Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Recap & Have a Rockin' 2012 from ChiIL Mama

Colorful, photo filled 2011   photos by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara

2011 was pretty sweet, and we've got so many original band interviews, still show shots and live concert footage that we'll still be editing and posting into the new year.   We also have a zillion awesome games and toys, kindie CDs and rock DVD's we'll be reviewing in January.

2011 Random Recap: 

No family members were born or died, except our sweet dog, Alia Serendipity, who was ready to go at age 16.  My mom had her gallbladder removed, but it was a quick recovery.

We took the kids to Universal Orlando & Disney World for the first time. took off at a gallop and it was so much fun to cover 
all the Broadway in Chicago Shows, a ton of Chicago theatre for kids and adults, summer festivals, live music, and more events than I can remember.

We sponsored Beat Kitchen's Concerts for Kids and Building Blocks Toys 15th Anniversary Party

We launched and had press passes to shoot pit photos at Lollapalooza, North Coast Music Fest, Summer Camp Music Fest, The Bluegrass and Blues Fest, Riot Fest and a ton of concerts of all sizes.

Highlights were Shooting Congress Shows like:   Primus, The Pogues, Clutch, Dropkick Murphys, Dead Milkmen, Grace Potter, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and many more.

Jane's Addiction at Metro was a huge highlight to shoot.   The shows sold out in seconds and very few members of the press got to shoot it.

It was also a huge highlight interview Keller Williams at Park West and see both his kindie show by day and his adult show at night.   We also reiewed and ran a bunch of give aways for both his new Kids album and hardback book/CD combo.

We shot at larger venues including The Riviera (Mastodon-Red Fang-Dillinger Escape Plan), The Vic (Kyuss Lives), Park West (Keller Williams) and House of Blues (Ace Frehley, How Far to Austin, Van Ghost).

We also shot a ton of great shows at smaller venues including: 

  • Bottom Lounge (highlights included:  X, 7 Seconds, Nashville Pussy, The Dwarves & Urge Overkill)
  • Reggie's Rock Club (World Inferno Friendship Society, DRI, O'My's, Yakuza, Super Suckers, Steampunks Carnivale Delirium)

  • AAA (Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg, Suicide Machines)

  • Ultra Lounge (Black Tusk)

  • Double Door (Rubblebucket)
  • Subterranean (The Toasters)

  • Lincoln Hall (The Shams Band)
  • Schubas 
  • Martyrs
  • SPACE 
  • Mayne Stage
  • The Burlington
  • Empty Bottle

  • The Whistler

  • Cobra Lounge

  • Beat Kitchen

We also got to video interview Fitz and The Tantrums, Keller Williams, The Verve Pipe, & Red Fang, along with numerous kindie artists like Suzi Shelton (who played the white house), Ralph Covert (with a cameo by Tor Hyams-Lollapalooza/Kidzapalooza Co-Producer), and a bunch of our own Chi-Town Windie Kindie musicians like Little Miss Ann, The Boogers, and Mr. Singer.

In the theatre world, highlights included video interviews with Cirque Du Soleil's Ovo's artistic director and violin playing, cockroach, father of 2.

We also got some great theatre video interviews at Adventure Stage and Chicago Children's Theatre and with the infamous Dixie Longate of Dixie's Tupperware Party Show fame.

Dug continued to travel the world for work, with Dug Production Sound, Inc.  He made it abroad to Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Honduras, and all over the states in 2011, providing location sound for a number of TV shows.

Here's to a rockin' 2012.   May all your dreams come true in two oh one two!

From our family to yours,  

Ice Cream Vendors This Sunday at Beat Kitchen Concerts for Kids!

 Ice Cream Vendors

ChiIL Out with ChiIL Mama as Beat Kitchen Concerts for kids kicks off 2012 with another fun all ages show.    

What's more chiIL than ice cream?   And this tasty treat is the Ice Cream Vendors band dish out tasty tunes for birth through 10 year olds and their parents.   As always, we have a free family 4 pack of tickets to the show.    

Enter here through midnight on January 2nd.   Our winner will be announced on Free Ticket Tuesday.

