

I feel I have a notebook somewhere with a list of people I want to collaborate with.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Robert Fripp and his manager David Singleton to bring 'An Evening of Conversation' to City Winery in Chicago Sunday


Having worked together for more than 30 years, it is fair to say musician Robert Fripp and record producer David Singleton know a lot about each other both musically and personally.

Since last month, Fripp and Singleton have been touring the county as part of a speaking tour affectionally dubbed “That Awful Man And His Manager.” The tour will wind up Sunday at the City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St., Chicago.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show will start at 8 p.m. Tickets range in price from $62 to $95, available at

Singleton established the DGM record label with Fripp in 1993 and has managed King Crimson since 2018. He is also King Crimson’s producer and author of “The Vicar Chronicles.”

I had the chance to interview Singleton about the tour.

Q – Of course the Chicago date is the last date of the tour. How has the tour being going? Have any of the questions surprised you?

It’s gone very well. The audiences have been slightly smaller than certainly the promoters expected, but probably the quality of the questions have been much higher than we might have expected.

We've had people quite regularly seeking practical answers, such as a guitarist or a songwriter. Some people are also wanting to know Robert’s stories, like what was it like to work with David Bowie or Brian Eno or many of the other people he collaborated with.

Q – I saw a video from your stop at the City Winery in New York City on Sept. 23 and there was a question from the audience about time signatures and Robert had the audience clapping to demonstrate how time signatures work. So that seems like that was not only informative, but also fun.

The idea is that they are entertaining as well so hopefully they are entertaining evenings and also informative. It’s a mixture of both.

Q – What was your idea in wanting to do this in the first place?

Well, it grew out of something we used to do before King Crimson concerts. Before the King Crimson concerts, I used to come out an hour before speaking to people who paid extra for early access.

I would play them snippets from the archives and show them how things worked behind the scenes in creating the albums. As it grew, Robert used to come out for about 10 minutes at the start to introduce me.

At the time, he was frustrated because people kept on wanting to ask him questions and because he was about to play a King Crimson show, he couldn’t really pay proper attention to answer the questions of people.

Q – Speaking of King Crimson, I see that DGM Ltd this month is launching the documentary “In the Court of the Crimson King, King Crimson at 50,” which is directed by Toby Amies.

We’re doing a big streamed video on demand launch from London on Oct. 22. There will be a screening in London and Robert will be there. He’ll be doing a live introduction, we’ll be showing the movie and then doing questions and answers afterwards.

There will be some theatrical screenings, but we don’t know when they will be yet.

Q – Why was it important to get this documentary out there and what do you think people will get out of it?

Well, there’s never been a King Crimson documentary and with the 50th anniversary, which was 2019, we felt that would be an appropriate time to do a review of King Crimson and present King Crimson to a wider audience.

We commissioned the movie I think in late 2017 or early 2018 so it would be out in time for 2019. The movie took much longer to make than anybody expected.

It took four years to make so it didn’t come out for the 50th anniversary. In some ways, the movie went further than we expected.

It’s a movie about musicians and their search for perfection and why music matters. It’s probably a movie that is interesting to anyone who is interested in music, whether you’re a King Crimson lover or not.

Q – Why do you think you hit it off so well with Robert Fripp and why do you continue to like to work with him?

Philosophically, we possibly both share common aims. I think we both have a belief that the music has to come first.

It’s just been one of those partnerships where we share a common sensibility and therefore things work very well.

The tour is being billed as “That Awful Man And His Manager.” Robert does indeed have a reputation as being an awful man.

But actually in a sense, I’ve never met that awful man. Robert’s reputation is because if he has to choose, he will choose to do whatever is right for the music first.

If something needs changing for the music to be be right, he is willing to change it, which obviously can annoy people. Some people may think that he’s being nasty to them.

He’s simply saying that we’ve got to get the music right.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Chicago blues legend John Primer and his band provide plenty of sparks during recent show at The Venue in Aurora


Even after playing the Chicago blues circuit for decades, the 77-year-old John Primer performs with more energy and enthusiasm than musicians half his age.

Such was the case when Primer played at The Venue in Aurora on Sept. 16 as part of its monthly Blues and Brews night. The night also served as a CD release party for Primer’s latest CD, “Hard Times.”

Of course, no one would expect anything less from the bandleader and lead guitarist for Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Magic Slim & The Teardrops. The video for “Hard Times” – shot by Geneva’s own Andy Young – depicts Primer going around to blues clubs in Chicago that he had played at only to find them shut down.

