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JenChicago, NBC Chicago Street Team
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Or even better, WATCH all about it! The weekend starts early with a performance and celebration this Thursday at The Joynt. Cellist Ian Maksin will be performing, with special guests, songs from his new CD, Solo Flight. The night is also the launch of the newly released CD, so expect plenty of celebrating to go along with the unique and soulful music of Ian Maskin. No cover. Doors at 8.

Want a little taste? Watch below as I host a “Gimme 5!” interview with “The Cello Man”, himself!

For more info, check out this week’s Time Out Chicago! See ya there!

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Fayth a.k.a. Relaxocat, NBC Chicago Street Team

Chicago’s very own Grape Juice Records celebrates it’s 5 year anniversary with a big bash on Thursday, September 3 at Double Door!  How big of a bash?  Well, they’ll have a 6 band line-up including The Lower 48 and Phillip Morris.  Also look forward to a special appearance by Duff Goldman, Food Network’s “Ace Of Cakes”,  not only performing in his band, …soihadto…, but also bringing along a very special custom cake.  So if you ever wondered what those fancy cakes taste like, now is your chance to find out.Grape Juice

Grape Juice Records is one of Chicago’s growing labels with a grassroots philosophy and a full roster of some great indie and folk inspired bands.  “We like people. And the environment. And a lot of other things, too. That’s why we have each band choose an organization, to which we’ll donate a portion of our revenue from that band’s album sales. The band can match our contribution, for twice the giving.”

Tickets are $6.  Double Door is located at 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave.  Doors open at 7 p.m., shows begin at 8 p.m.  Show up early and receive a free CD compilation, “Grape Juice Family & Friends Vol. 1”, a splendid sampling of their bands’ music.  And don’t forget to have your cake and eat it too!

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Fayth a.k.a. Relaxocat, NBC Chicago Street Team

Go see The Livers tonight, August 22nd  at Quenchers Saloon.  When you do, don’t make the mistake of trying to have a conversation during their set because you might just miss something.  Let your curiosity guide your view to their big screen as a four piece band reveals itself as two live guys, Scot and Luke, the same two guys projected life sized and providing the rhythm.  The LiversSounds gimmicky?  Not in the slightest.  Scot and Luke, two indie musicians, sought a way to be a two-man, 4 piece band without compromising a live show.  “We started talking about pre-recording the rhythm and playing over it.  But that didn’t seem like a band to us.  Part of a seeing a band is seeing them play their instruments.  If only there was a way that we could show us playing…all…the…instruments.”  Video production was initially the guys. “Our limited knowledge of video production was born out of necessity really.  Someone would have to do it.  They’d have to be patient, unpaid, barely acknowledged, and get along with Scot and myself.  That narrowed it down to Scot and myself.”  Soon they were joined by a talented counterpart, Andrew, who brought with him a background and experience in production.  Together they all created a very polished show.

It’s not just a show of two guys and their filmed images either.  The Livers are a band that delivers not only a solid, tight set (they play remarkably well with themselves), but also fully entertain their audience with a clever, witty show that has some hysterical surprises.  Surprises like a guest appearance of their cat, Fruitbat,  and quick mid-set break for whiskey shots.  It’s just too entertaining to properly explain  – this show is a must-see.  The Livers are truly one of the most entertaining bands to visit Chicago this summer.

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Eric Smith, NBC Chicago Street Team

On location at the Millennium Hotel, Thursday August 6.

So what brings you to the Windy City?
What brings me to the city is that I’m promoting my new album called “Imperial Blaze”…comes out August 18th.

I see you’ve sold over 10 millions records. Let’s talk about that journey and how you got started from there to Imperial Blaze.

In Stores August 18th.

In Stores August 18th.

For sure…my career started with me just lovin’ music. A friend of mine got into music at the end of high school and it came to pass that I got introduced to studios and people started to like the voice and like the flow. Like the first thing was being on a big stage in Jamaica called “Sting” back in 1998, it featured people like Busta Rhymes from the hip hop world. After that I was able to do a song with DMX who was one of the biggest artists in Jamaica at that time. Then there was a song called “Here Comes The Boom” from the movie “Belly” that Hype Williams produced and what not. And then the song “Deport Dem” really got big in New York City and got a lot of play.

