Theatre

Buzz News Chicago: Theatre and Concert Reviews

Roger Reis

Roger Reis

There is nothing better than seeing a concert driven with high energy. The audience waits with excitement for the concert to start. The introduction takes place and the band walks out onto the stage. The first notes on the electric guitar come through the monitors while everyone cheers and shouts the name of the man leading the show. A power chord drives the adrenaline up and is followed by fast paced minor riffs. Martin Barre has come to entertain you and the entire performance will be nothing less than spectacular. He’s is just amazing!

Martin had gone his own way in 2011 after Jethro Tull finally dissolved. Several years of performing within one of the toughest groups to ever exist had come to an end and left this six string master without a band. Mr. Barre had decided to start a new group. His current concert experience is fresh with a straight up rock and blues feel. The band is made up of some really great players that are having a good time playing some incredibly intricate music. The overall skill level is just off the charts!

Blues, rock, folk, and much more are the genres that make them up, but they don’t fit into any one category. This group is a four piece that is ready to blow anyone away who comes to see them. It’s a show that is a must see it to believe it. Do you like rock, blues, soulful guitars, and a super band? The Martin Barre Band is the band to see.  

George Lindsay is filling the role of drums and percussion with style that can mimic men who have been in Tull. His skill with sticks and mallets grace his kit with every beat. The foot work on the double bass pedals sounds like machine guns rapidly firing. This young man is big in every way. The percussive sound is huge and fills up any room he is playing in, but he is not lacking in the height category either. Standing six foot eight in height, he is quite an intimidating guy and appears taller than he admits. Don’t let his size spook you because he is a gentle giant and an awesome drummer. After a show, a concert attendee yelled up to him on stage, “George!” to get his attention. He responded back quickly, “That’s Big George!” Then he smiles.

It’s always great when a singer can belt out a song and push it over the top to excellence. Taking the role of singer can be difficult, but Dan Crisp has done an outstanding job. He is not attempting to fill the shoes of a one legged flute player, but rather he stands solidly on the ground as his own man. He has a voice that is very pleasant to listen to. Dan also plays guitar leads and solos that are quite difficult to undertake, but he does songs justice in everything he plays. He has a mad scientist, comical way about him as he moves around on stage. Mr. Crisp has been with this band for quite a while and with a little luck, he doesn’t leave anytime soon.

Providing the bottom end for the band is an extremely talented musician, Alan Thomson. His playing style is filled with dynamics as no notes better be played that don’t belong. It’s not possible for Martin to have picked up a better all around musician for bass. Alan sings backup and also plays slide guitar on the song “Bad Man.” His expertise shines with every swell during his mournful lead. Alan is so into the music that he appears as if he is not having a good time at all. “I may look like I’m not having a good time on the outside, but on the inside, I’m having the time of my life.” This low end master is fantastic to see live and a true gentleman to his fans. All bass players who have played with Martin in the previous years have been incredible and Alan Thomson is no exception. He can’t be compared to anyone else.

Martin Barre is just an amazing guitar player and he won’t let you forget it during any song that he performs live these days. He has taken Jethro Tull songs, ripped them apart, and put together arrangements that just impress the ears. Smiling from ear to ear, this man appears to be enjoying himself. He is actually quite funny too as he converses with the fans between songs. He talks about being a “bad guitar player” and hanging out with the Queen. You don’t have to be a fan of his previous band to enjoy his new show.

Some Jethro Tull fans seem to be divided into two separate camps, but still with respect for each other. Some are diehard Ian Anderson followers and others have preferred to watch the new and improved Martin Barre. Both are performing great shows solo, but most would just like to see them together again. Dave Pincus who has seen Jethro Tull over 150 times said, “Martin’s new band has a freshness and energy level that makes the show two hours of awesome entertainment.”

Martin being the band leader he has formed this concoction of musicians and blended these guys into awesomeness. The crisp sound of the guitars, the bass tone, and an excellent mix on drums helps capture their stage sound for the audience. The man behind the mixing board helps out a bit as well.  

New Day Yesterday, Teacher, and Fat Man are usual Jethro Tull songs that you will hear at a Martin show. In addition, other songs like Crossroads by Robert Johnson will feature Martin on mandolin and for a while it becomes a heavy metal mandolin. The arrangement is nothing like the Cream version at all. Having the mandolin lead the song was a good choice as it gave the song a sharpness that it never had before.

In late August, Martin kicks off his Fall US tour in Iowa. He will be touring the Midwest and upper East coast. He has over 30 shows scheduled and is already posting new shows for 2017! There seems to be no stopping this man. Complete show listing can be seen atwww.martinbarre.com

Martin Barre has come to entertain you and it will be nothing less than spectacular. The towns and cities wait with excitement for Martin Barre to come to the stage. Seeing him and his band is something that will make you happy and feel at home. The show is mostly musical, but he does make you feel like you’re the only person sitting in the audience. It’s just amazing!

