Friday, April 22, 2011

18 Apr 11

...if you want to go to Heaven, put your momma in your songs...
Lori McKenna

Hey, blogspot readers, check out Chicago's vibrant Folk scene. SouthSide already knew Folk music was making a strong resurgence within the local scene ...a large part of that came from local acts like The Shams Band, Dastardly, Jon Drake & The Shakes and many others keeping it alive as well as other other artists SouthSide has recently met like Seth Adam (CT) and now Lori McKenna and Mark Erelli (both from MA). Then there's another component - Old Town School of Folk Music in which plays a major role too. This unique "school" located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood not only holds classes for kids of all ages but also serves as a venue for concerts and festivals. The auditorium itself is quite spacious ...with seating on the main and balcony floors, it gives every concertgoer an excellent view of the stage from all sides. However, SouthSide was told she had the best view in the house since she was directly in the middle next to the sound booth and could clearly observe the stage and audience around her. Currently Old Town School of Folk Music is "growing" - expanding its facility space to a larger building (being constructed) across the street which would accommodate more classrooms and extras. For more information about Old Town School of Folk Music visit Also SouthSide highly recommends checking out this radio program - Both Kinds hosted by Al Finley on WNUR 89.3 FM (or online His radio showgram runs on Sunday from noon to 11:30p where Al features " with a Southern accent..." such as Country, Americana etc, blogspot readers.

Opening tonight's rockin' Folk concert was singer/songwriter Mark Erelli who truly impressed SouthSide with his performance full of heartfelt emotion, vivid lyrical imagery within his poetic words and falsetto vocal tone that captivated the entire audience. This reviewer enjoyed the bursts of intense melodic rhythms (off the guitar and sometimes harmonica) as well as his enthusiastic momentum that lit up the stage while playing under a lively acoustic tempo. This certainly matched his vocal style thus making his words seem so life-like especially when adding some emotions into his words at certain focal points of his songs. SouthSide highly recommends listening to the heartfelt tenderness in Mark's song Volunteer(which was dedicated to a soldier and his family he met at O'Hare airport) that brought a couple of tears or more to this reviewer's eyes. His gentle words painted a not so pretty picture of war, blogspot readers - yet feeling so real as if he had been at Afghanistan or Iraq himself but truth be told, Mark has never served. However with such reality inside his lyrics, one would have thought he did a tour or two in the Middle East despite expressing some harsh disdain about why he was sent there to fight. Also she highly recommends checking out Mark's Basement Days (a reminiscent look at when forming a band didn't involve a video game listen out for some pop references within the song) and Passing Through (highlight of the show in which the audience sang along with the artist at the chorus ...what a powerful moment to hear all voices including SouthSide's joined as one). SouthSide highly recommends checking out Mark Erelli at his next scheduled performance by visiting or for more information of when and where he'll be performing again.

Lori McKenna, a talented singer/songwriter who has written and toured with Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, (joined throughout her performance with Mark) had this audience anxiously fired up (especially a group from WI who drove 7 hours to attend tonight's concert) to see and hear her perform at Old Town School of Folk Music, blogspot readers. And SouthSide could clearly understand why. Lori wasn't really singing about her life experiences in her songs such as Buy This Town she was reflecting on those precious moments in life that everyone in the audience could realistically relate to. Throughout her performance, there were moments in which SouthSide saw a piece of herself inside the heartrfelt lyrics while listening to her Janis(Joplin) like Southern twang such as during one particular song when the artist sung about her mother. The tender words instantly popped this reviewer's own childhood memories of her mother (with some pop references of Judy Garland and Carnegie Hall) while listening to the lively acoustic-mandolin tempo and the paired vocals of Mark and Lori complimenting each other. During How Romantic, SouthSide felt the love between a husband and wife in this ballad (written after 23 years of marriage for Lori's husband) as the lyrics wonderfully describe their joys and pains of their married life. Lori certainly tugged on the heartstrings during this particular song with her dynamically powerful voice which no Hallmark card could ever match the sentiments heard from her words. And nicely paired with Mark (subbing as the "husband" for this song), this reviewer enjoyed how their vocals as well as stage presence together fed off each other song after song emitting that warm fuzzy glow whenever they sang. There were so many Lori highlights of the night, blogspot readers, that SouthSide had a difficult task in picking which one she should spotlight in this review because each song performed was a highlight of the night. SouthSide highly recommends checking out Sweet Disposition - which was one of the few times Lori demonstrated her raw vocal power while Mark slowly, reverently played a steady acoustic tempo with some backing vocals and Unglamorous - which SouthSide can totally relate to this particular song (she's not a rock star all of the time, blogspot readers) because just like Lori, this reviewer lives a "no thrills, no fuss" life too with her two daughters ...nor does she have diamond rings in the tub. Though closing her amazing show with a somber song, Lori did surprise the audience with a sort of an unplugged (no vocals over the mic) cover version of Tom Petty's Room At The Top which also had the audience singing along with vocal harmonies as one. What a beautiful way to end the night, blogspot readers! SouthSide highly suggests adding Lori McKenna's new album - Lorriane (her real name but affectionately named in dedication for her mother) to their collection but it's WAY better seeing this phenomenal singer/songwriter/storyteller (her tales about life at the McKenna home were delightful) up close and personal. Visit or for more information when and where she'll be performing again.

Until next time, support your local scene,

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