Tag Archives: Chicago

Record REcollection 7/7/13

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Record REcollection

As mentioned previously, one of my resources for obtaining music has been friends. A couple in particular have been especially generous when they have run across CDs or LPs they know I want and pick them up for me. I return the favor when I see albums they are seeking, which makes for a pleasant back and forth exchange.

I have also been contacted by friends who have uploaded collections to their computers and they no longer want the physical copies. I am always more than happy to take the music off of their hands. Whatever I can’t add to my collection I pass on to someone who wants it for theirs.

Additionally, I have been on the receiving end of a stranger’s kindness. One example occurred during my first visit to Village Records in the Roscoe Village neighborhood of Chicago last winter. A small, but quaint record shop with an eclectic mix of  new and used music, books and DVDs, the store’s greatest asset is its owner Will. Will greets everyone when they walk through the door, but gives patrons space to navigate his wares without hovering over them. If someone has a question, however, he is quick to provide assistance. But the most engaging aspect of visiting the store is talking over one’s purchases with Will. As one customer remarked on yelp.com, “The owner knew all of the albums I picked out well despite the fact they were all over the genre map.” That was my experience too. The love for music he exuded as he rang up my CDs and records spoke to my inner music nerd and was a pleasant addition to an already grand record store experience. As Will was bagging up my goodies I noticed Stereolab‘s “Jenny Ondioline Part 1” seven inch clear vinyl promo on the shelf behind him. I asked to see the record and we talked about our love for the band. I decided to add it to my order and instead of charging me ten dollars as marked, he knocked the price down to seven- a very fair price for the rare 45. A friend that accompanied me inquired if he sold 45 adapter domes. Will said no, but without thinking twice gave him the one from the store’s turntable.  We haven’t had an opportunity to visit his shop again, but I look forward to the next chance we get.

Finally, I have found a lot of hospitable folks at yard sales. Many people are selling their unwanted music for cheap via their front lawn stores, with some offering boxes of compact discs or records for a flat rate. There was one sale I was perusing LPs and the seller said, “Ten bucks and they’re all yours!” I was delighted to accept those terms, as the collection contained a couple hundred records.

Saturday I encountered another benevolent yard sale merchant. I was drawn to the sale due to their classified ad stating, “Lots of music CDs.” After finding twenty-seven discs suitable for my collection, the homeowner complimented me on grabbing all of the Alan Parsons Project albums. I made mention that the only projects by Mr. Parsons I already owned were on LP, so these CDs were a nice addition. He told me he had some records inside the house but didn’t own a turntable. He added that he was just going to throw them away but asked if I had any interest in them for free. I couldn’t answer in the affirmative quickly enough and thanked him a few times over. His wife went into the house and came out with a huge stack of happiness. For the small sum of nine dollars (the CDs were three for a buck), I went home with twenty-seven CDs and forty-seven LPs!

Saturday’s haul:

CDS

The Alan Parsons Project Tales of Mystery and Imagination

The Alan Parsons Project I Robot

The Alan Parsons Project Pyramid

The Alan Parsons Project Eve

The Alan Parsons Project The Turn of a Friendly Card

The Alan Parsons Project Eye in the Sky

The Alan Parsons Project Ammonia Avenue

The Alan Parsons Project Stereotomy

Alan Parsons  On Air

The Cure Disintegration– This was a long time, overdue repurchase after lending it out in high school only for it to never be returned.

Ray Charles The Best of Ray Charles: The Atlantic Years- As a general rule I don’t purchase greatest hits compilations of artists I enjoy enough to collect their entire works, but for the price, I made an exception.

Cheap Trick Dream Police

Jethro Tull Aqualung– I already owned it on LP and am glad to add it on this format.

Jethro Tull Warchild

ELO Out of the Blue

The Moody Blues Greatest Hits– See Ray Charles

Talking Heads Fear of Music

Van Halen Van Halen– All VH purchases are albums I used to own on cassette.