 

Amazing times can be had at a live production. Summer concerts can be especially nice; the sun is setting, the crowd is excited, and the opening act is about to take the stage. This particular musical presentation couldn’t have gone much better. 

Opening the show was blues legend, Charlie Musselwhite. The talented musician came out blowing the harp and he gave it all he had. His entire performance was just fantastic, warming up the crowd on a chilly summer night. The audience was certainly amped and ready for the “Space Cowboy”, as the seats and picnic area were already well occupied for this amazing guitar man. 

The Steve Miller Band then took over and hit the crowd right between the eyes with “Jungle Love”, “Take the Money and Run”, and “Abracadabra”, and that was just for starters. If Miller’s performance wasn’t thrilling enough, the place really exploded with excitement when Charlie Musselwhite was invited out to join in on a few bluesy songs. They did a few old cover songs from Little Walter and Freddie King. It was a very memorable time for everyone. 

Longtime fan, Ron Marten says, “I became a fan in 1976 when I was six-years-old. My mom had just bought an 8-track player and joined Columbia house. She was stiffed with this 8-track that was the selection of the month, Fly Like an Eagle. At that time, I was really into the "Space Intro". She couldn’t send it back now. It was part of my nursery rhymes.  We ended up playing the hell out of it.”

Miller’s set continued on with more hits; hit after hit after hit! The night couldn’t be better for any true fan of Steve Miller. He performed very well and his sound is always top notch.  Highland Park was truly fortunate to get an act like this playing in their backyard. 

One fan, however, seemed disappointed during an intro the song "Wintertime". “That was the Window!” he shouted. He turned about to his friends and joined in singing, “In the wintertime ……….”. His mood couldn’t be ruined. 

Steve Miller brought out all of his classics that he could including “Serenade”, “The Joker”, “Fly Like an Eagle”, and closed his triumphant set out with another favorite “Jet Airliner”. Not a single fan in the crowd could be disappointed with the set list. Seeing this man live is like flipping on a radio. Instantly the ear candy is something you know and it hits you hard. 

Ravinia Festival in Highland Park is the place to be to see a live act and who could possibly be better than Steve Miller?                    

 

Saturday, 29 August 2015 18:02

ZZ Top Live at Ravinia

An amazing feeling comes over you when going to see a live band outside during the summer. It’s such a treat to be able to attend a show in beautiful landscapes of Ravinia in Highland Park, Illinois. When ZZ Top is in town you know it’s going to be a party.  

On such a beautiful Thursday evening several thousand fans gathered into Ravinia to see that little band from Texas that wallops a big ol' punch. ZZ Top is going to take the stage tonight and you better watch out. The guitar riffs are amazing.

Opening out the night was Blackberry Smoke. Great musicians! Vocally they were just an amazing band. They tore into it with a nice country twang to them that really set your hair on fire.  The influence of Southern rock on this band can be heard. They have an Allman Brother’s feel to them within their big jam band style. Some real great playing was displayed. Great pickers!

The time had come for the main act to come out. The temperature was perfect, the mood was serene, and the crowd was ready. “Got Me Under Pressure” and “Gimme All Your Loving,” were just like the record and tremendous crowd pleasers as well. They brought out the choreographed dance moves and charmed the hell out of a sold out audience. They come complete with matching guitars, beards, hats, and matching attitudes. Bad ass!!

This band seems like it’s been going on forever. Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard got ZZ Top going strong and soon had a great following in no time. They had a good career in the 70’s with a few strong hits. Once the 80’s came they added synthesizers and became unstoppable. Each one of these guys was right on the money all night long.  

At Ravinia they displayed their MTV hits, old hits, and never stopped laying down a groove. The crowd was very well organized. Large displays of food, tables, chairs, bottles of wine were everywhere to be seen. Can’t think of a better way to enjoy ZZ Top live than in the plush lawn of Ravinia. It was a perfect setting for songs like, “Jesus just left Chicago”, “Sharp Dressed Man”, “Tush,” and “LaGrange”.

When ZZ Top is in town you know it’s going to be a party.  ZZ Top just played Ravinia and it was amazing. They played a great set that made everyone want more, but what did they leave out?  Nothing.

The show has been over for hours and the adrenalin is still running through your body. Your ear to ear grin was proof that you had a great time. Styx played The Venue at Hammond, Indiana’s Horseshoe Casino and the show was just incredible. They brought along a baker’s dozen of ditties and they hit you right between the eyes with every single one.

They opened up with the title track from the album that bought them their first airplane, “The Grand Illusion.” It was the first offerings and it was a perfect way to kick it all off. They took the song and performed it very close to the original recording. Lawrence Gowen nailed the difficult vocal line with ease as he is just a natural performer.