And then about a year after that in 2001 my second album was coming out “Dutty Rock” was comin’ out. The song called “Gimme the Light” got a very big spread. Since I’ve had a couple of songs rank as high as #1 on the Billboard Charts such as “Get Busy”, “Temperature”, a song featuring myself and Beyonce which is a song called “Baby Boy”. A song with Keyshia Cole went to #3 on the BillBoard charts, a song called “Like Glue” went to #7…”I’m still in Love” featuring Sasha went to number 12. So we have a lot of repertoire coming up to this day, man. And those are all different steps, help me to pave the way to be sittin’ here in front of you, ya know what I mean…tellin’ my story of what’s up next in Imperial Blaze.

Now I got started producing festivals with Super Cat. The first time I heard you I was like, “That’s Super Cat!” And they were like…no, no that’s Sean Paul.
The Superdor, Superdor he’s still the Super. Cause you know, he’s my pops in the business! He helped pave the way…I got to give respect to him.

Let’s talk about “So Fine” which is the rockin’ new single out now. Talk about that single and when you know a song is hot and going to blow up.

Well I mean…I try and put feeling into my songs, to my artwork. Feeling is what artwork is about…I think it is about that feeling deep down in your and soul channeling it and bringing it to the rest of world. In “So Fine”, I loved the melody, I loved the chords that was being played in the riddim, so it just took off from there… it’s a club banger cause da riddim is so hot.

So you got any upcoming shows in Chicago?
I’m gonna be here tonight and tomorrow night, so I’m probably just going to go into to clubs and sing and DJ a couple verses, couple line to let people know what’s up. However you can stay in touch with me on allseanpaul.com. It got blogs about reggae and dancehall. It’s got what I been doing lately on it, shows. It’s got a tour schedule dat should be printed up, probably by November this year. People can order my album out August 18th or pre-order it to. Also, like every now and then there’s competitions that run on the site. Like I had an “Ultimate Fan” competition running for about 3 to 4 weeks now, which just ended like this week. So I designed two chains…white gold and diamonds then I gave it to two of my favorite fans who won. Things like that gone happening every now and then on the site.

And one last thing…Sean Paul is it Henriques…? You have a Latin back ground…?
So I got a lot of different blood in me from Black, Portuguese, White from England and Chinese. My father’s family has Portuguese and Black blood. My Chinese and England bloodline comes from my mother’s family.

Well you know, me and my peeps are considering putting together another festival “Metropolatino” and you know we are interested in having you headline to get that moving.

For sure I got that blood there so let’s do it…you can’t keep me out!

Download the audio to hear the entire the Sean Paul “Imperial Blaze” interview!

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Dave Leonard, NBC Chicago Street Team

The Summer isn’t over yet, so if you’re looking for some new heat to rock in the iPod, here’s a few new artists you need to check for:

Get familiar with Scientific The Rap God from the Westside of Chicago who has been killing the game on the hip-hop freestyle and mixtape circuit since his early high school days. The buzz is now getting louder on this kid who has shared the stage with heavy-hitters such as Akon, Ludacris, and Young Jeezy just to name a few. His latest single “Boomerang” which is also featured on his current mixtape release,

l_254a5ddc6dad421da3c5339e4cc34f67“Murderwoods: Vol. 2”, is starting to rip up the airwaves and consistently sells on iTunes in addition to breaking records on the ringtone charts. You can check out more of Scientific’s infamous YouTube freestyle battles, mixtapes, and upcoming appearance information at his Myspace www.myspace.com/scientifictherapgod

From our Midwest neighbors comes a unique brand of rhymespitters equipped with hella style and we’re not just talking about the music. “Authenticity is invaluable…Originality is non-existent”…this is the mantra echoed on the intro to the innovative mixtape release, “Dope Couture Presents alpha.live + CMART: Steal From The Rich”. This mixtape is a breath of fresh air for the true hip-hop heads and sneaker fans all the way down to the clever cover design. Indianapolis’ finest, alpha.live, rips through a 12-track collection of CMART beats and orchestrated by Shadowkat Nightson. Two of Chi-town’s notables are featured on two of the first leaks off the mixtape. Grammy-Award winner, Rhymefest drops in on “All I Need” and Naledge of Kidz In The Hall blesses the soulful “Kelley’s Song”.

stealfromtherichFRONTOther standout cuts include “Roy G Biv” which cleverly samples the theme song from the popular “Reading Rainbow” children’s show and the haunting “Listen” which has alpha.live taking on the persona of a Vietnam veteran. This mixtape is definitely one to get for when the official free download hits the net on August 4th. Check www.alphaisforever.com for updates.