About the Ice Cream Vendors-Off their Facebook Site:  Born out of a modest home recording studio buried deep within the Chicago suburbs, it’s hard to believe the unique musical institution known as The Ice Cream Vendors was originally conceived over twenty years ago. What was founded in friendship has over time produced several cassette tapes and a CD, live performances with a full band and horn section, and a road-less-traveled approach to songwriting that has become the pride of Westmont, IL.

The Ice Cream Vendors (ICV), made up of longtime pals Jon Kostal and Greg Barnett, is not just a musical duo but a mysterious life force. Those familiar with Jon and Greg know that boy meets girl lyrics and verse/verse/chorus clichés are simply not in their genetic makeup. Defying classification, ICV examines its subjects through a sometimes-surreal lens, but always with fondness and curiosity. Topics include absurd musings about high school janitors, edible birds, deep-sea divers without limbs, and a boy with a plant growing out of his head. More stream of consciousness than satire, ICV is interested in taking the stranger-than-fiction world we inhabit and turning it on its head; that the lyrics tend to reflect ordinary, everyday occurrences only points out the Neo-Dada genius of two guys who never indulged the self-loathing irony so often found in modern pop. Perhaps ICV trombonist Mike Kinnavy put it best: “When you hear ICV singing about riding to a jazz band meeting in the rain, that’s exactly what was happening.”

After recording some demos and cutting their teeth on the high school talent show circuit, ICV first peaked around the time late 80’s hair bands had officially succumbed to thrift store flannel and the emerging coffee shop culture of Seattle. In fact, it was just as the guitar-driven angst of Kurt Cobain had become fully absorbed by the mainstream that Jon and Greg released On Ice, ICV’s first full-length CD. Railing against trend, ICV delivered a diverse musical hybrid that drew from numerous offbeat sources: Polka beats collided with rap. Synthetic clarinets happily replaced electric guitars. Devoesque electronica was unabashedly front and center at a time when most people were reluctant to admit any past association with eye makeup, Energy Domes, and other Post-punk oddities. With aggressive word of mouth and a DIY marketing campaign, On Ice quickly became a cult favorite amongst hip suburbanites, college students, and anyone brave enough to unleash their inner geek and try something new. It helped that the tunes were, well . . . catchy. Ask any band nerd who attended EIU in 1994 if they remember singing along with that “underwear song” from some darkly nebulous, student apartment moment in time. If they say no they are lying. In fact, it’s probably in their head already: “Ai yi yi yi!”

Like many bands, ICV had a great first run, but eventually sought hiatus due to the pressure of college pursuits, jobs, relationships, and the practical challenge of long distance. Though the group never officially disbanded, songwriting endeavors were put on long-term hold as Jon and Greg got older and gradually settled into domestic bliss. For nearly 15 years ICV sat dormant, much like a paralyzed scuba diver figurine slowly collecting algae at the bottom of a lonely tank. 

Oftentimes, it seemed like nostalgic quips from the “where are they now?” file might be all that remained of Westmont’s original merging of music and dairy-infused performance art. However, like so many shelved creative endeavors that are pure of heart, the ICV philosophy could not be ignored forever. The cocooning algae that began as feculent aquatic straight jacket eventually began to thrive of its own volition, spreading like a leafy green signal, nagging, nay begging to be put under a microscope and reexamined, the constant reminder of a need to liberate the auto-tuned twenty-first century of homogenized downloadable drivel. 

In early 2010, when the prospect of an ICV reunion performance came knocking, Jon and Greg realized it was at long last time to consider bringing their wet-suited muse to surface. With the encouragement of friends and former band mates, plus newfound confidence instilled by live dates at an outdoor music festival and Christmas parade, ICV began diligently working on songs for a new CD. At present we are just months away from ICV’s first studio release in over a decade, one that promises to be darker, funkier, and more abstract than Jackson Pollock getting over with a gallon of rocky road. Featuring a brave new arsenal of digital gadgetry and over 20 combined years of life experience culled from the most remote fringes of the Information Superhighway, ICV tackles the modern age with poise and finesse. More stories. More Westmont. More Atari. More Speak & Spell. More Dog Barks. More bizarre. More better than ever.