“Too Much Time on My Hands” was second up in line and Tommy Shaw decided to keep the bar raised high. The man can sing, he can play, and at any point during your ninety minutes together you think he is not pulling his weight, you better guess again. Tommy just keeps ripening as a musician as time goes by. His guitar work is such a sweet contrast within the hard rock guitar riffs of his counterpart.

Out comes the acoustic for the next one, “Fooling Yourself.” Tommy takes a minute to announce their original bass player, Chuck Panozzo. One of the only three surviving original members of the band was there with a shiny red P-Bass in hand to help bring you back to the classic Seventies hit. For so many, it was like being in fourth grade again.

A Styx show would not be complete without hearing songs like “Lady,” “Light Up,” and “Crystal Ball.” The godfather of Styx, James (J.Y.) Young, always provides heavy guitar riffs at any possible chance and the song “Miss America” is no exception. The monster six string guitar-slinger has licks that will rival so many of the greatest players in rock music. His vocal harmonies are heard within each song and he is just a huge part of the Styx sound. He has just been a consistent player ever since he first came along for Styx and took the reins in the early days.

The highlight of the concert for so many was, “Lights.” This great pop song was a surprise when they graced the concert-goers’ ears with the superb melody line. The deep track just made the day of the fans who bought more than just a few of their albums. The piece off of Cornerstone was awesome to offer up to the long time fans. They were very appreciative.

Ricky Phillips performed his musical duties providing the bottom end on bass needed for this mid-western band. Ricky is a very diverse musician and he will switch over to guitar when Chuck Panozzo comes out to play bass.  The previous bands Phillips was in made a mighty fine decision when selecting this guy to be a part of them. He is a top notch player and is always a pleasure to watch him perform.

The rumblings throughout the concert hall were coming from a double bass drum kit and the master percussionist, Todd Sucherman. Since the Return to Paradise tour, this guy has been there for Styx hitting the mark on every song. He gives the band a heavier feeling at times than what they were in the heyday. This guy is just a fantastic rock drummer.

“I am the Walrus” was covered by Gowen from behind his spinning keyboard. It’s always a bold move covering bands like The Beatles, but Gowen and the rest of Styx provided a version that some of the biggest fans of the fab-four would be happy about. As the song came to an end, right away the keyboards again chimed in as they just tore into “Blue Collar Man.”   

Lawrence took everyone for a stroll down classic rock’s memory lane with a medley of songs. He sang parts of songs by Billy Joel, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and Queen. He got everyone’s attention when he did parts to “Piano Man” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” His fingers went into quick arpeggios and gracefully rolled the digits into another classic rock hit, “Come Sail Away.”

The band quickly leaves the stage to make the audience go through the ritual of screaming for them to bring them back out. The encore was just what was needed to bring the show to a close. “Rocking the Paradise” was first up as the confetti cannons went off showering the front rows in red, white, and blue. Everyone knew the last one in line had to be that great vocal song “Renegade.”

The show was complete, the songs were done, and we were now at the end of the show.  Guitar picks were flung out toward fans and drums sticks lobbed out almost with precision. One thing is for sure this band knows how to put on a high energy rock show. The band left the stage leaving most fans wanting more, as we always do. Their choice of songs was perfect for the crowd, but a baker’s dozen of hits was not enough for so many. We must always remember; they are only human.

As the adrenalin finally starts to completely leave your body after a great concert and you slip back into sleep thinking of the show you had just seen. It was just an amazing time seeing Styx at The Venue at Hammond, Indiana’s Horseshoe Casino. The ear to ear grin is proof you had a great time. 

*Photo by Roger Reis

Bands, in general, are a dime a dozen. There are so many groups out there that flood the music scene, but not all of them are good. The real trick is to find a new band with original music that just kicks ass. Thankfully the Chicago Metropolitan area has found a great new original band that has surfaced above the mediocre. They are called WORM (The World Organization of the Righteous Movement).

WORM has just released a new presentation called The Singularity. Their debut CD has a lot of bite to it. Heavy guitar riffs, gut wrenching screams, and a rhythm section that rumbles from every note plucked and each hit to the skins. It just has great power and a full sound within each and every song.

All of the music on The Singularity is just awesome, but a few songs rise above the rest. One of the songs that will just hit you right between the eyes is “Frequency.” It’s a great song with clever lyrics that surrounds the controversial idea that music is their religion. It’s done in such a way that brings a touch of class to the CD within their statements.

It is not an anti religious song. They don’t bash on anyone else’s religion, they just simply state, “this is my religion” and that they “don't discriminate.” Within the song it describes the feeling of performing on stage in a band. The feeling of the heat from the amps, seeing the stage lights, and the power of the music that is felt in your feet; it runs deep into your soul. For most musicians, performing live is just a natural high that is better than any drug on the planet.