Last but not least, check out the dynamic sounds of E-TRAIN, a dynamic Chicago-based producer and singer-songwriter who has a unique brand of hip-hop and “Nintendo Pop” that is creating a huge buzz for his forthcoming album, “The Wrath of Roxane” which was inspired by his late mother. E-TRAIN has already garnered radio exposure with his first single “Damn” and his current single,l_c815a31402024f3ea2a23b8f7e530b76 the explosive “Wreck the Discotech” which features the “Minnesota Monster”, Young General. Next up, is the super-jazzy, “Your Dance Floor” which is currently being mastered by world renowned engineer Eric Yoder at Horse Drawn Productions. Be sure to also catch him on tour soon to get the full experience. To get more of this kinetic, electro hip-hop check out his Myspace at www.myspace.com/eTRAINrap. Hop aboard the “TRAIN” and feel the “Wrath” on Sept. 5th.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

Whether or not you’re a music junkie, the opportunity to see Grant Park transformed into a playground for party-goers is entertainment in itself. The third annual GALApalooza event is only one week away, giving guests an exclusive sneak preview of the Lollapalooza event grounds in a VIP fashion. NBC-galapush2

Outdoor lounge seating, cocktails and creative nibbles – you just might forget there’s actually a concert to watch. Lollapalooza artist Vampire Weekend and Chicago sensation Hey Champ will take the stage, in addition to performances by Park District Kids and DJ White Shadow.

Friends coming in to town for the music filled extravaganza? The James Hotel is offering a special overnight package on August 6 which includes two general admission tickets to GALApalooza, overnight accommodations in a king guestroom, and valet parking at The James. Rates start at $579. For more info or to book a room, visit www.jameshotels.com.

GALApalooza takes place on Thursday August 6th at 6 p.m. at the Petrillo Band Shell in Grant Park. Lounge experiences are available at the $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000 level and single tickets are available for $150. For more information or to make reservations, call Alison Krzys, Director of Communications for Parkways Foundation at 312.742.4807 or visit www.parkways.org.

Since 2005, Lollapalooza and GALApalooza have raised over $4 million dollars for Parkways, which directly impacted Chicago’s neighborhood parks.

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JenChicago, NBC5 Street Team
If you have been checking out my last few posts, you may notice a theme… Live music and The Joynt. I moved here a year ago from Austin, TX (also known as the live music capital of the world) and maybe that has a little something to do with my love for live music. And undoubtedly, my love for dance, draws me to The Joynt. Now, I can break it down with the rest of them to a hot DJ (like Tim Spinnin’ Schommer that is guest DJ-ing tonight) but there is just something about a live performance. You know what I’m talking about. That sizzle in the air. The energy.

Jacqui Horton is my friend. And we became friends from me hearing her sing, totally falling in love with her as a person, and then asking her if she would like to be my friend. (She said “yes”.) Jacqui loves people, loves life and has a beautiful heart! I feel it when I talk to her, and I DEFINITELY feel it when she sings! I tell people she gives me goosebumps… and she does.

I shot this video at The Joynt last Saturday to give you a little taste of what you may not even know you are missing in your life! I make no apologies about the video, save this… There WERE a lot of people dancing around me… AND I was in heels. So cut me some slack on the shooting, eh?

This group of musicians work incredibly well together and as you can see, the crowd loves every second of it! Like any live performance, a recording isn’t quit the same as actually feeling the energy of the room. Luckily for you, you can check out the real deal on Saturday nights at The Joynt! You will have a good time because “We’re gonna boogie-oogie-oogie ’til we just can’t boogie NO MORE!

For more boogie-licious videos, check out JenChicago.com!
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Janelle Rominski, NBC Chicago Street Team

The Chicago Botanic Garden has many spectacular events happening all summer long to suit people of all ages.

The Garden, that is located in Glencoe, recently held a wine festival and have begun several special events. Those events include Hot Summer Nights, Music on the Esplanade, Garden Chef Series, Dancin’ Sprouts and more!

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Alma de Tango

Each Thursday from 6 pm – 8 pm, the Hot Summer Nights music series features live music and dancing to a specified genre of the evening. Dance instructors are available and will teach mini-lessons relating to the musical style of the night.

Last Thursday, Garden guests were treated to an Argentinian and Uruguayan musical performance by Alma de Tango.  Professional dancers were also on hand to teach the tango.  This evening the Garden hosted Hawaiian music and coming soon are nights filled with Cajun, Brazilian and Celtic music.

