Tuesday, May 31, 2011

27 May 11

Hey, blogspot readers, ready to rock? How about ready to punk yourself all night long to hardcore industrial music? Tonight, this party gal of the local scene, dressed in her stylish punk gear, attended The Abbey's rockin' night of metal-tastic punk/post-apocalyptic industrial music featuring her good friends, Cyanotic! The packed venue also rocked to performances by Dismantled (CA), and Front Line Assembly (Canada) with DJ sets by Acucrack and Scary Lady Sarah. Though having to leave before the end of Front Line's headlining show, this reviewer highly suggests checking out this band as well as the others mentioned within this review.

Combining the use of visual and audio throughout this opening set, Dismantled instantly had this crowd reeling from its dark energy, emotionally charged music. SouthSide enjoyed this band's heart-thumping sound which featured raw yet primal screamo-like vocals electrifying the lyrics. Dismantled as a whole rocked the stage on nonstop high octane of fiery momentum that was also hauntinly creepy and sexually blistering to the touch. Even while having the tempo and energy down a bit, each member still pumped an excitable vibed into the music especially during the song, Diseased, off Dismantled's upcoming album. This reviewer enjoyed feeling (as well as hearing) the full effects of front man Gary's primal angst wafting over the mic amidst the fast-paced head banging melodies of techno keyboards (by TZA) and hardcore industrial percussions (by Jon) combined. Dismantled's blast from the past, an old school punk/industrial song, fired up the crowd with its digitalized vocals and energetic tone. And coupled with a random montage of visuals projected on the screen behind the band, they created a synthetic rush of dazzling music and sound. Visit Dismantled at http://www.facebook.com/dismantled or http://www.myspace.com/dismantled for more details on music and where they'll be rockin' again.

Combining the elements of metal, industrial and rock (and sometimes also the calming meditative tone), local rockers Cyanotic rocked out the med gen (in reference to their current album) crowd with a fantastic homecoming performance, blogspot readers. These intense rockers had something for everyone to enjoy - head banging rock for the metalheads, primal emotionals (lots of angst by front man Sean) for the screamo lovers, and hardcore grit of the industrial sound for everyone else. This band not only fired up the crowd with its music but kept them in a visual drug-like state with the random images on the screen. And since we do live in a med gen world (a pill these days can cure weight problems to erectile dysfunction), Cyanotic perfectly captured the changing effects of modern times throughout their songs such as the title track, med:gen and comadose (the state at which our daily dosage puts us in a calming stupor). SouthSide also highly recommends rockin' to Cyanotic's f@5hi1on_v1ktum5 (industrial meets hardcore metal rock) and alt_machine.edit (OCP robots are now in control) - both songs plus comadose get plenty of airplay on SouthSide's iPod. However the enitre album is a worthy addition to anyone who enjoys metal and industrial music. Visit http://www.cyanotic-online.com or find Cyanotic on Facebook for more details.

After DJ Acucrack's continuous flow of remixed industrial/cyberpunk music (featuring some digitalized vocals), Front Line Assembly took command of the stage with a thunderous intro which instantly perked up the throng of fans. Immediately, SouthSide relished in this band's dark mystique that surrounded the music of gritty Euro-trash punk/industrial sound - quite intense and fast paced in tempo. In other words, blogspot readers, prepare for a rush of metal-tastic sound and energy like no other because this music will do more than cause you to bang your head. Front Line's music will make you want to "riot" against the confines of soceity ...mosh or slam dance with your neighbors around you as noted from the view where SouthSide sat in the balcony. Your loveable party gal was very safe from harm up there. Besides the music rockin' between the ears, your eyes will feast on the dazzling strobe lighting and smoke machine fx throughout FLA's set. And with some help from The Abbey's light and sond engineering team, this reviewer enjoyed how they added a bit more depth in capturing this band's rebellious nature for the fans. Yet in a way this was a nostaligic performance for the band since they first performed at The Abbey 27 years ago and now rockin' it out with such electrifying momentum and style. By the sound of the enthusiastic responses to each song performed, this crowd was certainly soaked every drop of FLA's performance. Visit http://www.frontlineassembly.com or http://www.myspace.com/frontlineassembly for when and where this electro band will be performing next.

Until next time, support your local scene,

Thursday, May 26, 2011

June 2011

...hot fun in the summertime...

Hey, blogspot readers, SouthSide's ready to rock her summer calendar! Chicago comes to life with its festivals, street fairs and concerts especially in the local scene ...and you might find this reviewer in the thick of things happening around town. She highly suggests blogspot readers attending one or few shows rockin' the month of June.

Jun 2 - It's round 2 of I AM Fest Battle of the Bands at Elbo Room featuring good friends Social Focus. Meanwhile friends, Sometimes Family, will be rockin' Lilly's while Lucid Ground will be performing at Cubby Bear.

Jun 3 - in the land down under, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia to be exact, SouthSide highly suggests checkingo out her Aussie friends, Drawn From Bees rockin' the stage with Panda Band - tix are $10 (pre-order) / $15 (door) ...show starts at 10p

Meanwhile stateside, friends Voice of Addiction will be at Beat Kitchen along with Mustard Plug, Neutron Bombs and Shortstop (from Tokyo) while About The Mess will be at Double Door with Illusions Fate while Elephant Stone will be rockin' Martyrs' and Jackpot Donnie returns to the stage at Cubby Bear with Band Called Catch.

Also Funky Homosapien will be rockin' The Abbey on this night too! The lineup also features longtime friends Abstract Giants, Kidd Russell and Billa Camp. Tix are $18 advance / $20 at door / 8:30 start.

Jun 4 - longtime friends, Baliff will be rockin' Lincoln Hall while friends Machinegun Mojo will get their mojo rockin' at Bottom Lounge.

Also check out Sausage Fest Chicago happening at Sheffied and Addison. $5 (until 5p) / $7 (after 5p).

Jun 5 - local rockers, Empires will be at Do Division at 6p - $5 donation.

Jun 9 -12 - The Abbey plays host to WTII mini Festival! On June 9th, Project.44 along with Dead-on TV and Lady Parasyte will be rockin' the stage. On June 12th, Die Warzau with Chris Connelly, I:Scintilla and Rein(forced) will close out the fest. 5:30p show time for June 12th only. $18 advance / $20 door. Visit http://www.abbeypub.com for details.

Jun 11 - Don your best Villian costume and head to Bottom Lounge for V Is For Villains' debut show along with The Branded and Paragon! 17+ / $10. Meanwhile friends, Sutured Psyche, will be celebrating their CD Release at Elbo Room while friends Sinister Fate along with Skinwalker will be at Nite Cap ($7) while longtime friends Swizzle Tree will be at The Lodge and friends The Love Shots will also be celebrating a CD release show at Clearwater Theatre (located in West Dundee, IL).

Also happening this night - attend a Post Apocalyptic Burlesque show with SouthSide (after the Bottom Lounge show). It's a FREE show happening at Cobra Lounge (at the corner of Fulton and Ashland).

Jun 13 - FREE show at Empty Bottle featuring Cloud Mouth, Cave Bear, and Living! Wrestling! Coping! at 9p

Jun 14 - Ricky Stein returns to Elbo Room with his new band, The Warm Guns. They wll be on tour in support of new album - Something in the Night. Take a listen to the album at http://www.reverbnation.com/thewarmguns.

Jun 15 - check out this band with SouthSide - Cake Dick Motorcycle Awesome while on their "The Gas Prices Are Too Damn High" tour rockin' Elbo Room.

Jun 17 - Blackridge and Michael Lachel with Justin Lone will be performing at Elbo Room. Also The Malah will be rockin' The Kinetic Playground.

Jun 18 - Check out the Urban Folk Circuit when it makes a stop an auto mechanic's garage! Joe Thomas, owner and mechanic at 3 Brothers Auto Repair is proud to host this edition of the Urban Folk Circuit and will be outdoors too - located at 3722 W. Belmont Ave. This event runs from noon to 8p / FREE / ALL AGES

My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult rocks the stage at Reggie's with 16 Volt and Ventana ...also Santah has their record release show at Beat Kitchen with Pet Lions and The Names That Spell 17+ show / 9:30p ...also JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound rocks the Taste of Randolph.

Jun 19 - friends Machinegun Mojo rocks the Taste of Randolph along with Mr. Russia and Peelander Z! Also check out this young (as in teens) up and coming band, The Rift, making its Elbo Room debut ...meanwhile The Parlotones (South Africa) returns to Chicago rockin' the Double Door stage with Daylights - 21+ / 8:30p / $12.

Jun 22 - head to Reggie's to rock with her friends Modern Day Rippers, D I and Cenobites if you dare...

Jun 23 - 25 - MOB FEST 2011 at Hard Rock Cafe!

Jun 23 - Tim Easton rocks the Beat Kitchen or hang out with SouthSide at Vertigo Sky Lounge for the Raw Artist Showcase (located on 26th flr of Dana Hotel) $10.

Jun 24 - The Infamous Stringdusties will be rockin' the Double Door stage with Barehand Jugband - $15 / 9p / 21+.

Jun 25 - Empires will be rockin' the stage at Taste of Chicago (FREE) meanwhile friends Camera rocks the Metro stage along with Skysaw and Soft Speaker.

Jun 26 - groove to the hippiest and happening-est colorful parade of all Chicago as it rocks Boystown - Pride Parade and SouthSide will be there to support her daughter and all her friends ...get there early to snag a good parade viewing spot!

Until next time, support your local scene,

21 May 11

...going to melt your faces for 45 minutes or so...
Inn Cinema

Hey, blogspot readers, though the so-called Rapture didn't go as according to plans, SouthSide still had fun rockin' the Bottom - that's Bottom Lounge (located in the West Loop area)! Tonight, she was invited by her long time friends, Inn Cinema, to attend this 17 and older show which also featured Daylight Dawns, Onasis, Red Novella and I Can Hear Myself Levitate. SouthSide wishes to apologize to I Can Hear Myself Levitate for having to duck out of their headlining show early but promises to rock out with them in the future. In the meantime, she highly suggests visiting http://www.ichml.com or http://www.myspace.com/icanhearmyselflevitate to check out songs Eskimo Kiss and The Coldest Abyss In Your Heart.