The song “More (Like You)” has a strong staccato vibe to it. The machine gun style rhythms come and go within the song. The programming of techno sounds and heavy distortion is a great example of how to rock. There is a very rapid style within this composition. The lyrics ask to “help me …… save me …… kill me” because “I am becoming more like you in every way.” This definitely is not a love song, but more of a hate song. “It’s dog eat dog ……. I’ll suck you dry until there is nothing left” sums up the entire feeling of this song as disturbing hatred. It’s very cool! 

Band:

Mike Reidy is in charge of the vocals and programming within this group. He brings in a techno feel to this industrial band that has some similarities to music like Zombie, but is very unique. Sequencing keyboard sounds are complimented well with the vocals that come up from the belly of the beast within him.  

Karen Righeimer provides the thunderous bottom end that fills in all the nooks and crannies within each song. This bass player will make you think the earth is moving as she chugs through the masterpieces within this musical presentation.

Ken Pilar unfortunately didn’t make the recordings, but he is a massive percussionist that completes out a rhythm section that sounds like darkness. Each venue WORM plays at will have the floors rumble and shake due to the amazing force behind every hit within. It’s just so strong and powerful as he blends well with his bass counterpart.

Myke Schuberg and Mike Tuggle are the dynamic duo of guitarists in this band. The flashy riffs that are provided by these two masters complement each other well as they play in unison and off of each other during each song. There is a lot of talent in the end of the fingertips of these two monsters. It’s pure pleasure to hear these guitar slingers scream away in pentatonic greatness.

The suggestion is being made to listen to this new ear candy. The debut CD is called The Singularity and it is just a tremendous musical display by the Chi-town musical heroes. You won’t regret it listening to it if you like music. They are called WORM (The World Organization of the Righteous Movement). Write it down, say their name, and commit it to memory. This industrial group is just kick ass! You will want to see them soon, because if the music world is smart, they won’t be performing just in Chicago for long. They will be performing for the world. 

Tuesday, 05 August 2014 00:00

Heart Kicks It Out At Ravinia

The lights started to fade and the crowd was rushing to their seats. Drums began to rumble in a tribal pattern waking your inner soul. Ann and Nancy Wilson were taking the stage for a summer concert at Ravinia in Highland Park, Illinois. The rock band Heart is in town and they had a crowd ready to go.

The drums came to a rest and this female fronted rock band started up the show. Concert goers were happy to hear the first few notes of “Magic Man” and everyone went wild. This 1975 hit single was the first song people ever heard of this great band. What a way to start up then by presenting their first musical offerings. The drums were hot, the music was sweet, and voices of angels were being heard.

“Barracuda” was really the only slight disappointment of the night. The original version was a very upbeat song with very high beats per minute. Heart started out the song in an arrangement that was slower than the original version. Much slower! They did perform the song extremely well, but it just lost a little something by slowing it down.

The hits continued with “Even it up”, “kick it out”, “Crazy on you”, and “These Dreams.” The band just kept pulling out song after song; hit after hit. Kept hearing people say, “Wow! They did this too?” and “I forgot about this song.” 

These ladies are so talented, but the performance is not just them. The band they have is just amazing on their own. Key board player Debbie Shair has been with them for such a long time. She has become such a huge part of the band. Just a piece of the backbone and providing so many assists in rhythms and melodies.

Guitarist Craig Bartock made an amazing performance in every solo. During a few songs he had most of the guitar riffs note for note. On a couple of others he went in his own direction. He brought his own flair to the songs at a couple of points. Tremendous player all around.

The rhythm section put down the canvas for these musical artists to paint their songs. Bassist Dan Rothchild had no problem laying down the groove. He just stepped up and nailed every bit as if it was second nature. The low end was not lacking at all.

Drummer Ben Smith!! What else can be said other than phenomenal performance. The way he opened up the show in his rhythmic patterns. It was just amazing.

Ann has just a voice that will never quit. Where other singers lose their voice, it seems like she has gotten stronger over the years. Her voice is just so amazing. Girls everywhere through the place were singing along with her as if it was their voice; watching one of their idols at work.

Nancy is a great singer, but she sings better with her fingers. Guitars, mandolins, it doesn’t matter. This girl knows how to pick out a good song. She can hang with the best of them because she is one of the best.

Some of the favorite moments of the show for attendees were, “The song Heaven. It was just so beautiful. It was a nice tribute, and they just sung so well. Touching really.”

“Let me Roll it was just so amazing for me,” said a Beatle fan. “I didn’t get to see Paul [McCartney] this year on tour cause of his virus. Nice little bonus to see Heart and see some covers. They did it well”

Richard Bilyk stated, “Best part of the show for me was the encore. I love all their songs, but when they do Led Zeppelin it’s so awesome. When they play those songs they hand Page and Plant their hats. They do Zeppelin better then Zeppelin.”  

The night unfolded with great classic rock by the coolest female fronted rock band that ever existed. The band Heart just rocked the minds of a packed pavilion and grounds surrounding. A wide range of ages were there to witness greatness.

