Three Beats: The Old Town School preps new digs and digs into its past | Three Beats | Chicago Reader

Three Beats: The Old Town School preps new digs and digs into its past 

Plus: Chrome Waves roll in, Vic’s Drum Shop invents a holiday, and Lovely Little Girls end a three-year hiatus with a new lineup

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FOLK | Kevin Warwick

The Old Town School of Folk Music is a beloved Chicago institution, but it's not resting on its laurels: construction is almost complete on a new OTS building across the street—really, right across the street—from the current 4544 N. Lincoln location. Doors open for classes on Mon 1/9, and the first concert in the building's 2,100-square-foot Myron R. Szold Music & Dance Hall is Fri 1/13: a "Global Dance Party" with Swing Brasileiro and Old Town Samba School. Tickets for concerts booked through May are on sale now.

In other OTS news, the school has combined the four digital compilations it released this summer into a 127-song, download-only "box set" called Live From the Old Town School. It's available through CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon—on CD Baby it's $100 (oddly, the four comps cost $16.97 apiece), but that doesn't seem too steep for what's essentially ten CDs of music. The songs are drawn from more than five decades of folk, blues, bluegrass, gospel, and world-music concerts, almost all at OTS locations. Colby Maddox, archivist and director of the school's resource center, oversaw the project—which involved procuring grant money and clearing the rights to the songs with 85 artists, among them Steve Earle, Joan Baez, Guy Clark, Andrew Bird, Pete Seeger, Odetta, Mahalia Jackson, and Oumou Sangare. Expect more OTS treasures in the years to come.

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METAL | Philip Montoro

New bands aren't usually news, but the lineup of a Chicago trio called Chrome Waves makes it an exception: vocalist Stavros Giannopoulos of the Atlas Moth, guitarist Jeff Wilson of Wolvhammer, and drummer and bassist Bob Fouts, formerly of the Gates of Slumber and now with Apostle of Solitude. (Both Fouts and Wilson also used to play in Nachtmystium.) The band recently finished a self-titled EP, which they plan to release early in 2012, and two weeks ago they posted one of its four songs, "Height of the Rifles," to Soundcloud. "If you're a fan of maybe Assassins-era Nachtmystium mixed with, I don't know, maybe Deftones minus the nu-metal parts with brutal vocals, you will dig it," Fouts told online magazine Forbidden. "It's pretty trippy with lots of atmosphere. It still has a bit of a black-metal feel but also more groove, and not as much blast."

Fouts and Wilson became good friends touring with Nachtmystium in 2009; over the course of a year and a half, they recorded instrumental tracks in Fouts's home studio on breaks from the road. They'd written the songs with Giannopoulos in mind, and in summer 2010 he started working on his vocals. "We're planning on doing a full-length as soon as time allows it, hopefully sometime next year," Giannopoulos says. "We have a label interested but nothing set in stone quite yet." Given that Fouts plays both bass and drums in the studio, Chrome Waves can't gig without doing some recruiting. "It's definitely something we've all talked about," says Giannopoulos. "We'll probably just find some live players to round out the lineup."

On Sun 12/18 from noon to 4 PM, Vic's Drum Shop (345 N. Loomis) is throwing a free Holiday Metal Bash, and A-list metal drummers will be thick on the ground. According to the shop's PR, "Charlie Benante (Anthrax), Jason Bittner (Shadows Fall), Dave Lombardo (Slayer), and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) will all be hanging out for the afternoon signing autographs and mingling with customers." The event also promises performances and prizes, and Bittner is offering private lessons on Sat 12/17; you can reserve a session through Vic's.

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EXPERIMENTAL | Monica Kendrick

The drawings and paintings of Chicago artist Gregory Jacobsen (one of which appeared on the cover of the June 30 Reader) aren't exactly easy to look at: his favorite subject is body horror, and he loves to combine bright, kid-friendly colors with beautifully rendered deformities and mutilations and revolting masses of flesh and hair and membrane. I'd love to see him get a booth at the Renegade Craft Fair someday, just so he could hang a couple of his paintings of oozing vulval teratomas and see how empty that corner of the room would get.

On and off since 2001 Jacobsen has also had a band, Lovely Little Girls, and it's a total package: challenging, dissonant, ever-changing experimental rock, conceptually linked songs, and ambitious themed stage productions that often involve makeup, prosthetics, partial nudity, and large casts of players. His longtime collaborator, bassist Alex Perkolup (also of Cheer-Accident), writes most of the songs; Jacobsen animates their lyrics with his abject, frenzied singing and grotesque, even violent stage presence.

Lovely Little Girls has been sidelined for some time; their Empty Bottle show on Fri 12/16, titled "Cleaning the Filth From a Delicate Frame," is their first since 2008. It's been a couple of years in the making, and Jacobsen and Perkolup only decided to perform it as Lovely Little Girls a few months ago, recruiting six new musicians: guitarist Jim Cooper (Detholz!), keyboardist Jon Beavo (Hot Garbage), drummer Charlie Werber (Guzzlemug, Murmur), saxophonist Cory Bengtsen, and backup singers Carmen Armillas (Cheer-Accident) and Sacha Mullin. Jacobsen described the set to me thusly: "With 'Cleaning' Alex and I are trying to do 'show tunes' in a tolerable and avant-garde way—stripping out all the annoying and execrable Glee-ness of it all and focusing on the abstract storytelling through song structure, ridiculous melodies, and multiple voices/narrators. Jesus Christ Superstar via Beefheart/Frith/Magma. The texts deal with food, sex, humiliation—our usual themes."

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