While it is sad that so many blues clubs have closed over the years – I am still mourning Chord on Blues in St. Charles shutting its doors several years ago – it is fortunate that places like The Venue welcomes blues musicians with open arms.

The night spotlighted the working class blues that are close to Primer’s heart. Alongside his original songs, Primer also paid homage to his own blues heroes in performing songs like ”Before You Accuse Me (Take a Look at Yourself),” written by Bo Diddley.

Primer and his Real Deal Blues Band also injected plenty of heart into John Lennon’s song “Imagine.” The song imagines the divisions between people being erased, a timely song given the country’s current state of affairs.

Led by the explosive harmonica power of Steve Bell, the son of the late Carey Bell, Primer’s band also provided plenty of sparks during the evening.

 Let’s hope Primer and his band will continue to take the stage for many more years to come.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Chicago folk duo Frances Luke Accord to perform first show in more than two years


When indie folk duo Frances Luke Accord performs Thursday at the Golden Dagger, 2447 N. Halsted St. in Chicago, it will mark the first time Nicholas Gunty and Brian Powers have played together since before the start of the pandemic.

Fans who have been waiting for Frances Luke Accord to return to the stage will hear the duo perform songs from its new album, “Safe In Sound,” set for release on Feb. 9 on Two-Dale Records/Tone Tree Music. Also on the bill is Michigan native Chris DuPont.

The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $15, available at

I had the chance to talk to Powers about the upcoming show.

Q – Great talking to you. I imagine that you will be performing songs from your upcoming album “Safe In Sound” during the show.

Yeah, we are, and we are really looking forward to it. It will be our first time performing a lot of the songs live.

It’s also our first show since pre-COVID. So that’s notable.

Q – Oh, seriously?

Yeah. Nick, my bandmate, lives out on the East Coast and I live in Chicago. We don’t get to see each other nearly as much, particularly since COVID.

We’re really looking forward to being back together and sharing new and old music with our Chicago fan base.

We played at a friend’s wedding about a year ago. It was just kind of background music, so I don’t really count that as a show. Thursday night at the Golden Dagger will be the first show we’ve played since Feb. 1, 2020, in Asheville, North Carolina.

We both work other jobs to make ends meet and it’s just frankly kind of the reality post COVID about how really brutal it is for musicians. It was really hard pre-COVID and it is just like immeasurably harder now, post-COVID, just to make your ends meet.

I think it’s important to talk about. I think it’s really important for musicians to kind of be transparent about how difficult it is to make ends meet.

You know, we have roughly 120,000 streams of our music every month, but we make about $300 a month off of that.

Q – You must have a pretty close relationship to be able to survive like you are at a distance.

Yeah, you know, Nick is like a brother at this point. So we make it work.

We spent a lot of time together pre-COVID. We were touring nationally and doing anywhere from 50 to 100 shows a year.

We’re just grateful to be able to play at all post-COVID.

Q – Your music has been described as “the definition of lean-in music.” Do you think that’s an apt description of your music?

Yeah, we do. We like that description a lot, actually.

Our music is very quiet. It’s very soft and calming and we put a lot of effort into lyric writing and arranging.

We hope listeners lean in and listen really closely.

Q – Of course your new album is coming out in February and the title of the new album is “Safe In Sound.” It seems like that’s a play on words, but there also seems to be a meaning behind the name.

Yeah, definitely. We were making a lot of the music on this album during COVID, when the pandemic was raging outside of our respective apartment. And so we both kind of felt that we were safe inside with our music.

And so that’s kind of where it came from.

Q – Musically, what were you trying to do on this album?

Musically, we were trying to open things up. We wanted to make a folk record that also had an ambience. We’re both big suckers for ambient music.

We try to write folk music that is musically interesting. That kind of means chord progressions that aren’t super straight forward.

We wanted to make music as interesting as possible, but also open it up to collaborators. So for the first time on this album, we got other folks involved, like Don Mitchell of Darlingside, who co-produced a lot of this music.

It was really helpful in kind of “unstucking” us whenever we were stuck on certain songs. Like The Beatles’ mantra, “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends,” that was very true in the making of this album. We had a lot of great help from a lot of great friends.

Q – Also, I see the song “This Morning” features Chicago artist Liz Chidester.

Yeah, she’s great. She has an amazing voice.

Q – Do you think it also gets your music out to more people by collaborating with different artists?

Definitely. It’s partially a strategic business decision, but also, it’s enjoyable to work with folks whose music you really enjoy.