People got in line for the shuttle bus to go back to the Botanical Gardens. The show was over. Smiles were on the faces of all the fans that came and attended this wonderful show. Ann and Nancy Wilson took the stage for this summer concert and in the process touched your inner soul. These girls know how to rock. What a great show!!!

Magic Man

Barracuda

Heartless

What About Love

Dreamboat Annie

Even It Up

Kick It Out

Straight On

Let Me Roll It

Heaven

These Dreams

Alone

Mashallah

Crazy on you

Encore:

Immigrant Song

What is and what should never be

Misty Mountain Hop

The sun started to settle in the West. The shadows were forming over the manicured gardens. Night was coming and so was the start of a great show at Ravinia in Highland Park, IL.

It’s Saturday Night, the weather is nice, and Crosby, Stills, & Nash are in town. Fans young and old came to sing the songs performed by these greats. This was a tremendous venue for these Woodstock (1969) performers.

The three men came out armed with guitars, backed by a sweet band, and gifted with sweet harmonies. Not too many bands have ever been able to rival CSN in vocals.

“Carry On” was a perfect song to start it up with. All the old hippies dressed in their sixties tie dyed gear began to dance. Colored lights illuminated the musical display being set forth for the sold out show of concert goers.

“Marrakesh Express” has always been known for being a popular song amongst the fans. A great song with it’s up beat patterns and vocals that are just amazing. Always great harmonies.

“Long Time Gone” reminds a lot of people of the Woodstock Movie. It plays in the opening and was just a crowd pleaser. CSN were really hyped up for this show and they were letting it all hang out on a Saturday night.

When “Southern Cross” first started, the place just went wild. Everyone was singing the song throughout almost the entire way. “When you see the Southern Cross for the first time you understand now why you came this way.” When you see it done live by CSN you understand why you came to the show. Now everyone knows what all the hype is about.

Of course the boys had to take an intermission which was very cool for the aging entertainers and concert goers. David Crosby has lived two lives, but he looks amazing and is still harmonizing well. If you ask him, “It’s what I was put on this Earth to do.”

Helplessly Hoping was another great hit and Graham Nash is just still a top quality singer. His vocal contributions have long been present in this band and many others. He has been a full time member or singing backup with Dave for other bands. It’s like hearing a group of musical deities.

“For What It's Worth” was brought out from the Buffalo Springfield library and Stills did a great job as usual. He was a little raspy compared to the other two vocally, but where he lacked in one category he made up for it another. His guitar playing has always been a leading voice within this band since the start.   

“Guinnevere” is just an amazingly graceful song. Each time they play this with such emotion and love from one man to this woman. No where can you hear a song like this written today. Sung in such a way it made a young lady cry. “It’s my favorite song by them. By anyone!!”

“Our House” was a sing along with lighters going and people chiming in on every note to this great hit. This song has some of the most children friendly lyrics put out. It just has an innocence about it that makes flowers in the hair of beautiful women mandatory.

 “Chicago” a great song performed in honor of the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  When they “Won't you please come to Chicago just to show your face” the excitement level went up immensely. Even in a far suburb of Chicago, it still makes many of us warm to hear about the city history in song.

 “Teach Your Children” is probably the most known song by this band. Appearing in several commercials, being all over the radio, and possibly on a few kid shows like Sesame Street over the years, you would have to have to live under a rock to not hear this song. This is such a great song that was originally intended as a vocal lesson for The Grateful Dead. They would teach the members of the Grateful Dead how to sing harmony for their upcoming albums, Workingman's Deadand American Beauty.

The sold out show at Ravinia in Highland Park, IL. was just an amazing time for people of all ages. One is really overtaken and just in awe over the beautiful presence of the theater. The grounds surrounding were just filled with very well behaved attendees.  No one got too crazy or out of hand. The sight of people enjoying a nice picnic lunch/dinner and beverage of choice just completes the scene of a serene summer weekend.

As the night came to a close, the crowd cleared out by shuttle buses back to the Botanical Gardens parking lot. They carried their chairs and coolers that had their leftover spinach dip and wine. Tie dyed people of all ages headed back to their vehicles excited from such a good show and exhausted because they got their monies worth.

Fans young and old came to sing the songs performed by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Night settled the temperature and set the evening for a memorable time. Alcohol was being consumed, people were dancing, and some of the greatest songs ever written were being sung. What more could you ask for? Maybe a time machine to bring you back to Yasgur’s Farm in 1969? Watch their second show ever and have some fine milk from his dairy? 

 

For more Ravinia events, visit www.Ravinia.org.

Saturday, 14 July 2012 19:17

Sweet G ~ Lady in Rock!!

Throughout the music industry there are very gracious people that really want to help struggling musicians out. They are there to help push them along, do favors, and expect nothing in return other than a thank you. They are very helpful people and truly are fans of music and they need to be around it all the time. It’s just in their blood, heart, and soul!

