May 5, 2014

CIMMFEST: My 4 Day Diary

4 Days at CIMMFEST AKA “A Taste of Logan Square and Bucktown”

CIMMFEST for me turned out to be a great way to discover a lot of interesting films and music while exploring the more edgy areas of Logan Square and Bucktown and their diverse restaurants.


Thursday, May 1

Checked in at CIMMFEST HQ and picked up passes.  Headed to Subterranean to see the band Tall Walker.  Great show with some minor amp malfunctions.  The band was in great form with Nick’s powerful “emo” vocals in full swing.  I loved his hair.  Shaved on one side, full mane on top.   Had to be at work at 6:30am on Friday so this would have to be my early night for the fest. Please see my  interview of Tall Walker posted on an earlier blog entry.

Friday,  May 2

We started out at Logan Theater to see “Led Zeppelin Played Here”.  The movie had its moments but was a bit redundant and did not keep us highly motivated to stay to the end.  The documentary was, in a nutshell, about whether or not Led Zeppelin played at a gym at a Maryland youth center in January of 1969.  Although an enjoyable and novel movie, the investigator could not get a clear answer from his cast of characters which were very excited by rock 'n roll memories and memorabilia.  After the movie, we grabbed dinner in Logan Square at Telegraph.  Shared a bibb lettuce salad, bruschetta with ricotta cheese and beets, and mussels.   I liked the food and found it very fresh tasting.  I did find a few small shell pieces in my mussels so had to be careful before swallowing.  My friend was a harsher critic, having eaten there before and previously having a more memorable meal.   Service was great and the atmosphere was charming. I would check it out again.  We wanted to see another movie but decided that we should head to the Concord Theater to see Escort, a Brooklyn based disco orchestra.  The Concord is a very "dope" establishment.  Ripe for dancing and bottle service in the VIP section.  Unfortunately the band decided not to go on until midnight, although the schedule said 9 pm.  By midnight we were just about ready to call it a night.  We stayed for a few songs and although enjoyable, could not bring ourselves to party into the early morning hours.

Saturday, May 3

Tonight my husband came along for the Logan Square ride.  We started out at First Ward in Bucktown for a drink (Also known as Chop Shop).  Chop Shop is a restaurant and butcher.  The back room can be rented out for events.  An interesting space for sure.  We headed to Logan Square Auditorium to see Nora O’Connor, Andre Williams, and Murder by Death all from the Bloodshot records label.  O’Connor disappointed because it turned out to be her “other band” known as Precious Blood which is fronted by Danny Black.  I was not overly impressed by his vocals and thought he was flat a couple of times.  I have an ear for that sort of thing.  O’Connor sang back up vocals for him so this was “a fail” for me.  Next up was Andre Williams, a 77 year old R & B legend by report.  We left before his set though for dinner at Billy Sunday known as a cocktail bar with unusual food offerings.  I was told, upon our return, that Williams sang/spoke three songs and changed his outfit for each of them.  Now that would have been good fun but we missed it.   The restaurant was very eclectic serving up their own spin on classic drinks and food.  We had steak tartar, fried green tomatoes, and a very healthy tasting mushroom risotto.  They also had egg salad, pig ear, sweet breads and chicken and dumpling soup on the menu amongst other odd pairings.  The headliner band was Murder by Death led by Adam Turla on guitar and vocals, Sarah Balliet on cello, Vincent Edwards on keyboard and Matt Armstrong on bass.  They band was talented and Turla has a deep and penetrating vocal sound.  Unfortunately because the band “rocks out”, the lyrics were lost in the bad acoustics of the auditorium.  Not a great venue for a rock band.  My husband said that the band should be renamed “Murdered by bad acoustics”.  Oh well.  I would see them again at Lincoln Hall if they came back.

Sunday, May 4

This is the final day of music and movie events.  I am now officially exhausted from the past two 1 am nights, but carry on I must.  I met my friend to see Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song at Logan Theater.   The movie was a fantastic hip-hopera set to the lyrics of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  The film took the feuding families to a very trashy trailer park in New Zealand.  The characters playing the roles were fantastic.  A women, with what I believe was “Progeria syndome” (a genetic condition that causes extreme premature aging) played a major part.  I am a genetic counselor by profession so this was testing my genetic syndrome acumen.  The music was great and each actor lip synced each of the songs performed by other vocalists.  The cinematography and film style was detailed and interesting.  The first half of the movie, before the tragedy truly began, had several very funny moments also.  We were happy to learn that the sound track can be bought on iTunes.  After this movie we checked out the film “ Take Me to the River” which was about several artists such as Mavis Staples, Stax records, and the music industry in Memphis.  We left the movie and headed over to Trencherman for dinner before seeing Fulcrum Point, International Beethoven Project at First Ward.  Trencherman is a hard to get into restaurant but easy at 6pm on a Sunday night.   I shared a kale salad, chicken “tots” and a double (buttery) burger.  Yum.  I vowed not to eat the next day.  The atmosphere was fantastic and eating at the bar was a fun and good choice.    Fulcrum Point is a collection of experimental films and new music inspired by Ludwig van Beethoven.   The music was wonderful.  The first piece performed was Concerto 4, movement 1 with a film by James Kruml.  The film was footage of the Chicago lakefront and downtown but was somewhat amateurish and uninspired unfortunately.  The second piece, called “Light is Calling” featured violinist, Rika Seko and an interesting restored 1920’s silent film as background. The piece was dark, brooding and compelling alongside the film.  Next stop was City Winery to see Booker T.  The show was outstanding and thoroughly enjoyable.  He was a great but humble showman as he demonstrated by his introduction of each song.  His speaking and singing voice was smooth and soothing.  Her performed his big hits “Green Onions” and “Hang ‘Em High” as well as tunes like “Hey Joe” and songs from Bob Dylan and Leon Russell alternating from playing organ and his Les Paul guitar.  The night was capped off with a visit to Subterranean to see “Psalm One” perform rap and hip-hop.  She had a small but supportive audience and she noted this as well as being still able to “feel the love”.  She put a lot of energy into her show and met with her fan base afterwards for photos and hugs.  I have also posted an interview with Psalm One (AKA Hologram Kizzie) on a previous post.

Final Words

The CIMMFEST organizers accomplished the impossible.  The organization is not for profit and is supported by hard working volunteers, many of which have day jobs too.  This long weekend requires a lot of energy and stamina to both put together and to attend.  There is a lot to do and see crammed into this four-day extravaganza.  I am glad I have no plans until a wedding next weekend.  I am fried from all of the fun of this wonderful Chicago cultural and inspirational music festival.  I will need a full year to catch up on my rest for CIMMFEST, 2015.

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