Q – Now you and Nick were both raised in South Bend, Indiana and started performing together while you were at the University of Notre Dame. What made you click? Why did it feel right playing together?

It was a mutual love of songwriting, particularly folk based songwriting.

There aren’t that many people out there who are writing folk music. And so when we met each other as 18-year-olds, we were just I think really, really drawn to each other and also inspired by each other’s love of the craft.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Chicago musician Andy Pratt continues to engage listeners on his second album, "Sweeter Than The Wine"



In making his followup album to his 2017 album “Horizon Disrupted” – produced by noted producer and musician Steve Albini – Chicago-based singer-songerwriter Andy Pratt decided he wanted to record the album in his home studio.

“Sweeter Than The Wine” was released on Sept. 9. To celebrate the album’s release and his 40th birthday, he performed Sept. 11 at The Hideout in Chicago.

I had the chance to talk to Andy about the new album.

Q – Great talking to you again. I know you performed on Sept. 11 at The Hideout for a CD release party for "Sweeter Than The Wine" and a 40th birthday bash. How did that go? 

Thanks! The show went great. I performed these songs with my friends Katie Andrick (violin), Jim Barclay (drums), and Joe Policastro (bass) and that alone meant everything to me.

Nothing is better than performing with people you love playing music with and genuinely enjoying their company off stage, as well. We had a nice listening crowd. It was a beautiful evening.

Q – Of course, this album is the followup to your debut album, "Horizon Disrupted." What goals did you have for this album? 

This was a record I had been planning on doing for some time now. A few years ago, before the pandemic, I became interested in analog synthesizers and drum machines.

I wanted to find a way to incorporate these into my songs. I had also been interested in home recording and wanted to make an entire record at my home studio.

Q – A few of the songs have a gypsy jazz feeling to them, most notably the song "Without You." Were you looking to explore new musical horizons on this album? 

I wasn’t specifically trying to explore new genres, but I do think some new ones crept onto the album by happenstance. There are definitely more story-based songs with fairly long narratives and half of the songs are in a minor key.

The minor songs you are referring to could be thought of as melodies with a Django Reinhardt feel, but that’s not what I was necessarily going for. I love Django, though!

Q – How would you say “Sweeter Than The Wine” compares lyrically to your first album? Did you set out to address themes on this album that you didn’t address on your first album?  

The majority of the songs are love songs. I seem to never get tired of listening to or writing love songs. I think, in the end, that’s what it’s all about.

And the other songs on the album are about childhood. That is a new theme in my writing, but not necessarily something I was deliberately putting out as a new subject to address. 

Q – You recorded the album at your home and you played almost all of the instruments on Sweeter Than The Wine. What made you want to go that route? 

For the past ten years or so, I was fascinated with the idea of home recording. I had initially just been interested in recording completely solo music, guitar and vocals or just guitar.

How I came to recording electric bass, synths, drum machines, etc.? I guess I just went down the rabbit hole. It was honestly a lot of fun.

Q – Do you have any dream projects or collaborations?

I think the next recording project or two I would like to do would be with a jazz trio, just guitar, bass, and drums in a studio. I might sing on a couple tracks too. And also a solo jazz guitar album. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Chicago-based kindie duo Wendy and DB to release "Into the Little Blue House" as way to educate youngsters about the blues

Wendy Morgan and Darryl Boggs believe you are never too young to learn about the blues.

Morgan and Boggs front the Chicago-based kindie duo Wendy and DB. Their fifth album, the aptly-named “Into the Little Blue House,” features an all-star cast of Chicago blues musician, including Grammy-winning drummer Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith, Ivy Ford, Anne Harris, Billy Branch. Mike Wheeler and Johnny Iguana.

“Into the Little Blue House” is set for release on Sept. 23. To celebrate the release of the CD, the duo will perform a children’s show on Oct. 23 at Evanston SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston.

I had the chance to talk to Wendy and Darryl about “Into the Little Blue House.”

Q – What was the idea behind the album?

Darryl – I wanted to find a way to get blues music to kids, but I wanted to do it in a way that they could understand it. If you come to them at their level, then you can spread the word.

Wendy – We had kids sing on the album. A couple of our blues musicians had younger kids that we were able to get in on the session, which was amazing.

Q – How did you line up all these blues musicians to play on the album?

Wendy – We have to give all the credit to our producer, Michael Freeman. He’s a Grammy winning blues producer.

We were trying to be as inclusive as we could. Ivy and I wrote a song together, "Women of the Blues.”

