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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Kay Cannon on the old iO: 'We were warming up in the alley next to dead rats'

Posted By on 04.27.16 at 04:06 PM

Kay Cannon hosts Laughs for Limbs at iO on Saturday, April 30. - ALEX J. BERLINER/UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Alex J. Berliner/Universal Pictures
  • Kay Cannon hosts Laughs for Limbs at iO on Saturday, April 30.

Kay Cannon has a history of working for strong women. The Chicago native started her comedy career at iO Theater with Charna Halpern; her first show-business job was writing on 30 Rock with Tina Fey. She wrote the script for Pitch Perfect and its Elizabeth Banks-directed sequel, Pitch Perfect 2, and is in the process of composing the story for the third installment of the franchise. Now she's the one in charge—she's the showrunner on the upcoming Netflix series Girlboss.

But before becoming the next great ladyboss, she's taking time to raise money for a cause close to her heart. On April 30, Cannon is returning to iO to host Laughs for Limbs, a benefit for the Steps of Faith Foundation, a nonprofit that provides prosthetics to amputees. And Cannon's funniest friends—including Katie Rich, Susan Messing, and TJ Jagodowksi—are coming out for it in droves to perform in Armando, one of iO's most famous long-form improv shows. (Word on the street is there's a raging afterparty for ticket holders.)

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Chicago rapper Rich Jones on the fourth anniversary of his hip-hop showcase, All Smiles

Posted By on 04.27.16 at 02:00 PM

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Chicago rapper Rich Jones is fueled by the kind of stubborn devotion that's indispensable to any music scene. He's a realist with an optimistic perspective. He'll tell you about bummer shows where the same faces seem to get behind the mike to re-enact the same battles week after week, or he'll confess that he's second-guessed his drive to put on shows all. But he'll also tell you about a gig where he had such a great time onstage that he didn't even care that fewer than two dozen people showed up. Jones has accumulated a lot of stories about throwing shows, especially since he launched a monthly hip-hop showcase at Tonic Room in April 2012. At first he was mostly looking to get onstage with his own group, Second City Citizens, but his series, All Smiles, has since helped Tonic Room grow into a hub for hip-hop in Lincoln Park.

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Chicagoans Appleby and Elias Abid dig up nouveau-pop gold on the Down Dance EP

Posted By on 04.27.16 at 12:00 PM

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Classick Studios is a magnet for talented Chicago hip-hop acts. The west-side spot has been home to generations of rappers, singers, and producers; among them lately have been the members Zero Fatigue, a crew that includes producer Monte Booker, singer Ravyn Lenae, and rapper-singer Smino, one of a handful of locals performing at this year's Lollapalooza. But the artists in Zero Fatigue aren't the only ones whose buzz has been wafting out of Classick—on Monday, vocalist-rapper Appleby and producer-vocalist Elias Abid dropped an EP called Down Dance that they'd recorded at the studio.

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Trip out on the psychedelic gig posters of the week

Posted By on 04.27.16 at 07:00 AM

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ARTIST: Nate Duval
SHOW: Levitation Chicago at Thalia Hall on Thu 3/10 through Sat 3/12
MORE INFO: nateduval.com

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Chicago State University still facing uncertain future, and other news

Posted By on 04.27.16 at 06:00 AM

Chicago State University students and supporters demonstrating in the Loop in February. - RICH HEIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Rich Hein/Sun-Times
  • Chicago State University students and supporters demonstrating in the Loop in February.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Wednesday, April 27, 2016.

  • Weather: Chilly again with rain possible

Mother Nature has another chilly spring day in store for us Wednesday, with a high of 53 and a low of 45. Bring an umbrella, because rain is possible in the afternoon. [AccuWeather]

  • Chicago State University will end spring semester early this week

Even after Governor Bruce Rauner authorized $600 million in emergency funding for Illinois's public universities, the future of Chicago State University in Roseland is uncertain. The school has to end the semester two weeks early, and its share of the much-needed state funds—$20.1 million—isn't enough to solve the problems caused by the ongoing state budget impasse. [Tribune]

  • More than 50 million tourists visited the city in 2015

Mayor Rahm Emanuel finally has something to cheer about: Chicago broke its tourism record in 2015. Choose Chicago, which serves as the city's official tourism bureau, said that nearly 51 million American visitors came to Chicago last year. That number is expected to climb to at least 52 million when international visitors are counted. The vast majority of tourists, 39.3 million, were here on vacation. [Tribune]

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Prince tribute mural has appeared over Logan Square