Opening with a prelude likened to a dawning sunrise, Daylight Dawns immediately rocked the stage with a thundering blast of heart-pounding sound. And really, blogspot readers, this band prided itself in being BIG on the booming fx so much that it was the man feature in 90% of their songs performed. At first, SouthSide was impressed by it especially when putting emphasis at the chorus or ending within Day's metal-tastic guitar riffs ...it was loud ...boisterious and she could feel that energy where she was (by the sound engineer booth). However, in her opinion, the sonic boom-like fx was a bit overused. After a while, it was hard on the ears but there was actually a song in which the boom was there yet not as the focal point of the song. Day's front man, Scott, with his charismatic stage presence and melodic falsetto along with the band's energy rocked out this one particular song. Also check out songs Where It Ends and Truth found on http://www.myspace.com/daylightdawns or find them on Facebook.

Onasis wasted no time diving feet first into their set without any warning in which front man, Tim, cranked out plenty of primal angst into his screams amidst the shredded riffs. What an opening rush, blogspot readers! This reviewer enjoyed the pent up energy - great for head banging action for you metalheads especially during Rains All Day. Though not as melodic in vocals like Day's front man, Onasis' Tim did display a unique vocal style that featured a more natural tone to bring out the raw emotions (thus adding depth and meaning to the lyrics). She also liked how such vocals generated fiery responses from the audience as well as the Onasis band itself. During this performance the band featured a couple of new songs containing rhythms within the core rock sound and livelier tempos to electrify Onasis' metal vibe ...sometimes highlighting the melodic side of this band. For more information, visit http://www.myspace.com/onasisrock or find them on Facebook.

It's been a long while since SouthSide last seen Inn Cinema though feeling like she was seeing her friends on stage for the first time again, blogspot readers, Immediately she was soaking into this band's energy ...feeling that heart-stopping rush off the guitars ...rocking to their metal momentum. In other words, Inn Cinema did literally melt not only our faces but the stage as well. And this was barely into the opening song. There wasn't a moment when that stage didn't take a beating from front man, Rasheed (guitar/vocals) along with Jason and Adam throughout Inn's performance upon feeling that spark of momentum. Watch out for the guitars to be flying, spinning, etc all over especially during songs Acid of Time and Resurrection. She suggests listening to these songs for their fiery metal, head banging rock energy as well as emotionally charged vocals with the heart pounding sound that instantly grabs you. Visit http://www.myspace.com/inncinema or find Inn Cinema on Facebook.

Though needing a bit more mic power for front man, Jameel, Red Novella immediately picked up the energy where Inn Cinema ended without missing a single vibrant beat, blogspot readers. SouthSide was instantly hooked on this band's dark metal-tastic sound that's full of shredded guitar riffs and Jameel's charismatic persona working the stage like Inn Cinema's Rasheed despite feeling a bit under the weather. Compared to his former band, Nothing Forgotten, Red's front man/vocalist electrified the band around him as well as excited the fans with his dynamic vocals (sometimes featuring a little lyrical rap verse in a couple of songs). Fitting within the band's dark metal theme, he's allowed more time to be expressive on the lyrics in songs such as Paradise and Eraser (plenty of twitterpating riffs to grab your attention while Jameel pops with some lyrical verse). Also check out new song, Rain Dance - SouthSide liked the native (Indian) tone and feel woven within this particular metal song along with Jameel being emotionally charged in the vocals. Visit http://www.shinedrums.com or http://www.myspace.com/rednovella for more information and music.

Until next time, support your local scene,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

20 May 11

...totally reminded you of a chia pet, didn't it...
Venus In Furs

Those who are about to rock (this weekend), SouthSide salutes you! Hey, blogspot readers, welcome to another rockin' weekend of fun and music happening around town. And as always, this busy reviewer was ready to party. Tonight, she's at Lakeview's popular local hot spot, Elbo Room to see her good friends, Along The Parallel and Sonic Pistol perform on stage. Also joining them on the linuep was Helium Fuse and Gemini Syndrome (CA) with gal-powered rockes Venus In Furs (WI) as the opening act. SouthSide recommends checking out these bands at their next regularly scheduled show.

...who likes boobs ...or boots...

Far from the sunny Californian coast, these gals captured the essence and sound of surfer rock-n-roll but with a slight twist - feminine-powered punk. Southside recommends grabbing your boogie board and rock to the lively thundering blast of energetic surfer punk by Venus In Furs. This trio packed their opening debut Chicago performance with plenty of twitterpating guitar riffs while channeling strong female angst sometimes felt as well as heard not only in Venus' lyrical songs but also in the instrumentals. For example, SouthSide suggests checking out Roy Orbison Is Rolling In His Grave (yes, blogspot readers, that's the actual song title) in which she felt the heated angst (unspoken and spoken) throughout this particular song especially within the guitar riffs. Coincidentially, the song title also doubled as the only lyric you hear at the end. Or gnash your teeth into the estrogen-filled rant fest about a girl named Stacy (let's just say, someone's seriously jealous about her) before realizing Disco Is (still) Dead amidst the fiery punk rock sound (with some cowbell beats woven inside the song). This reviewer recommends cruising the waves on Venus' new song Crimson Tide and don't disturb the Sleeping Little Chia Pet ...and if you're lucky, guys, you just might see bassist Nat rockin' out the stage in her bra. Visit http://www.venusinfursband.com or find these surfer gals on Facebook for more information and where they will be performing again.

This next band to hit the stage performed an unique spin on the post-psychedelic/rock sound that featured hardcore metal guitar riffs. Local guys, Helium Fuse wowed the audience with an invigorating combination of melodic rhythms and high vocal falsettos (which sometimes were overpowered by the music during their set). Yet, SouthSide enjoyed how dynamic as well as emotionally charged front man Andy's (also on keyboard) vocals could get despite thinking his voice didn't truly compliment Helium's music. There were moments when she heard the angst and pain wafting over the microphone (that's when Andy truly shined) amidst the funky psychedelic/rock sound. This reviewer does suggest toning down the guitars a bit to really allow his high (yet soft) voice being the focal point of Helium's performances. She suggests listening to the wicked guitar riffs coupled with Andy's emotional angst in Ghost and the psychedelic downtempo feel of the meditative Opinion (tune down the piano so the audience can hear and feel the vocals more). With a little more work (and shows), SouthSide sees Helium Fuse breaking ground within the post-psychedelic genre in this local scene. Visit http://www.heliumfuse.com or find them on Facebook for more information and music.

SouthSide has seen this next local band rise amongst the ranks within the hardcore metal scene over the recent months especially after performing their very best show to date at Elbo Room back in February. However, she wondered if Along The Parallel could top that show tonight when they took the stage, blogspot readers. The band wasted no time rockin' the audience with hardcore guitar riffs and front man Mike's emotionally charged screamo in the opening song, Nexus, which was dedicated to the impending event of The Rapture (more about that later in SouthSide's May 21 review). Fans would be quite intrigued that though pumping the basement lounge with fiery yet vibrant energy, ATP can at times be a melodically metal band which truly highlights their front man's dynamic vocal style especially during Mercury In Retrograde in which his voice brought out the vivid imagery behind the almost poetic-like words. Yet, not to worry, metal fans, even while in the melodic sound, ATP will thoroughly blast your eardrums with plenty of headbanging riffs and energy to ignite your need for shredding in your soul. A good example of this band's rip-roaring guitar rock would be listening to Marmoset as well as Messiah's Anthem. Although not truly topping their CD Release show, Along The Parallel still thrilled and amazed the ears with another fine performance. Visit http://www.atpband.com or http://www.myspace.com/alongtheparallel for more music and information about the band.

...has anyone lost any clothing yet...

Now it's time to ride the rockin' rollercoaster of the emotionally charged metal-tastic guitar rock sound and energy as they kicked off their Good Girls Love Bad Guys Tour (just don't tell SouthSide's guy about the truth to that statement), blogspot readers. Sonic Pistol, like Along The Parallel, thoroughly soaked the ears with its hardcore guitar sound while front man Kurt lit up the stage with his animated presence and raspy vocals within the lyrics (adding some screamo angst too). This band was literally on fire while performing fan favorites like Ambitions (...if you first don't succeed ...do it again...) and Still Breathing (...she makes me cry at night, f-in bitch...), Sonic impressed this reviewer with their new song, Enduring Freedom in which she noticed the band going (gradually) into a different music direction though retaining Sonic's heavily powered guitar sound yet allowing more of Kurt's emotionally charged voice be the focus of the song especially when singing "...I'm only human ...not made of steel..." You literally felt the angst and frustration dripping from the words while rocking to the band's wicked trio of guitars. And as an added bonus for specially tailored for this reviewer, the band performed her favorite Sonic song, 9 Miles, in which they totally rocked it out for her ...ah, she was basking in the angst of "...walk this mile with me...", blogspot readers. It doesn't get any angstier than Kurt immersing himself emotionally into the lyrics with such earnest fervor ...one of these days, he's going to shed a tear while performing this song. Visit Sonic Pistol at http://www.myspace.com/sonicpistol for more information and music.

Under a cloud of dark mystery away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, this touring band enticed the audience with its metal theatrics (of fog machine and lighting fx of their own) in a hardcore style. Gemini Syndrome took a commanding lead of the Elbo Room stage however SouthSide wasn't truly impressed overall by this band's performance, blogspot readers. She's not saying it was a lackluster show ...it simply wasn't what she expected after listening to them on Myspace. This reviewer enjoyed the metal-tastic vibe coursing her veins from the thundering riffs (which actually shook the basement lounge) and energy which could be melodic at times as well as hardcore to fire up the soul especially during the songs Left Of Me and Babylon. However, the problem didn't lay with Gemini's music but with their front man, Aaron, on vocals. This reviewer felt this dynamic singer was holding back vocally and emotionally throughout the headlining set. She wasn't really feeling any emotionally charged vocal energy (like the other front men from the bands before them) ...sometimes it felt as if he was straining to be heard over Gemini's guitars. And when he did release some primal angst within his screaming, it really didn't sound like what he wanted to project to the audience in order to feel that angst and frustration. SouthSide recommends rocking within the mind of Gemini's Imaginary if you dare or take a non-scenic ride down their Nile. Visit http://www.myspace.com/officialgeminisyndrome or http://www.geminisyndrome.com for more information and music.

Until next time, support your local scene,

Saturday, May 21, 2011

17 May 11

*this review is dedicated to the three special people in SouthSide's life who could be with her to share this extraordinary night of soul/funk music with her*

...soul power... ~ Tower of Power

Hey, blogspot readers, got soul? SouthSide's got plenty of soul ...and more tonight while at the world famous House of Blues! She was about to experience something so soulfully exciting ...spiritually uplifting urban sounds of funk/jazz music by the legendary super group Tower of Power (CA) featuring Mike Milligan & Steam Shovel as the opening act. It was going to be one extraordinary night for this reviewer in which she'll never forget, blogspot readers. Seated in an opera box about the sound engineer at stage left, SouthSide had the best view to not only observe the crowd on the main floor and balcony but also to watch bandleader (and on 2nd tenor saxophone/vocals) Emilio and the band "work" their funky soul magic up close and personal. It was a fantastique view!