We were trying to include as many people as we could on this album. We had such a great time with it.
Q – I’ve listened to that song a couple of times and it seems like you really collaborated well on that song.

Wendy – We really did. She’s lovely to work with.

Q – I’ve had the opportunity to see Anne Harris perform a couple of times and she is so energetic on stage.

Wendy – She’s amazing. Anne is a friend of mine and I wouldn’t think of anyone else but Anne to be on this album.

Q – Was it easy putting together an album like this?

Michael is great to work with. The title cut, “Little Blue House,” is really about a world that’s not fighting all the time. It’s like an ideal home. It could be the planet Earth. I was trying to use that as a metaphor.

Q – This is the fifth album that you have made together. Why do you think you work well together?

Daryl – One of the reasons is that we’ve known each other for a long time. Our musical friendship led to a personal friendship.

One day, almost about 10 years ago, Wendy came to me and asked, ‘Hey, you want to write some children’s music together?’ I was still teaching school at the time and we got together and started writing songs and next thing you know, we did our first CD.

Wendy – That was in 2013 when we did our first album. We’re good friends first and we also trust each other on stage.

Q – And I see that 10% of the proceeds from “Into the Little Blue House” will go to The Pinetop Perkins Foundation.

Wendy – That’s true. We’ve always given back.

This is a very important album to get out there right now. Billy Branch told us that he wished he had come up with this project. He was like, ‘Hey, you beat me to it.’

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Strong performances abound at The Venue's Americana Music Fest

Nora O'Connor, left, and Casey McDonough, right, perform Aug. 12 at the The Venue's Americana Music Fest in Aurora as part of the festival's first day. The festival continued though Aug. 14.



The first day of The Venue's Americana Music Fest – held last weekend in downtown Aurora – offered a little something for everyone.

From the soaring vocals and tight harmonies of Nora O'Connor and Casey McDonough to the soul rattling vocals and riveting guitar work of Nathan Graham to the Arlo Guthrie-inspired storytelling of Chicago Farmer and The Fieldnotes, the evening provided many lasting musical memories.

              Nora O'Connor and Casey McDonnough at The Venue's Americana Music Fest


                                        Nathan Graham at The Venue's Americana Music Fest


 Chicago Farmer and The Fieldnotes at The Venue's Americana Music Fest





Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Blues musician Sue Foley to bring award-winning sound to Evanston SPACE Friday

Photo by Danny Clinch



Blues singer guitarist Sue Foley and her signature pink paisley Fender Telecaster continue to command attention.

At the 43rd annual Blues Music Awards ceremony in May in Memphis, the Canadian musician won in the category of Best Traditional Blues Album for her latest album, "Pinky's Blues," along with the Koko Taylor Award for Traditional Blues Female Artist, repeating her 2020 win in the same category.

In June, Foley received additional honors when the Toronto Blues Society presented her with two Maple Blues Awards for Entertainer of the Year and Guitarist of the Year.

Foley will likely gain even more fans when she perform at 8 p.m. Friday at Evanston SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston.

Also on the bill is Eric Lugosch. Tickets are available at

I had the chance to talk to Foley – who first took up the guitar at age 13 –  about the impact that she has made in the music world.

Q – First of all, congratulations on your recent awards. As far as winning the two Maple Blues Awards for Entertainer of the Year and Guitarist of the Year from the Toronto Blues Society, does that hold special meaning for you because you are from Canada?

Oh, yeah, definitely. Those are all really nice to receive and it’s nice to be acknowledged.

And we also got the ones in Memphis, which actually really meant a lot because for Canadian blues artists to get acknowledged down in Memphis really validates what we do.

Q – Do you feel like you’re accepted now?

Totally. Absolutely.

Q – And of course, you released “Pinky’s Blues” last year, which references the name of your guitar. Why did you decide to do that?

Because I’ve had the guitar for so long and we wanted to make a guitar album. I’ve had the same guitar my entire career.

I’ve had her for 33 years and she’s literally been with me at every gig and on every album. Mike Flanigan, our producer, was like, ‘Let’s make a guitar album and let’s just have fun.’

It’s kind of unusual for a guitar player to stick with one instrument for that long. Most guitar players are all about playing a lot of guitars.

Q – I understand you began playing guitar at age 13 and that you played your first gig when you were 16. Do you see yourself as an inspiration, especially to young girls who are looking to play guitar?

I might. Sometimes I see them at my shows. I would like to be, yeah, for sure.

Hopefully I can be an inspiration if they dig what I do.

