Best concerts this weekend | Feb 15-17
There's a laundry list of concerts to choose from this weekend. Weekly club nights, Geoff Farina, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are all calling your name.
Friday February 15
6pm, The Whistler
The former Karate frontman brings his signature guitarwork to the Logan Square cocktail lounge.
6:30pm, Corbett vs. Dempsey
Catch the experimental toy pianist and composer in action ahead of her ICElab concert at MCA. Chen performs Mobius for music box with electronics, plus original works for toy piano and a duet with ICE flutist Eric Lamb.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
7pm and 9:30pm, Old Town School of Folk Music (Maurer Hall), $43-45
The Zulu name for this a cappella troupe’s music (isicathamiya) is a certified tongue twister, but the vocal blend of leader Joseph Shabalala & co. is so infectious that statesiders haven’t given up on it just yet. And it turns out that the Ladysmith's high-stepping antics make its show as dazzling to watch as it is to listen to. The group's latest is 2012'sLadysmith Black Mambazo & Friends.
Dido and Aeneas
7:30pm, Mayne Stage, $53-$58
Soprano Kimberly McCord stars in Haymarket Opera Company's production of Henry Purcell's one true opera, based on Virgil's Aeneid.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
8pm, Symphony Center (Orchestra Hall), $28-$215
Sir Mark Elder directs the CSO in its first performance of Dvorak's rarely performed symphonic poem, The Water Goblin, which tells the story of a wayward goblin who traps drowning souls in upturned tea cups. The program also features Sibelius's nature-inspired First Symphony and Rachmaninov's vibrant Third Piano Concerto, with Garrick Ohlsson as soloist.
Stephane Wrembel Quintet
9pm, Green Mill, $15
Charismatic, Parisian-born guitarist Stephane Wrembel hits the Mill after a killer performance at NYC's globalFEST last month. You might recognize his song "Bistro Fada" from Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, a film he scored (he also composed for Allen's 2008 film Vicky Cristina Barcelona). His latest, Origins, dropped last year.
Prodigy + Alchemist + DJ Rude One
9pm, Shrine, $20-35
After a stint behind bars on a gun charge, rapper Prodigy returned in 2011 and released EP Black Cocaine (which featured an appearance by fellow Queens rapper Nas) along with partner in rhyme Havoc. But the duo known as Mobb Deep broke up for good in the spring of 2012, after a teenage girl–style Twitter fight and reports swirling about Havoc's problems with alcohol abuse. That said, Prodigy appears here behind last year's solo disc,The Bumpy Johnson Album, though we won't be surprised if some O.G. MD material sneaks into the set.
9pm, Schubas, $25
When legendary, mysterious art-rock pranksters the Residents visit Chicago this week as part of their 40th-anniversary tour, they won’t be performing any new material, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t got new merch. In fact, the band’s latest box set, a deluxe edition of ten, is one of the most elaborate products any band has ever released. Housed in a full-size stainless steel refrigerator, the set features first editions of every record, CD, DVD, CD-ROM and bobblehead doll the band has released—more than 100 products stuffing the shelves, crispers and butter compartment. Better yet, the freezer contains an actual eyeball-and-top-hat mask used by the band. All this can be yours for the low, low price of $100,000.
Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues + Demetria Taylor
9pm, Buddy Guy's Legends, $20
Ever since he was mentored by the likes of Willie Dixon in the '70s, Branch has continued to live up to his early promise as a fine singer and harmonica player. Daughter of renowned bluesman Eddie Taylor, Demetria belts behind her Delmark debut, Bad Girl, which features contributions from Branch and Eddie Shaw among others.
9pm, Double Door, free
There's no shortage of dusty soul nights around town these days, but when they are manned by DJs like these, you won't hear us complaining. Dave Mata of Rogers Park arts space Impala Sound, Duke Grip of Spectrum and Numero Group collaborator Sloppy White preside monthly over this raw R&B, funk and soul dance party. They just celebrated three years of good times. February's guest is the mighty DJ Akalepse of NYC's Truth & Soul.
9:30pm, B.L.U.E.S., $10
Lurrie Bell epitomizes Chi-town shuffle blues at its finest with his jagged, intense singing voice and an unpredictable guitar style. The legend-in-the-making plays behind his best record to date, The Devil Ain't Got No Music.
Matmos + Horse Lords + Matchess
9:30pm, Empty Bottle, $10
James Zabiela + Stacy Pullen + Zebo
10pm, The Mid, $20
A self-proclaimed robot lover and all-around sci-fi guy, Zabiela shares his love of the electronics in musical form with his breakbeat-informed mix of techno, hard house and progressive. The fresh-faced fireball is full of energy behind the decks. Always one to apply new technology first, he's managed to work an iPad into his dynamic sets. Detroit techno slinger Stacey Pullen spins as well, making this a great bang-for-buck night.
Saturday February 16
Orbert Davis' Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble
2pm and 7:30pm, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, $10-$35; students and kids $5-$10
The 19-piece ensemble convenes in Hyde Park to perform leader Orbert Davis's original score to DuSable to Obama: Chicago's Black Metropolis, an Emmy Award–winning documentary produced by WTTW in 2010. Featured artists tonight include Oscar Brown Jr.'s daughter, vocalist Maggie Brown, and saxophonist Ari Brown. Highlights from the doc will be shown throughout the performance. Kids in tow? A shorter, family-focused rendition is offered at 2pm.
