Live Music

Reggie Rajah Helm

Reggie Rajah Helm

Reggie Rajah Helm is in the studio working on the follow up to En Sabado, and there'll be a first chance to hear some of his new material when he plays at The Country Club Hills Theater on July 16 for their "Jazz Under The Stars" series. Rajah opens the show for Jazz / R&B artist Kem, and besides introducing the new material, he'll also be performing two songs as a tribute to the late, great Curtis Mayfield.

Performing with Rajah will be two talented background vocalists, Al Young and Alfreida Young, who he first worked with while performing with Terisa Griffin (Terisa Griffin also sang two of the tracks on En Sabado) at the Dusable Museum. Performing on alto and soprano sax, Rajah is also planning on introducing his rendition of a rock classic by Led Zeppelin. Although he's not revealing the title of the track yet, he does say that it will be included on the new album, entitled Chase-N-Me There.

Sammy Tenuta's Acoustic Sleepover EP

Sammy Tenuta's just released Acoustic Sleepover EP is a four-song collection that showcases two very different sides of the singer-songwriter. Two of the tracks, "Places" and "Sweet Goodbyes", are melodically beautiful pop songs that tell personal stories, but stories that almost everyone has lived. Compelling and emotional, both tracks have the haunting melodic touch that is a hallmark of many of Tenuta's songs. The other two tracks on the EP ("Liberty Falls" and "Til Then I Wait") show the harder side of Tenuta's writing, even in this acoustic setting. Acoustic Sleepover was recorded by Art Rento, who also produced the four tracks with Tenuta, and the two manage to find a careful balance between the simplicity of the acoustic format and the appeal of tastefully added arrangment.

The release party for the project is Saturday, June 18 at The Playroom, (773 625-5300), and favorite Allison Wonderlin will open the show (starting around 8PM). She'll be playing a number of her originals, like "I Believe" and "Hopes Will Fall", and it just might be the last chance to catch her live before she leaves for Nashville.

Sammy Tenuta plays again on June 24 at noon at the Thompson Center, 100 E. Randolph, and Acoustic Sleepover is at cdbaby (CD and mp3), and at Amazon.

Genre Defiance From Hay Perro

Hay Perro (Photo by Phillip Batta)

Hay Perro's "Eastern Ideas of Death" is out now, and the word about it is starting to go around. Here's an excerpt from a great interview with Chris Grubbs, lead singer for Hay Perro, that just appeared in The Illinois Entertainer: "Hay Perro is unknown to most of you right now, but you’d be doing yourself an enormous favor by changing that and listening to the scorching Eastern Ideas Of Death ... the absolute essence of the sound Hay Perro has crafted during its five-year existence: intricate heavy-metal — dual-guitar harmonies everywhere — played with madcap punk-rock ferocity."

Divide-and-conquer compartments are perfect for large media organizations; they can take polls, confiscate private information, and hire focus groups, and then use all that data to make entertainment they own outright and can market to death --- but it's definitely not the best way to make music. Hay Perro may be a metal band that leans toward punk, or maybe they're a punk band that loves metal, but whatever they are, they play what they play because that's how it ended up when they made the music. Here are a couple of examples of the music they make, both from the just-released Eastern Ideas. First, more of a metal vibe, from the title track, "Eastern Ideas of Death":

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Then, more on the punk side with this excerpt from "He's From Norway":

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For a nine-song ride through Hay Perro's world of punk-metal genre defiance, check out "Eastern Ideas of Death", at Amazon or iTunes, or get a copy you can really own at the Release Party at Quenchers at 9PM on March 11. Besides seeing a great band, you can enjoy this part too: nothing defies the media dictatorship more successfully than being open-minded.

Blackened Blue New Years Eve

Blackened Blue (courtesey of

Blackened Blue is returning to Philadelphia's Trocadero for the Troc's New Years Eve show, this time playing with a killer band called Halestorm. I'm just checking them out now for the first time, courtesy of the link from Blackened Blue, and listening to Halestorm, this could be a great show --- the two bands definitely have complimentary ideas of multi-textured guitars woven into dynamic, imaginative arrangements. Speaking of arrangements, Blackened Blue are in the studio working on two new tracks, and they've just finished doing an interview on Philadelphia's Gas Light radio. We'll be working on links to the new tracks and to the interview as soon as they're available. Until then, for more info check out, and while you're there, take a minute to go listen to Halestorm.