Van Halen Women and Children First

Van Halen Diver Down

XTC Nonesuch– My first album on any format by the band. I have been familiar with them for many years but have only started appreciating their work the last several. My introduction to their music was “Dear God” and I allowed my  previous religious-inspired bias to cloud my judgement. While that tune is still not one of my favorites , I have taken the opportunity to explore their back catalog and like what I’ve heard.

Yes Going For The One

Yes 90125

The following CDs were bought for my wife. We maintain separate CD collections, though our LPs are a combined accumulation.

Fleetwood Mac Rumours

Styx Kilroy Was Here

Styx Pieces of Eight

Styx Paradise Theater

LPS

Count Basie 20 Greatest Hits

The Beatles Rarities

Irvin Berlin Dance to the Music of Irvin Berlin

Chuck Berry Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade

Boogie Woogie Trio Vol. 3

Ray Charles The Ray Charles Story

Bobby Darin 18 Roses & 11 Other Hits

ELO Out of the Blue

Marvin Gaye Let’s Get it On

Marvin Gaye Midnight Love

Marvin Gaye Every Great Motown Hit of Marvin Gaye

George Harrison Somewhere In England

Billy Joel 52nd Street*

Elton John Blue Moves

Elton John Greatest Hits Volume II

Elton John A Single Man

Elton John Victim of Love

Elton John The Fox

Elton John Jump Up!

Elton John Too Low for Zero

Elton John Breaking Hearts

John Lennon/Yoko Ono Double Fantasy

Jerry Lee Lewis Original Golden Hits Volume II

London Philharmonic Orchestra Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2

Lynyrd Skynyrd Gold & Platinum*

Barry Manilow Greatest Hits Vol. II*

The Moody Blues Days of Future Passed

The Moody Blues The Present

The Moody Blues The Other Side of Life

Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra The Nutcracker Suite

Elvis Presley Elvis’ Christmas Album (1959 reissue)

Elvis Presley Elvis’ Christmas Album (1985 reissue)

Elvis Presley Loving You

Elvis Presley Elvis Is Back!

Elvis Presley G.I. Blues

Elvis Presley Blue Hawaii

Elvis Presley Elvis Sings The Wonderful World of Christmas

Elvis Presley Memories of Christmas

Prince 1999– We own this already so it will be given away or traded.

Prince and the Revolution Purple Rain– See 1999.

The Al Sack Concert Orchestra Music for Listening– Isn’t that the point of all music?

Bobby Vinton Roses are Red

Collector’s Records of the 50’s an 60’s Vol. 13

Grease soundtrack*- The Mrs. already owns this one so it will be given away or traded.

Jazz Heritage Series Vol. 33 Piano In Style: 1926-1930– This album features Jelly Roll Morton, Pinetop Smith and James P. Johnson

Saturday Night Fever soundtrack*- See Grease.

* denotes records that are more geared toward my wife’s tastes.

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(Not Quite a) Concert Review: Birds of Chicago 6/27/13

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BoC

The following post was originally a status update on my personal Facebook page concerning my excitement about the Birds of Chicago concert I attended the night before. The more detailed the update became, the more it sounded like a concert review. What’s missing, of course, is specifics about the band’s song choices that evening, among other things. As stated in the entry, however, the gig was recorded for a live album that will tentatively be released in August or September. Besides a few minor changes, I decided to leave the rambling mostly intact. Hopefully there is enough meat on the bone to whet your appetite and pique your interest in some incredibly talented artists. Without further adieu…..

Still flying high from the Birds of Chicago show we attended last night! I would say it was the perfect evening, but it didn’t quite start out that way.