Check 'em out at Reverbnation 

While the way under agers rock out, those over 21 can drink some of the best bloody marys in town, sing along and dance with their littles!    ChiIL Mama is stoked to be a sponsor of Beat Kitchen's Concerts for Kids this year.   We have loads of great kindie shows coming up.   Check out the line up through May, and mark your calendars.   Shows are just $6, every Sunday at noon, are geared toward birth-10 year olds with parents, and are open to all ages.   Every week we give away a free family 4 pack of tickets at ChiIL, so enter like we vote in Chi, IL...early and often.

*January 15th is a very special Little Miss Ann Concert CD RELEASE PARTY!! 

**January 29th is a multiband, 4 hour, activity filled Winter Fest for only $8!!   ChiIL Mama will be there in person with a rock n roll photo booth and "instrument petting zoo" for your punk kin.

Save the Dates:

Check out and ChiIL Mama's YouTube Channel for loads of live concert footage from Beat Kitchen and beyond, band video interviews, still photos from shows, and upcoming concert updates.

Free Ticket Tuesday: January Give Aways Announced including Bluegrass & Blues Fest and Beat Kitchen's Concerts For Kids

1 Pair of tickets to The Bluegrass & Blues Fest at The Congress Theatre- (age appeal:  all ages)
 1/28/12 – Congress Theater - $35-$45

    •    Drive-By Truckers

    •    The Shams Band
    •    Dawes
    •    Joe Pug
    •    Bailiff
    •    Over 30 artists on 3 stages

*Wait for the Rafflecopter Form to load up and enter here for your chance to win!

Family 4 Pack to Ice Cream Vendors (age appeal:  birth-10) ChiIL Mama's Sponsored Beat Kitchen's Concerts For Kids-1/8 noon

*Wait for the Rafflecopter Form to load up and enter to win right here!

*Coming soon:

Family 4 Pack to Disney on Ice-Dare to Dream         
Family 4 Pack to Little Miss Ann's CD RELEASE PARTY! (age appeal:  birth-8) ChiIL Mama's Sponsored Beat Kitchen's Concerts For Kids-1/15 noon

Family 4 Pack to The Boogers (age appeal:  all ages) ChiIL Mama's Sponsored Beat Kitchen's Concerts For Kids-1/22 noon

Family 4 Pack to Beat Kitchen's Winterfest (age appeal:  birth-10)   ChiIL Mama's Sponsored Beat Kitchen's Concerts For Kids1/29 11am-3pm

*We'll be there in person with a rock n roll photo booth and rock n roll "instrument petting zoo" for the punk kin.   

Beat Kitchen Concerts for Kids are sponsored by:

Family 4 Pack to The School of Rock Chicago-A Tribute to The Doors (age appeal:  all ages) at Schubas-Jan 21 & 22 at 4pm

****We also run nationwide give aways including loads of great stuff for adults and kids.   Check out ChiIL Mama's give aways page and enter like we vote here in Chi, IL...early and often!!    In 2012 we'll have CDs & DVDs, books, games, toys, an amazing American Doll House for 18" girls, Rowboat Card Game and more!

Are you in or near the Chicago area?    We give away family 4 packs to great kindie (kids' indie) concerts every week!   ChiIL Mama sponsors Beat Kitchen's renowned Concerts for Kids series.   We also give away tickets to family friendly shows at Schubas and other Chi Town venues and adult concerts in a variety of genres, too.   We frequently add more shows as the month progresses, so chiIL out with ChiIL Mama and remember to check back in like we vote in Chi, IL...early and often. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Disney on Ice Dare to Dream-Girls Can Be Pretty Mighty

I must admit, my daughter's more punk rocker than princess, so we've skipped the exclusively princess themed ice shows in the past.  But Tangled was a huge hit in our household.  We all have long, Rapunzel-like hair in our family--even the boys.   And even my scrappy little anti-princess loved the movie Tangled, with it's smart, pretty AND mighty girl protagonist.  This year, Disney on Ice, Dare to Dream also features Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen from The Princess and the Frog, who is also, not so traditionally fluffy and prissy or comatose and awaiting rescue.   So this is a production we can get behind in good conscience.

As 2011 draws to an end, treat your family to Disney on Ice, Dare to Dream.   Now that the dazzle of Christmas is dimming, rekindle the magic with a stunning midwinter treat.  Use some of that holiday money for tickets to Disney on Ice.   Tickets are a great clutter busting idea that creates memories not messes.