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Professional Dancers

Music on the Esplanade takes place Tuesdays from 6 pm – 8 pm where local musicians showcase genres of music including Big Band/Swing, Calypso, Blues and Jazz.

On Saturdays and Sundays, the Garden Chef Series are hosted by distinguished chefs from restaurants in and around Chicago.   These chefs prepare dishes made from garden fresh ingredients.

For the children, Dancin’ Sprouts takes place on select Wednesdays and offers musical entertainment for the little ones.

The Chicago Botanic Garden events are free to attend and regular parking fees apply to nonmembers.

For more great events and information, visit the Chicago Botanic Garden online at www.ChicagoBotanic.org.

Want more Rominski reads? Read more right HERE!

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

Happy Memorial Day Chicago! It’s time to mark your calendars with street festivals, rooftop cocktail hours and of course, the sounds of summer. So grab a group (and in some cases, a bottle and a blanket) and experience a concert in the city before the curtain closes on summer.

Still Going Strong

Chicago’s acclaimed Grant Park Music Festival, led by Principal Conductor Carlos Kalmar and Chorus Director Christopher Bell, opens its historic Gala 75th season on Wednesday, June 10, at 6:30 p.m. at the state-of-the-art Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The opening night concert features Maestro Kalmar leading the GRAMMY®-nominated Grant Park Orchestra and internationally-renowned pianist Stephen Hough through Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Key’s patriotic Star Spangled Banner, as well as one of classical music’s greatest hits, Pictures at an Exhibition composed by Modest Mussorgsky. nbcpritzker

All Grant Park Music Festival performances are free to the public. Open lawn and pavilion seating are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Season memberships to the Festival are available, starting at $80 for a specific night of the week (all Wednesdays, Fridays, or Saturdays) or $135 for a season-long membership for all 31 concerts.  Reserved group seating is also available for most concerts. Membership and group sales information is available by calling 312-742-7638 or by visiting the Festival’s website at http://www.grantparkmusicfestival.com The summer series is short, so catch one before the season ends on August15th.

Northshore Classic

Ravinia’s 2009 season presents a diverse lineup of more than 120 events from June 5 through Sept. 19, with 38 debuts, more than 25 free or specially priced events and over 135 guest artists and ensembles including the summer residency of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra featuring Ravinia Festival Music Director James Conlon. Guest artists include Lang Lang, Pink Martini, Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo Ma, Ramsey Lewis, George Hearn, Jackson Browne, Thomas Hampson, Patti LuPone, Christoph Eschenbach, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Diana Krall, Juilliard String Quartet, Joe Cocker, Susan Graham, John Legend, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Bonnie Raitt, David Hyde Pierce, Carrie Underwood, Matthias Goerne, Elvis Costello and many others.

nbc-raviniaTickets to Ravinia events are now available online at http://www.ravinia.org/. Orders are also being accepted now by fax at (847) 266-0641 or through mail by sending a printable online order form and payment to Ravinia Festival, P.O. Box 896, Highland Park, IL 60035. Phone orders at (847) 266-5100 and walk-up sales are accepted throughout the season Monday-Saturday10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays and holidays (closed July 4) 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Ravinia Festival is located at Lake Cook and Green Bay roads in Highland Park .

New Kid on The Block

It may not have the history of the Grant Park Music Fest or Ravinia, but Lollapalooza quickly became a legendary festival with a huge following. The third annual GALApalooza, benefiting Parkways Foundation and produced by C3 Presents, will be held Thursday, August 6that 6 p.m. at the Petrillo Band Shell in Grant Park. The concert space is transformed into a lounge-like atmosphere prior to the Lollapalooza festivities. While crews are making final preparations for the legendary festival, GALA-goers will enjoy a chic, open air cocktail party with outdoor lounge seating, an intimate and creative dining experience, and a concert featuring Lollapalooza artist Vampire Weekend, whose self-titled album was dubbed the 10th best album of 2008 by Rolling Stone Magazine. GALApalooza and Lollapalooza will be their only U.S. shows this year. Chicago sensation Hey Champ, who is opening for Depeche Mode on the Lollapalooza main stage, will take the stage to treat guests to a l set. In addition, GALApalooza features sounds from DJ White Shadow, performances by Park District Kids, and a silent auction and raffle featuring priceless VIP experiences.  nbc-lola

