The Fat Babies wring the kitsch out of trad jazz | Music Feature | Chicago Reader

The Fat Babies wring the kitsch out of trad jazz 

The vitality and commitment of these hardworking Chicago preservationists make antique songs feel brand-new.

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

The Fat Babies - REBECCA CIPRUS
  • The Fat Babies
  • Rebecca Ciprus

When the Fat Babies began their residency at the Green Mill in 2012, they very nearly started the same kind of furor that the Mighty Blue Kings did with their 90s gigs at that club. Granted, the Kings kicked off a craze for jump blues in the Windy City, and the Fat Babies haven't done the same thing for traditional jazz from the 20s and 30s. But they undoubtedly know the music well—their original tunes are almost indistinguishable from the vintage numbers they re-create.


Fat Babies
Fri 8/30, 8 PM, SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston, $15, all ages
Sat 8/31, 1:50-2:45 PM, Von Freeman Pavilion


The Fat Babies were founded in 2010 by bassist Beau Sample, who'd worked in a variety of roots-music genres (rockabilly, blues, et cetera) in Austin, Texas, before coming to Chicago in 2007 and playing with the likes of Jimmy Sutton's Four Charms and Devil in a Woodpile. The same dexterity he's displayed in other groups also animates the Fat Babies, giving them a solid foundation and the necessary bottom end. They have four albums under their own name for the Delmark label, which shares their commitment to traditional jazz, and the most recent, Uptown, came out earlier this month. Like any old-timey genre, trad jazz is so frequently reinterpreted as kitsch that less-informed audiences only know the bastardized version, but the sophisticated arrangements and committed performances on Uptown don't sound like jokes at anybody's expense. And judging by the crowds on the dance floor for the Fat Babies' Tuesday nights at the Mill (and their successful recent residency at Honky Tonk BBQ), they've done a great job of righting wrongs by exposing the roots of this music.  v

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories