Saturday, January 10, 2009
Cathedral High School Theatre
There has always been a shortage of venues for younger (under 21) bands, and it seems to be getting worse. As someone who ran an all-ages venue that hosted over 100 shows a year, I understand the challenges. I can think of only a hand full of shows that even covered the labor costs of staying open late. Luckily CATH had great business in the morning, so that helped balance it all out. That said, the largest crowds were always for the under 21 bands. Their fan base is great – and they don’t have as many options as the over 21 people, so they’re very loyal.
Sanuk took over (they asked first!) the theater at Cathedral High School for a Saturday afternoon show and I thought it worked out really well. The room was full of fan, friends and family. And they got to play on a real stage and have real sound and lighting support.
Their CD, “Honey, I have news…” is filled with catchy, pop-filled goodness. The band played the songs from the record and a few covers. Oliver Hopkins cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah was amazing. It started with just Oliver and Alex Collingon on percussion and the rest of the band joining in as the song reached its peak.
The band morphed from the Oliver Hopkins Trio. Oliver did the majority of the writing for the CD. The other original member, Duncan Kissinger, contributed the first track on the disc. All of the members are talented, most playing more than one instrument. You could tell they were having a blast and enjoy playing music. In addition to Oliver (vocals, guitars and keyboard), Duncan (guitar, drums and glockenspiel) and Alex (drums, percussion and vocals) and the band features Chris O'Connor (bass) Sophie Hopkins (vocals) and David Linard on keyboard.
For the encore the band sat on the edge of the stage and the fans piled in on the floor in front of them – a great way for everyone to connect. I enjoyed every minute of the show. Well done!
Sweet Potato Queen
Big Hat Books
6510 Cornell Avenue
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I’ve had wonderful fun puttering around and occasionally helping with the Big Hat Books move to their new digs next to the Broad Ripple Brew Pub. Since I occasionally work at Marigold, I had (self granted) license to dash between the two stores during the moves and soak it all in. I volunteered to help Liz Houghton Barden with the reception for Jill Conner Browne. I was not familiar with Jill’s books, but I got the feeling from looking at the book jackets she was funny and clever. As it turned out, she was. You can judge her books by the covers.
As the crowd gathered I realized that I was a bit out of my element. My first clue was that Liz was wearing a tiara. My corduroy skirt, ponytail and cowboy boots were no match for the sequins and bling. A nice woman in sparkly clothes was helping pour wine. I was surprised to learn that she was the author. It was a great indicator of Jill and her husband Kyle’s commitment to her Sweet Potato Queen fans.
Jill read from her latest book, American Thighs: The Sweet Potato Queens Guide to Preserving Your Assets, and told hilarious stories. I can’t tell you what the books are about- you’ve got to buy one for yourself.
Jill donated a bracelet that they auctioned off for Dress for Success and Kyle let women donate money by tucking money in to his shirt. Kyle took photos of everyone with Jill and posted them on the Web site. I was really impressed by their generosity.
It was a great way to christen the new store and I got to meet another Nora. There aren’t many of us and it is big fun to meet another one.
Big Hat Books
6510 Cornell Avenue
Friday, January 16, 2009
I volunteered to help with another event at Big Hat Books and I was slightly better informed about the author this time. I saw a clip on YouTube of Cindy Pierce talking about her book, Finding the Doorbell. I’m not sure that what she was saying registered with me; the white noise rushing through my head was too loud. I grew up in a household where we always used the proper words for all body parts and functions -- not that we talked about our bodies or functions. I come about my prudishness honestly.
I’ll just leave it that “finding the doorbell” is euphuism for, well, you’ll figure it out – it is a family paper. And I’m blushing as I type. Okay, here goes: The book is a humorous look at sexual satisfaction and communication for couples. There, I said it.
I really enjoyed meeting Cindy and she is wildly funny and expressive and very entertaining. The room was shaking with laughter.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
I was really looking forward to Otis Gibbs’ CD release show at the Vogue. I’d picked up extra shifts and the Red Key, extra gigs for NUVO and took clothes to The Toggery and scraped up enough cash to buy a fancy camera (Cannon Rebel XS). I really wanted it for the show and I’d been feeling naked without it.
I giggled when I saw Otis’ name on the marquee and a ticket scalper in front of the Vogue. I think a scalper is a sure sign that you’ve made it! The early show was seated and non-smoking and there were tons of people there.
I overheard someone say the evening felt like a class reunion; only it was with people that you actually want to see. I was enjoying the camaraderie and my new camera even though I had no idea how to actually use it.