Here at ChiIL Mama, we'll also be reviewing the show and giving away a family 4 pack of tickets for one of our lucky readers.  

Disney On Ice presents Dare To Dream is coming to:  
Allstate Arena (January 25-29, 2012)
United Center (February 1-12, 2012)

We’re going to... Disney on Ice presents Dare to Dream!
Experience Disney’s hilarious hair-raising escapade, Tangled; as Rapunzel, her unlikely companion, Flynn, and Maximus, embark on an uproarious journey that takes adventure to new lengths! 

Boogie to the beat of the bayou with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen from The Princess and the Frog, in a magical, musical journey that all begins with a fateful kiss. And fanciful dreams become reality as Cinderella meets her Prince Charming, with a glass slipper fit for an unforgettable fantasy come true.  

All your favorite princesses take to the ice in a spectacular finale at the ultimate Disney Princess event of a lifetime! Experience the beauty, sparkle, and spirit when Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream comes to your hometown!

Special Discount Offer
Get 4 tickets for $44 on weekday shows -- or Save $4 on weekend shows with code MOM. (Weekday shows include any performance Monday through Thursday. Weekend shows included any performance Friday through Sunday.) Use this link to order

Happy Blue Year--With Burning Bluebeard!

Burning Bluebeard


5153 N. Ashland Avenue, Chicago

Glorious ghosts recreate and recount the 1903 production of Bluebeard, the Holiday Panto, at the brand new, "fireproof" Iroquois Theatre, where over 600 lives were lost (primarily women and children) in the deadliest theatre fire in history.

To this day, The Iroquoise Theatre inferno still stands as the deadliest single-building fire in U.S. history.

Highly recommended!  We caught this sold out show December 16th and were completely blown away.  Advanced tickets strongly encouraged.  Here's a bit of our prior coverage.  This dark comedy was a multilayered gift where the best intentions go horribly awry and a proudly, loudly proclaimed fireproof theatre erupts in flames.   The 1903 Iroquois Theatre fire still stands as the worst single building fire disaster in history.  

We've posted about the show on December 10th & 17th, but we'll say it again.   If you haven't had a chance to see Burning Bluebeard yet, go!   What are you waiting for?!   This is one of the most compelling, excellent, multilayered productions currently running.   And time is running out.   They close December 30th--the actual anniversary of the fire.

My kids (8 & 10) were enthralled, especially since their circus clowning teacher played Bluebeard, and his real life wife played his wife.  The kids were familiar with her work in 500 Clown-Trapped.  As always, if your kids are sensitive or you prefer not to expose them to intense subject matter, then parents are cautioned to see it first or at least read up on the production in advance, before you make the call on bringing the littles.   Kids are welcome, but the theme is intense, and more appropriate for tweens and up.   The disaster is tastefully handled, with lots of humor, physical comedy and poetic revery.  And we loved the juxtaposition of the past with nods to our generation's disasters, like the haunting version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that opens the show and the quirky lip sinc to Amy Winehouse's Rehab song.

We found it tragically amusing that the theatre made a huge deal about being fireproof--even printing it in all their playbills.   With the wisdom of a child, my 8 year old said "It's like the unsinkable Titanic.   If ads make a big deal out of saying a place is fire proof or a ship is sink proof....don't go there.   It's just tempting fate."  

Without too many spoilers, the whole fire only lasted about 15 minutes, but more people were trampled trying to get out, than actually died of fire or smoke inhalation.   And loads of life saving fire reforms happened as a result, like doors with "panic bars" that open outward when pressed against.  

Like great written tragedies, the fire had it's dramatic elements and good intentions that turned out to be bad choices.   One of the famous actors from vaudeville days assured everyone things were under control and urged them to stay in their seats.   Another actor broke the lock on the fateful backstage doors, thinking it the humanitarian thing to do to make an escape possible for all the actors trying desperately to exit the blazing, smoke filled inferno.   When the giant, bay doors finally crashed open, the actors fled to freedom in the cold, December air, but the inadvertent backdraft caused a giant fireball to incinerate the balcony!