Our journey started in a van that lost its AC a few days prior. We thought, “no big deal, windows down, we’ve got this!” That was until we had been on the road for an hour and it began to rain.  Experiencing precipitation sixty minutes into a seventy-four mile trip would normally not be an issue either except our excursion took three hours due to heavy traffic. With little ventilation and a lot of humidity, we had to leave the windows at least partially down. That might explain why you received a damp hug, Mahra. 🙂 Again, getting a little rain-soaked wasn’t anything to fret about. We would dry off eventually and it actually felt kind of nice when a strong gust of wind made its way through the vehicle.

The greatest difficulty we endured was my rising anxiety as the hours continued to pass and I thought for sure we would get lousy seats due to arriving well after the doors opened. I kept telling myself that Evanston SPACE is one of the best venues to attend a concert and even the worst seat is not too far away from the stage. While this is one hundred percent true, I REALLY wanted to be as close to the action as possible. It should be noted that SPACE offers reserved tables in addition to the general admission seats we had purchased, so there are guaranteed seating options.

We finally arrived around thirty minutes before the show started. I dropped my wife off in front of the venue while I parked the van a few blocks away (YAY, FREE PARKING!). Since we got there fairly close to starting time, I had to park a little farther away than my previous trips to SPACE. So I called the Mrs. to let her know why I was delayed, as I briskly made my way to the concert hall. When she answered I could tell by the giddiness in her voice that she had something exciting to share. I thought maybe she ran into my friend Mahra, talked to the band or something to that effect. Nope! Despite our tardiness she was able to secure two front row seats with a perfect view of the entire stage!

The same building that houses SPACE also has an excellent Italian joint named Union Pizzeria. From our previous outings we started the tradition of ordering a pizza and dining before the show. SPACE allows you to bring the pie over to their half of the building and partake in it, which makes for a spectacular opening act before the headliners grace the stage. After we gobbled down some sausage and pepperoni goodness that was out of this world (Get it? We were at SPACE? *THUD!*), we had a brief encounter with Mahra, whom I hadn’t seen for almost a year. In fact, that fateful evening in 2012 was not only our initial introduction to one another but also marked the first time either one of us had seen Birds of Chicago, at that very same location.

At last, it was time for the band to take the stage. Although they have played gigs as a duo,  multi-instrumentalists JT Nero and Ali Russell chose to include a flock of seven other gifted musicians, as this was a very special occasion: their first live recording for an album to be released later this summer or early fall. Adding to the festivities was the couple’s recent announcement that they are tying the knot on July 6 and expecting a baby bird in December!

As was the case the previous time I saw them, BoC reached into my soul and caressed it with songs about love, hope and strong affections for their adopted Windy City. Their sound is not easily labeled but the following excerpt from the band biography is a nice starting point: “Nero’s fractured country-soul voice wrapped in Russell’s silver and gold tones is a fine thing. Not too perfect, not at all saccharine, you’ll hear echoes of mountain gospel, street corner doo-wop, classic soul. Accompanied by just a banjo and a guitar, it’s chilling. Fired by a full band, it’s a full tilt revival.”

What’s not included in that description is the chemistry and playful banter that I had previously only witnessed between other musician-couples such as Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine. There’s a lot to be said for the unique bond that a husband and wife act have, not only with each other, but the way that union enhances their relationship with the audience. No longer does it feel like there’s the band on one side of the room and the fans on the other, divided by an invisible, albeit see-through wall. Instead it feels like a gathering of like-minded friends who love spending the evening together. Of course an intimate venue like SPACE lends itself to such dynamics, though it also takes a willingness on the band’s behalf to bridge the gap that would ordinarily exist.

After treating the crowd to two long sets and a two-song encore, the Birds had meaningful conversations with all of the people who hung around afterward. Just like the care in which they approach their craft, JT and Ali (and really the entire backing band, which includes Nero’s brother Drew) took time to genuinely connect with anyone who approached them. Again, it was not an “OMG, I met the band” groupie situation, but instead an interaction between individuals who share a common, passionate interest.