Otis started the show with several solo acoustic songs, then bringing Amy Lashley to the stage to sing and the rest of the band to join him. Tad Armstrong, John Byrne and Wade Parish have all played with Otis in various band incarnations over the years. They sounded great and harmonized beautifully. I loved looking back and seeing Jonee Quest running sound.
I wound up spending the second half of the show selling Otis merchandise. Which I love! I’m not good at math or standing still, but I seem to be a merch savant. I told music booker/ talent buyer, Matt Schwegman that I’d always wanted to be a merch girl at the Vogue. I guess I need a new goal now.
It became apparent after just a few minutes that I had totally no idea how to operate my new SLR camera, including shooting without the flash. I’d read the manual and practiced on my cat, but that didn’t translate to real life photography. Matthew “Dirty Matt” Aaron gave me a quick lesson. Matt is an amazing photographer, you can find his work lining the backstage walls of Verizon Music Center (Deer Creek for you traditionalists) and in a bunch of CDs. Getting a photo lesson from Matt is equivalent to getting a violin lesson from Itzhak Perlman. [you can find more photos here.
I made my annual trip to the Alley Cat after the show. Much like the Red Key, nothing seems to change there – in a good way.
Mortgage Burning Party
2210 E 54th St
In these uncertain economic times it is wonderful to hear good news for a small business. Judy Guerra bought the restaurant ten years ago and now she owns it! Woo Hoo! She celebrated with a party and music.
The Young Relics have been playing together for almost as long as Judy’s had the restaurant. The trio (Mike Flemming, Mark Plummer and Bob Stevens) play classic sing-along songs and funny, make me blush songs. All crowd pleasers. They are great musicians and harmonize wonderfully. Rumor has it you can catch them most Thursdays, but don’t hold me to that.
Judy is a wonderful asset to the community. Her generosity has been recognized in the Congress and is an official part of the Congressional record. Congratulations Judy!
Lockstep, Latex Novelties, And Up! Scumbag and Pleasant Run.
Friday, January 30, 2009
ES Jungle, 6151 Central Avenue
7:00, all-ages, $7.00
As I mentioned in the Sanuk review above, there is a lack of all-ages venues. ES Jungle is filling that need admirably. Piradical Productions has been putting on shows there for several months. This line up is truly inspired, matching up three generations of bands. Too often “all-ages” is code for under 21 year olds. In this case, it really means all ages. Latex Novelties packed the Melody Inn on New Years Eve. Good stuff.
Typhanie Monique and Neal Auger
Saturday, February 7, 2009
The Jazz Kitchen
5377 N. College Ave.
I’m going to let the lovey LuAnn Lancton tell the story:
With two critically-acclaimed discs to their credit, and on the heels of the release of their third CD YULETIDE GROOVE, the jazz duo of vocalist Typhanie Monique and guitarist Neal Alger will perform at one of the "top 100 jazz clubs in the world", the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis. The duo will expand to a quartet with bass and drums for this performance and the set times are 8pm and 10pm.
YULETIDE GROOVE charted at number 30 in it's first week on the Jazz Week Chart. Local Chicago stations WDCB, WRRG, and WNUA have given the release a multitude of spins. WJZA, a jazz radio station out of Columbus, OH has noted that "in addition to covering 10 of the more familiar carols, [Typhanie and Neal] also add such rarely heard but no less-holiday-oriented songs as 'Happy Xmas (War is Over)' by John Lennon and 'Someday at Christmas' by Stevie Wonder".
While Monique and Alger were already performing together in a quartet setting in 2002, a local Chicago venue Pops for Champagne asked Typhanie and Neal to peform solely as a duo for Monday night residency. After several years of thoroughly enjoying the process of honing duo arrangements of their favorite songs, jazz or otherwise, Alger and Monique decided to embark in earnest on the duo journey by documenting their musical magic onto disc. The resulting disc, 2004's INTRINSIC, showed the jazz world that Monique and Alger could deftly move from swing to R&B/hip-hop grooves, then on to latin rhythmic feels, and back again while always maintaining improvisational integrity. Indeed, the duo's versatility on INTRINSIC led Cadence magazine to write "the duo combines tradition with heartfelt passion and innovation".
On the duo's second disc, IN THIS ROOM, released in 2007, Chicago-based bossa nova star Paulinho Garcia makes a brilliant appearance on the duo's Brazilian-oriented version of the Jackson 5 classic "Never Can Say Goodbye". IN THIS ROOM was also not without jazz warhorses like the opener of the disc, Ellington's "Caravan" , which "shows the pair in perfect union, with Monique soulfully scatting as Alger paints wah-wah effected shapes" (DOWNBEAT magazine).