We are not talking about groupie’s who drop their panties at the first sight of a bass player. We are talking about adult professionals within the music industry. These people will bend over backwards to help a local band that they believe in. Help in any way they can. They will support the local musicians until the day they die. Such passion for music can be found within Gina Planell, a.k.a. Sweet G.

Recently Sweet G was interviewed by Buzz and she shared quite a bit. She did sing “background vocals on a few tracks back in the day. I don’t even want to go there. I have played drums, bass, and guitar; not very well, but I can get by. I rage with ‘Smoke on the Water’.” She wears so many hats beyond that, including being a mother and wife, but one of the heaviest roles in music is with the Dirty Dan Radio Show.

I produce the show. Make sure everyone is on the same page by way of interview subjects.” Sweet G also pursues newsworthy acts to use within the show. “I feel that my prior experience gives me an edge in this arena. I am very creative and generally come up with insane bits at the drop of a hat.”
 

Her list of accolades is quite amazing! Sweet G has worked for A&M records for a brief time and with Moon June as an administrator. “Worked at Guitar Center as a guitar accessories clerk for a few summers. Everything has always been tied into music in one way or another. In my early days, I had a penchant for photography. We had to do everything by hand. There was no digital anything. You had to wait for your pictures to be developed and you had to manually create flyers and mailing lists. No do-over’s! That was my job.”

As she developed her creative skills she got to join some bigger acts during recording sessions. “I made it a point to know every single facet of this industry so that I could accelerate this love of my life, from advertising to booking to interviewing and understanding a musician’s mind. I was hoping to somehow make tons of money at it, but if you know anything about this industry, anything you do are labors of love. I continue to look for new acts to extend my support to. My love for local music reaches far into my soul. It’s not something to turn on and off. It just exists.”

 

This is no run of the mill fly by night promoter. Sweet G is the real deal! Along with being a great photographer and writer (Chicagorocks.com and The Rocker) she has helped to promote some very large local gatherings that were outstanding.  She has helped charities; Breaking the Silence (Autism benefit) and Toys for Tots. These types of events are right up her alley as she is just a caring helpful person.

 

For the last five years Sweet G has helped to organize Woodsbash and Winterbash, which is one of the coolest parties ever. In the middle of Schiller Woods, bands play to a crowd of partiers that loved every minute of it. Her role in these events was huge for the last years and her help will be missed as she will no longer be assisting. Without her touch of class and Jell-o shots, this party will not be the same and for the first time in years the party did not go on.  

 

She spent a short time as a DJ for 88.3 and Sweet G loved it. She has worked with Entertainment-1 booking bands alongside Terry McGovern and Kris Valentine. “Entertainment 1 is bringing some serious main stream music this year. That’s all I’m going to say about that.” 

 

Sweet G was asked if she hung out at places like the Thirsty Whale. “Absolutely! Since the late 70’s. I was a very young attendee. I don’t think you can say underage here. Then, there was Haymakers, The Nickel Bag, The Rusty Nail, Night Gallery, Beginnings… I could go on. It was a great time for music and friends. I feel very lucky to have reconnected over the years to those people and memories. That time period was detrimental to my present state of insanity.”

 

She was asked who she has met over the years. “I have been privileged to meet a lot of great people. John Entwistle, Danny Seraphine, Steven Tyler, Dee Snyder, Dave Meniketti, Carmine Appice, Blackie Lawless, Yngwie Malmsteen, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Leste, Viv Campbell, Neil Schon, Carlos Santana, Dirty Dan Buck” and the list goes on from there.

Sweet G tells a story of a Halloween at the Aragon Ballroom with Lemmy. “I was fortunate enough to get first row and ultimately me with a bunch of musician friends, were asked backstage. Our costumes were a hit.” She wore a feathered mask and “Lemmy liked it. He told me to ‘Take it off!’ Inspiring a crowd rant. I was scared, so I took it off. He looked at me and said, ‘Put it back on,’” she recalls it laughing.  

 

As the night went on she actually was backstage; talking with Lemmy for quite a while and was able to interview him in a way. “We talked more and he kept signing autographs using my back as a writing board at times. He was one of the absolute nicest, coolest guys I had ever met.”

 

“As I was leaving, Lemmy insisted that I stay because ‘I reminded him of his wife.’  Touched, I decided to hang around a while longer and grill him a bit more about touring. It was exciting to talk to such a legend and in this very short period of time, I felt like he was a friend of sorts. I was watching VH1 and there was Motorhead. I saw Lemmy talking about his life and how he never married! I was hysterical. He’s was a great guy, one of my very favorites.” 