The James hotel is offering a special overnight package on August 6 which includes two general admission tickets to GALApalooza, overnight accommodations in a king guestroom, and valet parking at The James Hotel. Rates start at $579. For more information or to book this package visit http://www.jameshotels.com/

Lounge experiences are available at the $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000 level and single tickets are available for $150. For more information on sponsorship opportunities or to make reservations, please call Alison Krzys , Director of Communications for Parkways Foundation at 312-742-4807 or visit http://www.parkways.org/.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

Arturo Gomez and Megan Klehr (Photo by Tyler Curtis)

Arturo Gomez and Megan Klehr (Photo by Tyler Curtis)

It’s not every day that you run into billionaire Kenneth Griffin (#97 on Forbes 2008 list of the 400 richest Americans) but he was one of  many donors, art enthusiasts and collectors who attended the sold out Young Modern event last Friday. More than 1,200 guests attended the late night celebration which was part of the Art Institute of Chicago’s two-week festivities surrounding the opening of the new Modern Wing.

Mother and son duo Margo and Jason Pritzker co-chaired the event which included much more than gallery hopping and cocktail sipping.  Those appreciating the art of fashion enjoyed a show featuring local designers Marisa Swystun and Michelle Barone. Music was also a large component and included celebrity DJ’s Tommie Sunshine, Dark Wave Disco and DJ LoPro, with additional performances by Deep Blue Fields, Goran Ivanovic Group, Kalyan Pathak and Jazz Mata. Performance art by Industry of the Ordinary, and Igor Josifov took place in various galleries in the Modern Wing. Famed music and video director Vincent Haycock of Debonair Social Club transformed a portion of the space into a club-like atmosphere complete with multiple bars, lounge furniture and yes – servers holding out pizza boxes offering up slices of sustenance.

Nate Berkus and Friends (Photo by Tyler Curtis)

Nate Berkus and Friends (Photo by Tyler Curtis)

The event in itself was a work of art and could not have been executed without some of the city’s young executives, artists, entrepreneurs and nightlife impresarios. The Art Institute assembled a host committee which included Toni Canada, Glenn Eden, Claudia Gassel, Roxy Goebel, Arturo Gomez, Ted Haffner, PJ Huizenga, Brook Jay, James Kao, Sam Peter, Eric Sheinkop, Marisa Swystun, Stephen Tourell, Patrick Wood and Alex Zamiar. Sponsors of the event included Deloitte LLP, NAVTEQ, FIJI Water, PricewaterhouseCoopers, POM Wonderful and Grey Goose.

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

Springtime weather has gotten Chicagoans all in a tizzy.  Hibernation season is over, which is evident by the outside tables being set up at restaurants all over the city.  Sure the seventy degree weather is what’s popular these days, but the talk of the town has been Chicago’s hottest new restaurant, Sunda New Asian.  Brought to you by Billy Dec and Rockit Ranch productions, this hip and modern designed restaurant has been the place to be since its grand opening.  Check out Fete Select TV, as Bill Dec gives me an inside look at the cuisine, cocktails and vibe of Sunda.

 

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JenChicago, NBC Chicago Street Team

It’s funny how life has a way of teaching us. It brings us the lessons that we need exactly when we need them. Then, it is our choice, whether or not we use that insight, as we navigate through life.

How many of us were speechless and reminded not to judge a book by its cover when we heard Susan Boyle sing on “Britain’s Got Talent” this season? I personally got goosebumps and teary-eyed.

Or how inspiring is it to you to know that the man in this video, is the same Michael Jordon that didn’t make the Varsity basketball team the first time he tried out? That’s right, but good ol’ MJ wasn’t about to let that stop him!

And when I met Mike Berkson, I was inspired again. I met Tim Wambach, the president and founder of the Keep On Keeping On Foundation (KOKO), at the Share the Love Date Auction. After chatting with Tim for a just a few minutes about the foundation, I wanted to know even more. Tim told me if I really wanted to understand, that I should talk to Mike. So I did.

I met Tim and Mike at The Gage (LOVE that place!) and we talked about life for well over an hour. I was so moved by our chat, I called family and friends that afternoon and told them how much I loved them. I reminded them how fortunate we all really are and about my renewed perspective. Mike can’t even scratch his own nose, and yet he finds meaning, purpose and gratitude for life.

We can all find reasons to be happy. Obstacles can be opportunities, if we choose to see them. When we think we’ve been knocked down, we can wallow in the dirt, or we can get up. We can brush ourselves off. We can choose our focus… and we can “Keep On Keeping On”.

