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The CHIRP Blog

Sophie Holtzmann writesOn Tape: Cap’n Jazz Live at the Wil-Mar Center, Madison, WI (1994)

Video courtesy of: Jose C. Slater / Words by Sophie Holtzmann

Usually I’m hesitant to re-watch clips of live shows, because you can’t help but feel you’re missing out on the special collective effervescence live music provides. But I make an exception, and a recommendation, for this early Cap’n Jazz performance of “Oh Messy Life”.

Cap’n Jazz, a home-grown Chicago band, is really everything we love about the Chicago music scene. There’s a certain something approachable and thrown together about the group, with music that matches. There’s no better case study in this than in this show captured from the band’s early days while playing in Madison, Wisconsin. Armored in old t-shirts and pants that look like they’ve seen a better decade, the (at the time) 5-piece band lays down one of my personally favorite renditions of “Oh Messy Life.”

“Oh Messy Life” is a bona fide Cap’n Jazz classic, and seeing Tim Kinsella spastically yelling “you are bolder than a buzzing bug” in person will take you right back to your own house-show days. Some major Cap’n Jazz fans might notice there’s even some variation in this performance of the song as opposed to the track printed for their anthology Analphabetapolothology. And for those not-yet major fans, take a watch through and appreciate the small unique aspects of this rendition (that you can then show off at your next party or gathering).

This performance is particularly endearing as it’s so early in this group’s musical careers, which followed with a tumultuous break up years later. Having become somewhat of a Chicago legend, with the many years and range of shows in the city and surrounding suburbs, fans were justifiably bummed at the band’s (first) break up.

But just like our fair city’s weather, spring came again, and even more like Chicago’s weather, it was completely unpredictable. The band played an impromptu set at the Empty Bottle in 2011, reuniting with little to no publicity. Since then, the band has played in massive settings and even this year earned a spot at the Vans House Party in Chicago. Given their huge growth spurt in popularity and renown, I suggest you take time to look back on where Cap’n Jazz started and appreciate the early days.


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Categorized: On Tape

Topics: capn jazz

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