Saturday, November 23, 2013

16 Nov 13 - ChillFest 2013

In some of SouthSide's adventures around Chicago's vibrant local scene, she has attended shows at art galleries, museums, a Blockbuster store (yep, that's an absolute fact, blogspot readers) as well as a backyard at someone's house. That's how this reviewer recently spent her Saturday afternoon "running" around the Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood at the annual ChillFest 2013. This festive day featured acoustic music performances by local artists/bands at over 30 unique venues (like Futuregarb, Sugar Fly, Ready Coffee) throughout this vibrant neighborhood during the afternoon with an after party to rock Subterranean in the evening. At any given time, artists such as Todd Kessler, Maryann Michael or Burnside & Hooker were musically entertaining the venue for shoppers and music fans. It was also a good way for people to discover new places to shop locally ...just in time for Small Business Day (happening November 30th). Sadly, blogspot readers, SouthSide couldn't cover all of the musical acts at all of the venues rockin' ChillFest 2013. It's humanly impossible!  However she was able to cover a few sets at the following businesses - Penelope's (1913 W. Division), ReMarked Salon (2143 N. Damen), The Boring Store (1331 N. Milwaukee) and the first floor bar lounge of Subterranean.

SouthSide began her journey around ChillFest at The Boring Store (it's not actually "boring" either) to join the rockabilly, jug band jamboree with Mr. Mayor & the Highballers ( Shoppers as well as fans were delightfully entertained by the lively, toe-tappin' Americana folk sound and upbeat rhythms in between browsing what unique, unusual and one-of-a-kind wares this store had for sale. Here at the store, SouthSide found new buttons to add to her growing collection to little knick knacks for holiday stocking stuffing and vintage-like things she could give as gifts. You could even find your Movember taches here too, blogspot readers, at all sizes and different styles! This quintet group of musicians (somehow comfortably jammed inside the storefront window) performed a wonderful rendition of a classic swing tune before ending their set with a rockabilly song and then off on a shopping inside The Boring Store. What's truly unique about this particular local business, blogspot readers, is that all proceeds from your purchase goes towards the endeavors of 826CHI - a nonprofit creative writing lab and tutoring center. SouthSide highly recommends visiting this store whenever in the area as well as rockin' to old time jug music with Mr. Mayor & the Highballers at their next performance. For more information about The Boring Store, visit them at

Now it's for the "mad dash CTA" game with SouthSide, blogspot readers with SouthSide! Can this local reviewer wear out her Ventra monthly pass transit card in a single afternoon while covering ChillFest 2013? (Will reveal the answer at the end of this review). After a short but quick bus rides from north Milwaukee to Damn and then Damen to Webster, SouthSide arrived at her next destination - ReMarked Salon to check out Farkus' vocalist Tony Maguire serenading the staff and clientele at this Bucktown "venue". For this reviewer, it was one unique stop just as it was probably a unique experience for everyone inside the salon to hear live acoustic music while getting a cut and/or blow dry.  It was quite evident that Tony played from the heart amongst the downtempo guitar riffs and falsetto vocal tone, blogspot readers. He wanted your ears (besides your heart) to believe the heartfelt emotions composed for the lyrics that were being sung. For example, his rendition of Lindsey Buckingham's Big Love took on a different meaning than when SouthSide first heard the song back in the late 80s. Tony's cover was very haunting as his deep tenor falsetto voice made an emotional plea amongst the laidback sound and you definitely could feel the heartache in his voice too. Then he wonderfully covered the Pearl Jam classic Yellow Ledbetter to which it almost brought a tear to this reviewer's eye ...especially when hitting the high falsetto towards the end of the song. Sadly, blogspot readers, SouthSide wished she could have stayed longer but it was time to visit her next stop on the ChillFest 2013 tour around the neighborhood. In the meantime, visit Tony's full band - Farkus when they rock the stage. Visit Farkus at