PS: Help us spread the word about the Keep On Keeping On Foundation (comment, forward, digg, linkback), volunteer or donate!

For more glass-half-full videos, check out JenChicago.com!
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Fayth, a.k.a Relaxocat, NBC Chicago Street Team

Soul pioneers, Wiley And The Checkmates, hit Chicago on Saturday, March 28th at Hideout.

These guys are the real deal — true pioneers of Delta soul bringing you serious booty shakin’ music from the deep South.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Janelle Rominski, NBC Chicago Street Team

Kat Von D, the star tattoo artist featured on TLC’s Miami Ink and now LA Ink was in town at the Schaumburg Borders bookstore last night. She is on tour promoting her latest creation – her book, High Voltage Tattoo. Hannah from LA Ink was there as well.

katvondAs a big fan of art, tattoos and rock music, I knew had to stop by Kat’s book signing.

High Voltage Tattoo takes you though a journey of Kat’s life and love for tattooing and rock ‘n roll.

Kat is currently dating Nikki Sixx, the guitarist of Motley Crue, who wrote the foreword in the book.

The book is filled with stunning visual design and tons of pictures followed by descriptive wording. My favorite part of the book is her very own ‘Tattoo Directory’ which explains the reasoning behind each of her tattoos. Kat has a tattoo inside her lip that says “Truth” which is a reminder to her to keep her words honest.

High Voltage Tattoo is also the name of Kat Von D’s tattoo shop that is seen on LA Ink. The book features a plethora of photos of Kat’s work. She has tattooed many well-known people including Lady GaGa, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Nikki Sixx, etc.

The book is available at Borders bookstores and online.  You may browse a few pages of the book and buy it here.  It retails for $29.95.


Want more Rominski reads? Read more right HERE!

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Fayth, a.k.a Relaxocat, NBC Chicago Street Team

Abroad and stateside, there’s been a buzz since 2008 about The Godfathers’ first round of touring in nearly 20 years. They’re heading to Chicago on Saturday for a show at Metro promoting their limited edition album, “Hit By Hit.” It’s a re-release of the original album plus an additional disc including b-sides and previously unreleased material.

The Godfathers first emerged in 1985, successfully combining alternative garage rock with a U.K. flair. By 1987 they were on their fourth world tour, and by 1989, their last U.S. tour, they hit 76 U.S. cities in four months.

These days they have renewed their rock n’ roll vitality and are bringing their timeless music back onstage. The original members reunited in 2008, began touring, and celebrated their CD release with their hugely successful St. Valentine’s Massacre show at London’s Forum. The economic crisis put a damper on a U.S. tour this year, but chose to bring the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” show to Chicago.

Read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Fayth a.k.a. Relaxocat, NBC5 Street Team

Back in 2006 my friends and I were invited by a musician to see Curtis Evans at Wise Fool’s Pub. What I was told back then was that he was a talented songwriter, well known and well respected among many local musicians for his songwriting as well as his support to the local music scene.   I heard he was someone who definitely had a musical future ahead of him.  Since then I’ve seen Curtis play with his band, solo, and in collaboration with other local bands at venues such as the Abbey Pub, Schuba’s, Subterranean, and Double Door.  He’s had a number of shows in New York, Austin’s SXSW, and also in Belgium.   His music ranges from aggressive alternative rock to country laden folk, but I’ve heard him most recently singing solo with an acoustic guitar.  His voice is fantastic.  And it is true, he is an extremely talented songwriter and heartfelt performer.

Curtis Evans

Curtis Evans

His upcoming release on Grape Juice Records premiers this Thursday at Beat Kitchen and is entitled, “More Songs About Loneliness”.  I approached listening to it with a bit of cautious curiosity;  I tend to shy away from melancholia and the title worried me a bit since I am particularly fond of Curtis’ more edgy side.  But much to my surprise, I didn’t find these songs to be melancholy, but rather warm, honest, and melodic.  My favorite from this CD is “Jenny Wade”, a song with a little darkness and some keyboard effects that sound fantastic.  Really good job, Curtis.  Give us more.

In a recent Chicago Tribune article, Curtis “admits a fondness for homespun recordings that allow for the occasional mistake…”, but I promise you, these “occasional mistakes” are all part of the authenticity of Curtis’ music.  Catch him live on Thursday!