Posted By on 04.26.16 at 02:53 PM

J4F Krew's Prince tribute mural - SUNSHINE TUCKER
  • Sunshine Tucker
  • J4F Krew's Prince tribute mural

The wave of Prince memorials that erupted after the Purple One died last Thursday is abating but hardly stopping. (If you haven't read our tributes from J.R. Nelson, Jon Kirby, and Jake Austen, I highly recommend doing so promptly.) One that's caught my eye is a mural of mid-80s Prince that's popped up in Logan Square—he's playing guitar, wings unfolding from his back, and he's flanked by the words "Purple" and "Rain." The decades-old J4F Krew is behind the mural, which adorns a long wall atop X-it European Clothing—the same wall that held the Frankie Knuckles tribute mural that was buffed over last summer. It's just west of Milwaukee on Fullerton, across the street from the Phife Dawg tribute mural that artist Stef Skills made late last month.

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Listen to the mind-blowing Congolese rumba of Franco & L'OK Jazz

Posted By on 04.26.16 at 12:00 PM

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I'll always have plenty of reasons to be grateful for the friendship of Jenny Graf Sheppard, a sound artist best known around these parts for her roles in Metalux and Bride of No No, but today I feel like thanking her specifically for getting me first hooked on the music of Congolese legend Franco Luambo Makiadi. The first song she played for me, from a terrific 1993 anthology titled 1968/1971 (Sonodisc) that collected music he made with his killer band L'OK Jazz, clobbered me on first listen—and it's never failed to give me a lift since.

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Soul percussionist "Master" Henry Gibson played on hundreds of records—including Curtis Mayfield's "Pusherman"

Posted By on 04.26.16 at 08:00 AM


Since 2004 Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) has used the Secret History of Chicago Music to shine a light on worthy artists with Chicago ties who've been forgotten, underrated, or never noticed in the first place. Older strips are archived here.

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Individual A sues Dennis Hastert for allegedly breaking secret money contract, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 04.26.16 at 05:00 AM

Former U.S. House speaker Dennis Hastert leaves the federal courthouse in Chicago after a recent hearing in his hush-money case. - AP PHOTO/MATT MARTON, FILE
  • AP Photo/Matt Marton, File
  • Former U.S. House speaker Dennis Hastert leaves the federal courthouse in Chicago after a recent hearing in his hush-money case.

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Tuesday, April 26, 2016.

  • Weather: Colder and cloudy

A cooldown starts Tuesday with a high of 55 and a low of 45. It will be cloudy and a bit windy. [AccuWeather]

  • Former U.S. House speaker Dennis Hastert sued by one of his accusers

A man identified in court records as Individual A has sued Dennis Hastert for breach of contract, claiming that Hastert hasn't paid him all the hush money he agreed to in exchange for keeping quiet about alleged sexual abuse. (Individual A has also alleged that the former House speaker molested him when he was 14.) Hastert plead guilty in 2015 to bank fraud charges. His sentencing hearing is set for Wednesday. [ABC7 Chicago]

  • And the U. of C. distances itself from wrestling coach's show of support for Hastert

Meanwhile, the University of Chicago is distancing itself from a letter the school's head wrestling coach sent to a federal judge in support of Hastert. Coach Leo Kocher praises Hastert for challenging the U.S. Department of Education on Title IX. He wrote the letter earlier this year, before the molestation allegations came to light. [Deadspin] [Inside Higher Ed]

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Will the Chicago Tribune be the next Gannett paper?

Posted By on 04.25.16 at 05:12 PM

Newspaper publisher Gannett said Monday that it wants to buy Tribune Publishing for more than $388 million. - AP PHOTO/KIICHIRO SATO
  • AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
  • Newspaper publisher Gannett said Monday that it wants to buy Tribune Publishing for more than $388 million.
A few things to think about on reading that Gannett Company is making a run at Tribune Publishing, offering $12.25 a share—63 percent above last Friday's closing price.

What a terrible thing to happen to the Tribune! I head for the complimentary breakfast in chain motels with my heart in my mouth— will there be only a stack of USA Todays on the lobby counter, or will the New York Times be offered as well? Usually it's just USA Today. You might as well pick it up. You've got to do something to occupy your mind while you eat the waffle you just heated up yourself. And you don't want to be at the mercy of Fox News on the wall TV.

The Tribune isn't the Times. But if the hotel across the street gave away the Tribune along with USA Today and cost $10 more, I'd head over there. I'd figure the breakfast was better too.

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