SouthSide highly recommends rockin' to the blues/funk (and of course a bit of soul) sounds of Mike Milligan & Steam Shovel who coincidentially opened for Tower of Power at House of Blues five years prior to tonight. And this reviewer could see why. Mike and the band had the energy as well as vibe to rev up this packed venue during their short yet lively set with songs like Do What You Got To Do and Timing Is Everything (title track off their last CD). This quartet of talented blues musicians (from IN) had the crowd feeling the hot harmonica rhythms thoughout each song performed ...right down to the cool sounds of the guitar riffs jazzing their feet to dance along. This reviewer like their blues rendition of Billy Preston's Going Round in Circles (one of SouthSide's favorite songs from the 70s) in which they flipped the original upbeat tempo of this 70s classic for a steady laidback groove yet retaining plenty of energy via harmonic rhythms ...and Mike's deep falsetto voice added the right amoung of vibrant umph to pop the lyrics to life. Steam Shovel truly made their mark on stage while covering a song from The Commitments move that was performed (almost) spiritually within a Southern blues/soul combination before rockin' out the set with a bang, blogspot readers. Visit http://www.mikemilligan.homestead.com for more details and music.

...D J, play something really funky... ~ Emilio Castillo

SouthSide grew up listening to Tower of Power (and other legendary super groups within ToP's funk/soul/jazz range i.e. Steve Wonder, Parliament Funkadelic, et al) thanks to her Dad. Yet nothing could compare seeing this band live for the first time on stage who are still soulfully rockin' and groovin' their fans (of all ages) after 43 years. Believe SouthSide, blogspot readers, they rocked that stage harder than any other band she has reviewed at House of Blues and plus had the energy to meet their fans after the show. It was amazing ...not observing how ToP worked the stage in front of their fans but also observing the fans soaking every drop of ToP's funk/soul sound. As Emilio mentioned to SouthSide during his recent interview with her, people would be "...emotionally touched on several levels..." Well, that part was true while she walked around the packed balcony and main floor. Howerver, multiply that "emotional level" times tens (or more) and you would have felt that energy and excitement permeating throughout House of Blues - each Tower song effected not just everybody but every body in its own own unique way. For example, during the songa Loveland, this reviewer met a longtime fan (who also knows Tom, lead tenor saxophone) who told her "...still sounds fresh as the day I first heard it..." also mentioning that it didn't matter which Tower song they (the band) were going to perform, each one held a special memory for her and her husband. And she wasn't the only one sharing that same sentiment to SouthSide ...she could plainly see it on the many faces while walking about the crowd or hear it as they sang every song with ToP. Probably wondering what did SouthSide feel during the Tower concert - let's just say wished she could have shared this moment in time with her Dad (as well as the special guy in her life) since he has never seen them live either (don't worry, this reviewer did get her Dad something from ToP).

Back to the Tower show itself, if you haven't seen this amazing super group of musicians live on stage, SouthSide HIGHLY recommends snagging a ticket (and fast) to their next scheduled concert. During the night, she met a group of fans who were religiously following Tower from show to show (something Emilio also mentioned during the interview) saying they could not get enough of Tower ...and she could see the excitement shining in their eyes as they excitedly talked about their favorite ToP show so far. SouthSide can tell you why ...Tower of Power rocked the stage with "...high energy emotional soul music..." There was definitely plenty of "high energy" especially when Tower performed Funkafize - this band got totally down and funky in which their fans did the same too. There was also "emotional soul music" especially when performing the classic soul hit by Billy Paul - Me and Mrs. Jones (off their current CD - Great American Soulbook) in which front man, Tom (Chicago's own from the Westside) emotionally immersed himself into the lyrics thus making SouthSide quite weak at the knees with his voice. That wasn't the only time he did that either, blogspot readers, hearing him sing (during the encore) You're Still a Young Man - all she can say was "WOW" ...melting hearts across the venue everywhere. Even while Tower slowed down the tempo and beat to perform songs like Just Enough and Time, Emilio and the famous horn section along with the other band members had the stage soulfully rockin' with its vibrantly hot rhythms. Yet watch out - when it got time to get funky (especially during Tower's James Brown Medley of songs and What Is Hip? with some extra horn help by Mark Russo of The Doobie Brothers as well as ToP alum), Emilio had this crowd on fire! Music was too contagious to stand still for neither band or fan. SouthSide could hear an enthusiastic fan loud and clear shouting "...bring it on..." as well as a fan holding up an IL license "TWR PWR2" license plate (in which they had the band sign after the show).

SouthSide would like to reveal every single detail of this extraordinary night with Tower of Power but felt it would take away your own unique experience with the legendary band. In other words, you have to atend a show to experience them and the music with your ears, body, mind and soul yourself. She does highly encourage meeting Emilio and the guys after the show ...and don't be surprised if you see them signing a pair of women's knickers (panties) or two (an actual fan had Tower of Power sign a pair). For more information, visit http://www.towerofpower.com for tour details and discography.

Until next time, support your local scene,

Thursday, May 19, 2011

15 May 11

"...now, there's man living out the dream..."
Matthew Alfano (of Mason's Case) about Michael Freer

Chicago - home of the Blues and Blues legends. So what better place to hear some Blues, blogspot readers, than here! Tonight, SouthSide closes out her rockin' weekend with a unique Blues performance by Michael Freer (MI) and his ukelele, "Brownie", at Elbo Room.

SouthSide enjoyed his descriptive storytelling style (in which he mentioned every song has a story ...but he never writes in third person) and the deep baritone vocal falsetto that wonderfully pops the vivid imagery of the words within his lyrics to life. His blues-driven songs also featured another element - the hidden "voice" of the harmonica that added the words as well as rhythms not originally heard through the artist's composition. In between his ukelele strumming and blowing on the harmonica, you can distinctly the unspoken voice loud and clear singing for Michael before he returns with his human voice.

Performing a variety of song from his lastest CD - Wilbur's Blues, this singer/songwriter entertained the audience with his lively tales about parking (a term used for snogging/kissing under the cover of darkness) and the police causing trouble for no apparent reason in Police Don't Come To My Door. She was hopelessly enthralled by the romanticism and poetic imagery found inside his love song - very realistic as it was personal done in a troubadour/acoustic style. Then showed off his love for the music from the 60s and 70s through his vibrant rendition of Jimi Hendrix's Along the Watchtower (written by Bob Dylan this was a powerfully done ukelele cover with more symbolic realism and meaning heard from the lyrics) and a song about the music which influenced him and his music (by such artists Simon and Garfunkel, Credence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash and of course, Young) before rockin' a rendition of Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath (could literally feel the angst dripping from Michael's voice on this one, blogspot readers).

Yet the real special moments of Michael's performance occurred when he performed a touching song about a son helping his father understand what it's like being in his shoes while in turn the father offers his son sound advice (i.e. not to hide or walk in shame ...be proud to wear his name). This particular song written for Michael's son, vividly expressed the same sentiment and words SouthSide told her own daughter when she came out to her. Michael offered more sound advice about things not being bad as they truly seem before rockin' out the Elbo Room stage with a fiery Robert Johnson cover Crossroads (done in the "sittin' on the porch sippin' whiskey" Blues style on his ukelele) lighting it on fire with some furiously fast fingering (thanks to Matthew Alfano's encouragement for him to play faster).

Hopefully this artist makes another Chicago appearance soon ...perhaps during the summertime - nothing like hearing some cool Blues in Chicago on a hot summer night. Visit Michael Freer at http://www.reverbnation.com/wmichaelfreer or http://www.myspace.com/wmichaelfreer.

Until next time, support your local scene,

14 May 11

...Yo Gabba Gabba and Kid Koala is in da house... ~ Kid Koala

Hey, Mr. DJ, could you play that song all night long? Welcome, blogspot readers, to the party where the music - fresh and the scene - jumpin' until the wee hours of Sunday morning. Presented by Ninja Tune, Last Rites, 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Gramophone Records and WLUW/Abstract Science, The Abbey Pub played host to Ninja Tune's XX (20th) Anniversary Concert series featuring three separate shows that began Thursday Apri 21 with the Chicago debut of DJ Kentaro. On May 20, the series conclusion will feature such performances by Blackhead, Poirier, Quadratic (live) and MC Zulu. Tonight, the middle show lineup had the stage rockin' with lively performances by Save The Clocktower, The Loyal Divide, Cave and DJ Kid Koala (Canada) with DJs Intel and Demchuck spinning to begin the night.

There's something magically melodic about the rhythm heard wafting across the stage when friends, Save The Clocktower opened the night's lineup. The music itself had a unique combination of symphonic/ambient sound (by friend Jimmy) and edgy rock tone which merely enhanced the melodic side of this local band. SouthSide was instantly hooked on Clocktower's flowing poetic-like rhythms which at times could be edgier amidst the melodic tempo as well as meditative under a vibrant groove. Vocals (done by drummer Greg and guitarist Sean) though contrasting between falsetto and angsty, actually complimented each other on lyrics especially during one particular song of a socio-commentary about moving beyond religion. Another song had SouthSide intrigued by the nonlyrical instrumental into that featured energetic digitalized keyboard sound before adding lyrics to it. The meaning behind the words wasn't what this reviewer was concerned to hear - it was mostly that vivid imagery painted within Clocktower's music that will leave your ears breathlessly wanting more. Her advice - simply close your eyes, turn off the brain for a minute and enjoy the melodic ride, blogspot readers. Look for Save The Clocktower to release their third (untitled) album in the near future but in the meantime, visit http://www.clocktowermusic.bandcamp.com or http://www.facebook.com/clocktowermusic.

Next to rock the stage was longtime friends, The Loyal Divide, who took more of a guitar rock with some melodic rhythm approach to their performance. She liked how this band's signature musical tone also seemed an unconventional way to highlight the melodies heard the through the digital synths though not as ambient as Save The Clocktower's. The synths added the right amount of electronic vibe within Loyal's energetic sound ...can get very wicked under an electro-rock combination even while in a downtempo rhythm. And just the Clocktower, there was a moment when the music did get meditative with their electronic floetry to balance the razor sharp rock edge off the guitar riffs. Plus listen out for the venomous angst heard during certain Loyal songs in which the music wonderfully spotlights the emotionally charged mood and tone of the lyrics especially during one particular song titled Pure Fury. One could hear the gradual rise of the lyrcist's fiery rage building to eagerly explode in your face, blogspot readers - all this was nicely portrayed from the crescendo rise of the guitar riffs. Visit The Loyal Divide http://www.theloyaldivide.com or http://www.myspace.com/loyaldivide.