Daringly Original: Mountain
6pm-8pm, South Side Community Art Center, $10
AACM kicks of its "Daringly Original" series at the historic South Side Community Art Center with a performance by trumpeter Ben Lamar's project Mountain, an improvisational group featuring vocalist Ann Ward, guitarist Ed Gerber and reedist Edwin Daugherty that melds traditional instruments with technical effects.
ICElab: Carla Kihlstedt + Phyllis Chen
7:30pm, MCA Stage (Edis Neeson Theater), $28; students $10
Two fearless American composers band together for the latest installment of ICElab.
7:30pm, PianoForte Chicago (Fine Arts Building), $15-$20; students $10
The outstanding Chinese pianist, 22, offers an all-Schubert recital that includes selections from his Klavierstucke, D. 946; Impromptus, D. 899; Moments Musicaux, D. 780; plus the calm, radiant Sonata in G major, D. 894.
David Boykin Trio
8pm-11pm, Washington Park Arts Incubator, free
Spirituality guides saxophonist David Boykin, an uncompromising figure on the local jazz scene who can hold his own against any improviser but who rarely plays sideman. Last year Boykin served as an artist in residence at Dorchester Projects, a community-oriented, culturally minded destination on the South Side conceived by artist Theaster Gates, where for two months the reedist led open rehearsals each week with bassist Alex Wing and young drummer James Woodley. Recordings of the last two sessions yielded the new CDLive at Dorchester Projects, a more modest endeavor than we’ve come to expect from Boykin, though his searching improvisations and spiraling textures still define the music.
Kem + Chrisette Michele
8pm, Arie Crown Theater, $57-$119
Singer Kem is a master of adult-minded contemporary R&B, which means he’s not only smooth, he’s downright mature. Chrisette Michele is perhaps best known for 2009’s excellent jam “Be OK.”
John Jorgenson Trio
8pm, Old Town School of Folk Music (Szoid Hall), $20-$22
Guitarist and all-around ace multi-instrumentalist John Jorgenson has done everything from stints in Elton John’s band to digging into Django's Gypsy-jazz and forming the guitar trio Hellecasters. Rest assured: The guy knows his instrument so well that he’s pretty incapable of making wrong turns.
8pm, City Winery, $20-$30
South African singer-songwriter Vusi Mahlasela (who has been receiving a great deal of support from friend and fellow South African Dave Matthews) is surprisingly soothing and hopeful for a voice of protest, but the more positive slant of his most recent record, Say Africa (which was produced by and features Taj Mahal), should not discount his role as a teller of hard truths about his still troubled homeland.
8pm, Park West, $30
It’s fairly safe to assume that Denver quartet DeVotchKa voted alongside its state’s majority in the last election. The group ruffled feathers in October when, as part of a Day of the Dead–themed stage show, a band member dressed in an Aztec ceremonial costume beheaded another band member wearing a Mitt Romney mask. His heart was ripped out, too. Like the scantily clad ladies at the burlesque club where the band got its start, the stunt left little to the imagination, which seems unusual for an act that’s known for its sweeping, larger-than-life sound, woven from Gypsy-folk, cabaret, classical and indie-rock influences.
Yoko Noge + Jimmy Burns + Jimmy Ellis
8:30pm, Katerina's, $6
Yoko Noge and her group have been a Chicago fixture for years, but this is no boring house band. The singer-pianist keeps honing her craft, complementing a mix of blues, jazz and Japanese styles with her elegant voice. Here she celebrates her birthday with one of the most straightforward blues acts in the city, Jimmy Burns, and Chicago alto sax legend Jimmy Ellis, a septuagenarian who makes a rare appearance at the North Center club.
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears + Soul Summit DJs + B.S. Brass Band
9pm, Metro, $21
Austin’s Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears have an impressive modern take on old-time soul. The band hits town behind its recent LP, Scandalous.
Sunday February 17
3pm, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, $25; students $5
Pacifica heads to U. of C. for its second concert of the weekend. One of Haydn's late masterworks, the "Sunrise" Quartet, shares the program with Ravel's lovely, complex String Quartet in F major, which the composer dedicated to his friend and teacher Gabriel Fauré. The consistently phenomenal ensemble also revisits a work from its mammoth Shostakovich cycle of 2011–12, the composer's String Quartet No. 2, which was written in just 19 days.
Idan Raichel Project
8pm, City Winery, $45-$65
Israeli multi-instrumentalist and composer Idan Raichel has the world at his fingertips. His knack for melding traditional Middle Eastern music with the sounds of other lands—primarily Africa and South America—has earned him numerous accolades, including being known as the best-selling Israeli artist of all time, and collaborations with top-notch artists such as India.Arie. He frequently works with Vieux Farka Touré, son of Sidi Touré, who performs Feb 22 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, so we wouldn't be surprised if he made an appearance here.
Sunday Transmission Series: Kris Davis Quintet
10pm, Hungry Brain, donation $10
Pianist Kris Davis leads four improvisers in two sets.
10pm, Smart Bar, $5
Smart Bar maintains its hold on Sunday-night polysexual dancing with Queen! Gathering residents Michael Serafini, Donovan DJ and Garrett David, Queen! also spices things up with guest DJs from a spectrum of sounds and scenes weekly. Sean Wright spins Sun 10. Derrick Carter holds court on Sun 17.
Boom Boom Room
10pm, Dolphin, $10
This legendary, polysexual Chicago house night is back to Dolphin, settling on a Sunday night spot, rather than the Monday it used to call home. It remains an awe-inspiring blend of clubbers and regular city folk who like to party, and it's a Chicago institution. Lego and David Sabat take over Sun 10 for Carnaval. Lady D spins Sun 17, and the legendary Cajmere takes over Sun 24.