December in Chicago is typically nothing short of frigid, full of blistery winds and unpredictable weather patterns. For me the long winter months lead to hibernation, longing for warm sunny days filled with ample outdoor activities, and endless concert opportunities. On Saturday December 12th my longing paid off in the form of the second annual Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival (CBB) at the city’s historic Congress Theater.
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Anna Ternheim’s van has broken down. It’s a classic touring blunder that is an inconvenience at best or tragedy at worst. But Anna is committed and undaunted. She takes an emergency flight to Chicago in order not to miss her show at the Bottom Lounge later that evening—which has now officially become a solo one—or our interview.
British electro-indie duo The Big Pink (yep, they’re actually named after The Band album) played to an excited crowd at D.C.‘s the Black Cat in support of their debut album A Brief History Of Love. Their rough, scuzzed out but occasionally poppy sound worked well live, but for a band that’s publicly stated they’re not cool, they could have fooled me—just like they apparently fooled NME into naming them best new act. If you missed them on this tour relax, they’ll be back in the US starting in March.
Raekwon might be responsible for one of this year’s best albums but as his Washington D.C. fans found out earlier this week, he’s far from infallible. To be fair, the deck was stacked against him from the start: it was a cold Tuesday night and the 9:30 Club was less than half full. After a brief DJ set heavy on classic ‘90s cuts, the Chef came out swinging, digging deep with Wu classics like “C.R.E.A.M.” and old solo favorites like “Ice Cream”. Problem was, without the much-needed assists from his fellow Clan members, the songs were sapped of much of their momentum. Tracks from Raekwon’s latest opus, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II fared far better, with both “House of Flying Daggers” and “New Wu” being delivered with particular urgency. The night’s guest stars, however, left something to be desired. Though billed as Capone-N-Noreaga, the latter was a no show, though that didn’t stop Capone from trying—and failing—to carry the weight of the N.O.R.E. hit “Nothin’”. Still, Capone managed to cultivate some good will by effusively professing his love for the District, though it was immediately squandered by a hype man who mistakenly yelled, “Pittsburgh, make some noise!”. A lot of noise was indeed made, though it was probably not the kind he had had in mind.