Cave bursted onto the stage opening their performance with an instrumental bang that featured a vibrant combination of electro synth and hardcore guitar rock band. The sound was so superly wicked that it popped at times under a psychedelic vibe intricately woven inside each rhythmic measure before taking the energy down a bit for a more melodic tone in their second song. SouthSide enjoyed Cave's nonlyrical persona despite hearing the "lyrics" being sung (or spoken) through the melodic music in which human vocals could probably not convey properly or lyrically. Though re-arranging their set list (due to a broken string in which no one from the first two bands offered to help), Cave still rocked the stage with epic masterpieces featuring sounds of funky Euro disco to soulfully heart-pounding electro and vibrant yet tripped out space fx closer that seemed to go on forever. What SouthSide just described about Cave's music and performance really doesn't do this band justice, blogspot readers, because you merely had to be there to witness and experience everything in person. That's her suggested recommendation to you - see them live at their next show. Visit http://www.dragcity.com for more details and music by this band.

"...I must have done something to piss off the turntable rental guy..."

Kid Koala's performance in a nutshell ...the BEST eccentric, non-dance party music performance ...so far, blogspot readers, and he looked devishly handsome wearing his koala bear costume (to settle a bet in which he has to wear it for 100 tour-city dates in which Chicago was his 39th stop) too. This one-man show had everything to dazzle the eyes, rock the ears, and groove the body as he rocked out the crowded late night Abbey Pub with his mad turntable skills (SouthSide has to honesty concede that he's better than someone else she use to know before his untimely death back in the 90s). Before jumping into his unique mode of mixing unusual as well as nontypical samples and music, Kid opened the show with a lovely slideshow of family photos and pictures from his other tours while discussing briefly about his next huge worldwide tour planned for July 2011 called Space Cadet. Not only did he write the graphic novel (to be released through Pigeon Press) but also composed the soundtrack that goes along with it ...mentioning how people will be listening to this concert in space pods - this had SouthSide eagerly anticipating a Chicago all-ages performance or two (hopefully) in Grant Park.

After recording crowd vocals (of shouting, whistling, et al) to be used in a Jonathan Ing anime short, Kid went to work on dazzling the crowd with his lightning fast hand movements of mixing/scratching and changing between records without breaking a single rhythmic beat. You could even watch his hands work their magic on the turntables via the video screen behind him, blogspot readers. From start to finish, Kid's non-dance music (and he bills it as such) kept everyone fired up with pented up energetic momentum while listening to popular (and sometimes forgotten) hits to classic favorites like Chicago and Moon River - both scratched and re-mixed Kid Koala style. It was hilarious to observe grown adults rockin' to a Yo Gabba Gabba song (that he collaborated on for the show) which had every body enjoying the "open and close" and "touch your toes and reach up high" (those with young kids like SouthSide would get the lyric references) fun. Other fun momments included Kid Koala moving around the venue to meet a few eager fans and Bubble Gladiator - where two lucky audience volunteers battled each other in popping bubbles with waterguns. Sounds easy, huh? NOT exactly - they were judged on poise, technique, interpretative dance style (to the song played), etc ...as if they were world champion figure skaters. "...this is what happens when a venue is booked near a Family Dollar store..." says Kid jokingly.

Yet, it was Kid's melodic side that truly garnered this reviewer's attention the most during his performance, blogspot readers. She enjoyed the ambient atmosphere ...quite romantic as well as beautiful to hear the melodies and rhtyhms intertwining and mixing within each other especially while performing Moon River. It was an interesting rendition with some trippy space fx at the instrumental bridge thus giving the classic song a vibrant millennnial facelift that generated plenty of crowd reaction. Kid truly enjoyed the crowd's reaction upon hearing its hometown song, Chicago, as everyone high fived each other despite usually getting a different reaction from other cities when playing this particular song. Still the crowd was not ready to go home just yet as they came alive again for his HipHop in the Dark which fused rockin' guitar and world music mixes with thundering jungle hiphop sound. For this not being "...dance music..." permeating from Kid's turntables, he certainly had every body grooving to the rhythmic beat. Visit Kid Koala at http://www.kidkoala.com or on Facebook for more details and music.

Until next time, support your local scene,

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

13 May 11

Fear no bad luck here, blogspot readers, on this Friday the 13th! It's another rockin' Friday to kick off a long busy weekend of music and fun (as well as no sleep) for this roving party gal. Tonight, she's celebrating with the graduates of Columbia College at their annual Manifest to see her good friends, Boom Goes The Globe, perform on the Next Up Stage. This annual day-long urban arts festival captured the creative spirit of Columbia's undergraduate and graduate students from film to exhibits and performances as well as some weirdness. Yes, SouthSide mentioned weirdness but not in a bad way - there were living dolls (fashion design students) and a Columbia professor in drag who was really showing off his mad dance skills during Boom's set.

This reviewer highly recommends taking the next shuttle flight to the universe of Euro-electro techno/disco with Boom Goes The Globe. Despite not having the glow of their wicked lighting sequences (to accompany the lively mix of upbeat percussion rhythms and remixes) or a longer performance time, this local band knew how to liven up the celebration while transporting this crowd into the planetary nebula of its amazing sound. Even the light sprinkles of rain couldn't stop them from dancing to the electronic tempos and beats off certain songs including the vibrant wave of Asian pop mixed used which had many wildly dancing. Boom made good use of their short time keeping every body energized to the spaceman disco vibe until it was time to return to earth. Don't worry, blogspot readers, SouthSide's certain Boom Goes The Globe will lift off again soon at another spacet port (venue) near you however in the meantime, visit http://www.boomisalifestye.com or http://www.myspace.com/boomgoestheglobe for more details about this rockin' space duo and their music.

Now it was off to Cubby Bear for more rockin' fun and music deep in the heart of the Wrigleyville neighborhood ...actually enemy territory for this Southsider Sox fan. Yet, with neither team making waves in the current standings this season (so far), this reviewer let bygones be bygones to enjoy hearing friends, The Passing and Trainwreck Symphony, perform on stage with Basket Case (Green Day Tribute band). However, she cannot in all honesty recommend checking out the second band on the bill, The Run Around, blogspot readers, though it was her first time seeing them. Though having potential, the band left this reviewer with the difficult task of trying to figure out what they were all about especially with its music. The Run Around bounced all over the genre map that it left her more confused during their performance despite having only one bright spot when covering a hiphop/rap song. The band does have potential (somewhere) if it works on the vocals (sounded a bit off especially while trying to reach the high falsettos), stage presentation and band gimmick (front man shouldn't have to over exert himself in trying to convince the audience into liking them ...the music should do that for the band). Plus SouthSide would like to suggest one more important piece of advice - never beg the audience/fans to move closer to the stage ...invite them to rock with you. If you want to learn more about The Run Around, visit http://www.myspace.com/therunaroundband or on Facebook.

Opening with a blast of melodic hardcore rock, SouthSide's good friends The Passing kicked off the Cubby Bear lineup with a subtle band to energize the audience. Once again, this reviewer enjoyed the epic feel and sound of this local band which was coupled nicely with front man Steve's emotionally charged vocals. Such dynamic powress from this singer made you literally feel the words besides hearing them highlighting the pain and angst sometimes woven into the lyrics. She suggests checking out Passing's song Downward Faster in which had this dark mystique enticing the ears with its haunting electro and edgy rock vibe before being thoroughly wowed by emotions in Steve's vocals. Also check out new song, Friends - a switch from their melodic side that had SouthSide instantly liking the darker, harder electro side (with some digital sampling for fx) ...Steve truly emmersed himself vocally into this song's lyrics - be careful of hearing plenty of wicked emotions as he vents ...overall, the song's a bit frightening to behold yet wonderfully enjoyable to taste the deliciousness of Passing's melodically evil dark side. With friends (as heard inside the lyrics) like these, you won't have any need for enemies, blogspot readers. Visit The Passing at http://www.myspace.com/thepassing or on Facebook.

There's a saying "...if it's not broken, don't fix it..." yet in Trainwreck Symphony's case, the negative notion here does not truly apply, blogspot readers. "Fixing" is good for this local band especially when it enhances its already vibrantly energetic music and rockin' sound. The thunderous fire off the hardcore guitar riffs and Xavier's powerfully dynamic vocals haven't changed yet it was the haunting violin rhythms that seemed to change (slightly) the band's makeup and sound. SouthSide's not saying this added "fixture" was a bad thing but it did do something to Trainwreck - it brought out more of the dark mystique never heard before by either front man Xavier or band itself. The electronic violin revealed just more than rhythms to liven up the rockin' tempo but also added unspoken vocals to highlight Xavier's style especially during one particular song about finding the right words to say "goodbye". Both violin and vocals were paired naturally and perfectly, blogspot readers. And that wasn't the only "fixture" to occur within Trainwreck's performance. This reviewer also enjoyed this band's rock/hiphop/lyrical rap fusion - very lively while blending the best of both worlds to compliment Xavier's strong vocal presence without missing a rockin' beat. One of the better Trainwreck Symphony shows SouthSide has seen even though they did disappoint their hungry fans by not performing an encore. The band's currently on hiatus from the stage (don't worry - simply resting and recording) but she highly recommends visiting http://www.myspace.com/trainwrecksymphonymusic for more music and details.

To be honest, SouthSide's not the best judge of tribute bands ...and she would like to add she's not truly an avid Green Day superfan either. This reviewer simply likes one song of theirs - Know Your Enemy. Yet this reviewer does recommend checking out Chicago's only Green Day tribute band known as Basket Case (affectionately named after Green Day's 1994 single from 3rd album, Dookie) when they rock the stage again. It's rare for any tribute band to get a recommendation from this reviewer because she's looking for not only their knowledge of the music in which the band is tributing but how they present it on stage as if they literally stepped into that band's shoes - i.e. looking and (sometimes) sounding like that said band. Basket Case passed SouthSide's test with flying colors, blogspot readers. As mentioned earlier, she's not a super Green Day but she does know their music in which Basket proved they could fill in for Billie Joe and the guys if they ever want to take a break from the stage. Basket bursted onto the stage wearing similar clothes from Green's Know Your Enemy video while energetically performing old as well as new Green songs though it received mixed reaction from the crowd but they still rocked along with the band. For more details about Chicago's Basket Case, visit http://www.basketcasechicago.com or on Facebook.