 

Her response about drugs; “I think that’s a personal decision as long as it doesn’t damage another. It’s definitely not as bad as it used to be. There were some extremely elaborate drug parties back then. There was no pressure to use like everyone says and people who did heroin or had it were usually beaten up or thrown out of parties. Now, heroin is almost on the casual use list which is frightening. I think some underestimate the power of heroin. It’s a killer. It needs to be stopped.”

 

She was asked who is her favorites in local music. “Back in the day, I was enamored with TRILLION. Bloodstream Parade, Paradoxx, Dirty Dan Buck, Cool Rockin’ Daddies, VEILSIDE. I have favorite individual musicians here in Chicago. I feel lucky to go out and see them all perform; hear them sing and play. It’s a great time for local music. Chicago has some serious talent. Way Serious! I’m thinking a lot of people take them all for granted.”

 

Her devotion to music is continued to be explained. “I support people who ask for my help. Whether that be, writing, photography, producing, booking or even artistic contributions. I think everyone wants to be helpful and feel good knowing that they’ve made some kind of difference. In the 80s, I was one of a few people locally that photographed and created promo packages. We used them to get bands booked in clubs. That included 8 x 10 glossies. I worked very hard and loved every minute of it. Now, it’s a serious hobby. It kind of stays in your blood.”  

 

“I left the music scene for about eight years or so, after my boy was born. Those were the RADAKKA years, dammit. So, I’m anxious to see if the original members will ever come together and do it again. I have that regret of not experiencing them. I wonder what’s taking them so damn long!”

 

When asked if she was a groupie her response was; “I’m not sure. Back in the day, groupie, was a bad thing. I don’t know what it means now. I never screwed anyone to get anywhere. My goal always was to find out as much about music and absorb all there was to learn to become a credible source of assistance. I was hungry for the knowledge. I never stop learning and understanding. I don’t think groupies do that. I do have to say that I’m not excited about the exploitation of women and sex-crap in this industry.  For such a long, long time women have been looked upon as sex toys. I thought most certainly we were coming out of that cave.”

 

“Not many women have been given the courtesy of being considered intelligent enough or having something viable to offer other than T&A, until just recently. It bothers me. I feel that kind of stuff keeps us from accelerating intellectually as women. It’s a personal opinion. I believe women who are happy, are sexy. Women who are educated, are sexy. I’ve written about it, most everyone knows my point of view on it. I wish a few women locally would find a way to make people see their sexy minds instead of their cockpits.  Just a personal thought.”

 

“First, I am now owner/President of RAW-M which is the Regional Alliance of Women in Music. We have a Chicago chapter and moving on to Philadelphia. There are currently 62 members in Chicago. It's a group of women in music supporting each other. Creating charity rock shows and contributing as a whole to this music movement. Strength in numbers.  Also, am currently considering creating my radio show which should air during the Summer months and run for a year as a demo.” 

It is quite apparent that Sweet G isn’t a fan of the sex sells campaign within music. It is also quite apparent that she is not just another pretty face either. This young lady has looks, but has the brain to match. You can compare her to whoever you want, but there will always only be one Sweet G.

G promo 8

It is something to see people truly helping others within this musical field. Gina “Sweet G” Planell is one of those rare finds that really wants to help. Her love and passion for music is flowing through her veins like a powerful drug. Her class cannot be duplicated or imitated. She is a true humanitarian to the music industry because deep down within her soul, music is her life. Sweet G is someone you should know. 

Saturday, 10 March 2012 18:59

Space Giant; awesome Chicago band

 

In almost every bar you can see a cover of the song “Born to be Wild” (Steppenwolf). “I Want You to Want Me” (Cheap Trick) is another example of a song that is covered by everyone. Occasionally a band will be seen that is just doing original songs. Creative ability and talent hit the concert goers dead in their soul with these original songs. Saturday night’s performance by Space Giant was a show that really grabbed you.

Ye Olde Town Inn (18 W. Busse Avenue ~ Mount Prospect, IL 60056) was the place to be for this show. Space Giant was the band to see and they just rocked. The entire performance was flawless and they were on fire. This high energy music was a pleasant change from hearing “Simple Man” (Lynyrd Skynyrd) for the three millionth time.

Vince Falcone is a slamming, hard hitting drummer that drives each song. The hand and feet work were reminiscent of one of the masters, Abe Laboriel Jr. from Paul McCartney’s band. Very similar techniques and mannerisms are found in Vince. His snare rolls push songs in such a great way that not every guy who owns a drum kit can do. He has dynamics behind the kit that holds the show together.    

Lead vocalist Jamie Richards was a joy to watch as he never stopped moving. He did his job to entertain the crowd and has a strong voice to keep everyone interested. He tore up every note like it was meant to be. His vocal range and tone fit the band like a glove. He blended well with the music that was created. In between songs there wasn’t any dead time as he kept it going creating not just music, but creating a show.   

