**WARNING - this review might make you fat!**
Hey, blogspot readers, no diets allowed at this annual summertime food fest! Today, marked the start of this town's 10 days of sampling delicious eats at the Taste of Chicago. It's a food extravaganza galore! Over 50 restaurants represent what this fun town has to offer even though that's barely the tip of the iceberg of the MANY great places to dine. From pizza to ribs and jerk as well as Asian and everything else in between, you can eat it here. And besides the food, there's music too. Local and big name acts gracing the three music stages at any given time to rock the crowd. SouthSide had fun at the Taste Stage where it was Americana/Folk music day featuring The Shams Band and Jon Drake & The Shakes - two local bands that her good friend, August Forte and Wags (from Red City), introduced her to.
The Shams Band was already rockin' the audience when SouthSide arrived with their lively mix of the Americana sound. She loved the guitars and banjo rhythms that gave this band's music a little country twang though having a rock edge within its songs. However there was more that country rockin' that stage during this performance. Fans had fun grooving to the hillbilly and blues (yes, there was a cowbell) which kept everyone feeling the energetic momentum song after song. This reviewer enjoyed how The Shams added a light touch of humor and fun(found in their lyrics) in songs like Shelly. However in others like Des Plaines River and Working Man, the downtempo somewhat kept the light mood in somber tone though retaining a burst of energy heard in the instrumental bridge. In another song, SouthSide heard some soulful blues sound not only in the music but also in the vocals. The Shams performed this one with a gritty feel (thanks to the harmonic rhythms) in the song that sent cool shivers down this reviewer's spine. She also suggests checking out the heart-wrenching ballad (she apologizes for not giving its song title) ...but it truly brought out the emotions and angst heard in the vocals. Catch this band throughout the summer when they rock the stage again at the Beat Kitchen on July 8 or at The Square Affair on August 27 with Jon Drake & The Shakes and The MPLS Henrys at the Logan Square Auditorium. For more information, visit www.theshamsband.com or www.myspace.com/theshamsband.
Looking at the interesting setup of Jon Drake & The Shakes and one would have thought the CSO (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) was joining this band on stage. There was an array of instruments from a keyboard and organ (it's amazing how they got it onto the stage) to cello as well as a horn section and violin. Add the guitars and drums ...and you have now been introduced to the Jon Drake rockin' team lineup. And wow! What energy did SouthSide hear from this band as they rocked the Taste stage. She enjoyed the lively mix of genres found in their songs such as Rattles-n-Shakes and 4th of July like she did in The Shams' performance. Yet, unlike The Shams, Jon Drake's lyrics were more of an observation/storytelling style as if he was looking into the box of random people's lives, love, etc. Though having a serious tone, sometimes there was wit to be found inside the songs too. This reviewer suggests checking out the soulful funkified rhythms in an Americana sound within the song Cherry or the rockin' intro instrumental in Shakes-n-Rattles (in which SouthSide felt didn't any lyrics ...just let the band jam) or rock to the organ-filled sounds of the fun song known as Charles. Visit www.jondrakesandtheshakes.bandcamp.com or www.myspace.com/jondrake for dates and places where this busy band is rockin' the stage again especially during The Square Affair on August 27.
Until next time, support your local scene,