Until next time, support your local scene,

Saturday, May 14, 2011

10 May 11 - Interview with V Is For Villains

"...I want to tip strippers every time I hear them..."
Leonard Warren (of Lucid Ground)

Hey, blogspot readers, the letter V may stand for many things however in the local scene, it proudly stands for "villains". And SouthSide has met her share of villain-themed bands over the years. None of them can compare to this new villain band poised and ready to make its debut on June 11 at Bottom Lounge as V Is For Villains. Fans might not recognize the new moniker or the music that accompanies it but will instantly recognize the mastermind and his brother behind V Is For Villains - Nick and Jon Santiago ...yes the same Nick and Jon of Digital Mindy. You're probably wondering like SouthSide why the switch ...and she had a chance to ask Nick Santiago aka Mr. Agitator of V Is For Villains that same question and more during a recent interview.

To begin the interview, Nick was asked to describe the new band in which he said "...steampunk carnivale noir..." Instantly that picqued SouthSide's interest about V for her to ask him why choose the name - "V Is For Villains". Nick stated that the new band was going to be named "Villains For Hire" but after doing some research (via web), he discovered someone else already had taken it even though never really trademarking the moniker. He said "...this began as a solo project ...I had fun putting together the idea of a mercenary-like band for hire..." however suddenly "...took it to the next level - adding costumes..." That's when his father coined the band's new name - V Is For Villains. So why the switch from his original band, Digital Mindy to V? Nick replied "...while recording the new Digital Mindy album, it didn't have that Digital Mindy sound..."

Hm, so what's different about V Is For Villains compared to Digital Mindy? In case you're wondering, blogspot readers, Nicks sees the new band as a "...natural progression out of the teen angst bubble..." since Digital Mindy was formed with his brother, Jon in 2000 when he was 15. And that really shocked SouthSide - most of Digital's sounds (such as Popular) were written around that time of his life. Yet unlike Digital Mindy, V Is For Villains was first designed to be a "swede" (i.e. fake) band but Nick was able to find some great musicians including brother, Jon, to join him on this new music venture. While Digital, according to Nick, has a dreadful, teen angst sound, V is completely the opposite - it has a poppier, agressive sound, more electronic music and the singing is clearer. However, don't fret, blogspot readers, Digital Mindy isn't completely "dead" ...it's merely taking a break but Nick did promise Digital will return. He doesn't know when. He briefly told SouthSide about how he was working on a V Is For Villains song recently that sounded more like a Digital Mindy song in the process. So, at any given time, he can easily switch between the two entities.

That thought lead to SouthSide's next question in which she asked him how will they win over their loyal Digital Mindy militia (fanbase) with new the band. After saying that was a great question, Nick went on to say he was worried (at first) convincing the already-established Digital fans with V Is For Villains. According to him, the response so far looks promising. "...the fans have [accepted] the new entity ...[even though] at first the kids didn't like it ...[V Is For Villains] wasn't this, that or the other like Digital Mindy..." Soon, that gradually changed over time after listening to songs like Evolve or Die or Rise Above - now V has an eager street team of costumed villains spreading the word about the new band. "...the response is so overwhelming in the last three months than compared to when Digital Mindy first started..." said Nick. SouthSide then asked him what made V Is For Villains uniquely different from the other villain-themed bands in town. Nick simply replied "...we take the villain concept to the extreme..." which goes beyond wearing the costumes. The band has created characters ...alter villain egos of themselves. Then, he added "...we're creating an experience ...more like performance [theatre] art..." So don't be surprised if you see a costumed Villain or two attending Inkfest (happening this weekend in Chicago) or anywhere else around town. Plus Nick said soon V will be able to convey more if its "steampunk carnivale noir" message via music and promo videos, merch and even a comic book "...anything we can do to bring that experience to you..."

Since V's debut performance doesn't happen until June 11 at Bottom Lounge, SouthSide wanted to know what could we expect to happen during their show. Well, V is going for more of a subtle approach instead of hitting your face with everything at once ...allowing people to get familiarized with the new look and music which, in SouthSide's opinion, sounds like a good strategic move. Nick said "...it's going to be a little different from a Digital Mindy show..." Plan on experiencing an increased level of energy that's way faster and fancier than what was experienced when attending a Digital performance. "...we're having fun performing [the show] at rehearsals ...[sometimes] changing the lighting and atmosphere..." to fit what the band wants the show to feel and look for the audience. Nick did propose a Digital Mindy-V Is For Villains show ...now that would be very interesting to review, blogspot readers. What's also different about V's show from a Digital show - no drummer. As Nick pointed out earlier to SouthSide, it's basically all electronic - keyboards, bass, guitar, and vocals (not only Nick's but also Ava Vice's [not her real name] to add that female element to the band). He's very excited to present this non-Digital Mindy band and then revealed the band members/alter egos to SouthSide. There's Ava Vice, Foster Von Trox, Fallon Flynn and of course, the mastermind villain of them all - Mr. Agitator (if you haven't noticed, it's a reference to the Digital Mindy song - Meet Mr. Agitator). Except for Nick's, the others' real identities had to be sworn to secrecy ...sorry, blogspot readers.

To wind down the interview with Nick, SouthSide for fun had Nick to compare V's sound to other bands to which he answered it's a combination of "...Nine Inch Nails ...Prodigy ...Depeche Mode with a Hans Zimmer score..." In other words, "...[V] sounds like Digital Mindy ...so shut up and take it..." Seriously, blogspot readers, V Is For Villains sounds nothing like Digital Mindy. SouthSide highly recommends checking out songs Everyone Hates Me (a wicked, computerized-cyborg sound featuring Ava Vice on vocals with Mr. Agitator), Rise Above (V's unofficial anthem song) and Evolve or Die (there's no choice in the matter, blogspot readers - either be a villain or else...) SouthSide asked Nick if he had any final words to say about V Is For Villains before ending the interview. He would like to stress one thing "...you haven't seen anything yet...", blogspot readers, "...you've only seen a glimpse ...a small preview..." of what V Is For Villains is all about. Oh - sounds so intriguing, huh? Nick cannot wait to see how people will react to V's final version as well as to read SouthSide's review of their first show.

If you happen to be in Chicago, head to Bottom Lounge on Saturday June 11 to see V Is For Villain's debut show (sorry, kids - it's an 17+ show) ...dressing as your character villain is highly encouraged. SouthSide already has her villain name and look ready. Thanks to Nick "Mr. Agitator" Santiago for granting SouthSide this exclusive interview.

For more information about V Is For Villains, blogspot readers can find them on Reverbnation.com and Facebook.com or their official site, http://www.visforvillains.com.

Until next time, support your local scene,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

06 May 11

"...can you find a wife for my son?"
Jacques' (of Paper Thick Walls) father

Hey, blogspot readers, tonight's adventure was sponsored by the City of Chicago's Vehicle Management Service! No ...not exactly however SouthSide's latest On The Town venue has the most unique location out of all the venues she has visited so far. Tucked away near a Home Depot, a factory and other business, there's a venue known as The Hideout where many of the indie Americana to rock and even jazz bands come to jam since 1996. This place is quite cool and gets crowded fast (so it's best to arrive early if your favorite band ever performs there) because it's standing-room only inside the stage area. The Hideout has an eclectic yet unusual ambience and atmosphere within its walls - stringed lights on the ceiling and fish mounted around the walls ...old photos and other memorablilia in the bar area. Not your typical music venue scene but this place first opened as a tavern back in the 1930s so it does retain some of that nostalgia which was perfect for tonight's show. Rockin' the stage tonight was a lively Americana hoedown by Derek Nelson and the Musicians and a more subdued yet dramatic album release party by Paper Thick Walls. Both come highly recommended by SouthSide.

Don't be fooled by the subtle calm when this band first hits the stage to begin its set, blogspot readers. Derek Nelson and the Musicians kicked off the night with a powerfully heartfelt yet dynamic Americana/folk music show that instantly had this crowd wrapped inside its toe-tappin' sound. Yet it was the harmonizing vocals by Derek and Sarah which garnered SouthSide's immediate attention besides the lively sound and rhythmic tempo and melodies. These two vocalists truly brought the words within Derek Nelson's songs to life thus adding the right amount of instantaneous "feel good" vibe during this opening performance. And judging by the many wild catcalls and excited whistling, blogspot readers, this crowd was ready to party. Their fans were rockin' along ...enjoying the good old fashion hoedown as well as shouting their favorite Derek song between songs. Even while performing a downtempo song off Derek Nelson's first EP, the band's vibrant sound still remained but with the main focus on Derek's falsetto voice. The closing song, Oh Momma was another fine example of Derek demonstrating his dynamic vocal power under a semi-acoustic violin-driven tone. SouthSide enjoyed the retro rock-n-roll sound in Derek's new song, This Time Around, nicely incorporated into the lively Americana tempo. This particular song had an upbeat swing to its sound which (like the other performed) kept the crowd momentum fired up until an abrupt end though leaving them wanting more. Visit Derek Nelson and the Musicians at http://www.dereknelsonmusic.com for more information.

Paper Thick Walls, so eager to celebrate their first album release, took a more subtle, laidback approach to their headlining show, blogspot readers, as heard in the opening song, Yet that in SouthSide's eyes wasn't a bad thing but a smart move to wow the crowd with the live version of A Thousand Novels album. Like the opening band, Derek Nelson and the Musicians, Paper Thick also featured a dynamic duo with harmonizing vocals and natural chemistry wonderfully seen this time by Eric and Kate. However unlike Derek Nelson, this band's vibrant energy came from the heartfelt vocals amidst its Americana/alternative music and storytelling lyrics thus adding a dramatic tone to Paper's performance. Throughout this set, SouthSide did get the distinct feeling of "reading" a very long, well-written novel via the imagery emulated from the vocalists - Eric's deep raspy voice complimenting the chanteuse-like softness of Kate's. And don't think Paper only had an overly "serious" set either ...there were moments in which the band had this crowd excitedly rockin' along to their lively tempo and rhythmic swing ...sometimes having them waiting on bated breath for that Paper Thick bust of sound to permeate throughout the room. It's suggested that fans should listen to track 1 - old weathered wooden deck, track 3 - orange tree and track 4 - nyquil (definitely not a song about the cold medicine). SouthSide recommends listening to the title track - a thousand novels (track 5) and track 7 - portrait to first acquaint yourself to Paper's sound as well as hear how Eric and Kate harmonize drawingout the natural chemistry between them while singing. Oh in case you're wondering about the quote (at the beginning of this review), that's from an actual conversation SouthSide had with Jacques' father while Paper Thick Walls was setting up. Sorry, Jacques, SouthSide's already taken. Visit this rockin' band at http://www.paperthickwalls.com or http://www.myspace.com/paperthickwalls.