One of our unanimously, favorite parts of Burning Bluebeard was the "fire escape plan rap" that reminded all of us of the fabulous Phineas and Ferb "Platypus Controlling Me" song embedded here.

We're trying to get a copy of the fire escape version.   It details in hilarious detail, the actual way to exit TMLMTBGB's Neo-Futurariam space in case of an emergency.   I just about peed my pants, I was laughing so hard, when they performed it.   So creative!    The kids have been singing it ever since.

Now, if you're familiar with our reviews, you know we do review a lot of theatre appropriate for adults and older children, in addition to unquestionably family friendly productions.   Instead of a straight up age guide of G, PG, PG13 rating, I believe parents know their kids and what they can handle when it comes to theatre.  There are 8 year olds out there who would love this show and tweens who would be traumatized and have nightmares.   It depends on the temperament and maturity of your child and on what you as a parent are comfortable talking about and introducing. 

We'll tell you if a show like Opus at Redtwist and Penelope at Steppenwolf is recommended as a parents' night out or much older kid appropriate, so you get a sitter for the way under agers.   But, Burning Bluebeard is one of those grey area shows.  The artistic merit is unquestionable, and older teens and adults will love it.  But the subject matter is macabre and the fire scene is intense, though handled respectfully.  We happen to love quirky, dark humor, so our kids are unfazed by it, and there is plenty of clowning and amusing staging and songs to counterbalance the grimmer bits.
We do take our middle school kids to well done productions with potentially intense themes, because we know our own kids and know what they can understand and handle.   We prepped our kids with a history lesson, background of the show, checked out all the on line info, and made our choice to take the kids, since they knew two of the main characters.   if you're considering bringing middle schoolers, we recommend you do your homework, consider what your kids are mature enough to handle, prep them about the show beforehand, and talk with them after.
Our kids enjoyed the production and were curious and full of questions and comments afterward.  The shared theatre experience was truly a gift for our family, sparking loads of creative tangents.  Their presence was one of the best presents.  Speaking of of the kids' favorite elements from the show was the use of actual wrapped gift boxes that got opened in sequence, as a device to move the story along--truly presents from the past to the present.  

I've been haunted myself by the concept of words and acts embedded in the space....seeping into the floorboards...and living on with an echoing history of their own.   I truly believe places do take on the aura and flavor of their history.   It's undeniably true and such a cool concept.  

The gorgeous, Ornate Oriental Theatre rose from the ashes of the Iroquois, but the fateful, backstage, backdraft door still exists.  And so do the tales and lives of those lost and forever altered by this history, as long as someone resurrects their stories and keeps them alive in the minds and imaginations of a new generation.

Halena Kays
(who was mentioned fondly by Tom Arvetis, Adventure Stage's Producing Artistic Director in ChiIL Mama's recent video interview, HERE)

Anthony Courser- Bluebeard
(He has enriched our lives weekly for a year, teaching our kids clowning at CircEsteem!   He can also be seen in Barrel of Monkeys' long running show, That's Weird Grandma--also highly recommend!)
Leah Rose Urzendowski (Anthony's real life wife, and Bluebeard's only wife to keep her head.   We thoroughly enjoyed her performance in Burning Bluebeard and with our friends in 500 Clown Trapped at Adventure Stage!   Check out ChiIL Mama's Trapped review HERE.)

Dean Evans

Ryan Walters
Molly Plunk  

Jay Torrence (the amazingly insightful creator of this piece who is fascinated with disasters involving actors)


Maggi Fullilove-Nugent


Lizzie Bracken

Shows run through Thru - Dec 30, 2011 (the anniversary of the actual deadly blaze)

Wed, Dec 28:
Thu, Dec 29:
8:00pm (pay what you can)
Fri, Dec 30:

Price:$10-$20 (advanced purchase HIGHLY recommended)

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 773-275-5255

created by Jay Torrence

directed by Halena Kays

Tickets are $20, $10 for students/seniors with ID, or pay-what-you-can on Thursdays. 
Purchase tickets online.

"One of the quiet beauties of Chicago’s theater season..." - Lawrence B. Johnson

Celebrate Christmas with a tragic holiday tale turned hauntingly beautiful homage to life, inspired by the true story of the Iroquois Theatre fire of 1903. 