Q – Growing up, were there any female guitarists that you looked up to, or any guitarists in general?

I was influenced by a lot of blues guitarists, from Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson to Memphis Minnie and T-Bone Walker.

I really went through listening and studying all those players, from Chicago to Texas. And I really settled on the Texas style, so that’s kind of where my guitar style comes from.

I kind of honed in on that regional sound and especially the sound that was coming out of Austin at the time. In the ‘80s and ’90s was kind of when I started to hone in on this area.

And that’s kind of what you’re hearing on “Pinky’s Blues.” It’s sort of a tribute to that style of blues and that style of guitar playing that we kind of came up listening to and learning about.

Q – I read an interview you did recently where you talked about making it in the Austin blues scene and that you were especially proud of that, especially given the fact that you are Canadian.

And the fact that I was a young girl, that kind of made it all the more unusual. But I was very welcomed here and nurtured here and respected.

I feel like I got a really good music education down here and that’s why I came back.

Q – Clifford Antone brought you to Austin and signed you to your first record deal, as I understand.

Antone’s was our school basically, our school of the blues, and there were a lot of other young players down here doing it too. It wasn’t just me.

I was really welcomed and nurtured and I was given a great education. As soon as Stevie Ray Vaughan broke out and this whole scene got on the radar, everybody in blues freaked out.

The Chicago people freaked out and the California people freaked out. Everybody wanted to emulate Texas blues.

The thing about it, it was new. It was some fresh energy. It was a really new sound coming out.

It was a really exciting time.

Q – As far as what you are trying to do with your music, what are you trying to inject into the music scene?

I’m not trying to inject anything into any scene, per se, I’m just trying to be myself. If somebody hears an album of mine and says, ‘Hey, that’s Sue Foley,’ that’s pretty good, because they know that I kind of got a sound.

All I want to do is be myself.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

The Accidentals teams up with student ensemble Kaboom Collective Studio Orchestra, will perform Friday at Gallagher Way at Wrigley Field


Sav Buist and Katie Larson – who co-founded the band The Accidentals – first met at age 16 in high school orchestra.

So it only makes sense that The Accidentals would want to collaborate with the Kaboom Collective Studio Orchestra, a Hollywood-style studio ensemble made of students between the ages of 15-25. The band gave the orchestra 11 of their most popular songs to score and arrange, resulting in the aptly named album "Reimagined."

The 40-student orchestra is currently on tour with The Accidentals. The tour kicked off Wednesday at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and will make a stop at Gallagher Way at Wrigley Field at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Accidentals will be back in the area when it plays at The Venue in Aurora on Sept. 9.

I had the chance to talk to Buist about the show.

Q – Great talking to you. I understand the tour will kick off on Aug. 3 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That seems like a great way to kick off the tour.

Katie and I have a very loving history with The Rock Hall, we’re part of the EDU program there. They have an online resource guide for teachers and parents, they offer free lesson plans, artifact images and materials, videos, playlists, and writing prompts.

Some of our videos and curriculum that we use to teach workshops in the schools are on the site and they have been incredibly supportive as we have grown as a band and as individual musicians.

Q – The both of you met in high school orchestra. Was working with the Kaboom Collective kind of a surreal experience?

Working with Kaboom has been inspirational. If there had been a program like this when Kate and I were in school, we would have moved mountains to be a part of it.

To be able to learn how to score and arrange for all types of projects in a safe, supported environment would have been incredible. Touring the project you created would have been the icing on the cake.

I mean, learning to tour healthy isn’t something anyone talks about but mental, physical, and emotional health is a big deal when you decide to do this full time.

Q – When you first heard that female string duo in high school, what struck you about their music and how did they inspire you?

We immediately felt empowered.  Sometimes you have to see something to know it's possible. They showed us that a cello and a violin make a band.

Katie and I had a "How many women do you see shredding a guitar?" moment. Not enough.

It’s not that we can’t, it’s that we don’t know we can. That’s the goal of Kaboom – and frankly, The Accidentals – to empower this and the next generation.

We want them to know they can play multiple instruments, collaborate in multiple ways, and develop multiple skill sets and multiple revenue streams within the music business (and without) that allow us to be sustainable and thrive.

Q – How do you hope to inspire the members of Kaboom Collective?

By showing them that they can inspire the world. Music gets in your blood. It’s an exchange of energy that you can’t get anywhere else.

It’s the ultimate collaboration. It’s that moment when you fit, you feel supported, there is camaraderie, family.