  • Curtis Evans – “More Songs About Loneliness” Release Party
  • Thursday, December 18th
  • Beat Kitchen – 2100 W. Belmont

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Janelle Rominski, NBC Chicago Street Team

Brian Vander Ark (the lead singer of the band The Verve Pipe) recently performed a show at Duffy’s in Chicago for True Music Tuesdays, where there is no cover charge and no covered music.

Vander Ark is touring in support of his self-titled solo album. His other albums include Resurrection (2003), Within Reach (2004) and Angel, Put Your Face On (2006).

Opening for Vander Ark was his wife, Lux Land and Mike Himebaugh, the lead singer of Chicago-based band, Hello Dave.

Brian Vander ArkIf you’ve ever seen the Mark Wahlberg film, Rock Star, Vander Ark plays the bassist in his band, Blood Pollution.

Vander Ark’s performance was amazing, despite being a little under the weather. I couldn’t believe my ears when he sang. His vocals and guitar skills were magnificent. I was incredibly excited to see him perform because I’m a fan of The Verve Pipe and now a fan of his solo music, too.

If you missed his Duffy’s show, there are more opportunities to see him play in Chicago.  He will be performing four shows at Schubas Tavern, every Monday in January. These shows will be themed each night. During his January 5th show he’ll be performing his entire Resurrection album and will be telling stories about writing and recording that album. The show on January 12th will have the same feel as his first performance; however, this show will focus on his album Angel, Put Your Face On.  January 19th will be selections from his most recent, self-titled album. The final night Brian will feature his new band with various songs from his whole catalog of music.

I’m hoping Vander Ark sings his band’s hit single, “The Freshmen” at his final Schubas show. I can’t get enough of that song.

Below is a video of Brian Vander Ark Singing “The Freshmen” (The Verve Pipe – Villains). Poor quality video. Great quality music.


Want more Rominski reads? Read more right HERE!

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Theresa Carter, The Local Tourist, NBC5 Street Team

Bluegrass and blues are two distinctly American music forms, and for the first time Chicago gets a festival honoring both.

The Chicago Bluegrass And Blues Festival takes over the Congress Theater on November 22. I’m particularly excited because almost every band is from Chicago! The great lineup includes The Avett Brothers, Ha Ha Tonka, and Mike Mangione.

There’s also a “Last Banjo Standing” contest. Between now and October 16 listen to several local bands and vote for the one you think should take the stage.

To get you ready, each week until the inaugural festival one of the performing acts will be TLT’s Band Of The Week! This week it’s the David Grisman Quintet. He’s a legend in acoustic music circles and even created his own style of music. Called Dawg, it’s a mix of bluegrass, jazz, swing, Latin, and gypsy. Grisman’s “Dawggy Mountain Breakdown” is the theme song for NPR’s Car Talk.

GIVEAWAY: Each week I’ll be giving away two tickets to the festival! Details to come.

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Fayth a.k.a. Relaxocat, NBC5 Street Team

After a couple posts from me about DJ’s, it’s time to shift gears a bit and introduce you all to Inchworm.  A local band that I had been hearing about for the last year or so.  I even know a few members, but until 3 weeks ago I had never heard them before.  So there I was, standing outside the bar and all I could hear was this great voice resonating onto the sidewalk.  “Who is that?”  It was Matt Baugher, who I’d met the year before and was then part of another band along with drummer, Mike Holtz.  Both played Lollapalooza last year, but I had always heard that Inchworm was their gem and work-in-progress.

A gem indeed and really worth a good listen. Don’t believe me?  Well, Richard Milne on WXRT featured them recently on Local Anesthetic so take his lead.  You’ll hear fantastic music that’s an enduring culmination of blues, rock, folk, and pop – a blend in good measure that will keep you listening.  And I have to tell you, I’d never heard Matt sing before and what a nice surprise that was.  Moreover, Inchworm is sharing with you by offering NBC Street Team readers an exclusive free download of their EP which was previously only available to “the industry”.  Grab this sampling of their music while you can because it will only be available until their official CD release this Friday.

Speaking of the CD release, Inchworm sounds even better live so be sure to hit their CD release party this Friday at Darkroom.  If you just can’t get enough, click here to buy their new CD ‘Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing’ on iTunes now!

Come on out, hear Inchworm, meet Inchworm, buy Inchworm a beer to thank them for the free download, and then pick up a CD – all at Darkroom this Friday night!

