Shelley Miller & The BCC
Saturday, November 4th, 2014
SHELLEY MILLER & THE BBC
Roots rocked heavy at the first Cake Chicago of 2014 with both the Shelley Miller and the BCC and Willie Dynamite performances. And by roots, we mean about 80 years of American musical styles, all in one evening.
Shelley Miller showed why she and her BCC have quickly become one of the standard-bearer bands in Chicago. This band flies through genre-jumping pieces, from bluesy electric folk to the hardest of alternative rock. Even touches of metal can be heard here - but no matter what genre may have been inspired by, it's Shelley's strong songwriting that shines throughout. SM & BCC have performed recently at City Winery, Double Door, and the Old Town School of Folk Music, and their live experience shows, hitting every song hard, no matter what the genre. In 'White Moon' Shelley's voice wails, as does the lead guitarist's roar throughout 'Bigger Than Darkness'. Careful arrangements help boost the emotion of the fingerpicked electric Americana ballad 'Long Way To The Ground'. Each song stood on it's own in an energetic, thoroughly enjoyable set.
Shelley has been around the queer music scene for years, doing solo folk sets and performing in a traditional acoustic duo with Anthony Whitaker (of New American Folk Theater). She recently won a songwriting contest with Sandy Lee Songfest, and had her latest 5-song EP with her, the prize for the honor.
Willie Dynamite is lead by ex-Heat Birds Stella, and Josh Therriault, of the trio Morphtet. This was their first performance ever, and the biggest challenge of the evening was getting everybody to fit on stage. This ensemble is an eleven-piece, with a full horn section, and a trio of sultry background singers. Which reminds me - props to the sound guy, who was able to mic everyone who needed mic'ing.
The only trace of Stella's Heat Birds past was in their first song, 'Ballad Of The Moon', a song with all the hallmarks of a true jazz standard. Next came a Josh storytelling song, with his powerful throaty gravel-voice belting out a charming bluesy grooved romp. Willie Dynamite happily smashes Roaring 20's with 70's hard funk, and throws in a little musical performance art for good measure. Stella wails louder than in her Heat Birds days - she's taken on Aretha-like blasts and screams to propel the already charged songs. A highlight was the song 'Honey', which Stella described as her bi-polar song, which was both tambourine-driven, and had, in it's bi-polar-high moments, wonderful references to all that vintage P-Funk. My only complaint was the bad placement of the background singers right in front of the too-loud lead guitarist - they were obviously struggling to hear and be heard. But, overall, the joy of this ensemble took over, and the crowd was very enthusiastically appreciative. It was obvious that each member of Willie Dynamite is a powerhouse talent by themselves, and combined they create quite a magical, live music event.
ELI KRELL AND THE NO GOOD
Cake Chicago @ Red Line Tap Oct. 5th, 2013
by Scott Free
ELI KRELL AND THE NO GOOD
Eli Krell and the No Good came into Cake Chicago with transitions in mind. First it was visually, with Elias Krell and percussionist Jenny Urban in full-face make-up, of the lightening bolt variety. Musically, their set sounded vastly different from their recent CD release, which is simply entitled 'Elias Krell and the No Good'. Stripped of the lilting accordion from the CD, their set, in honor of Cake Chicago's 7th Anniversary, was bass heavy - both from Jenny's cahon and Roy Gomez Cruz's acoustic bass. Eli's vocals were also deep, and the overall sound of went from the CD's 1930's Paris cabaret of the CD to a much darker Berlin version.
The signature song 'Decide' from the CD became a rollicking, bass-driven shifting pumper. Eli only rarely used his now-famous operatic voice (much more prominent in his previous project The Homoticons). The highlight of the set came when Eli shifted to ukulele, and sang 'Ralph', an emotional, tempo-shifting old-tyme swing track, which Eli introduced as being about his dog. It was obvious by the end of the set that the crowd appreciated the new Eli Krell and the No Good.
ELI KRELL AND THE NO GOOD
CRUMBS OFF THE TABLE / FIRE 9
Local Music Lounge @ Parlour Sept. 28th, 2013
by Lars Von Keitz
CRUMBS OFF THE TABLE
Crumbs Off The Table brought a full band tonight, formed from musicians associated with the Old Town School of Folk Music. Grabbing from rock, soul, funk, folk, and spoken word, they knit it all together with a tight groove and three-part vocal harmonies. Their fun set with enhanced with a hoola-hoop dancer and a well-deserved encore. Leaders Andrea Bunch and Aerin Tedesco also play in Congress of Starlings, and a Heart cover band called Little Queens.
