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The CHIRP Blog

Erin Van Ness writes11/26-28: The Chicago Human Rhythm Project “Thanks-4-Giving” Program

With world class performances, as well as education and outreach programs, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project builds community through American tap and contemporary percussive arts. Its “Thanks-4-Giving” program is coming up the weekend after Thanksgiving at Harris Theater.

This is more than just a great cause and a high-energy event—CHIRP is an official partner. For every ticket purchased using our code (CHRP-Radio), CHIRP gets 50% of the sale. Tickets are available for the following performances:
Friday, November 26, 8pm
Saturday, November 27, 3pm and 8pm
Sunday, November 28, 3pm

Tickets are available in five price levels ($15, $25, $35, $45, $55) and can be purchased online at the Chicago Human Rhythm Project website.

To learn more the Chicago Human Rhythm Project and about its “Thanks-4-Giving” Program, visit

Harris Theater for Music and Dance is located at 205 E. Randolph Drive in Chicago.

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Categorized: Community

Karin Fjellman writesMonday! CHIRP Night at the Whistler with The Eternals, Verma & Great Society Mind Destroyers!

Monday is CHIRP night at the Whistler, and you won’t want to miss any of the bands on this bill, so get there early. Getting there late will only get you turned away — CHIRP night always packs in music fans for some great listening, socializing and drinking (CHIRP gets a percentage of the bar sales). Our DJs will spin before and after the bands, but the main attraction will be three local acts that specialize in pushing the musical limits.

Not sure if The Eternals want to make their music eternal or the disparate musical elements are eternal, but either way their “everything AND the kitchen sink” approach works. It’s bands like this that make you think you should listen to more difficult music — the lead off track to 2007’s Heavy International (Aesthetics), summarizes it nicely: “The Mix is So Bizarre.” From The Eternals you’ll hear jazz, ska, reggae, industrial electronica, all over a propulsive backbeat and conveyed via vocal harmonies that are half helium, half Curtis Mayfield. Add the occasional drill solo and cans and jars and tire irons and you can imagine that a kitchen sink would not be out of place here.

On their new EP (Plustapes) recorded live in their practice space, Verma come out of the gate on “Dust Commander” like the evil bastard child of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd performing the soundtrack to a haunted house, and they maintain that vibe throughout the five psychedelic excursions selected. This is not music played from blown speakers, but clearly they’ve been possessed by demons of distortion, for this is a fuzzed-up eardrum buzz of potential tinnitus. While they rein it back a bit by embracing some keyboard underpinnings on the quieter cuts, it’s clear that Verma vow their eternal souls to the garage rock gods.

Great Society Mind Destroyers funnel a maelstrom of fuzz-soaked garage rock through a blender of their antecedent forebears including the Yardbirds, Count Five, Nirvana, Pink Floyd — you’ll even hear some blaxploitation soundtracks and Black Moth Super Rainbow if you listen closely enough. Although it’s unclear from their name if they are pro or against LBJ, and the music is more mind expanding than destroying, there is clearly a darker element at work — a Howling, bluesy Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal focused on providing a rain of frogs on this sock-hop and turning that mutha out.

—Craig Bechtel

11:15pm – The Eternals
10:30pm – Verma
9:45pm – Great Society Mind Destroyers

The Whistler
2421 N. Milwaukee
Chicago, IL

No cover
Percentage of bar sales benefits CHIRP

CHIRP DJs spin before and after bands!
Raffle tickets sold throughout the night — win awesome prizes!

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Categorized: Event Previews

Erin Van Ness writesJoin CHIRP at a Fundraiser for Blue Sky Bakery!

Blue Sky Bakery in Chicago reaches out to homeless and at-risk youth, offering them training, employment, a work history and references, and incentives to pursue educational goals.

CHIRP is honored to be a partner and music-provider for Blue Sky Bakery’s upcoming fundraiser. We hope you’ll join us!

