Jam-packed weekend

May 17, 2002


There's a busy roster full of diverse sounds in Chicago this weekend, from the Eastern-tinged electronica of Cornershop to a rare local performance by the great Al Kooper, and from the third Indiepop Festival to the annual Q101 Jamboree.

Led by Tjinder Singh, the British group Cornershop comes to Metro, 3730 N. Clark, at 10 tonight in support of its genre-hopping fourth album, "Handcream for A Generation" (V2). (The cover is $15; call 773-549-0203 for more information.)

Five years in the making, the follow-up to the group's 1997 breakthrough, "When I Was Born for the 7th Time," builds on the success of the hit single "Brimful of Asha" by incorporating more bottom end and stronger house/R&B grooves into the heady mix of Eastern drones, world rhythms, and George Harrison/Beatles-styled psychedelic pop. Singh says the freshness of the disc is due in part to the band having had a break, and in part to what he learned playing with his side project, Clinton.

Roger, Wilco: Buying album sends message of support

Hello Mr. DeRogatis:

Re: Your article about Wilco's first Nonesuch release [May 2]. Of the 55,000 album sales, I'm one of them. I had all the songs in MP3 format via the online release, but I still purchased the CD. I haven't purchased a CD in over three years, mainly because I'm content with MP3 formats that are slightly sub-CD quality. So why did I purchase "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot"? To support a band that cared about songcraft unlike any other currently working. I want to do my part to make sure they keep making music.


Hello Jim:

Just wanted to let you know that I think your reviews are quite fair, articulate, and entertaining. I'll read your column even when I don't like who is being discussed. Certain moments crack me up; recently, you brought up ticket prices to David Crosby. I liked those old reviews of Britney Spears, and that time you let the singer from Third Eye Blind defend his music. I also dig your "Great Albums" section every other weekend. Thanks to you, I've checked out My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless," which is completely wonderful. I'm surprised at how much the Smashing Pumpkins' guitars sound similar to those on "Loveless," especially on "Siamese Dream."

Nicole Chambers

Pop Music Critic Jim DeRogatis co-hosts "Sound Opinions," the world's only rock 'n' roll talk show, from 10 p.m. to midnight Tuesday on WXRT-FM (93.1). E-mail him at jimdero@jimdero.com or visit him on the web at www.jimdero.com.

"I think that did a lot for Cornershop," the singer says. "On that album, the last track is totally Otis Clay, and there's a lot of Otis Clay on this new album as well." (The blues great serves as the album's MC by rapping on the first track, "Heavy Soup.") "In terms of production, the sound is augmented; there's far more bottom end and a full range of other things going on. That also comes out in the live sound. Basically, the goal was to make this album hot and undeniable, to kind of come away with an album that if it was our last album, it would be a nice way to leave."

Does this mean that the notoriously grumpy Singh is thinking of throwing in the towel?

"I could drop it all tomorrow," he says. "It all has to do with how the industry has changed. At the moment, I don't think I could carry on for too long. I've been doing it for 10 years. It seems like for some groups, they take the elevator, and other groups, they take the stairs. And mother------s like us have to take the fire exit shaft from the outside, and I'm just fed up with doing that. I've been doing it for far too long."

You heard it folks: Best catch this inventive band now while there's still a chance.

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Al Kooper is another grumpy but lovable musician--and hugely talented, of course. Last year, Sony released a prime two-disc collection, "Rare + Well Done: The Greatest & Most Obscure Recordings," charting the keyboardist's career from his Tin Pan Alley days in the early '60s, through the groundbreaking mid-'60s and early '70s sounds of the Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears, up to an eclectic array of more recent fare, like some soundtrack work for TV's "Crime Story."

As impressive as the package is, it only scrapes the surface of Kooper's many accomplishments. He is also a legendary sideman (he played the organ on Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" and the French horn on the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want"); a songwriter (he penned "This Diamond Ring," which was recorded by Gary Lewis and the Playboys), and producer (most famously on Lynyrd Skynyrd's first three albums). The parts of the story that aren't included in the box set can be gleaned from his hugely entertaining autobiography, Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards : Memoirs of a Rock 'N' Roll Survivor.

Not for nothing have some called Kooper "the Forrest Gump of rock 'n' roll." Now, the good doctor (he got an honorary degree from the famous music school Berklee, where he taught for several years) is coming to Chicago to perform with a band comprised of fellow instructors. Dr. Al Kooper and the Funky Faculty perform at 7 and 10 Saturday night at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. Tickets are $25; $23 for members, and $21 for seniors and children. Call (773) 728-6000.

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The ubiquitous indie-rock fan and tape hound Adam Jacob is once again hosting his Indiepop Festival (the first fest took place in 1997; the second, last year). The goal, according to Jacob, is to "spearhead the exposure of melody-driven underground music," and the list of talent he's recruited is an impressive one.

The festival kicks off at 10 tonight at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, with Light FM, Tom Daily and the Volunteers, and the Siderunners. On Sunday at 7 p.m., the Weakerthans, Trackstar, and the Atari Star perform at the Fireside Bowl, 2646 W. Fullerton.

Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, hosts Stars, L'Altra, and Utah Carol at 9 p.m. on May 23; Troubled Hubble, Paper Moon, and the Icicles at 5 p.m. on May 25, and Kleenex Girl Wonder, Aden, and Currituck County at 9 p.m. on May 26.

The remaining shows all take place at the Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace. Box O Car, Butterfly Child, David Singer and the Sweet Science, Tenki, and the Buddyrevelles perform at 8 p.m. on May 23; Elf Power, Archer Prewitt, the Hushdrops, Aloha, Love Scene, and Masters of the Hemisphere play 8:30 p.m. on May 24; Frisbie, +/-, the Salteens, Mink Lungs, and Man Planet play at 8:30 p.m. on May 25, and things close with the Anniversary, Detachment Kit, the Reputation, and Happy Supply at 8 p.m. on May 26.

Call (773) 235-1649 for more information on any of these shows.

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Finally, the lineup for this year's Q101 Jamboree, the radio station's annual multiband alternative-rock festival, is the best in quite some time, with five must-see acts (Zwan, Dashboard Confessional, the Strokes, Tenacious D, and headliner Kid Rock) and several lesser performers that, thankfully, are generally allotted about 20 minutes each (Our Lady Peace, Earshot, Unwritten Law, Quarashi, Trik Turner, and Hoobastank).

The show starts at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Tweeter Center in Tinley Park; tickets are $37.50 plus Ticketmaster service fees. Call (312) 559-1212.