Matthew Sweet concert at City Winery in Chicago

July 26, 2014

Matthew Sweet didn’t interact with the audience much Friday night at the City Winery in Chicago. He spoke only a couple of times (other than when he was pitching his Kickstarter campaign for a new album and bronze cat figurines). He didn’t open his eyes but a few times, either (he said the lights hurt […]

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Taste of Tippecanoe, 2014

June 21, 2014

I’m bummed. Local officials postponed the Taste of Tippecanoe just a couple songs into Jennie DeVoe’s set because of a big storm headed our way. I don’t blame them. You don’t mess with public safety. But damn. The Indianapolis-based singer, who delivers blues and a bit of country with a sweet rasp, was making tons […]

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Mahsa Vahdat and Mighty Sam McClain: ‘Scent of Reunion: Love Duets Across Civilizations’

June 17, 2014

Soul and bluesman Mighty Sam McClain’s voice floats. Iranian singer Mahsa Vahdat’s voice soars. Together, their tunes &#151 rooted in the sounds of traditional R&B and traditional Persian music &#151 are almost other-worldy in their beauty. I’m partial to “Scent of Reunion: Love Duets Across Civilizations,” but everything they’ve recorded is worth acquiring.

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2014 Chicago Blues Festival photos

June 16, 2014

I made it to the Chicago Blues Festival only on Saturday this year. Work intervened Friday and I wanted to beat the storm home Sunday. I’m not complaining. I heard a bunch of great blueswomen. I also took my friend Diana to her first blues fest and the weather was almost perfect. We started the […]

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Sam Morrow: ‘Ephemeral’

May 30, 2014

John Steinbeck would love Sam Morrow. The young musician, still in his early 20s, writes about addiction, love and heartache with a photographer’s eye for detail. His musical tales are nuanced and tragic, vivid and hopeful. Morrow knows the subject matter intimately; he’s been drinking since his early teens, and a few years ago his […]

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Cahl’s Jukebox, 5-29-14

May 29, 2014

Thursday morning blues: 1) Percy Strother: “Love is Growing Cold” 2) Jimmy Witherspoon: “Early Morning Blues” 3) Jimmy Rushing: “Blues in the Dark” 4) Eddie Boyd: “What Makes These Things Happen to Me” 5) Otis Spann: “Trouble in Mind” 6) Michael Burks: “Salty Tears” 7) Calvin Leavy: “Brought You to the City” 8) Preston Shannon: […]

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Chicago Blues Festival preview: Diamond Jim Greene

May 27, 2014

Diamond Jim Green coaxed a variety of sounds, a lifetime of emotions, out of the guitars he used on his 2012 release, “Surrounded.” On the opening track, “Shake ’em on Down,” Greene’s guitar riffs are as jaunty as his vocals and the horns. Greene and his guitar sound as if they’re creeping down an old […]

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Cahl’s Jukebox, 5-26-14

May 26, 2014

Today’s mix: 1) Shouting Matches: “Gallup, NM” 2) Thad Cockrell: “My Favorite Memory” 3) Halleyanna: “Out of the Blue” 4) Toni Price: “Lonesome Wind” 5) Todd Farrell Jr. and the Dirty Birds: “Liner Notes” 6) Matt Hannah: “Sweet Sweet Time” 7) Peter Bruntnell: “Handful of Stars” 8) Beachwood Sparks: “Forget the Song” 9) Eilen Jewell: […]

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The Fast Romantics: ‘Afterlife Blues’

May 26, 2014

The lyrics to the songs on The Fast Romantics’ “Afterlife Blues,” the latest album by the group of Canadian indie pop rockers, cover some dark topics. The album’s far from a downer, though … even as they sing about breakups and death. The Fast Romantics love life. You can tell with every happy pulse from […]

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Cahl’s Jukebox, 5-25-14

May 25, 2014

Today’s mix: 1) The Coasters: “Shopping for Clothes” 2) The Treniers: “Good Rockin’ Tonight” 3) Roy Brown: “Mighty Mighty Man” 4) Ruth Brown: “Daddy Daddy” 5) Annisteen Allen: “Fujiyama Mama” 6) Wynonie Harris: “Bad News Baby” 7) Amos Milburn: “Thinking and Drinking” 8) Pee Wee Crayton: “Blues After Hours” 9) The 5 Royals: “Baby Don’t […]

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Frank Lacy and the Smalls Legacy Band: ‘Live at Smalls’

May 24, 2014

A couple of weeks ago while in New Orleans for jazz fest I bounced from stage to stage and club to club listening to some of the best trombonists in the world. They were amazing, particularly the ones in the many brass bands I heard. Many times, I found myself thinking how cool it would […]

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