We want them to see what is possible and what is realistic. We want them to set realistic goals and expectations so that they always feel successful.

We want to change the idea that healthy touring isn't cool and share strategies for maintaining that grind.

Q – What made you want to work with the Kaboom Collective and did the group exceed your expectations?

Liza Grossman made us want to work with Kaboom. She is one of the founders of Kaboomco.

We had worked with orchestras before and had difficult experiences with conductors, or trying to score and arrange music on our own without much guidance, so we had decided that wasn't for us.

She changed those negative feelings into a really empowered, positive experience. She showed us that not only could we score and arrange and write music, but that we deserved to do so in an environment that would be collaborative rather than competitive. 

Truly, she changed the way we imagine the future.

Q – What did you think of the Kaboom Collective's arrangements of your songs? Are there any tracks on the album that especially stand out for you?

They are riveting. When we first ran through the score for “Crow’s Feet,” I couldn’t stop the tears.

It was just so beautiful, standing there, surrounded by this lush bed of emotion, all these talented players giving themselves to your song, your memory, your experience – changing something dark into shimmering ethereal emotive light with their whole selves.

It was life-changing. Music can be like that. It can be so giving and comforting.

This whole album is just the best of what music is. It’s people giving to one another and receiving one another.

You look around the room and everyone is in the feel of the song. That is what we envision an orchestra to be.

Not just reading from a page, but embodying the music because you were part of creating the music. You’re invested in the music – it's no longer my song, it’s ours.

Q – What would you like the members of Kaboom Collective to get out of this experience?

Hopefully, they come out of this experience inspired, empowered, and experienced, with realistic expectations and coping skills that will last their career. They will have new friends and see what it is to be a part of a community that supports what you do.

We cannot wait to introduce them to our FAMgrove, Patreon, our team of promoters, and agents – all the people that make it possible.

Q – What are you getting out of this experience?

It’s been such a gift to hear these songs reimagined. Some of the songs feel like they were meant to be recorded this way.

Most of these songs were written early on – when we were younger and there was a lot of healing in hearing them now, being able to sing them again with more mature voices, being able to let go.

It’s been an incredible project and we’re looking forward to the tour. We can’t wait for our fam to experience the full immersion of these songs.

We are purposely doing this show on the ground in a circle at several venues so people can experience it up close and personal and get the full surround sound of being a part of the concert. We wouldn’t miss this for the world.


Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Laura Rain brings vocal power to The Venue in Aurora

Photo by Eric Schelkopf


Most people choose to seek shelter when it starts to rain.

But if you are listening to singer Laura Rain, you want to be out in the open so you can take in all of her vocal power.

Rain and her band The Caesars brought their inviting mix of soul and funk to The Venue in Aurora on July 29. Heading up the tight knit band is Rain’s husband, George Friend, on guitar.

The Detroit-based band took the audience on a musical adventure. She injected all the tenderness needed in the sweetly soulful song “Take My Hand.” The song was made even sweeter with vocal help from bandmates Jeff Powe and Joshua Powe.

The band funked things up on the song “The Deal,” adding to the musical diversity of the evening and bringing at least one couple out on the dance floor.

The energy level was turned way up on the song “I Am,” with Rain’s urgent vocals leading the way. 

And even after such a sweltering set, the band still managed to turn the heat up even higher on the closing song "Sunset" with Friend’s driving guitar work and Darryl Pierce’s thunderous drumming leaving the audience more than satisfied.


For those who weren’t able to attend the show at The Venue, the band does have some upcoming appearances in the area, including a show on Aug. 18 at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago and on Aug. 20 at the Little Bear Ribfest in Vernon Hills.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Adrian Belew creates spacious soundscapes during enthralling show at Arcada Theatre

Photo by Eric Schelkopf


Adrian Belew is a musician of many talents.

Along with being an innovative guitarist who can create otherworldly musical landscapes, he can also write a song with strong pop hooks.

Both were on display during his show on July 15 at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.

The show presented a good overview of his career, including his time in the legendary band King Crimson, as a member of the band The Bears and his solo career. 

Backed by the thunderous drumming of Johnnie Luca, Belew brought up the energy level with a searing version of the King Crimson song "Thela Hun Ginjeet."

But there were plenty of quiet moments as well. As part of the show, Belew played an unplugged set, which helped him to further connect with the audience on songs like "The Power of the Natural World," which is off his newly released album, "Elevator."

Such a format also let pop gems like "Big Blue Sun" further shine.

Belew and his band created many musical memories that night that will last a long time.