House Shows! 3 of them!

I promised I would be announcing a couple more house shows – and I’m here to deliver!

So without further ado:

10/3/13 (8:00p) @ 914 – Hip Hatchet w/ TBA

Philippe Bronchtein (Hip Hatchet) is a stunning, raw talent with a voice that knocks me off my feet whenever I hear it. This will be a great way to usher in October, with whiskey in hand and friends surrounding us. Check out this video from Hip Hatchet earlier this year, and then swing by and check out the Facebook event ( RSVP at


10/11/13 (9:00p) @1858 – Courtney Marie Andrews w/ Erin Rae

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. If you’ve stopped by the blog at all this year, you’ll know how fond I am of Courtney’s album that came out earlier this year, and Erin is a phenomenal talent as well. This one will be at a new venue, and we’ll be doing some things a bit different. Bring a blanket, or pillows, or a lawn/folding chair to sit on. Think candlelight, soft October shadows, and what promises to be an unforgettable evening. A video from each of these stunning songwriters below, and the Facebook link for the event ( RSVP at


10/12/13 (9:30p) – Bryan John Appleby (solo)

Again, there are very few words for how excited I am about this. Bryan is one of the finest songwriters around, and the opportunity to see him perform solo in an intimate space has me jumping for joy. The space for this one is yet to be announced, but it’ll be great – I promise. I really can’t wait to see you here. Facebook link ( RSVP at


I really do hope to see all of you at each of these. I’ll leave you all with a quote from the best thing I read all week:

“That darkened hall, that holy space, where the face next to you no longer matters. That place where the arms on your wristwatch are meaningless. The hurried things of your life are made common and then invisible by the hovering heaven of strings – suddenly the pedestrian things are made unimportant by the music. Here, in these places, the darkened audience all faces forward watching only one thing: the musicians.”


Building Communities – Or Why I Write This Blog

As I mentioned before – I’ll be announcing a few more house shows over the next week. I just want to say I’m incredibly excited about these, and about many more we’ll be scheduling in the future.

At the last show we did, with Small Houses and Ty Maxon – a friend of mine asked me, “So why do you do these shows? It seems exhausting. What makes it worth it?” I didn’t give this person an answer that I was satisfied with in that moment, and I’ve spent a lot of time over the last week or so really thinking about it. After digging through endless reasons in my head, and weighing their importance in my heart – I realized it all comes down to one thing.

It’s about community. It’s about camaraderie. It’s about shared experience.

I’ve seen hundreds of concerts. I have incredible memories of so many of them. But the one thing that almost always eluded me is a sense of really, truly sharing those memories with the people around me. It’s rare that I could sit down with a stranger next to me after seeing a show at Lincoln Hall, or the Vic, and open one more beer jsut to talk about how incredible the concert we just saw really was. It’s rare that I’d get a chance to chat with the musicians, not as fan and artist, but instead as two people who care deeply about art, music, and the human experience.

With these intimate gallery shows, I feel as if I’ve found a way to open hearts, to create spaces where artists can share their lives and their experiences through their music in a setting where everyone listening is just as invested in the artists themselves. And maybe in those quiet moments, when a few people sneak over to pour themselves another glass of whiskey, the artist can tell us something that they’ve never told an audience before. Or maybe they’ll be able to play a song they haven’t been willing to play for anyone, especially strangers.

Most importantly, I feel these shows are becoming a place where strangers can become friends, and where I have a chance to meet young, talented artists who came out to the show not because they’re trying to make a name for themselves, or connections, but because they really care about music and the people who play it.

It really is about community.

I loathe posting without sharing music, as well as my thoughts – so I wanted to finish this sentiment with a couple songs from artists who I’ve had the fortune of meeting, spending time with, and getting to hear their music because of interactions I’ve had with them in person – not over the internet – which sometimes feels like a minor miracle.


I really hope to see all of you at one of our upcoming shows. It would mean the world to me.






will the light be enough to see/will the love be gone…

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of hosting the 2nd Music Means Family House Show, with the talented Small Houses, as well as Chicago local Ty Maxon.

On this particular quiet, August evening, as the last rays of sun disappeared behind the Chicago skyline, we sipped ice-cold beer and watched two wonderful musicians, sweat pouring down their brows, capture the attention of everyone in the beautiful gallery space at 914 N. California.

Small Houses - Music Means Family

Small Houses – Music Means Family

We had the pleasure of hearing a slew of new songs, as well as old favorites from both Small Houses and Ty, and each song was as spellbinding as the last. If you have a chance to catch Ty before he holes up to record his new record, or Jeremy (Small Houses) as he traverses the U.S. and Europe before settling down to record, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t go.

Ty Maxon - Music Means Family

Ty Maxon – Music Means Family

I had the pleasure, with the help of the wonderful Lev Kalmens and Dan Kolen, of getting some exceptional photos and video of this evening. Here’s a bunch (more) of those photos, courtesy of Lev – video will be up soon!

Small Houses - Music Means Family

Small Houses – Music Means Family

I’ll be announcing 3 or 4 more house shows over the next two weeks – and I’m really excited about them. Check back often!