Cupcakes & Cocktails
Thursday, October 21st, 6-9pm
The Fine Arts Building
410 South Michigan, 10th Floor

Tickets will be $45 in advance, $55 at the door. You can purchase them online.

To learn more about Blue Sky Bakery’s employment program, visit

CHIRP benefits so greatly from the generosity of others. Now is our chance to help out another awesome local organization. See you there!

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Categorized: Event Previews

Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday Harvey Pekar Edition

Today, we honor someone who recently passed a way, a giant in the world of comix, Harvey Pekar. Pekar’s personal stories, illustrated by some of the greats of underground comics, such as R. Crumb, showed the capability for depth in a medium that was originally targeted for kids. Of course, Pekar was also one of the all-time great David Letterman guests and the movie based on his life, American Splendor, is a classic. To celebrate Harvey’s birthday, why don’t you grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 tunes, and if some vintage jazz comes up, all the better.

  1. Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody — She’s Closer Than I’ve Ever Been (I Could Sleep For A Thousand Years): This is a mellow track from the latest from the frontman of Swervedriver. This is his best solo project yet, as some songs conjure up the hard shoegazing rock of his former band, while other songs are simply lovely pop, such as this one. This has a nice swirling guitar bed that makes this song feel like it’s floating.
  2. The Syn — 14 Hour Technicolour Dream (Nuggets II): A piece of psych-pop from a band that featured some future members of Yes. The Syn actually got back together a few years ago and toured. This is alright, nothing exceptional. It’s really more notable for who is in the band rather than the quality of the song.
  3. Bob Seger — Rock And Roll Never Forgets (Night Moves): Bob Seger seems pretty reviled by a lot of people with self-proclaimed good taste. There certainly are songs that deserve utter contempt (such as “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll”). But Seger, who has a great weathered voice, is unfairly maligned, in my opinion. For years, his music mixed a love for rock and R & B basics with some more singer-songwriter elements. This is why he was sometimes lumped with Springsteen. He was not nearly as ambitious as Bruce. But on Night Moves, everything crystallized, and he had a batch of great songs. This is the album opener, a passionate call to arms. The Hold Steady should cover this.
  4. Sparks — Pulling Rabbits Out a Hat (Plagiarism): Leave it to Sparks to take over their own tribute album. The band redoes a bunch of their old songs, sometimes with guests (such as Faith No More, Erasure and Jimmy Sommerville), but most of this album has them recontextualizing old songs either as dance music or with orchestration. The latter songs are much more interesting. Producer Tony Visconti arranged these numbers to great effect. This song, which was a somewhat sterile synth-pop number in its original release (on the 1984 album of the same name) becomes baroque drama with an aggressive orchestra backing Russell Mael.
  5. The Boo Radleys — I’ve Lost the Reason (Giant Steps): A powerful tune from another band that dipped a toe into the shoegazer movement, though they blended that with some great ’60s baroque influences (everything from Love to The Beach Boys). This is a true ’90s song, in that it leans heavy on dynamics, with pretty orchestrated verses that ramp up into fuzz guitar percussive choruses.
  6. The Housemartins — Think For A Minute (London 4 Hull 0): This British band mixed the jangly indie rock that was typical of that portion of the ’80s with a genuine soulfulness, which is manifested in the aching voice of Paul Heaton. Moreover, their lyrics were often thoughtful political commentary that was somehow not at odds with the poppy music. That really holds true on this intent ballad which could be compared favorably to a Curtis Mayfield protest song, though with less of an R & B base.
  7. Gil Scott-Heron — I’m New Here (I’m New Here): My only beef with Scott-Heron’s new album is how short it is. Some of these songs pair his still authoritative voice with electronic backing, which works extremely world. Other songs are on the other end of the spectrum, pairing Scott-Heron with minimal backing. This is a simple rhythmic folk-guitar backing, as Scott-Heron half narrates, half sings this tune. At times his voice is surprisingly gruff, yet when he hits the refrain it smooths out. It’s different than his usual declamatory style (which comes through on other tunes), but it’s just as effective. He is now a voice of experience and there’s no doubt how much he’s feeling the words he is singing.
  8. The Gaslight Anthem — The ’59 Sound (The ’59 Sound): If there’s one song this band should be known for, this is it. In the tradition of everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Social Distortion, the Anthem romanticizes working class life and rock and roll. I think there’s is little that’s really original about their sound. But they invest their songs with scads of passion and plenty of personality. There is always a need for this music that is empathetic and kick ass at the same time. Their latest album is more mature and an acceptable refinement, but I think they should take a step back on the next one and make a bid to play arenas, which they deserve.
  9. Foghat — Take It Or Leave It (The Best of Foghat): Maybe putting this mellow mid-tempo Foghat tune on my iPod was not such a good idea. This plays to none of their (limited) strengths. This actually has more in common with Steely Dan than one might expect from these bluesy rockers.
  10. Crowded House — She Goes On (Woodface): Woodface is a beloved album amongst Crowded House fans, chock full of some of the band’s best known songs. This is not one of those songs. Yet it is one of the dozens upon dozens of superbly constructed songs from the pen of Neil Finn. It has a light Latin inflection and a neat horn and string instrumental break. But the heart of the tune is the simple melody and the indelible chorus. This is why Finn can be mentioned in the same breath as writers like Paul McCartney and Andy Partridge.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: harvey pekar, ipod, mp3