Until next time, support your local scene,

Monday, May 9, 2011

05 May 11

Hey, blogspot readers, SouthSide's celebrating Cinco de Mayo! She's having a tequila spritzer while having a rockin' time on a rainy Thursday night at Elbo Room to see her new friends, The Poor Nobodys (MN) perform on stage.

This reviewer recommends checking out this vagabond of musicians with a modernized version of gyspy music mixed with a hint of jazz-alternative. Known as The Poor Nobodys, this band thoroughly impressed this reviewer despite few minor problems (i.e. distorted reverb and low microphone) occuring during this lively yet uniquely upbeat performance. Whether their music had a country theme or an alternative/jazz fusion, she enjoyed how these talented "gypsies" wonderfully honed into the popular music style of a century past but with a modern spin for the audience of the new millennium to enjoy. Plus the vocal arias (beautifully done by Jenni) had a sense of mystique to Poor's songs at times but also adding some vibrant energy to the band's alternative sound under her chanteuse-like voice. This vocalist did more than captivate the audience's ears - she popped the lyrics to life during certain particular songs. Though having a good time listening to The Poor Nobodys, SouthSide did have a small problem with their set - no song introductions. It would have been nice to know which songs the band were performing to spotlight in this review. For example, one particular Poor song featured a pseudo-version of the Funeral March of Queen Anne before wowing the ears with Jenni's operatic vocal talent.

For more information about The Poor Nobodys, visit http://www.thepoornobodys.com.

Until next time, support your local scene,

Saturday, May 7, 2011

04 May 11

Hey, blogspot readers, SouthSide has a few events that she recommends you check out happening soon.

Watch out and here they come - The Foot! According to their press release, they're hitting the Midwest and Northeast like a storm ...revisiting some places as well as exploring new ones. The tour kicks off in Iowa City at Blue Moose on May 16 and then heading to Chicago on May 17 where they will be rockin' out Subterranean. Unfortunately SouthSide won't be able to attend that show (she'll be rockin with Tower of Power at House of Blues) but she does recommend checking out this band - they even promise kisses and tickles with their whiskers. For more tour information and about this band, visit http://www.findthefoot.com or download free music at http://www.findthefoot.bandcamp.com

On May 20, Jann Klose returns to Chicago ...and this time with Emily Hurd. Both singers/songwriters will be performing at the Skokie Theatre, 7924 N. Lincoln Ave., in Skokie, IL. Tickets are $20 in advance, and $25 at the door. Plus you can get a sneak peak of Jann when she performs on WGN's Midday News (WGN-CW channel 9 here in Chicago). Other dates/cities include - The Winchester on May 21 with Cuda at Cleveland, OH and Mayfair Festival on May 27 in Allentown, PA. Also SouthSide highly recommends checking out Jann's video for Doing Time on YouTube. Watch it here - http://www.youtube.com/jannklose. And this artist is also up for a 2011 New York Music Awards between Lady Gaga and Carole King. SouthSide wishes her luck! For more information and details, visit http://www.jannklose.com.

On May 21, The Urban Folk Circuit moves to Quencher's Saloon where drafts meets crafts (and vice versa), blogspot readers. This is Chicago's only traveling year round craft show in which the market showcases handmade arts and crafts from 20+ local artisans as well as live acoustic music by Ben Lundquist, Marie Landau, John Henry Brown, Roy Ivy, and the Sure Bet Quartet. It runs from noon to 5p - FREE admission / 21+ however minors must be accompanied with parent or guardian. Past market venues have occurred at Elbo Room, The Abbey, Reggie's - just to time a few. SouthSide has attended a couple of them and has discovered some interesting items (from jewelry to handmade soaps) worth purchasing. For more information, visit http://www.urbanforkcircuit.com.

If you have questions about becoming a vendor - email Kelli Wefenstette at urbanfolkcircuit@gmail.com.

Until next time, support your local scene,

Friday, May 6, 2011

30 Apr 11

Hey, blogspot readers, tonight's adventure is one for the arts! SouthSide's rockin' the vibrant (and sometimes eclectic) local art scene deep in the heart of Wicker Park. She's at the Catawampus Art Gallery (3rd floor #340) located inside the historic Flat Iron Arts Building where art and music joined hand in hand. The art inside as well as outside (along the walls) featured an array of modern and abstract to naturalistic still-life photographs by such notables Myster Scottie Bee and Matt Luda. The music entertainment side of this gathering featured the soulfully dynamic voice of Mia LeBlon and DJ Huggies Supreme spinning a lively mix of classics (i.e. Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman).

Opening with the song, Blush (written about a certain someone but didn't reveal who) off her new CD - Looking Glass, Mia LeBlon took the entire standing-room only gallery breath away with her soulful yet heartfelt vocals and ultra cool pop/alternative sound. To say SouthSide was impressed would be a gross understatement ...this reviewer was excitedly blown away by this talented singer/songwriter. She was waiting for the walls to bleed each time Mia rocked the gallery with a mere taste of the fiery sould of her voice permeating throughout the songs performed. You simply had to be there to witness the calm stillness this artist brought to the room ...keeping everyone's attention on bated breath anxiously (and patiently) waiting for the next song to begin. And when Mia did, blogspot readers, SouthSide felt touched emotionally by this naturally dynamic vocalist even when she wasn't behind her piano/keyboard - the vocals truly garnered you immediate attention loud and clear. With a few friends helping Mia out on background music - Joe on upright bass, Mike on drums and Hector on acoustic (and sometimes backing vocals), they added an element of jazz to pop/alternative to her songs. They fit right at ease following as well as matching her vocal style especially during the title song, Looking Glass and This Is My Way (which took a lot of vocal power to emit such dynamicness to pop this particular song's lyrics to life). SouthSide also recommends listening to Fearless Radio requested song - Love Strikes Twice (more of a pop song yet can still hear the power of her dynamic voice) and Woman (soulful vocals that packed a powerful punch at the chorus). Blogspot readers can find these songs and more on Mia's CD - Looking Glass in which SouthSide highly recommends adding to your collection but it's WAY better seeing and experiencing this artist live - up close and personal. Visit http://www.mialeblon.com or http://www.myspace.com/mialeblon for more information about her and her music.

...battling a small gremlin... ~ Traverser

Since SouthSide's adventure ended a little earlier than expected, blogspot readers, she set off to discover more rockin' fun which took her to Elbo Room. Though missing Visionaire's performance, this reviewer overheard good things about it from their fans and promises to attended their next show for a full review. She also recommends checking out the good Doctor K of Doctor Kevorkian and the Volunteers now that they released a self-titled CD as well as the lively party boys known as Why So White. Plus this reviewer recommends checking out this Florida band - Traverser while they're currently on tour.

...that was badass as a squid...

Opening with a rockin' crescendo rise of guitar riffs with playback music, then POW! Traverser socked SouthSide's ears with an energetic blast of metal sound and hardcore vibe yet what made this band unique from other metal/hardcore bands was the high falsetto vocals heard amidst the twitterpating guitars. Don't think such vocals and sound were grossly mismatched, blogspot readers, this unique combination seemed to balance each other out. The high falsettos added an air of mystery to each of Traverser's songs while the metal-tastic sound provided the epic feeling to bring these songs to life thus creating plenty of head banging action amongst the late night audience. SouthSide thoroughly enjoyed the flowing chord changes and emotional angst both intricately woven together taking everyong from one of the spectrum to the other. And what a fantastical journey did this band take us, blogspot readers, especially during the opening song. This journey didn't merely stop there ...no, it was felt during Pacify (in which you could literally feel the guitar riffs vibrating from the stage ...not from the monitors played with such vigorous fervor before hearing the angst pumping through the lyrics) and the instrumental song playfully dubbed as The Giant Squid Song (this nonlyrical masterpiece totally rocked out Elbo Room full of twitterpating riffs and abrupt chord changes of kickarse metal sound ...plus listen out for the trippy sound effect incorporated within this song). SouthSide liked Traverser's idea of trying out some of their new stuff on its Chicago audience even though spending the last four months on tour to support the new album - Telemetry. She enjoyed one particular song that opened with an epic sounding intro immediately generating plenty of band-fan and vice versa excitement ...it even had Dr. K and a Volunteer feeling that vibe too as Traverser's sound melded both soft and natural vocals to emit such angst into the lyrics. You could say it was almost meditative within the metal sound. Besides rockin' the stage with EMD, this band did a metal-tasic version of Peter Gabriel's Digging In the Dirt (in which they say the artist influenced them) ...an excellent homage (and one of SouthSide's favorite Peter Gabriel songs too) loving how he emitted such anger and frustration into the words and the wicked guitar re-work to fit the hardcore/metal sound. SouthSide highly recommends checking out Traverser's next live show ...be prepared to be amazed, blogspot readers. Visit http://www.myspace.com/traverser or on Facebook for more details about this band.

Until next time, support your local scene,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

29 Apr 11 - I Would Sing - (Re) Framing Education for Liberation and Democracy

...we don't need no thought control / no dark sarcasm in the classroom...
Pink Floyd

Hey, blogspot readers, meet SouthSide - the social activist! Recently she attended an unconventional conference where educators, teachers, social activists, organizers, etc from all walks of life and backgrounds came together for one common goal - to celebrate the themes inspired by the work and life of Bill Ayers. Held at Chicago-University of Illinois campus, the unconference conference (so titled by Master of Ceremonies, David Stovall) didn't feature long winded boring speeches or reading of panelists' bios followed by one set group of pre-arranged action plans and/or agendas. No, blogspot readers, this was a "working" conference where a collective of ideas, plans as well as agendas that were individually suggested within different groups during the afternoon session. To be honest, this wasn't any ordinary conference SouthSide has ever attended that she didn't fall asleep on or did a whole page of doodlings while the panelists spoke. According to Rick Ayers, Bill's brother, he has "...seen other conferences like [I Would Sing] built around someone's unique contribution..." He also went on to say this conference was "...in a certain way a reflection of the work of Bill Ayers..." adding "...thinking forward to future work in relation to him and his work..."

