You’d think that I ‘d be sick of music after weeks of doing little but editing, laying out, and otherwise futzing with my music sketch book, but you’d be wrong. Nearly every free moment I had was spent either going to see bands, drawing bands, listening to records, or dubbing CDs from the library to my computer.
A couple weeks ago, I borrowed Marie’s car and drove to the South Shore Cultural Center to see Makaya McCraven perform with a big group which included guitarist Jeff Parker, a couple bassists, some saxophones, a vibraphone, a harp, and a bunch of other instruments.
It was an unusual place for him to play but the stage in the Paul Robeson Ballroom had enough room for his elaborate setup and the place was full by the time the band started to play. I saw Skyler, Elliot, Doug, and Jonathan there. A bunch of people I only knew by sight too. It seemed like a big deal. McCraven has been getting a bunch of buzz lately and this was like a celebration.
There was a bottleneck of cars getting out of the Cultural Center’s grounds after. Though the show was in the city, it felt like most of us had taken a roadtrip to go there and were now returning to our normal lives.
A week later I was at Thalia Hall. A band called Rattle—consisting of two young women on drums—played a great set, then came out and danced around and snapped pictures in the photo pit as Protomartyr played.
There was another band on after Protomartyr but I left, not wanting to ruin the good feeling of seeing two great bands back to back.
Bill MacKay is one of my favorite Chicago musicians. I finally got to see his new group with Doug McCombs and Charles Rumback on Wednesday. Black Duck didn’t play a full-album cover set of Television’s Marquee Moon, as they were threatening to during soundcheck, but I liked what they did anyway. It’s exciting to see a bunch of people you’ve seen a million times in other contexts come together and make something new.
Brian Case followed with a set of collaged electronics and echo-y vocals. His instrument was a black box full of wires and knobs set up on a card table. Brian’s another guy I’ve known a very long time. It’s encouraging to see him still at it.
I hadn’t planned to stay for Jessica Moss’s set, but then I met her at the bar, talking to Brian, and decided to stick around.
She looked really familiar, but that happens more and more the older you get. There are only so many kinds of faces and bodies in the world and our brains are always trying to put them in categories. They calcify into types and we make assumptions, as if we already know them; more often than not, we’re wrong.
I’m glad I stayed to hear her play. The violin is a very loaded instrument for me. Eight years of torture trying to play the thing have left me gunshy about listening to it to this day. But Moss is really good. I showed her the drawings I made after and bought her record. It wasn’t until I was on the bus home that I figured out where I knew her from. It was a documentary about her band, Silver Mt. Zion, that I’d seen earlier this year. Memories from the screen fuse with things seen with one’s own eyes all the time.
The next night I was at the Hideout for Thalia Zedek. She used a sketch of mine on the inner sleeve of her new record, which I was very flattered by. I chatted with her a bit at the merch table before she played. She gave me a copy of the LP, though I’d already bought one. I promised to give it to someone as a present. Of course, you should buy one for yourself. If you want one with my drawing, make sure and buy the record (as it’s not part of the CD art.)
Doug and Bill were in the audience, as were a bunch of other people I knew. The Hideout’s probably not gonna be around much longer, so I plan to go there as often as I can. No plans to stop being obsessed with music either. That well never seems to run dry.