Ty Maxon - Music Means Family

Ty Maxon – Music Means Family

I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am for the opportunity to put on these shows. Everyone who has performed, who has showed up to watch, who have helped out in countless ways. Thank you.

Small Houses - Music Means Family

Small Houses – Music Means Family

And again – to Jeremy and Ty – thank you. There was no better way to spend a late summer evening.

Can’t wait to see everyone at the next house show!



Upcoming Albums – Part Two

Of course, the minute I post a list of albums I’m really, really excited about – I’m reminded of a bunch more albums that are coming out that I’m really, really excited about. So, with no further ado – a couple more (and don’t forget to look at yesterday’s post!):

1. Caroline Smith – Half About Being a Woman

For anyone who follows my blog, I’ve been pretty vocal about my support of Caroline, her incredible musicianship, and her stunning stage presence. I remember sitting in The Hideout earlier this year, eyes closed, beer in hand, and just letting the sublime power of Caroline’s voice wash over me, lost in her incredible storytelling. Jump over to their Kickstarter, donate, get a free download of the new single “Magazine”, and be incredibly happy. This one’s definitely worth it. If you need a brief reminder, just watch this video of the title track, which I’ve posted before:


2. The Avett Brothers – Magpie and the Dandelion

There’s never a bad time to be excited about The Avett Brothers, and the new single from their upcoming album reminds me of some of their earlier albums, which hold an unquestionable place in my heart. It’s rare that I don’t find myself listening to at least one Avett Brothers song a day – so a new album sounds like the perfect thing for fall. Listen to ‘Another is Waiting’ over at NPR. Trust me.


3. Basia Bulat – Tall Tall Shadow

I saw Basia Bulat play at Schuba’s earlier this year, and she really is enchanting. She brings me out of my head, which is always welcome – and her music makes me feel as if I’m sitting in a chair along a river somewhere peaceful. Not a bad thing to have come out in the midst of what will inevitably be a busy fall, eh? Listen to the first single below:


I’m sure I’ll have to amend this even more as time goes on – there are so many albums that I’m beyond excited about this fall.

Upcoming Albums

As many of you know, I’m incredibly fond of complete albums. Albums that from the first song to the last, you never feel compelled to his shuffle, or switch to another song. In short, I want an album to take me on a journey, and I want to be on that journey for the duration.

This year has already seen some incredible albums, many of which I’ve written about. For a quick recap, The National – Trouble Will Find Me, Courtney Marie Andrews – On My Page, Small Houses – Exactly Where You Wanted To Be, Dessa – Parts of Speech, and Josh Ritter – The Beast in Its Tracks all jump to mind. If you haven’t buried yourself in any of these albums yet, you are absolutely missing out.

The next five months look just as bright as the previous seven. I wanted to take a second away from writing very specifically to take a moment to point out albums that I can barely contain my excitement for – and that I hope you can get just as excited for.

1. Typhoon – White Lighter

Typhoon’s orchestral folk-pop has been dear to my heart for a while, and I can tell you with 100% confidence that this album only confirms my feelings about this band. Kyle Morton’s tremendous lyricism, coupled with incredible musicianship, result in a type of music that deeply affects me, both positively, or in the case of tracks like “Morton’s Fork” in a more pointed, soul-searching manner. Enough writing – the whole album, due out 8/20/13 is streaming right now on NPR.

Go listen to it: Typhoon – White Lighter


2. The Head and the Heart – Let’s Be Still

I don’t have to tell any of you how much I love The Head and the Heart. I’ve seen them approximately ten times, and my vinyl copy of their debut album has been spun countless times. They write music that’s incredibly elegant in its simplicity, but so complex emotionally and lyrically that it stands up to countless listens. They released the first single, entitled “Shake”, this past week – and the album comes out 10/15/13. Listen to “Shake” and go pre-order the album ASAP.


3. Volcano Choir – Repave

As juvenile as it may sound, I genuinely believe that everything Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver) touches turns to gold. Volcano Choir is no exception. WHile their first album, Unmap, was deeply experimental, their upcoming album appears to have worked with all of the fascinating ideas they wrestled with in the first, and blended that seamlessly with the intoxicating narrative and musical sensibilities of Bon Iver and DeYarmond Edison. Honestly, this single is incredible, and I’m beyond excited to sit down with this album and nothing to interrupt me for hours when it comes out. Repave is out 9/3/13. Watch the video for the first single, “Byegone”, below:


4. Vikesh Kapoor – The Ballad of Willy Robbins

I had the opportunity to see Vikesh Kapoor’s spellbinding set at Timber! He kept all of us on the edge of our seats as he wound his way through his haunting narratives. This album promises to be one of the most intriguing of the year. Listen to the first single, “I Dreamt Blues”, below:


I’m sure many more albums will be released this year that I’ll want to share with you, but I really wanted you to be as excited for these as I am. I also wanted to quickly remind you of a few things:

Come visit me on Facebook and Twitter. Lots of stuff happens there.



Also, don’t forget. Small Houses and Ty Maxon will be playing the second concert in my intimate house series on August 17th, at 914 N. California. You’ll regret it if you don’t come out. You can bring a bottle of whatever you love to drink, relax with some really great people and great artists, and witness phenomenal music in an unusual setting. RSVP at

More posts soon!