Youngblood Brass Band

Youngblood Brass Band

I don't know if I've ever met anybody whose band had a cooler story than Youngblood Brass Band. I ran into Joe Goltz at a party last summer, and ever since then I've thought that I should tell somebody about YB, which is a nine-piece horn band that pretty much defies any further description. I'll just post a few links so you can see (well, and hear) for yourself. I don't really even know if they're nine-piece; I can't ask Joe because it took me so long to write this article that they all left the country. They do that every year, because their completely unprecedented approach to brass-driven music is radio-ready, sell-out material all through their European tours.

From Philadelphia's Rock Scene: Blackened Blue

We're following a band from Philadelphia called Blackened Blue, and we've just posted a recent recording of one of their newer tracks, "High Tide", in our On The Side section. Blackened Blue's music is unique in a way that will often stay beneath the media radar for awhile. They're unusual, and unusually musical, but not in any of the ways that will usually attract immediate media attention. One of the really unique qualities they bring to their original music is that their song arrangements showcase a vibrantly creative respect between the four musicians. It allows them to put tracks together that are precisely crafted, but that move effortlessly --- and often surprisingly --- across a range of musical boundaries. You wouldn't usually hear a blistering metal passage as part of a groove-based song, or a lyrical passage in the middle of hard alternative track, but Blackened Blue go wherever they want to go, and somehow take you with them. It's not so much that they defy established conventions, it's more like they just see right through them, ignore them, and move on. There's much more to hear and see about Blackened Blue at, and their album A Brief Moment Of Clarity is available at Amazon, and iTunes.

2 Great Acoustic Sets: Allison Wonderlin and Sammy Tenuta

Allison Wonderlin
Sammy Tenuta

There's not too much that's more real than walking onto a small stage in a club you've never been in before to play your guitar and sing your songs. Not a lot of room for posing, nowhere really to hide, an acoustic set is usually just you and a cafe full of strangers, and hopefully a few friends who came too. It's a hopeful, challenging, intimidating chance to do what you love and find out if anybody else loves it, likes it, or even watches it when there's a TV over the bar they can watch instead. Last week I saw Sammy Tenuta and Allison Wonderlin trade sets in a friendly place called Club Amore (how can you not love that name) and take turns making everybody in the place stop everything else and wait for every word, every note.

You wouldn't usually get the chance to see such a study in complementary differences. Sammy comes out of successful Chicago rock bands that headlined the biggest rooms in Chicago in the nineties, returning after ten, fifteen years with his originals and favorite covers, doing them just to do them, playing and singing just because he's so good at it. He doesn't seem to care that he can command the undivided attention of everybody in the place, that he can move easily from tracks he wrote to songs everybody knows without leaving anybody behind. He just starts at the beginning and leads everybody along, from song to song, with nothing but his voice, his guitar, and a musician's attention to all of the details that make non-musicians keep listening.

Allison is from the opposite end of the world. She's just starting out, except like those few artists who are completely immersed in really unusual talent, she seems like she's done it a thousand times. She doesn't seem to care that she can inspire surprised admiration from everybody in the place, that she can move effortlessly from songs she's written to tracks that everybody knows and get everybody to go with her, she just walks up on to a small stage and takes the whole room wherever she wants to go, until it's Sammy's turn again.

Glass Bricks Mastering Their New Record “Craquelure”

Glass Bricks

Glass Bricks is in aotpr’s Heart & Soul Studio with Dan Agosto mastering their new eight song rekkrd “Craquelure”, which was produced by Nick Broste at the Shape Shoppe this spring. The tracks are really cool double-vocal pop, featuring Kate Walsh and Abby Glogower, but we can’t possibly improve on the description they have on their Myspace; here it is: “the foursome blends the saccharine sincerity of 60s girl groups with the peppy bravado of 70s power-pop and the occasional psychedelic meandering.”

Live Music Recording: The Dust Bunnies - Part Two

The Dust Bunnies

In my last article I covered some of the techniques I used to get a decent live recording of the Chicago based band Bomba Deer. The lush soundscape they executed so well was in sharp contrast with the second group performing that night. The Dust Bunnies employ a much simpler orchestration with guitar, Farfisa organ, lightly played drums, and male and female dual vocals. Click their name to get to their myspace where you can hear some of the tracks. Continue after the break for further details on the recording.

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