Weekend Music Spotlight - Live Music Highlights, Friday 12/9 - Sunday 12/11

Weekend Music Spotlight - Live Music Highlights, Friday 12/9 - Sunday 12/11

This is your guide to catching the best live music throughout both the city and suburbs... This weekend, Alice Cooper screams at northwest Indiana, Bret Michaels gives Lincolnshire something to believe in, Grammy faves Bon Iver arrive on the west side, and Tori Amos hits the Chicago Theatre... All of this plus much more.

In The City…

The String Cheese Incident (8PM Thursday 12/8, Friday 12/9 and Saturday 12/10 at Aragon Ballroom. $54, All Ages)They may not have released a new album since 2005 but in the grand tradition set forth by the jam bands before them, it hasn't hurt their live attendance one bit.  Bluegrass influenced jams will permeate Uptown for the better part of the weekend.

Bon Iver (7:30PM Friday at UIC Pavilion. $50, All Ages) – Fresh off Grammy fawning, Bon Iver is playing at a venue that's too large in which delicate vocals and instrumentation tend to drift off and die.  This show has the potential to be bad no matter how well Bon Iver plays... but I really hope it isn't.

Dwele (8:30PM Friday at Double Door. $25, 21+) – Pennjamin Bannekar, Famous, Lili K, Cavalier Kidd, Aerias and Sir Kriss open.  The neo-soul singer has recently collaborated with artists like Kanye West and it's tough to find a better way to warm up on a cold, winter night than inside the always cozy Double Door.

The Felix Culpa (5:45PM Friday at Metro. $10, All Ages) – Monday’s Hero, El Oso and Sainthood Reps open.  The band is breaking up so catch them one last time on Friday.  Note the early start time and if you can't make it, stream it.

Shemekia Copeland (8PM Friday at Old Town School of Folk Music. $21-25, All Ages) – Bill Brickey opens.  Had the chance to catch Shemekia perform live at a local radio station a few years ago and to say that her powerhouse voice filled the room would be an incredible understatement.  Shemekia is no doubt making Johnny proud.

Corey Chisel & The Wandering Sons (8:30PM Saturday at Double Door. $10-14, 21+) – Dastardly and Unfortunate Sons open.  The Appleton native and Baptist minister's son is a soulful showman.  In 2009, he released his major label debut Death Won't Send a Letter for RCA, having recorded with a band that included "Little Jack" Lawrence (The Raconteurs, Dead Weather), Patrick Keeler (The Raconteurs, The Greenhornes) and Carl Broemel from My Morning Jacket.

Fishbone (9PM Saturday at Bottom Lounge. $25, 18+) – Roots of Creation and E3PO open.  My introduction to Fishbone was as the opening act a while back for Stone Temple Pilots and Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Not that it was terribly difficult to do that evening, but the band's frenetic take on punk and ska blew STP far, far away.

Tori Amos (8PM Saturday at Chicago Theatre. All Ages, SOLD OUT) – Thomas Dybdahl opens.  One never knows what to expect from an Amos live show.  I saw her perform with a full band when she taped an episode of Soundstage, she's performed solo... the possibilities are nearly endless... Which is what could make this show really interesting.  Tori's new album Night of Hunters was released in September and is heavily influenced by classical music.  Instrumentation on the album ranges anywhere from the piano that everyone expects to instrumental arrangements heavy on strings and reeds.  In the intimate confines of the Chicago Theatre, if nothing else, the delicate instrumentation will be mixed well and easily distinguished.

Wayne “The Train” Hancock (8:30PM Saturday at Reggie’s. $15, 21+) – The Lawrence Peters Outfit, Jayke Orvis and Pearls Mahone & The One Eyed Jacks open.  One of the more versatile alt-country artists around, Hancock released his last album in 2009 (Bloodshot).

Ryan Adams (7:30PM Sunday 12/11 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. All Ages, SOLD OUT) – Jessica Lee Mayfield opens.  Adams disbanded his backing band The Cardinals in 2009 and is currently touring in support of Ashes & Fire, a stripped down album that allows his considerable talents as a singer-s0ngwriter to shine.  An uneven live performer at times in the past, Adams has reportedly been giving some of his best performances in some time.  If you've got seventy minutes to spare, Adams' recent performance for The Late Show with David Letterman is a great example of what to expect Sunday night and well worth watching.  I'll have a review of this concert posted on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

In The Suburbs…

Bret Michaels (10PM Friday at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire. $40, 21+) - Other ticketing options are also available (including a meet and greet) and you can get all of the details on that HERE.  Michaels is always a blast in the live setting whether it's solo or with Poison.  An engaging performer and compelling character, Friday night will be a fun one.  I've seen him with Poison but never solo and look forward to submitting my review of Friday's show later this weekend.

Alice Cooper (8PM Friday at Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, IN. $48-58, All Ages) – Always ambitious, still a showman, Cooper released Welcome 2 My Nightmare (the sequel to Welcome To My Nightmare... 36 years later) in September.  Disappointed to be missing this one... If anyone goes, drop me a line to let me know how it is, please.  Thanks!

Leo Kottke (8PM Friday at SPACE in Evanston. All Ages, SOLD OUT) – A great acoustic guitarist who (having grown up in 12 states) radiates all of his many influences in the live setting.

The Buckinghams' Joy of Christmas (8PM Saturday at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire. $22-40, 21+) – With Harry and Patti Reinhart of Midnight.  Signed out of Chicago in 1966, The Buckinghams are responsible for hits like "Kind of a Drag" and "Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song)" and this special Christmas show should prove quite festive.

Clint Black (8PM Saturday at the Stardust Event Center at Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, IN. $40-68, 21+) – While Black hasn't released new material since 2006, the Texas, country star has been busy recently with unexpected reality show appearances like that on The Celebrity Apprentice.  Traditional country in a relatively intimate setting. 

Firehouse (8PM Saturday at Tailgaters in Bolingbrook. $20-30, 21+) – Catalano and Man the Mighty open.  I have a soft spot for "Don't Treat Me Bad."  There, I admitted it.  Actually, I forgot how many hits these guys had in a short amount of time before researching this piece.  Also surprising that their first album wasn't released until 1991.  A few years earlier and maybe we'd still be talking about them... Believe it or not, they released an album called Full Circle in June.

Chris Isaak (8PM Saturday at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. All Ages, SOLD OUT) – Isaak is touring in support of the October release of the rollicking Beyond the Sun.  Isaak wears his influences on his sleeve (hence the new album's title) and covers them here:  Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley are all present and accounted for and Saturday night ought to be one hell of a hootenanny!

The Oak Ridge Boys (4PM Sunday at Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, IN. $48-58, All Ages) - This band has together for nearly 65 years and believe it or not they released new material in September!  It's Only Natural is out... and it's only available at select Cracker Barrel locations.  You can't even make up something that fitting.  Outstanding.

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    Jim Ryan

    Jim Ryan has written about music in print and online for a variety of Chicagoland publications for over fifteen years. In addition to duties filling in as Traffic Anchor on CLTV or in the helicopter on NBC 5, you can also catch him Sunday nights at 6PM central as host of "The Rock N' Roll Radio Program" on AM 1420 WIMS and AM 1060 WHFB (streaming at wimsradio.com and via the TuneIn Radio app for the smart phone or tablet). Jim has also worked locally for WXRT-FM, lives within walking distance of the Metro and is an avid White Sox and Blackhawks fan whose first live concert experience came at Comiskey Park in 1984 during the Jacksons' "Victory" tour.

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