Before the conference got under way, SouthSide set out to learn more about Bill Ayers, his life work (thus far) and more, blogspot readers. She discovered, before his recent retirement, Bill Ayers was a Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at University of Illinois, founder of both the Small Schools Workshop and Center for Youth and Society and has written extensively about social justice to education and the cultural contexts of schooling. He has authored books about teaching as an essentially intellectual, ethical, and political enterprise like Teaching The Taboo: Courage and Imagination in the Classroom (with Rick Ayers) and Teaching the Personal and the Politcal: Essays on Hope and Justice. Plus Bill's articles have appeared in numerous scholarly and popular journals. Bill Ayers has been called a terrorist, a thorn in people's side and a radical by social media because of his anti-war activities in the Gaza Striop as well as Daley Plaza. He's also known as a "white anti-racist" activist and tells the truth about racism, imperialism, capitalism, injustice and criminal treatment of young people in high schools today according to opening remarks by Barbara Ransby. Bill Ayers had addressed "...important themes and dilemmas in his books ...what is education ...what is the role of education and is education a human right..." SouthSide felt honored to meet and talk to the radical social activist in which this conference was organized to honor his work. Bill was excited about it happening but didn't feel it's a summary or eulogy of his life however an attempt to illuminate things and push them forward.

...it is your responsibility to change society if you think yourself as an educated person... ~ James Baldwin (1963)

The unconference conference (also referring that this wasn't a "Bill Butt-naked [retirement] Party) opened with David Stovall excitedly firing up the attendees by announcing "...it's a conference in which we can do something to make a change and difference in social justice..." Then William Schubert welcomed the attendees saying "...how our work can bring ideas to life..." that we "...have to embody them in order to make a difference in the world..." William likened our ideas to the dissertation process in which the Question wasn't asking but a problem we would want to explore while the Conclusion wasn't the end but how the results will make a difference. He was followed by Gabe Lyon, co-founder of Project Exploration and part of Conference Organizing Committee, spoke briefly how putting together this conference was one of the best democratic experiences ever. She said "...[it's] the beginning of working together ...networking ...for social justice change..." Afterwards, Barbara Ransby gave a detailed background about Bill Ayers highlighting that his retiring wasn't the end but "...moving onto another phase of his life - social activist..." She pointed out that education can be used as a tool or weapon in society and students can be teachers to the older generation. Barbara also left the attendees with a thought about "...telling the truth ...especially in this day and age (citing FBI raids, et al)..." concluding "...we need to tell the truth..." not just the negative but the postive too. And the reason why we're attending the conference was "...to honor a career that has told the truth..."

Before breaking for lunch and afternoon working sessions, there were two panel discussions. The first one, Teaching for Social Justice, featured six speakers - Hubert Dyasi, Brian Galaviz, Ali Jennings, Isabel Nunez, Joel Westheimer and Lavie Raven with Therese Quinn moderating. Therese opened with a quote by James Baldwin in which she noted it clearly described Bill before talking about a movie called Art School Confidential (very good movie SouthSide highly recommends seeing it). She used this film as an example of how certain teachers who inspire students but not in a conventional way however people like Rush Limbaugh like to tell the opposite about teachers in a negative way. Isabel saw this as a demoralization of teachers today in which she strives to help her students reach that vision of what teaching can be. Joel stated that democracy needs to have the ability to create critical thinking people while Lavie said we "...must work with children in what they want to see ...a world they want to live in..." Hubert noted that "...kids grow up thinking they cannot think for themeselves... in Ali agreed saying "...parents are shocked..." that she doesn't give her students the answers. Many agreed teachers aren't allowed to think for themselves which was why Brian switched from teaching to counseling because he had to constantly line up his curriculum with everyone else across the board. Lavie stated "...we need more Brown men (i.e. people in general) as teachers..." The panel was open to the attendees for comments and questions in which many expressed the following "...first conference without pre-package crap..." to "...very engaging and interactive amongs the panel..." to "...education is not imaginative [anymore] ...parents and community leaders need to reprofessionalize the education system...allowing teachers to teach in a way they want and allowing kids to ask questions without being restricted to rigid curriculum..." and from Joel - "...[we] have the power to effect kids in a deep meaningful way in which no CEO of a fortune 500 company could ever do..." Hubert ended the panel discussion by relaying a story about a school in Brooklyn, NY where students and teachers placed their fears and despairs into garbage bags before burying them during a funeral-like service and then had their hopes and wishes married (to them) with an actual minister performing the ceremony.

The second panel, Education Beyond Education, featured another group of six speakers, Rashid Khalidi, Gabrielle Lyon, Erica Meiners, Harish Patel, Randolph Stone and James Thindwa with Crystal Laura moderating. The group was asked "what it means when we decoupled education from schools?" in which James saw education as "...a built-in contradiction..." saying "...teachers need to think outside of the box..." Harish sated education was a "...global sense not [an] US sense..." while preparing the student to be a humane person. Gabe answered the question by asking one herself "what is the purpose of education?" and then gave a brief description of the purpose of Project Exploration which helps students get out of the classroom box to discover and wonder via science education. Plus she added a quote that she remembered a teacher telling her "...never allow school to interfere with your education..." The panel had lively discussions about having "...responsibility to go beyond the classroom ...[owing] something to the students and [owing] society who put [professors] into the positions..." (Rashid) and "...best day job to build leverage when I was hired by University of Chicago...now doing work outside the university..." (Erica). Randolph, a law professor, encourage (as well as require) his students to work on social policy issues (i.e. prison re-entry programs). There were other discussions about social activists taking some downtime and how to organize teachers before opening the panel to attendees for more comments and questions. Ming (Fang He) wanted the panelists to consider thinking about "...education in between as well as the need to improvise while social activism..." meanwhile Tina (a conference attendee) addressed seeing a lot of in-fighting within the education fields and Bill felt something was missing by the entire discussion - the changing economic scene.

After a lunch break, it was time to split the conference into working group sessions ...now was the time to begin the task of "...seeing ourselves within a movement..." for social change. Some groups had to be paired together because very few attendees had signed up for them. Sessions like "Paradox of living in-between in exile" by Ming Fang He and "Connections/intersections between inner and outer self and world" by Isabel Nunez where they would discuss, plan and act during this time and do a presentation during the Working Groups Reports at the end. This gave SouthSide the perfect opportunity to observe everyone brainstorming and bouncing ideas off each other as she walked around group to group. She briefly chatted with Kris, a representative of Rethinking Schools (a nonprofit organization for over 30 years where they publish progressive educational materials and magazine but with a focus on urban environment) selling books with such titles - Beyond Heroes and Holidays: a pratical guide to K-12 anti-racist, multicultural and staff development and Open Minds To Equality: a sourcebook of learning activism to affirm diversity and promote equality. Kris told SouthSide that through Rethinking Schools materials/books teachers "...can incorporate social justice teaching within education..." plus add what's "...not taught in [today's] history book..." SouthSide asked Kris what she thought about the conference so far to which she replied "...a lot of energy flowing in this room..." Then SouthSide met with the unconference conference's dynamic MC - David Stovall to get his thoughts about the day so far. He answered "...a way for folks to do two (2) things - see a way of connection with their work and strengthen their network...the type that support what they do..." also adding "...folks staying all day is a good thing..." SouthSide grabbed Gabe for a quick minute of her busy time to hear her thoughts about today's conference and she replied "...what a privilege to be in this room...a lot of ideas evolving through discussions...many possibilities happening today...we're [all] here at a time when education is weak..." And as SouthSide walked around from table to table, you could feel that energy flowing ...permeating everywhere within the deep discussions happening. For example, Rick Ayers' group (Social Justice Curriculum, liberatory pedogogy, changing the narrative) had listed some suggestions on their board such as parent-led enriched programs and use examples to increase engagement. Meanwhile another table discusses using like as a big classroom and evolving freedom while challenging your own understanding. Lastly another group thought of creating rituals that capitialize our skills and demonstrating love (listening, dialogue, connecting and sharing). Don't think these ideas and/or thoughts to be just for today only, blogspot readers, there's a reason behind this working group part in which SouthSide will reveal in a minute.

Each table came to podium (actually sending one or two representatives) to share their action plans. Due to the long list, SouthSide will simply highlight one point from each group. Table 1 - suggested creating a curriculum that engages the students with questioning; Table 3 - examining the many layers of cultures (yes, white people have a culture too); Table 5 - challenging political leaders into taking on of the standardized achievement testing and see how they respond (this garnered the most applause; Table 7 - therapy at teaching and administrative level; Table 8 - invite six (6) teachers to dinner with a discussion topic - what is the quality of education today?; Table 9 - challenging the public and private doconomy; Table 10 (entire group) acted out their action plan to show everyone has a skill that's vital to education; and Table 11 - re-instatement of Pell Grant in the prison systems for prisoner higher education services. On Aug 7th (exactly 100 days from the date of this conference), a website would have been created where attendees (and everyone else who couldn't make it) can access and see the progress of the suggestions/ideas in action ...our radical thinking coming to life, blogspot readers.

To end this unique yet extraordinary day, Bill Ayers first gave thanks to the Potawanomi and Illiniwek tribes who "owned" the land where the conference was held as well as a big shoutout to Rethinking Schools and Teacher's College Press. Then he announced after receiving a text to say UIC will have a faculty union adding "...good working conditions create good teaching conditions thus creating good learning conditions..." Bill commented on the centered themes of the day in which he called radical lessons such as "...we're each a work in progress ...and we still have more work to do..." and "...you're living in the history of the making...what you do or don't do makes a difference..." Bill also said that life "...is always a contradiction..." and solving the contradiction "...is a myth..." which he quoted Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities "...it was the best of times ...it was the worst of times..." He stated it was true back in Dickens' day as well as now suggesting we should embrace the moment for all of its contradiction-ness. Bill ended his comments with the following advice "...live in the contradictions...don't give up...jump out of bed hopeful every day..." saying "...joy and justice - we want to live fully in the contradictions..." After Bill and David had officially ended the day-long conference with their mini panel discussions, SouthSide briefly chatted with a couple of the attendees to get their final thoughts about the day. Laura said "...[it's] really inspirational...had the opportunity to build with people I never thought I would if I wasn't here..." Now she's inspired to talk to people since she usually stays in the background. Gloria (of DePaul University) had this to say "...it's wonderful to be with someone I just met ...lots and lots of resources, ideas and steps forward..."

One amazing note about this day - SouthSide was energized! She was ready to make a social change starting with her youngest daughter's school ...thinking waysof getting more parent involvement. Plus she wasn't the only one ready for action - ideas and discussions were still flowing amongst the attendees outside the conference room in the hallway and even outside in front of the Student Center. People were fired up ...inspired and ready to make a change! It was simply inspiring to see netowrks being made, blogspot readers.