Singed clown performers recount the horrific event where 600 lives were lost as the new Chicago loop theatre caught fire during a matinee performance of Mr. Bluebeard, a Christmas pantomime. Personal stories and touching remembrance are met with silliness, gift giving and dance as the performers seek to end their nightmare through a successful completion of their show. Day by day, show by show, these hopeful performers recreate the fateful night, joyfully embracing the impossible task of changing the inevitable. Sadly, each night, their efforts end in fiery death. How hard will you fight for your happy ending?

"Recommended - a Must See Show" -

Creator, Jay Torrence, states, "History doesn't blame the performers for the accident. Courts have never convicted them. Burning Bluebeard explores how the performers face the guilt of having caused this tragedy, just through their presence on the stage and their inability to save their audience. This is the story of an apology from a group of artists to their audience for causing horrific grief in an attempt at making something beautiful.”

"...pitch-perfect direction... unbearable poignancy... A grim antidote to holiday faux-cheer." - Chicago Reader

Happy Blue Year--With Blue Man Group!


In 2011 ChiIL Mama was quoted in the Blue Man Group ads!   Blue Man Group retooled and updated their show in a fun, new way, and we highly recommend checkin' it out. 

Here's ChiIL Mama's full review.

As we get closer to the end of the year, there are plenty of parents and families looking for something to do together to ring in the New Year. Say goodbye to 2011 with one of Chicago's most celebrated entertainment shows, the Blue Man Group.
With shows at 4, 7, and 10 p.m. there are shows perfect for the entire family. The 7 and 10 p.m. shows feature champagne and sparkling cider toasts as well as celebratory party favors. Families attending the 10 pm show will welcome 2012 with the Blue Men as they countdown to the New Year and play Auld Lang Syne on the custom-made instrument, the Tubulum.
Multiple Performances, Including a Matinee Performance Makes BMG
the Perfect Option for the Entire Family to Celebrate the Holiday

Blue Man Group, the critically hailed theatrical phenomenon on stage at Chicago’s Briar Street Theatre (3133 N. Halsted Street), is wishing Chicago a Happy 2012 with three performances on New Year’s Eve.

Blue Man Group’s production provides its audience with a unique and thrilling multi-sensory experience that blends innovative theatrical spectacle and dynamic original music with hilarious comedy, art, technology and science to create a performance experience unlike any other.
Chris Jones from the Chicago Tribune gave the show a Four Star rating and said the material was “brilliantly revamped” and “truly joyous.” After seeing the new material in a recent performance, Hedy Weiss for the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “The show's creators have cleverly updated the production with new wizardry while retaining its essential mind-set.” Chicago Parent editor Tamara L. O'Shaughnessy said “the coolest blue guys in Chicago just got cooler.”
In the show, the Blue Men encounter a variety of environments to discover, engage with and explore of-the-moment situations with cutting-edge technology. Many of the signature scenes that have made Blue Man Group one of today’s best-loved theatrical productions have been in the show since its opening, though new material has been integrated. Newer passages include Blue Men interacting with “GiPads;” a funny and perceptive look at contemporary communication vehicles; and a pulsating new finale featuring an original Blue Man Group music score.
Currently, Blue Man Group theatrical shows can be seen in New York, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Orlando, Berlin, Tokyo, and on tour throughout the U.S. Blue Man Group can also be seen onboard the new Norwegian Epic by Norwegian Cruise Line – the Official Cruise Line of Blue Man Group.
The company’s music, featuring custom made instruments and signature, percussive sound, can be heard on five albums, including the Grammy-nominated “Audio,” as well as various film and television projects. As the company grows, it remains true to its vision of providing exciting experiences in a variety of media, appealing to a broad range of age groups and cultural backgrounds.
Blue Man Group’s appeal is multi-generational, with several projects specifically designed for young people, including “Making Waves,” a popular touring exhibit for children, and the recently launched national “Invent an Instrument” competition.