Erik Roldan writesA Conversation With John Bellows

John Bellows is Chicago singer-songwriter working in the Jeff Mangum school of honesty, throwing in some self-deprecating humor to keep him grounded. His MySpace page contains the blurb “In transcendent moments of performance, I give back the energy that the audience gives to me in the flavor of raspberry truffle Godiva ice cream, and everyone in the room eats it up. Except for the people the don’t like ice cream, which is rare.”

While working in humor to his presentation, Bellows is obviously serious about his music – he’s got an LP out on Moniker Records and has two upcoming shows in October – The Turning Fork Supper Club on the 7th and Cafe Mustache on the 15th.

Earlier this Summer, John went over to Coach House Sounds and recorded a live session – CHIRP DJs will be spinning highlights from the session all week in anticipation of its release this coming Tuesday, October 12th, over at

What the dumbest thing you’ve ever done in a basement?

Envisioned myself as a famous, revolutionary rock star just for “being myself.” I was alone.

Tell me about a coach you had as a child. What did you learn from them?

I had a coach that looked like Abraham Lincoln in 8th grade. We had to do 40 push ups one day and as I rounded 35, he ran over and cheered me on up to the 40th. I learned that I had endurance in the face of hardship.

Describe a scenario where John Bellows could be someone’s life coach and the top 2 life lessons you’d teach them.

How to cook your own meals. And once for a week, I “band coached” 5 kids how to play Smells Like Teen Spirit. Those two things did a lot for my life!

What do you like about Chicago, and what makes it special to you?

Da’ Rent! I afford many luxuries in Chicago (groceries, shelter/studio, beer) with very little spending. Plus, it’s flat, and you can easily bike all over.

Tell me about your CHS session—what did you like about it? Was there anything that surprised you or was spontaneous that came out in the recording?

I get nervous when I’m being recorded cause it’s a moment set in stone. That’s one reason why I home record so much… so I can capture the appropriate mental state. But the Coach House has a stellar environment with plenty of mood lighting and I think that made for some warm recordings. Then biking on my way home, my pocket called Matt on the phone over 20 times!

What’s happening? What are your current/upcoming shows or releases?

I just purged 6 angry songs a few days ago. All written on bass guitar. I hope to purge 6 more and make an album called Verse Chorus DIE! Or maybe I could write six happy songs and call it Songs of Love and Hate.

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Categorized: Interviews

Topics: interview

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