Fire 9 is a new punk-metal trio featuring Crumbs Off The Table drummer Cheryl Lawson. They played a very energetic set with heavy sludgy bass, thick electric guitar, and great drumming. They ventured from goth to mid-tempo punk to psychedelic metal with occasional anthemic singing. A band to watch.
Ripley Caine & The Full Moon
Saturday, November 2nd, 2013
by Scott Free
The Cake Chicago series is in its 7th year, and is the standard bearer of Chicago's queertopia. Produced and hosted by the dynamic singer/songwriter Ripley Caine, every Cake is a dynamic live music event. This evening was no exception, with the opening set by Ripley and The Full Moon (FM is the amazing drummer Chuck Harling ). Ripley commands the stage, flying through her emotional alternacoustic set. Chuck digs in deep for each song, laying down a hard groove to match Ripley's wall of sound.
Andy Karol was up next with a spoken word set, most of which was augmented with recorded backing tracks. Andy always brings a unique intensity to each piece, which is suddenly broken with some quite charming, randomy banter in between. Her poetry is often about surrender and sacrifice, the highlight of which was a piece about depression and suicide, entitled 'Hurricane'. Backed with new age electronics, it became a powerful scream about the million reasons not to end it all.
The evening closed with amazing Megan Sieberg. These days she only performs with as a trio, with Jenny Urban on cahon and Leith Sharpe on guitar/vocals. Leith hails from Australia, so a Megan Sieberg concert is a rare event. Their set is an uplifting set of island beats, rich harmonies, and traditional acoustic folk. Leith and Megan trade off leads, while Jenny lays down thick, solid beats to match the varied influences. They did an all-original set, featuring a new track entitled 'Lady Chicago', a ukulele-driven romp which has a kind-of country-western wackiness to it that the crowd loved. The only downer was when the crowd demanded an encore, the sound guy cut them off. Oh well, text time.
RIPLEY CAINE.............................ANDY KAROL
2ND DATE WITH DYLAN & ANDREW
with Dylan Wright, Andrew Sa, Davide Morelli, Lexi Goddard, Louis Bardales
@ Wang's Oct. 8th, 2013
by Scott Free
DYLAN WRIGHT & ANDREW SA
The series, 2nd Date with Dylan and Andrew, is a wonderful new monthly acoustic evening created by the very talented singer/songwriters Dylan Wright and Andrew Sa. Wang's is the perfect setting for this very retro folk nightclub event. The single red light bulb stage lighting, and the opening song, Dylan (as in Bob)'s 'It Ain't Me Babe' sung by Dylan and Andrew, magically transporting us to Greenwich Village, circa 1963. The only difference from 1963 is that now you have to smoke fifteen feet from the entrance. Andrew and Dylan's energy is infectious, and with their one introductory song, the crowd was in for the ride.
The first guest performer was Louis Bardales, from local band Brother Moose. His opening song, the beautifully titled 'I Stared At The Wind Chimes Horrified' was an energetic, 5-minute, multiple-verse, no-chorus folk diatribe. Louis then displayed his talents as a creative wordsmith in his song 'The Runt' - a driving, strummed triplet ballad, written in a major key, which created a unique tension, given the anger of the lyric. He ended his set with a very dramatic bluegrass-style song that had the audience wanting more.
Lexi Goddard opened with her set by announce she was singing a 2-part song, and that it would ok to clap after the first half, which had the crowd laughing. Like Louis, she also sang with a vibrato, but hers was plaintive, and matched her song subjects perfectly. Her love song about a female motorcycle rider had just enough play on words to make a joyful triumph out of a girl-gone-bad song.
Davide Morelli's set was sung entirely in Italian. His opening song, whose title he said would translate to 'There is no way of changing' , was harsh - performed in an almost speaking style of singing. His thumb-pluck bass line drove the point of the song home. All of his songs were peformed in traditional Italian folk style, which Davide is obviously a master of.
Andrew joined Davide on stage, and sang the jazz standard 'All Of Me', and Davide's mouth-trumpet solo brought down the house. Andrew peformed all covers on this evening - telling us he chose songs in very dark, minor keys in honor of Halloween. His choices included songs by Tom Wiats, Iron & Wine, and Nina Simone.
Dylan finished off the evening with a mixture of covers and original, the last song being something that he said he had finished that morning. It included the couplet 'When I was your appetite, I gave you my skin and bone' - a chilling, brisk finger-pick song of devotion crushed, and by far the best original song of the evening. As the crowd sang Happy Birthday to Dylan, he said that this was the best way he could imagine spending his birthday - and it was a truly celebratory evening.
LOUIS BARDALES .................... LEXI GODDARD
DAVIDE MORELLI & ANDREW SA