Tickets prices for the 4, 7, and 10 p.m. shows on New Year’s Eve are $55 - $75. Tickets may be purchased at the Briar Street Theatre by calling the box office at (773) 348-4000; by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 982-2787; at all Ticketmaster ticket centers or via the Internet at For more information, visit

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Inappropriate Elf On The Shelf

Here's a hilarious site for all the parents who have bolted upright in a cold sweat at 1am, going "Cripies.  I forgot the Elf on the Shelf!"    And for all of you who have awoken to a child's sad voice saying, "Oh no.  The elf didn't move.  Maybe he's mad at me."  All the elves on the shelves hitch a ride back to the north pole with the big guy tonight and parents will sleep soundly again.

All of you who have been enslaved for the last 24 days, to that little red suited tyrant who moves by nite, this one's for you.    Over at Baby Rabies they're announcing winners tonight in The Inappropriate Elf On The Shelf Contest.  Check it out!   You'll be glad you did.

Behind The Scenes-Holiday Card Outtakes

Happy Holidays From Our Family To Yours

Hope all your dreams come true in two-oh-one-two.    

Happy holidays and happy 2012.   ChiIL out and rock on.

From Dug Production Sound

Bon, Dug, Du-Jay and Sagezilla

Tech The Halls: Activision DS Game Review-Moshling Zoo (Kid Video)

Santa and the elves are extremely busy this time of year so they've tapped a few lucky kids as tech toy testers!   See what 10 year old, Du-Jay, and 8 year old, Sagezilla, have to say about Activision's new DS release, Moshling Zoo.   We also highly recommend a membership at as a great last minute gift idea.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Craftsman Experience (Photo Filled Recap)

We truly had a bash at The Craftsman Holiday Blogger Bash.  It was great to see so many friends from the blogosphere in person at ChiTAG (The Chicago Toy and Game Fair) earlier that day, and then again that night at Craftsman.  If you're taking a tip from Santa's elves and getting DIY crafty with the gifts this year, Craftsman Experience is an indispensable resource for the holidays and 2012!   Thanks to Kim Moldofsky of Mom Impact for hosting and appearing as a guest on the informative shelf building episode, seen below.

We'll absolutely plan to come back.  In the meantime we'll tune in for helpful tips.   With a 100 year old home, there's always something....and in our spare time between home improvement projects we're pretty crafty.   Craftsman has a great space and a fun show.   We especially dug Santa's diamond plate sleigh!!

6 Degrees of Separation:  
We were amused to recognize a couple familiar faces from Kenmore Live Studio down the block, where we've been in the studio audience for a few shows.   Craftsman Live is close by and they're neighborly.   We were neighborly ourselves and said hey.   

The next day, we were at ChiTAG, for the 2nd day, and saw these two characters yet again!   I grinned and told them I was stalking them.   

When I got home and was editing the stills, it got even weirder, still.   My husband saw their shots from ChiTAG and recognized them from our footage of Soul Sonic Sirkus at Folk and Roots Fest!   

Turns out these two are involved with Midnight Circus!  We know a number of others over there.   Dug did sound for a movie Julie Greenberg was an actress in, back in the day, & juggler Brian P. Dailey teaches our kids juggling at CircEsteem!   That particular show also featured musicians Mars Williams (Liquid Soul, Psychadelic Furs) & our friend, Jeff Parker (Tortoise).   It was also the last time we saw infamous Chicago character, Lee Groban, who just passed away this month and "shreddy shirt boy", Mat (with one T).   Sometimes Chi-town can be such a small town for a big city.


Briar Rabbit, Damn Choir and Crane Wives at The Burlington 12-16-11 (photo filled feature)

It was sweet to finally hear all of these guys live, as their reputation preceded them.  Check out our prior coverage here.   It was also our first look at The Burlington's relatively new "back room" concert space in Logan Square (3425 W. Fullerton).   The lights and sound were nothing to write home about, but the intimate space is reminiscent of a basement party at someone's home, in an entirely good way.   They also have a respectable beer selection.   There did seem to be a force field beyond gravity at work in the center of the room, as multiple beer filled glasses hit the floor and shattered in about the same spot, hours apart. 

The Damn Choir 
The band has a unique sound and good chemistry.   Katy Myers on cello was a particular stand out. 