Dave Yates filled the role of the bottom end with ease locking his bass with the clockwork of the drummer. Playing solid bass lines for each song done is what this guy does and realizes in bass lines sometimes less is more. Holding out one note is in most cases better than playing a hundred. One of the best features in a bass player is his amp and this guy has an SWR bass rig that makes it all the better. The man would sound good through anything, but through this amp he gets nothing but sweet tones.  

Fired through a Marshall half stack Mike Parker played some unique guitar leads similar to stuff played by The Edge from U2, except he has taken it into a different form. His guitar won’t just be distorted, it will be glazed with effects at times giving them another sound completely. He has a way of playing that sounds as if he was trying to imitate a keyboard. The man has skills.

Space Giant has an EP out now and the songs on it are very well done. One that really sticks out is “Talks to Angels.” They played it live which the song is a powerful modern rock song, with a good guitar riff driving it, and primal drums rolling into the song. The guitar, bass, and drums chugs its way through this kick ass original song. 

 “Beautiful World” is a radio friendly song that shouldn’t be overlooked. The upbeat rock anthem could easily be played on any rock station and fit right in with any classic to a modern rock genre. These boys should really be proud of the work they have created as it does rock.

The next time you are looking for a new band to see, don’t go see a cover band. Search out an original band and support them in their quest. Go see songs that you have never heard before. Seek out an original band like Space Giant. Their music is rockin’ and a rollin’. From a musician’s perspective, “Seeing Space Giant is like being body slammed by Hulk Hogan. It hurts so much it makes me wanna quit playing. They are good.” Space Giant is a great band.

 

True music fans go out to local venues to see a good band. They will trudge through snow, cold, wind, and rain to make it out to see a few musical moments that touch their inner soul. Saturday nights are a great time to see a band and dance the night away. This past Saturday an awesome show was provided by Jacked Up at Eskape in Buffalo Grove.

The amount of music provided by Jacked up was amazing. This four piece band just nailed every song they did and tore the roof off the place with their flashy ability. They aren’t a bunch of guys who know a few chords and finally decided to climb out of the cellar. These guys can actually play.

Doing a good selection of classic rock songs is a great way to design your set list if you are a cover band. Jacked Up jammed out songs like “Long Train Running” (Doobie Brothers), “Summer of 69” Bryan Adams, and “Locomotive Breath” (Jethro Tull). The list of great songs was long and they all were done to perfection.

Drummer Ken Kreis played his ass off on drums. The amazing ability provided by this man was something to watch. He holds the timing together and has incredible hand work as he does runs around the kit coming back to the clock within synchronization with the band. He is nothing short of fantastic and a hard hitter. He also provides some sweet backing vocals.

Bass player and a master of the bottom end is the man at stage left, Jeff Barker. This guy has amazing fingers and is the cream of the crop for bass players in the Chicago area. His bass rig speaks for itself. A nice SWR amp with an Alembic bass provides a sweet feeling within the room anywhere. The lightning fast fingers and creative ability within this guy is a show all by itself. Wow!

The man in the middle is Dave Nickrand on lead vocals. He pulls off vocals and gets the crowd into it. He has a solid vocal range and gets the crowd pumped. He looks the part of the classic rockstar with the headband and scarf coming off of the microphone stand. It’s clear he was influenced by so many of the great singers that came before him.

New comer to the band is Michael Alan Krajewski on guitar. There is no other guitarist within the band because another one isn’t needed. It would only get in the way. The six string slinger is a veteran to the lead guitar role and masters the guitar riffs of all the virtuosos that came before him. As he plays through the night he claims the title of king of the hill on his ax. Phenomenal guitar player.

This band just continued to rock one great song after another. “Kryptonite” (3 Doors Down), “Pride and Joy” (Stevie Ray Vaughn), and “Breakdown” (Tom Petty) were some of the highlights of the evening. “Hey Jealousy” (Gin Blossoms) was a great song to hear live and it was flawless. “Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting” (Elton John) showed the vocal capabilities of the guys in the band. The bass player, singer, and guitarist all took a verse of the song going across the stage. They really have their show together.

“Radar Love” (Golden Earring) was the song to see. The thunderous bass, sweet guitar licks, and drums fills made the night worth the trip all by itself. The nearly forty year old hit was done to perfection as good if not better than the original song. The feeling of seeing it live was nothing less than euphoric.

At all local shows someone always has to yell out “Freebird” in honor of the Southern boys Lynyrd Skynyrd hit. Jacked Up didn’t let the crowd down by not playing the ten minute song, but they did a unique version of the masterpiece with the piano intro being done on bass guitar. The version of this song was one of a kind and they ended their show with this rock anthem. Talent is found within all the members of this band. Jacked up rocks!

If you need a band to see at a local bar, look up Jacked Up. These guys know how to blow the roof off the place and they will take most of the walls with them. After seeing them live, you know you have just seen a kick ass rock show. You leave the venue singing most of the songs that they did. Simply put, Jacked Up rocks.  

 

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