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Beachwood Rock
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Local Music Notebook: Born In Chicago

1. Jim O'Rourke: Indie's Unsung Perpetual Polymath.

"Since leaving Chicago post-rockers Gastr Del Sol in 1998, he's explored American primitivist guitar (Bad Timing), glitchy electronica (I'm Happy And I'm Singing And A 1,2,3,4) and playfully zonked improv (as one-third of Fenn O'Berg), each new project seemingly intended to confound fans of the previous one. He even found time to join Sonic Youth for four years, while resisting an easy payday by turning down the opportunity to produce A-ha and the Rolling Stones."

O'Rourke's Simple Songs is out on Drag City this week.


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2. Lupe Fiasco, Stuck At O'Hare, [Almost] Misses Hangout Fest.

In the end, Lupe made good, first joining Umphrey's McGee on stage and then getting the later time slot.

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3. Jessica Hopper Is Moving To The Suburbs.

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4. New Bio Does Justice To John Prine.

Prine's entry into the music business seems right out of a novel. A letter-carrier in suburban Chicago writes songs as a sideline and begins performing publicly at 23 on a dare during an open-mic night. He gains recognition through a rave review from a film critic (Roger Ebert). A fellow musician (Steve Goodman) arranges an impromptu concert for him in a Chicago folk club with a popular crooner (Paul Anka) and a rising musical star (Kris Kristofferson) as the audience. The newcomer's songs impress them, and it leads to a trip to New York and a contract with Atlantic Records."

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5. How Chicago Soul Singer Kenya Abandoned A Career In Medicine For Music.

"Kenya is an international recording artist and songwriter, who is best known for her jazz-kissed soul style. Her debut album, My Own Skin is receiving rave reviews and wooing admirers simultaneously in the U.K. and U.S. Kenya and her family are based in Chicago [where she was once 'a tenure-track faculty member at a community college']."

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6. I don't understand Tavi Gevinson's fascination with Taylor Swift - which must mean I don't understand Tavi Gevinson the way I thought I did.

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7. Chance the Rapper And The Importance Of His Father's City Job.

"My Pops was always the guy with the job. He was the oldest of his generation, kind of like the family leader. When I was younger, I would remember he started off - he just had a job, which was a big deal, you know what I'm saying? He was superintendent for Streets and Sanitation and ran all the trucks and shit, and supervised. And that shit was a big deal 'cause he had a city car with the lights on top of it, the little siren, even though he wasn't the feds. I remember he campaign managed for Lisa Madigan for state treasurer [sic] - he would lead these random initiatives, and do all these different things that made it so that when I walked around, people would stop my dad and thank him."

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8. Why R&B Artists From Chicago And Detroit Drove To Toronto To Play.

"Coming into the music business, my first influences were R&B. People don't understand why Toronto is such a heavy R&B city. What's described as the 'Toronto Sound' is just steeped in rhythm and blues, and the blues. And the reason that came about was because when we all started out back in the '60s there was a severe color bar south of the border. If you were a black band in Detroit, you played in black clubs to black audiences on the black side of town, and they very seldom mixed. So the R&B artists from Chicago and Detroit used to love to come up and play in Toronto - it was a short drive up the highway. And up here, there was no color bar. So, they played in clubs to mixed audiences, and the young musicians just idolized them."

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9. Green Day Reunited With Their Original Drummer At The House Of Blues.

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10. Tom Morello Pays Tribute To Paul Butterfield At Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

"Tom Morello performed an incendiary version of the Paul Butterfield Band's 'Born in Chicago,' along with country star Zac Brown, at [last month's] Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony."

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on May 19, 2015


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - An Odd Call From Bermuda.
SPORTS - All Is Not Forgiven, Bears.

BOOKS - Turning Points Of The Civil War.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Baxter's IV Bag Shortages.


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