CTA mad dash (on the 50 Damen bus) going southbound towards Division where the edge of Wicker Park was alive with shoppers and music amidst the light rain during the early evening time of ChillFest. SouthSide's next adventure took her the clothing boutique Penelope's where Dawn Xiana Moon was finishing her performance. Despite only catching the final minutes of her beautiful yet haunting set, this reviewer enjoyed how this singer/songwriter combined a delightful mix of (West) acoustic jazz music with hints of Asian prose and flavor (East), blogspot readers. Her ballads expressed tenderness and heartfelt emotions amidst a soulful voice and tone ...very dynamic at times that she popped the lyrics to life. The words made you feel the sentiments penned from the heart and soul. This reviewer recommends checking out Beautiful Flowers Under a Full Moon and Unyielding (Song of Songs) off her new album - Spaces Between which also features songs sung in French and Mandarin Chinese, blogspot readers. For more information, visit Dawn at

After Dawn's set, it was time for Julie Meckler to perform on "stage" at Penelope's, blogspot readers. It was a scaled down version of her full band that featured trumpet and bass backing this rising local artist on her guitar and vocals. Immediately, this reviewer enjoyed her harmonizing vocals tone ...quite soulful amidst a light contemporary pop sound. If SouthSide had to compare her to another artist, she would have to be Julie Collins due to the way her songs were full of storytelling lyrics and vivid images to which her voice popped to life. Throughout the performance, Julie had a way of making the songs like Shadow Dance seem fun and delightful to hear. With bassist Brett, she slightly twisted David Bowie's Soul Loved within her acoustic alternative style and docile vocal tone. During this rendition, Julie became more expressive sans the guitar in her hands while the trumpet playing low lullaby behind the back rhythm. It was so tender and gentle, blogspot readers. Meanwhile in another song, Julie forcefully demonstrated into making you believe she was a jealous, mean, angry etc woman but not in an angst voice pattern. Instead, she used a rather "calm" voice range that allowed it to convey what type of woman she was to the audience inside Penelope's either shopping or attending her performance. She even vividly had you thinking you're in Mexico with her from the way she painted such images in your brain. Also check out her song, Manhattan that featured some whistling at the intro and few improv lyrics to really lighten the mood of this particular song. Don't worry, blogspot readers, if you missed this special performance during ChillFest 2013. Julie Meckler along with her full band will be rockin' The Hideout on Dec 6th. In the meantime, check out her music at

Not much of a mad CTA dash for her final stop on her ChillFest tour, blogspot readers. After a quick bite, she head to Subterranean for a rare acoustic performance by local rockers The Lifeline. How rare you might ask? Well, this was the first time in the many years SouthSide has covered their shows around town in which she saw the band in a scaled down version of themselves and still equally rock a packed lounge as if they were a full band on stage. Opening the show with a powerful acoustic rendition of Not For Nothing, the audience immediately felt the power of Ryan's emotional falsetto of pain and heartache in his voice to Rebecca's haunting yet somber rhythmic tone from her violin and everything in between that gave The Lifeline music its dynamic sound. The next song, We've Been Compromised (a new one by the band) was one of many fine examples by this local band incorporating intense power of human emotion into the songwriting process. Some songs tend to vividly highlight the notion of heartache through lost love or pining for love as the pain of loneliness ...and much more. Add the violin rhythms and you have one intense music experience, blogspot readers. Besides performing songs like Push & Pull (off The Lifeline's Reflections of Hope album where you definitely experience the pain of heartache so well), Ghosts (the first song Ryan wrote for The Lifeline that this ghoulish feel from Rebecca's violin combined with Ryan's heartfelt falsetto ...chills down the spine here) and Romeo and Juliet (a darker version of the ill-fated tale of the star-crossed lovers), there were special duet and then solo moments at the middle of this performance. First came a Rebecca-Ryan duet when the pair performed Honesty in which they took the band's moody persona further down to a freezing chill. On one hand, the violin played the song like a sweet lullaby against the somber downtempo guitar riffs thus both highlighting Ryan's strong dynamic voice. Then came Ryan's powerful rendition of Seal's Kissed By A Rose (the love theme from the movie Batman Forever) that literally brought down the house. To be honest, blogspot readers, SouthSide's not a fan of the Seal song. However after hearing Ryan's voice on lyrics while playing the guitar, she enjoyed the ballad more as it was meant to be heard ...full of intense passion and energy. It felt he was singing this song specially written for someone in his life. Now that this reviewer has seen and heard both sides of The Lifeline, she hopes the band schedules more acoustic shows along with their electric side in the near future. For more information about The Lifeline, visit

Until next time, support your local scene,

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