Until next time, support your local scene,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

29 Apr 11

"...you're badass ...[you] know your stuff..."
Chris in between Stick Fight and The Von Ehrics sets

Hey, blogspot readers, SouthSide's getting her Texas Two Foot Stomp while rockin' a saloon! Off her usual stomping grounds (i.e. Elbo Room, Double Door or elsewhere) on a Friday night, this reviewer's adventure took her to Quenchers. The bar was already in full swing with its regular crowd enjoying drinks when she arrived to see The Von Ehrics with local band StickFight opening. SouthSide was quite leary about the lineup for tonight (a punk band opening for a Texan country/rock band) as well as the acoustics since some of her friends have performed there before.

She does recommend checking out local punkers StickFight at their next scheduled show for its explosive guitar riffs and vibrant punk sound, blogspot readers. Despite the acoustics not befitting the band's energy (or front man Johnny's dynamic vocals), SouthSide liked how Stick captured punk's early days - that hardcore, gritty vibe of rebellion - within its music. During one particular song, Johnny truly poured out the emotions heard from his falsetto voice making the entire room feel the angst dripping from the lyrics while the band added an electropop sound with the punk grittiness. Very steamy ...and very dirty punk rock. This reviewer has one minor suggestion for StickFight - need to work on the band image. She automatically knew the band rocked with a punk sound from how Stick's bassist Adam and Johnny were dressed. The other members really didn't fit the theme of the night so it threw her off a little while reviewing their performance. Visit StickFight on Facebook for more information about this band's music and more.

Yeehaw! SouthSide feels a little Country as well as Rock and Roll! Time to kick up the energy with some hot Texan-Tejano mix rock by The Von Ehrics, blogspot readers. Currently on tour in support of newly released CD - Two Foot Stomp, this band's hot rockin' sound had the audience all fired up as if they just sampled a batch of five-alarm Texas chili. Von Ehrics (named in memory of a famous wrestling family) brought to the stage its brand of spontaneous bursts of sound flowing off the guitars and rhythmic percussion beats. Enough energy to have a couple show off their best Tejano TX Stomp moves for the audience. SouthSide enjoyed how the band never once slowed down their momentum between songs as they performed an amazing 17-song set (some off the current album). To be honest, blogspot readers, the performance blew by so fast that it didn't feel like Von Ehrics performed every single song ...not with that hot country/western music rockin' Quenchers. Yes, the acoustics did work against this band even though they somehow made it work for their advantage. Robert and the guys packed The Von Ehrics performance with heart-pounding songs like Last of the Working Slobs (track 1), Smokewagon (track 3) and Rock and Roll (track 6) as well as Mexico and Highway Junkie. Each and more were performed with vigorous fervor and spitfire sound especially during the instrumental bridge. There was a moment when the vibrant country rock sound slowed down to highlight Robert's dynamic voice under a blues-tone driven vibe in which one could hear the emotions dripping within the lyrics. Rocking out the saloon audience with a fiery gospel-fused rock version of I'll Fly Away (very soulful), SouthSide highly recommends catching The Von Ehrics at their next show. Visit http://www.vonehrics.com or http://www.myspace.com/thevonehrics for tour schedule.

Until next time, support your local scene,

Monday, May 2, 2011

27 Apr 11 - Interview with Emilio Castillo of Tower of Power

"...young people will always be rebellious ...and determined..."
Emilio Castillo

Hey, blogspot readers, this 10-piece funk/soul/jazz band rocks their shows with a vibe of high energy, emotional soul sound that can leave the audience touched on several spiritual levels from their music. And personally, SouthSide cannot wait to experience this herself on May 17 at Chicago's House of Blues. Known for the 70s hit, What Is Hip?, Tower of Power is still a popular mainstay amongst the band's devoted fans for over forty years within the music industry. However, there was one point in time in which the band was viewed as a "dinosaur" in the industry because being told no one would listen to their style of music anymore. That was then ...now, titled as "legendary", Tower of Power is packing venues around the world as well as influencing at new music generation of musicians (such as local favorite JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound). Quite familiar with Tower and its music (thanks to her father), SouthSide felt honored to be interviewing Emilio Castillo, bandleader and 2nd tenor sax on vocals, recently via phone ...gaining some insight about how the music industry has changed from the days when the band first started to how Tower of Power got its name and more.

SouthSide jumped right into the interview wanted to know Tower of Power received its name. Emilio stated before Tower became to be known as Tower of Power they were performing under the name as The Motowns with aspirations of playing at top venues such as The Fillmore like such acts Jefferson Airplane. However, he felt that a band name - The Motowns (especially since they were from the Bay Area) wouldn't get them there. So one day while at a management office, he spotted a list of potential band name along a wall in which the name - Tower of Power - instantly caught his eye. Emilio knew that was what they were and what their music sounded and immediately took the new band name suggestion to the other members. And the rest, as they say, blogspot readers, was history.

Then she asked what attributed to Tower's long lasting popularity through time, Emilio simply replied "...we never quit ...never went away..." He briefly relayed a story in which a young singer disenchanted by the music business sought his advice on what to do. He told this person (name withheld) that "...if you quit, you'll never make it..." Emilio also attributed Tower's popularity to the fact the band made music the way "...we liked it ...[and] to please ourselves..." which the audience enjoys. He did state the record company at one point of the band's career wanting them to follow the popular trend or sound like someone else. They tried, blogspot readers, but according to Emilio, the songs kept sounding like Tower of Power songs instead. Soon, the record company gave up ...basically stopped caring and things got better after Tower returned making music their way. "...[We] never tried to like everyone else..." to which he advises "...stay true to yourself ...create your own signature..." When first starting out as a band, it's nice to imitate your heroes but you also need to "...find your own voice..."

With Tower having over 40 years plus experience inside the music industry, SouthSide wanted to know in his opinion what has changed about it over the years. In Emilio's eyes, the music industry has lost its passion and creativity thus becoming more of a big corporate business. SouthSide can agree with that. Emilio stated when Bill Graham started The Fillmore in NYC and CA, the hippie was starting to come to life as well as with the folk/rock blossoming soon discovering there's money to be made from promoting big time rock concerts. Over the years, more money could be made when adding merch (i.e. buttons, posters, et al) and then it moved to commercializing popular songs as product placement pieces. Slowly the heart and soul of this industry went out as time passed, according to Emilio, in which he also cited the corporate monoply on venues. However there is an upside to all of this, blogspot readers, the internet. "...instead of listening to pre-fab radio stations, people are turning to the internet to hear some obsecure station..." And speaking of the internet, this reviewer wondered does it play a major role and how has it effected Tower of Power as well as the music scene. Emilio replied saying it [definitely] plays a role to music period changing (as well as effecting) Tower of Power and the scene in general. "Now people are discovering a whole new world ...meeting other likeminded people ...don't have to knock on doors but now [Tower of Power] can knock on doors as far away as Sweden..."

For fun, SouthSide asked Emilio which popular artist(s), current or past< would he like Tower of Power to collaborate on an album. Immediately, he replied "...Sting..." A little background as to why - before forming The Police, Sting used to front a "Tower of Power" like band in which they covered Only So Much Oil (off Tower's 1974 album - Urban Renewal). Emilio said that this particular song is still relevant today as it did back in the 70s when written during the oil crisis (oh, SouthSide remembers those days). Emilio would like to do this song and more with Sting however he prefers the Tower of Power's horn section backing him instead of his (Sting's) horn section. SouthSide's next fun question was asking Emilio which Tower of Power album was his personal favorite in hopes of stumping this musician. No such luck this time, blogspot readers, because he answered saying it was Urban Renewal. Though being Tower's least selling album, Emilio felt it was his beast "...firing on all cylinders..." from producton to horns and vocals. He also stated he's pretty much proud of all Tower's albums. SouthSide did not a gap between albums Back On The Streets (1979) and Power (1987) asking him what happened then with the band. That's when Emilio said the record company started calling them "dinosaurs" citing that no one (especially SouthSide's genX age group) would want to listen to music like Tower's. The record company were searching for someone or something no one has heard before thus began the rise of 80s pop scene. Tower of Power went from becoming a "dinosaur" to an "institution" after 20 years in the business and then elevated to "legendary" after being honored by The California Music Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. Yet, in the meanwhile between Tower's "dinosaur" and "legend" status, the band was still around making music.

SouthSide told Emilio that she was very excited about attending her first Tower of Power concert wondering what she could expected at House of Blues on May 17. Emilio referred back to her opening queston "...high energy emotional soul music..." to further explain she would be seeing more than a funk show. "...funk is just a part of what Tower of Power does..." says Emilio stating this reviewer will be hearing a little bit of Jazz, a little Rock and Soul during the concert. Plus, she might cry (while listening to the music) ...perhaps be emotionally touched on several levels because their music contains a lot of heart and soul. Then she also expressed how her father is a Tower of Power fan to which Emilio lovingly stated "...Tower of Power fans a complete nutcases..." He told a story of meeting two different set of people while on a flight - person A casually asked what he did for a living in which he said he's a musician and then mentioned the band name - Tower of Power. Person B, overhearing the conversation, bursted with exuberent glee of how much he's a T.O.P. fan. Yes, blogspot readers, Tower of Power fans are not your average fans and Emilio can attest to that statement. Though never having number 1 albums like The Beatles, Tower of Power are so indebted to their fans who keep their music alive ...telling SouthSide how they named their children after them or would wait in line just to tell them their life story affected by Tower's music. SouthSide cannot wait to meet some of Tower's fans on the 17th to get their perspective about the band.

SouthSide closed the interview with her last two questions for Emilio which the next to last question was spiritually profound. She asked what influences Tower of Power's hot funk/soul sound and Emilio replied "...that's a God thing..." stating "...God gives certain gifts to different people..." He went on to say you do your best at first but soon it turns into a gift however when you reach a certain point, it's all for the glory of God. In otehr words, blogspot readers, you have to give credit to the Source for giving you that unique talent or gift. And lastly, SouthSide asked him if there would be anything he could change about Tower of Power after being in the business for so long. Emilio doesn't believe in rewriting history saying "...all things happened for a reason..." Leaving the past where it's at, he also said he wouldn't change a thing to Tower of Power because he's merely "...doing my best today..."

What an interview, blogspot readers! SouthSide's ready to rock out her first Tower of Power concert on May 17 at House of Blues. She would like to thank Emilio Castillo for taking time out of his busy schedule for this interview and Anne Leighton of Leighton Media for arranging the interview.

Until next time, support your local scene,