While waiting to talk to Ali and JT we had another opportunity to speak with Mahra, at which time she graciously offered to take our picture with BoC. To say the couple are tremendously humble and kind is an understatement. They were as happy to see us as we were them and expressed their appreciation many times over. I asked them to sign the setlist I snagged from the piano, which they were glad to do. I also had JT sign a couple of CDs we purchased too. I know those actions scream “GROUPIE!” but trust me, it just isn’t like that.

Thankfully our drive home was much shorter than our earlier travels and contained a limited amount of rain. All we could talk about the whole time was how extraordinary the evening turned out to be and our love for Birds of Chicago.

In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t explain that my worries about getting to the concert on time had started to melt away the moment we arrived. As I sat down next to the love of my life, much of the burden was lifted. It was completely gone by the time the band took the stage.

I also realized that although I mostly kept my composure in check, I was making a big deal over nothing. Whether we were ten feet from the stage or one hundred, I was very fortunate to be amongst friends (ones I was acquainted with and many I wasn’t), with a woman I adore, at a venue I love, witnessing a magical event only a select few were able to attend. That was something that traffic, rain, lack of air conditioning and anxiety couldn’t take from me. A perfect evening indeed!

LET THE MUSIC DO THE TALKING:

Land of Linking: Another One Bites The Dust

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Maxwell's

It is the desire of many a baseball fan to criss-cross the country, hitting all of the Major League stadiums his or her time and wallet will allow. For some folks this dream becomes reality and they successfully attend games at a few different parks. However very few “hit for the cycle” and make it to every field.

While this lifelong White Sox fan would love to take part in such adventures, I am even more enamored with the idea of visiting various music locales throughout the country. Living close to Chicago, I have had the pleasure of attending shows at several establishments in the past twenty-five years, including the late, great Lounge Ax. Unfortunately a trek to Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey will remain a fantasy, as it was announced yesterday that the famed club is shutting its doors July 31. I guess the next best thing to being there is living vicariously through other fan’s recollections, including renowned music critic Jim Derogatis, who offered up his eulogy this afternoon. There is also a slew of concert footage shot at Maxwell’s on YouTube, such as this classic 1993 Stereolab offering:

If you care to chime in with your memories of Maxwell’s, please leave a comment below. R.I.P. to another legendary music hall.

You Say You Want An Evolution Part Two

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This is one in a series of short snippets detailing my musical journey-starting with my early introductions to music and culminating with what I am listening to today. Though it is my wish to eventually shine a brighter light on the music and musicians than my own personal experiences, I have chosen to primarily focus on the latter for the time being. While this blog will always contain details that are probably more interesting to those who know me well, it is with great anticipation that I look forward to featuring other people’s experiences soon!

I always tell people I listened to classic rock from an early age, but much of the noise I heard blaring from my speakers in 1980 was only a few years removed from the vinyl presses and could very much be considered current music for the era. While some songs were dubbed instant classics, it wouldn’t be determined until a later date whether they stood the test of time, were worthy of Time-Life compilation status or a Richard Simmons Sweatin’ To The Oldies fate.

In any event, there were lines being drawn in the sand in what would later become known as the Chicago Radio Wars of the late 70s-early 80s. Armed with a genuine love for the station, along with my tendency to root for the underdog-consciously or sub-consciously-I pledged my allegiance to 95.5 FM WMET and even displayed my support(and helmet-haircut) proudly!

But my musical influences weren’t strictly relegated to what I heard on 95.5. There was also a steady dose of Top 40 music via 96.3 FM B-96, the soundscapes that filled the weekend matinees my best friend’s parents took us to, jukeboxes that were present at most every eating establishment and of course the Roller Crown roller rink in Crown Point, Indiana. The latter facility became known as much for the songs they banned as for the songs they played. Their acts of censorship were courtesy of teens changing the chorus of Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” to, “I love smoking dope” and other heinous crimes! I firmly believe Weird Al must have been in attendance and a million dollar idea was born those summer nights of long ago.