Art & Culture in Chicago

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Posts Tagged ‘music

Picking Brains with Cheer Accident

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Alex Perkolup is a musician who currently plays bass and guitar in the critically acclaimed progressive rock band, Cheer-Accident. Originally formed in 1981, Cheer-Accident has maintained an impressively fresh and interesting sound, oscillating between noise and pop, refusing to be categorized. The music is moody, complex, and highly composed, but never muddy. Perkolup has been one of the three mainstays in their ever-evolving lineup for six years. He has also played in Bobby ConnLovely Little Girls, andThe Flying Luttenbachers, among others.

Do you have formal music training?

I started lessons at eight and went on until I was about nineteen. I had one guitar teacher for nine years of that time who was a big influence on me. I started playing because of Eddie Van Halen. I came out of the metal school of musicianship. I was really into difficult playing and my guitar teacher recognized that. He introduced me to King CrimsonMahavishnu OrchestraGentle Giant and some progressive rock bands, so he was very instrumental in my influence.

What is it about “difficult playing” that you are interested in?

The challenge, which is both mental and physical. It’s complicated, so you really have to get inside of something. Then you give it a certain sense of freedom with your playing. Plus it hurts your fingers. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kelly Reaves

November 24, 2009 at 8:48 am

Lets Make Lots of Money

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The Hideout during election week

The Hideout

(This is a story I wrote last April for my in-depth reporting class.  It’s about the music scene in Chicago and the controversial Event Promoters Ordinance which has been tossed around for a few years…)

Last weekend I overheard a conversation in the smoking tent at the bar I work at.  A group of regulars were talking about forming a band.  The most enthusiastic of them, a well-groomed, twenty-something blonde guy, suddenly yelled out in a fit of passion: “Chicago has an incredible music scene that just isn’t happening!”

This got me thinking.  Back in 2006, I spent six months traveling around the UK and Europe.  During my trip, I spent a good deal of my time seeking out good local music.  I was generally disappointed by what I didn’t find.  Although I did see some great bands in London and Liverpool, I found a lot of the music mediocre, unoriginal, and drab.  England and Ireland seemed to be tripping over themselves musically and Europe was just way too into techno for my tastes.  I finished my trip with an invigorated appreciation of Chicago. 

Often, when I tell people I think Chicago is the best music city I’ve been to, they are surprised.  Most people, especially people who don’t live in Chicago, have no idea what’s going on here musically.  And, after minimal Internet research, I understand why.  To say that Chicago has an amazing music scene might not be entirely accurate. Chicago has an amazing UNDERGROUND music scene.  And if you aren’t already part of it, it can be difficult to access. The Chicago music scene has a ton of potential, but is underrated and often ignored.

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Renaissance Man: and interview with Billy Helmkamp of The Whistler (2421 N. Milwaukee)

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photo courtesy of Time Out Chicago

photo courtesy of Time Out Chicago

On a snowy Wenesday night mid February I had the pleasure of speaking with Billy Helmkamp, co-owner of The Whistler, a new gallery, music venue, and bar in Logan Square.  He made me a Long-Faced Dove, a refreshing, pale pink tequila and ginger beer cocktail, and answered my questions about the new space.

Kelly Reaves: When did you open up here?

Billy Helmkamp:  We opened on September 26, 2008.

KR:  What inspired you to open?

BH:  The other owner, Rob Brenner, bought this building about three and a half years ago.  We initially wanted to make it an all-ages music venue and workspace so we could be a space for our friends who do silk-screening and make t-shirts.  The idea behind it went through some variations.  At first, we wanted to do twenty things with the space and we widdled it down to music and an art gallery and there were some other arts related events thrown in like readings series and theatres coming in.  We had a rough idea of what we wanted to do with the building and figured it out over the course of six months to a year. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kelly Reaves

March 19, 2009 at 11:41 pm

The Loop's Dirty Little Secret

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   cals2There is one last sacred place downtown. 

It is small, smelly, soggy, and guarded by loyal homeless guys.  But they are friendly, and they all know my name.  Everybody knows my name there,
 and they’re always glad I came.  This place is my own personal “Cheers.”  It is called Cal’s Liquors, and it is the last dive bar in the loop. 

At 61 years old, Cal’s is barely hanging on.  The city isn’t too happy about it being in the loop because it is loud and the attached liquor store sells half pints of booze, which attracts the homeless.  The homeless, in turn, scare the condo owners who live next door with their odor and enthusiasm.  There are no beer taps in the bar, and you’re probably better off with a bottle anyway because the “dishwashing system” is questionable.  If you are a female and you need to use the bathroom, empty your pockets first because if anything falls out while you’re dropping your pants you will not want to fish it out of the standing water on the bathroom floor. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kelly Reaves

December 13, 2008 at 9:45 pm

Posted in feature, music

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