  • Inchworm CD Release this Friday, October 10th
  • Darkroom – 2210 W. Chicago Ave. (map)

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Fayth a.k.a. Relaxocat, NBC5 Street Team

A few weeks ago. the NBC5 gang got together at J Bar.  What fun that was, and for me there was the added fun of running into one of Chicago’s most well known DJ’s and producers, Jesse De La Pena, who was spinning there later that night.  I hadn’t seen him in a long while so it was good to catch up, hear what he’s been up to, and hear what he’s been listening to.

If you’ve ever picked up the Reader or any other Chicago event listing publication, chances are you’ve seen his name and maybe you’ve heard him spin “back in the day” with Liquid Soul, or around town at venues such as the Funky Buddha Lounge, Smart Bar, or most recently, on Thursdays at J Bar.  In particular, Jesse has had many shows at Darkroom spinning all sorts of sets, and bringing in a whole host of other DJ’s to spin along with him.  This month Jesse celebrated his birthday, and this Saturday, Sept. 27th, he’s going to be celebrating with all of us at his Birthday Bash at Darkroom.  Guest DJ’s Major Taylor, Uncle Milty, and others spin too!  The Birthday Bash will also mark Jesse’s last set at Darkroom, so be sure to get over there and dance, dance, dance!

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Fayth a.k.a. Relaxocat, NBC5 Street Team

DJ Icey just sent me an email reminding me that he touches down in Chicago this Friday at Smartbar.  I downloaded his recent Sirius radio set that also promotes his upcoming show and I’m taking a break from dancing around to share it with y’all.  First off, you too can hear his Sirius radio set for free by clicking right here or by clicking on the flyer for his upcoming show, “5 Dolla Bill Y’All”.  Yes, that’s right, the show is just $5 bucks at Smartbar this Friday night!  I want to add that DJ Icey’s aim is to bring us an affordable show, noting that nowadays it can be costly to go out, drink, dance, and party.  Thanks Icey, we love you!

After my disappointment with Moby’s Lollapalooza after-party set over a month ago, I’m doing the happy-dance because DJ Icey is coming to town, bringing his style of spinning which really does keep you moving on the dance floor, and not just at the same bpm.  His musical influences come from all over the musical landscape, so look forward to innovative breakbeats, hip-hop, funk, loops, drum & bass, vocals, a little Latin, and a touch of rock ‘n roll.  Seriously, it’s great dance music.

With a myriad of releases on Zone Records, DJ Icey is internationally known and currently touring around the country and around the globe.  His current release, “Offshore Jedi”, is on pre-release at ITunes.  We Chicagoans get a perk at Smartbar since his show here has a fantastic line-up of four other DJ’s, including a set from Keith MacKenzie.  Get a sampling by listening to DJ Icey’s recorded set that includes a mini-set by Keith, or tune in to his show, “Automatic Static”, Tuesdays and Saturdays at 10 p.m. CT on Sirius Radio, channel 34.

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Theresa Carter, The Local Tourist, NBC5 Street Team

Greg “Jackson” Combs may only be 24 years old, but he packs a lot of experience into his music. With Jeff Brown and Christine Knodle, the sound is folk rock and perfect for a road trip through rural America.

From the band: “Freely stepping across and often defying genres, Combs mixes acoustic and synthetic sounds and tones to create an atmosphere in his music that is sometimes surreal, sometimes haunting, sometimes whimsical, but always personal.”

He’s got a few upcoming shows:

September 11, Uncommon Ground (Devon), 1402 W Devon

September 14, smART Show Music Fest, Wicker Park

September 27, The Armitage House, 1029 Davis St

When I’m not picking out bands, I’m generally being a gal-about-town. Follow me on Twitter to see what I’m up to, and check out The Local Tourist for all things downtown Chicago.

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

As if there aren’t enough events to take in as the summer draws to a close, you can add one more to the list. The 30th annual Chicago Jazz Festival kicks off on August 28, but there are plenty of ways to celebrate before then.

Chicago Trolley and the Jazz Institute of Chicago is hosting a club tour of the best jazz clubs in the city on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to midnight. For $25 in advance or $30 that evening, jazz lovers will be whisked to 15 jazz clubs on a trolley. Tickets are available at any of the 15 participating clubs.
Click here for more information.

You also may have noticed that some of the trolleys are sporting a different look these days. That’s because 30 of the trolleys have been renamed after jazz stars to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Chicago festival. The trolleys honor some of the greatest names in jazz history such as Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald, but also some of the artists who will be performing live this year, such as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Eddie Palmieri and Ornette Coleman.

So c’mon Chicago, get your jazz on!

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