As the sleepy days
of January continue in clubland, here are several noteworthy events
for fighting the winter blahs and three columns in one: a series of
benefits for a beloved Chicago music scene stalwart, a flurry of
activity from the Windy City's hardest-working man in show business,
and a solo performance by one of the most promising songwriters in
the indie-rock underground.
name may not be well-known to many local music lovers, but if you've
frequented any of the city's coolest rock clubs over the last two
decades, chances are you've seen him behind the soundboard and heard
the results of his mixing talents.
worked as a soundman at Lounge Ax, the Abbey Pub, the Empty Bottle,
Martyrs', FitzGerald's and Schubas, and he regularly ran live sound
for bands such as Eleventh Dream Day, Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt,
Material Issue and many others, in addition to playing tuba in Devil
in a Woodpile.
the holidays, the 48-year-old scenester was diagnosed with Type 2
diabetes, a disease that probably exacerbated a painful swelling in
his foot, which turned out to be a nasty infection that has kept him
in the hospital for several weeks. Schepers is facing tens of
thousands of dollars in health-care bills, and like many musicians,
he does not have health insurance. His predicament has inspired an
outpouring of support from a music community that, even by the
standards of the always generous Chicago scene, is almost
With the efforts
being spearheaded by the folks at Bloodshot Records, eight benefits
for Schepers have been confirmed already. These kick off at 9
tonight at FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt in Berwyn. Alt-country hero
Jay Farrar (Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt) headlines in the main room with
Robbie Fulks, Corky Siegel and Bakelite 78, while Devil in a
Woodpile, Dolly Varden, Bunker Town, Prohibition Orchestra of
Chicago and others play in the side bars. The cover for the main
club is $25, with a $10 minimum donation in the side bar. Call (708)
from noon to 4 p.m., the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, presents a kids'
show with the Blisters, Wee Hairy Beasties (Jon Langford, Sally
Timms, Kelly Hogan and Devil in a Woodpile) and Nora O'Connor
(adults $10, kids $5), while Califone, Edith Frost, Grimble Grumble
and a solo Chris Mills play an adult show starting at 8 p.m. Tickets
are $20. Call (773) 227-4433.
The Abbey Pub,
3420 W. Grace, is hosting one benefit show at 9:30 tonight with the
New Duncan Imperials ($12 at the door), and another starting at 9
p.m. Wednesday with Jeff Tweedy and Devil in a Woodpile. Tickets are
$30. Call (773) 478-4408. As always, Tweedy's show is certain to
draw the Wilco faithful, who will no doubt hope to hear some of the
new songs that are coming together for the new studio album the
group plans to release later this year.
On Thursday at 8
p.m., Jim and Dave Boquist, Mike Heidorn, Mark Sheehy and Kelly
Hogan perform at Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln (tickets, $15;
773-404-9494); on Jan. 27, the Bottle Rockets, Tijuana Hercules and
Great Crusades play at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, starting at 9:30
p.m. (tickets, $12; call 773-525-2508), and at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 4,
Freakwater and Jim Elkington perform at the Hideout.
benefits are expected to be announced in the coming weeks -- watch
bloodshotrecords.com/news/ -- and Bloodshot has established
the "Gary Schepers Trust" to accept donations at any National City
Bank branch or by mail at National City Bank, 1520 N. Damen,
Chicago, IL 60622.
While the City
Council isn't likely to acknowledge it, this is pretty much Jon
Langford Week in Chicago.
active leader of the Mekons and the Waco Brothers will be more
ubiquitous than ever in the coming weeks as he gears up for the
release of his third solo album, "Gold Brick," and participates in a
number of multimedia events.
The singer and
songwriter will present a 2-hour live multimedia performance of "The
Executioner's Last Songs" -- Langford likens it to "Depression-era
populist theater," with images compiled by Barry Mills -- featuring
a crack band composed of Mekons vocalist Sally Timms, violinist Jean
Cook, bassist Tony Maimone and drummer Dan Massey at 7:30 p.m. today
and Saturday at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago.
Tickets are $22, $18 for members. Call (312) 397-4010 or visit
will participate in the 10th annual Story Week presented by the
Fiction Writing Department of Columbia College at Metro, 3730 N.
Clark, on March 16 as part of a program called "Fighting Words:
Stories of Risk & Rebellion." Admission is free.
As for "Gold
Brick," the CD is Langford's first release for the New York label
ROIR, and as evidenced by the subtitle, "Lies of the Great Explorers
or Columbus at Guantanamo Bay," it's another strong example of the
artist's political/sociological wit and wisdom, not to mention
exquisite songwriting. The disc will be released on March 9.
the killer ork-pop band the Decemberists slated to begin
recording their fourth album and first major-label release for
Capitol in April, bandleader, singer and songwriter Colin Meloy is
undertaking a solo tour that brings him to the Park West, 322 W.
Armitage, at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
been the sort of group that has lived and breathed indie-ness,"
Meloy told the Pitchfork Web-zine. "Even after we recorded 'Her
Majesty the Decemberists' [the band's second album in 2003], it was
pretty clear that we would probably be at a point after the next
record that we would be moving on to something bigger."
Meloy has hardly
turned his back on the indie ethic, however: As part of the solo
tour, he has recorded an EP of covers by '60s British folk artist
Shirley Collins, which will be for sale only at these gigs. Laura
Veirs opens the Park West show. Tickets are $15. Call (773)