Here's the scoop from their site:  
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Genres: Folk / pop / Alternative
Members: Gordon Robertson, Katy Myers, Steve Stokes, Ryan Farnham, Jack McClain

The Damn Choir's use of guitar, cello, keyboards, vocals and drums, along with Gordon Robertson's introspective lyrics, create songs that range from meandering and melancholic to pulsing and vengeful.

The Damn Choir began in January of 2009 on a freezing and fated night in Chicago. Gordon Robertson sat slumped at the bar, drowning his post-horrific-break-up dejected self in whiskey and happened to meet cellist Katy Myers. Although at first Myers rejected Robertson's musical advances, eventually she gave in and agreed to give him a chance.

Within weeks the two were musically inseparable and involved in an (arguably unhealthy) co-dependant friendship. After playing for months under the name, “Gordon and Katy,” the two recorded an album, re-named the band, and began the journey that would lead them to eventually recruiting Sherri Stouffer on keyboards and vocals, and Ryan Farnham on Percussion. The four-piece creates a sound that rises and falls in harmony with the spirit of Robertson’s angst-filled lyrics.   Check 'em out here on Facebook.

This was Briar Rabbit's music video release party and when audio issues prevented the sound from playing on the grand unveiling, the audience prevailed upon the band to play it live.   So what could have been a disastrous derailment turned into serendipity.   His sound is described as folk/indie/pop and you can check it out by clicking on the link above.

You'll have a chance to see Briar Rabbit live again in the near future at one of our fav. local venues, Schubas, along with more great musicians.

Starting on Monday, January 9 2012, Clip Art will headline a weekly residency at Schuba’s Tavern. Each week will feature unique sets, special guests and the finest opening acts Chicago has to offer. Clip Art is led by Andy Rosenstein, keyboard player for JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound.

All shows are 8PM/$6/18+

1/9 - w/ Algebro + Any Kind
1/16 - w/ Dick Prall + Paper Thick Walls
1/23 - w/ Briar Rabbit + The Sometimes Family
1/30 - w/ Baby Teeth + Jennifer Hall

 Photo Credit:  Brad Meese

Thursday, December 22, 2011

O'MY'S LIVE at Reggie's Monday, Dec. 19 (photo filled feature)

We've heard all the buzz, but had to see it to believe it.   All we can say is oh my...indeed.   The O'My's rocked Reggie's Monday night with a sold out show.   

We've covered a number of musicians at Reggie's and we've never seen a line around the block like this one.  These young musicians were fantastic live and are certainly ones to watch.  Check out our prior O'My's coverage and their first music video by clicking here.

Not crazy about the fans with the backward ball caps.   Every other show we've shot for years, from jazz to metal to punk, people have been cool and made space for the camera.  Not here.  The ball cap boys shoved in front, then thrashed around and stuck their hat heads into the middle of a ton of what would have been great shots.  Ah well.  Things were crazy at the door, too.  Two different door men went to check the press list for me and neither one came back.  After being stuck at the door a half hour while the band I was planning to shoot nearly finished, I finally made it in.   


To their credit, the door staff weren't complete petty tyrants.  They did let the bass player's dad in, when he pleaded that he was on the guest list and missing his son's set.   And there was a fair amount of legit drama going on, like an underager getting kicked out for sipping his 21+ girlfriend's beer.   It just sucks when one person doing their job prevents someone else from doing theirs!   We've shot a lot of shows at Reggie's and NEVER had trouble at the door before.   All's well that ends well.   I got there in time to catch their last few songs and get my shots.

Nevertheless, Reggie's is still one of our favorite small venues.   The sound is great and what's not to love about a club with Wesley Willis' giant mug on the wall and an inexplicable sewer grate mid stage.   Makes for some of the most unique shoe shots.   They also have a great selection of both cheap beer and tasty craft brews for those who dig quality or quantity.

We were elated to finally catch the O'My's live, even if it was short and sweet.   We had another gig and couldn't stick around past their opening set, but they backed many of the later bands.  Rumor is, their trumpet player is just 17, and lives, eats and breathes music.  All the horns were amazing, and I though the keyboard player was going to overturn his instrument in addition to the mic!   His fingers were practically on fire.  With strong lead vocals and a flexible line up that ranges from 2-10 members, the O'My's are forging a well deserved name for themselves on the Chicago scene.