Following music in Chicago is like going to Vegas: if you don't find your niche, you'll be overwhelmed. Me? My Vegas niche is the sports book. Get me hunkered down in front of a giant wall of huge screens with a bunch of stats and dates and numbers surrounded by a sea of twitchy gamblers while waitresses bring you free drinks if you just keep tipping, and I'm happy.
So how do you find your niche in Chicago music? You have to explore venues, which means exploring neighborhoods. You have to know where your favorite music lives, and where your favorite artists nest.
Most of all, you have to know where to get your scoop.
And that's why I'm here.
Every Thursday, I'll be leading you through the best of Chicago music journalism, highlighting sites, writers, and photographers and pointing you toward the best sources of music news. Like the high number of quality acts and venues, the Chicago music media scene is a swamp unto itself.
A good place to start is GapersBlock.com's music coverage, and their thorough blogroll. That should get you going. Indie sites like ImFlashy, Alarm, Fake Shore Drive, Ruby Hornet, Go Where Hip Hop and so many others are wonderful sources. Metromix is always very useful for introductions to new artists and classic venues, and jambase.com can help you too.
You're also well-served to find some good writers and stick with their suggestions. Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis of Sound Opinions are basically the Siskel & Ebert of Chicago music, and are great individually or teamed up on the radio, while writers like Jessica Hopper and Miles Raymer are good to names to keep in mind.
Following individual venues is of course useful as well, with venue websites serving as their own source of music news.
And of course you can follow the artists themselves through the usual channels. And because artists promote other artists, Boom! You're hooked into a scene.
Finally, there's the Reader, and their wonderful new redesign with their B-Side music coverage. Grab any copy of the Reader and flip to the back, and you're on your way to getting the music scoop of what's what in the Chi.
There's a lot there, a lot to read, a lot to see, a lot to hear. Just like Vegas. Find your niche and jump in.
Jack M Silverstein covers music, sports, and community in Chicago, and can be found at ReadJack.com. He will be providing a look into Chicago music journalism every Thursday at Eye on Chi. He once wrote a four-part epic about a single trip to Las Vegas for a wedding. Say hey on Twitter @ReadJack.