February 26, 2006



Rock 'n' roll is at its best when it is a spirited dialogue between people who passionately care about the music. To that end, this column will occasionally run feedback from its readers, as well as answers to musical queries in the style of Roger Ebert's Movie Answer Man. Comments and questions can be sent to


You singled out Kanye West and Jamie Foxx's performance of "Gold Digger" as one of the Grammy highlights, but also asked, "What was with the drum major outfits? Don't ask me."

The entire performance, including using the acronyms of "KWS" (Kanye West State) and "JFU" (Jamie Foxx University) was a tribute to historically black colleges and universities, which are famous for their high-stepping marching bands. The "Battle of the Bands" is the main attraction for the nationally televised Bayou Classic between Grambling State and Southern University, and black fraternities and sororities have step competitions throughout the school year. Just wanted to share this quick explanation, but I'm glad you agreed it was a very exciting performance!

Heidi Barker


Thank you for resurrecting the "Great Albums" feature in the Sun-Times (Feb. 5). As a child of the '90s, your columns help me appreciate the music I was already listening to on a grander scale (Nirvana, the Velvet Underground, etc.) while introducing me to artists whom otherwise I would have never given a chance (Patti Smith, Common). I was ecstatic last week when I opened my Sunday paper and saw you choosing "Like Water for Chocolate" as a Great Album over more well-established "classics" such as "Tommy." It's good to see that someone else on this planet shares a liking for subversive pieces rather than cliched rehashings of what a "great album" is supposed to be.

Now, how about a feature on "Parklife" by Blur or "Transmissions From the Satellite Heart" by the Flaming Lips?

Matt Miller, Oak Lawn


I have been a fan of Common's since I first heard "Can I Borrow a Dollar?" I am thrilled to see him getting the accolades and respect that he deserves -- he is truly a gifted musician and lyricist, and I do believe that your article on Sunday did an excellent job of tracing his career and pointing out the strong points of the man and his music, as well as telling the story of the journey that both have taken.

Mfon Abas


Excellent article on Ray Davies (Feb. 19). I have been a lifelong Kinks fan, and I thought literally the same thing you stated when I saw the Storyteller tour. ("It was an entertaining evening to be sure, but I was sad that Davies, like so many legendary musicians from the '60s, seemed content to revel in sweet nostalgia.") I can't wait to hear the new CD and see him at the Vic on April 2.

Bill Cannon


Normally I do not agree with some of your assessments, but this year I agree with you about the Grammys (Feb. 9). The Sly Stone tribute was poorly executed and sad. Sly could not sing and was out of it. And with Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and others of that ilk on the show, they chose Ciara and Maroon 5 to pay tribute to Sly?

Sherrel Humphrey


The crowd at the Jeff Tweedy benefit for Gary Schepers (Jan. 25) was everything an audience should not be. Two songs into the acoustic set, Tweedy was beset with requests, the audience singing over him (poorly, with the wrong lyrics, I might add) and people generally yelling to be heard. The singer had to ask at one point if the crowd had been tailgating before the show, and it was a fair assumption.

I've been to Slayer shows where the crowd was more well-mannered. Imagine a Jimmy Buffett/Dave Matthews crowd with even more beer and testosterone, and you get a sense of what it was like. When did the price of a ticket give one the right to be a participant instead of an engaged listener? I felt embarrassed to be a part of the whole mess.

Matthew Brett


U2, Mariah and Kanye at the Grammys. Man, today's music sucks. I am going to buy myself a John Fahey record.

Peter Gilbertson, Mount Prospect


Just a quick thank you for writing such a nice article about Marty Casey and his band Lovehammers (Feb. 3). As a huge fan of the band, it is great to see an article supporting these guys and their music. The music is great, and they are kick-ass performers!

Gina Ingraham


I thought your Lovehammers article was pretty mean-spirited: Is that any way to say "Welcome to Chicago" to INXS, the band that gave Marty his break? Where on earth to do you think the Lovehammers would be playing had it not been for INXS? But who am I? Just a lady with tickets to the Chicago show, airline and hotel reservations, meeting a group of folks from all over the country converging to see INXS and their new lead singer, J.D. Fortune -- not Marty Casey.

Joyce Andersen, Columbus, Ohio


The blues, jazz and gospel fests are free, but the rock fest is going to charge for tickets? ("Lollapalooza adds third day, stretches out," Feb. 14) Unfair! When will City Hall "get it" and make this one free, as well?

Nina D. Gaspich, Chicago


Thank you for sharing the extremely bogus news on the Radiohead show that the city passed up ("Radiohead out of Millennium Park," Jan. 9). I'm so sad to hear that, since Radiohead is by far my favorite band, and I can say that the show they did at Hutchinson Field was probably the greatest outdoor live show I have ever seen.

I did go to the Tori Amos show last year in Millennium Park, and there was no doubt after that show that it would be a phenomenal place for the city to hold some one-of-a-kind rock shows throughout the summer. They are blowing a great opportunity to have one of the greatest bands in the world play at one of the most beautiful music venues in the world.

Scott Pacyna