Saturday, August 27, 2016

boogie wonderland depot

Glancing around the interwebs Saturday morning, thinking about what there might be to do around town that evening, we stumbled across Boogie Wonderland, set to appear at Depot #9 at Ameristar Casino.  It turned out to be fun little flashback.

The usual YouTube search yielded a couple of covers by the band that were solid, and we were immediately intrigued.  This was throwback material.  House music before it was House music.  It seemed like it might be a little cheesy.  Sometimes cheesy is good though. There was nothing else going on. I suppose I should qualify that.  There were other dance music events happening, if you wanted to wait around until 11 pm.

We prefer an early agenda.  Many other folks do as well, but nobody seems to get that.  They get it in Miami, New York, Chicago, San Diego.  Why not here?  It would be great to see some late afternoon, early evening events, especially in the summer.

This show started at 830, but we didn't make it down until about 9 pm, and they were already going full tilt, and everyone was up dancing! Indeed, with the songs they were playing, it didn't take us long to get out on the floor and get down.

And, every time they finished a song and folks started to leave the dance floor, they dragged them right back with another chart topper from the 1970s.  It was that kind of night.

The five-piece band put on a fantastic show, bringing lights, mirror balls, and full costume.  They banged out track after track of some of the hottest hits of the 1970s from folks like the Bee Gees, Kool and the Gang, Chic, Gloria Gaynor or Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Checking their site again later, we found out they perform pretty frequently around town, and points beyond.  Apparently, they have been at it since 2006 too.  I totally missed that one, and we will definitely be dropping in on a future gig.  Check out their calendar for an upcoming show near you and get there and dance!  You will be glad you did.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

hot country nights w/ dwight yoakam

I will admit that I am not much of a Modern Country music fan.  It is too reminiscent of bad 50s pop, electrified a bit, with a few twangs added for good measure.  Give me a good dose of Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, or Willie Nelson over that stuff any day.  And now, you could probably add Dwight Yoakam to that list.

My partner is a little partial to the stuff though, so we headed down with a couple of friends to catch Dwight Yoakam at Kansas City Power & Light District.  It was free, so what the heck, right? The others that went along, did so for much the same reason, and the people-watching, of which there was plenty.

The crowd did not tend towards the typical Wanna-Be Cowboys, which was a bit of a surprise.  There were plenty of those to go around though.  I often wonder if these guys know how easy there are to identify.  Real cowboys, otherwise known as farmers/ranchers, generally stand in stark contrast, lacking a big shiny belt buckle, fashion boots, and a brand-spanking new cowboy hat.  They usually got a girl in tow though, which is more than the Wanna-Be does.

We amused ourselves watching several Wanna-Be strut around trying to pick up girls half their age.  Talking with a silly and obviously fake drawl, they attempted to buy these girls a few drinks, trying desperately to convince them to go for a ride in their shiny new pick-up to their huge spread in one of the little farm towns like Blue Springs or Overland Park.  On the latter, they failed more times than we could count; the former, the girls always win, scoring a multitude of free drinks.

A lack of an overwhelming number of these type of folks was somewhat reassuring though.  It tends to be a key indicator that the music might actually be decent, and that folks are there for that. It was, and most of them were.

The show had a pretty good turn-out overall.  Indeed, expecting as much, we arrived early enough to suffer through the warm-up bands, whomever they were.  The first group was actually pretty good, playing a more traditional flavor.  The second probably was too, but a poor match for the show, playing something that was a bit more popular alternative making me wonder if that is the new direction for "Country" music.  I hope not.

The crowd was more than ready by the time Dwight took the stage.  He played some great tunes, and seemed to lean more towards the more traditional sound, so I had a little greater appreciation for it, along with the fact that I knew a couple of the tunes.  We had a really great time overall, and the crowd did too, singing along with every song.

We did not stay for the whole show though.  It had been hot all day, and remained rather humid and generally uncomfortable most of the evening.  In addition, the sound was terrible.  It usually is not bad there, but something was definitely off.  We were in the back near the stairs, and it was definitely missing on the lower end of the spectrum.  After about five tunes, we split the scene, seeking the comfort of our air conditioned vehicles and home.  It was a school night after all.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

millennium park summer music series

While visiting Chicago, I enjoyed the opportunity to catch some live music at one of my most favorite venues in the entire US, Millennium Park.  Along with a couple of thousand others lounging about the lawn Thursday night, it was a great evening of music at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, as part of the 2016 Millennium Park Summer Music Series.

It was a near perfect evening for the event.  Temperatures got up around 33 C earlier in the day, but relief from the sun comes early in the park, thanks to the skyscrapers to the west.  As with everyone else, we made a stop at the grocery for a few essentials first, and arrived just as the sun was beginning to fall behind Fornelli Tower, casting one long wide shadow across the lawn near the stage.

Solo recording artist Sinkane started the evening off about 630 pm, with a blend of free jazz and funk rock with a Sudanese twist.  It had a little bit of reggae / jam-band feel, and was definitely something everyone seemed to really like.

Mark de Clive-Lowe took the stage next.  A musician, composer and producer, originally from New Zealand, he is a veteran of the UK Broken Beat movement, blending jazz, electronic dance music, funk and percussive heavy world music to create his own unique sound.

The show ended about 9 pm, and we packed our stuff up and made our way back to the streets of Chicago.  It was surprising to note that the park not littered from one end to the other.  Folks just seem to have an unusual level of respect for this space.

I suppose that is part of what makes this venue so great.  Well maintained by the people that use the space, everyone always seems generally respectful of the environment.  They pack out everything they bring in, and enjoy their time there peaceably.  I have never seen the sort of trash clutter at this venue I have witnessed at other outdoor venues with much stricter entry policies; ironic, indeed!

All of this in light of the fact that it is so free and open.  Folks haul in their coolers, blankets, chairs, min-tables, and their favorite beverages, whether they in glass or not.  There is no pushing and shoving to get in the door; no fighting over seats, no rudeness.  There is no overtly paranoid security groping you and violating your dignity as you enter, divesting you of your favorite beverages.  Who cares?  The only thing not allowed, smoking.  Take it to the side, and off the lawn.  Otherwise, everyone just shows up and finds a piece of grass that suits them best.

If you missed this show, there is always the video montage below; otherwise, there are few more shows slated for the remainder of the summer.  Check the listing below from the the City of Chicago web site, and get out there and lounge around on the lawn!

Upcoming Performances at the Millennium Park Summer Music Series...

Thursday, August 11, 6:30pm - Mbongwana Star and Dos Santos Antibeat Orchestra
Mbongwana Star is a psychedelic African dance band from Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Chicago-based Dos Santos: Anti-Beat Orchestra rocks the sounds of popular pan-Latin American dance genres—from cumbia to salsa.

Thursday, August 18, 6:30pm - Elephant Revival and Mandolin Orange
Elephant Revival are a quintet from Colorado whose sound encompasses elements of gypsy, rock, Celtic, alt-country and folk. Mandolin Orange is an Americana folk duo from Chapel Hill, North Carolina whose music has received critical acclaim from NPR, American Songwriter others.
Thursday, August 25, 6:30pm - Tortoise + Homme
Throughout its 25-year history, Chicago-based post-rock instrumental quintet Tortoise has nodded to dub, rock, jazz, electronica and minimalism throughout its revered and influential, six-album discography, but the group’s resulting sound continues to defy easy categorization.  HOMME is an experiment in voice and sound by Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart who joined forces in 2014, inspired by the free improvisational music scene in Chicago, and influenced by folk and avant-garde rock.