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Monday, Nov 24, 2014
I Can Quit Whenever I Want is like Breaking Bad times seven, but funny.

The theme for Italian Film Festival 2014 - Chicago, is “Italian Comedy: Then & Now”. The festival runs 21-27 November at the Music Box Theatre. Five of the best Italian films of the year make their Chicago debut at the fest, including an outlandish crime caper (I Can Quit Whenever I Want), a daring black and white debut (The Referee), and a political comedy fronted by Toni Servillo in dual roles (Viva la libertà). The retrospective line-up features rare screenings of Pietro Germi’s Divorce Italian Style (1961) and Seduced and Abandoned (1964) as well as Dino Risi’s 1962 classic The Easy Life. Each film is to be screened twice, offering plenty of chances to take advantage of this annual showcase, which is presented with the cooperation of the Italian Cultural Institute Chicago and Cinecittà Luce.

See the full schedule here.

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Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014
ALO knew this was a special night and threw down one funky song after another, as is their trademark, keeping the dance party grooving for some three plus hours on a night that no one wanted to end.

There are certain nights in a band’s touring year that will stand out due to the particular circumstances surrounding the show, whether it be the setting or the timing or sometimes both. Santa Barbara was already bracing for one of the town’s biggest shows in recent memory when Phish announced their fall tour would stop for two nights at the beautiful Santa Barbara Bowl on October 21-22. The ante was upped when it was later announced that Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe would play a matching pair of “official Phish aftershow parties” at the SoHo club downtown.

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Friday, Nov 7, 2014
Cute and cuddly or grim and gorey, all can revel at the Halloween Parade.

With Whoopi Goldberg as its Grand Marshal, the 2014 Village Halloween Parade included thousands of costumed revelers, both walking the street and watching from the sides. Whether they were dressed up in something cute and cuddly or they were trailing blood and gore or they were just coming to watch, there was something for everyone to enjoy at the Parade. Check out some photos below.

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Thursday, Nov 6, 2014
Tits of Clay and Hedwig co-creator Stephen Trask paid tribute to the passing of Lou Reed with a performance of Transformer.

October 27th, 2014 marked the first anniversary of Lou Reed’s death, a milestone that surprisingly went by with little fanfare beyond Facebook tribute posts and a touching video from Reed’s Velvet Underground colleague John Cale. New Yorkers, however, were fortunate enough to celebrate in style with Hedwig and the Angry Itch co-creator Stephen Trask and Tits of Clay, Hedwig’s Broadway house band. An early show at Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge saw the band and Trask running through the whole of Reed’s 1972 masterpiece, Transformer, before pulling out some Velvet Underground classics for the encore.

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Wednesday, Nov 5, 2014
First Aid Kit put out their beautiful and bittersweet Stay Gold this year and it's helped them draw bigger audiences including their even bigger and more golden CMJ show at the start of their Fall tour.

Swedish folk sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg of First Aid Kit had played New York City earlier this year at a sold-out show at Webster Hall. They had also played Webster Hall during CMJ in 2012 at a sold-out show supporting their album The Lion’s Roar but this year, during CMJ, the duo moved across town for a show at the larger Hammerstein Ballroom. This year saw the release of their third album Stay Gold a bittersweet work that I’ve listened to frequently. Having missed the earlier show, I had to catch them this go around and they did not disappoint. Their opener was Oklahoma singer-songwriter, 28-year-old Samantha Crain, another folk rocker that was a good match for First Aid Kit as the front row fans watched and listened to her very appreciatively.

First Aid Kit were accompanied by a drummer and a string quartet to bring their Stay Gold and older material to life on stage and their intimate, bittersweet songs drew the audience in. The intimacy of the show was enhanced by the confession that Johanna doesn’t like the time between songs, though it allows her to share jokes, like the one about a scarecrow winning the Nobel Prize. As they performed, through “Cedar Lane” and “My Silver Lining”, two of my Stay Gold favorites, as well as a cover of Jack White’s “Love Interruption”, an acoustic “Ghost Town” and into the closer “Emmylou”, the sisters beautiful voices shone with the finesse and beauty of folk singers more than twice their age.

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