Music Tonight: Local Folk/Rock/Jazz/PopRoots/Etc. group Shiny Old Soul hosts a release party for its debut full-length, Cash Is King, an excellent recording that showcases the group's uniquely fluid and organic songwriting and superb musicianship and harmonies. In this age of Auto-Tune and increased computer doctoring of recordings, SOS is a great testament to the beauty of live human beings locking in with each other, connecting on a magical, high artistic plane of shared consciousness and combining to make beautiful music with only the instruments in their hands and the songs in their hearts. Yes, I realize that's essentially the definition of "playing music together," but the connection between the Shiny Old Soul members (the core of which previously performed as the Gregory Morris Group, named after their coolly enigmatic frontman) is especially evident on Cash Is King. And in concert. See for yourself tonight when the group headlines a free show at the Northside Tavern with special guests Sassy Molasses and Dante's Gypsy Circus. (Read my full review of the new release here and check out the band's fancy new website here.) Below's a live clip that shows the eclecticism of SOS (Reggae Folk Gypsy Jazz? Sure!).—-
• College Hill Coffee Co. is celebrating its sixth anniversary this weekend the same way it did last year to celebrate its fifth anniversary — with performances by two of the city’s top singer/songwriters. Tonight, amazing Folk/Rock artist Tracy Walker plays the café; tomorrow night, it’s gifted Folk singer Chris Collier. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and admission is free both nights (but be sure to fill up the performers' tip jars). The Coffee Co. has also been offering special deals all week in honor of its birthday (check under the glass tabletops and on the doors for the bargains). Click here for more details on the cafe. And check Tracy out below in a video clip for her tune "Wait and See." —-
• Probably the "exploratory young Jazz player" capital of America, Chicago has long had an exciting Free/Avant-Garde Jazz scene and it shows no signs of drying up any time soon. At least if Herculaneum is any indication. The quintet formed in 2002 and features members who have worked in one of Chicago's other strong sub scenes, Indie Rock. The members have played with the likes of Chris Mills and Wilco, but their journeys into Jazz with Herculaneum are anything but touristy excursions (members also have experience with various improvisational and experimental acts, lest you question their credentials). The group returns to The Comet tonight for a free show starting at around 10 p.m. Here's a live clip from 2010 of the ensemble performing at the Clean Feed Fest.
Momentous Happenings in Music History for January 13
On this day in 1978, a little band called The Police reportedly started recording its debut album, Outlandos D'Amour (it would be released Nov. 2, 1978). Anyone who reads everything I write (hi, Mom!) knows that I was a huge fan of The Police growing up — like, obsessive. (I had each of their albums on cassette, vinyl … and 8-Track! Not to mention my habit of buying two copies of every magazine I could find that mentioned or featured the band — one for the "archives" and one to be cut up and placed in my humongous wall collage. Yeah, pretty much a "crazed lunatic"-type of fan.) But I love that there are still things I don't know about them. I still don't think I've seen every music video they made early on; today, for example, was the first time I've seen the below official music video for first-album single "Can't Stand Losing You." I bow down to the glory that is YouTube, yet again.
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a Jan. 13 birthday include: The coolest-named sax player ever, Doobie Brother Cornelius Bumpus (1952); mid-period guitarist for Prog Pop heroes Yes, Trevor Rabin (1954); member of R&B vocal group The Chi-Lites, Robert Lester (1930); and frontman for Two Tone Ska-turned-Ska-ish Pop stars Madness, Graham McPherson, much better known as simply Suggs (1961).
Almost equal to my obsession with The Police was my obsession with Two Tone Ska, the British movement that predated "Third Wave" Ska and grew out of the U.K. Punk scene in the ’70s. One of the best moments of my life was meeting and hanging out with The English Beat's Dave Wakeling a few years ago when The Beat opened for 311 at Riverbend, something my 12-year-old self would have peed himself over if he only knew. I've never met anyone from Madness, but I'd probably geek (subtly and internally only, of course) just as hard if I ever met Suggsy.
Though almost exclusively known in the U.S. for its hit "Our House," there's a wealth of amazing albums available from Madness, who are considered legends in the U.K. And they'll apparently keep on comin' — the band is officially back in action, reportedly working on a new album due later this year.
Until then, enjoy this golden oldie from Madness' 1979 debut album, One Step Beyond…