Sunday, December 20, 2015

OPENING: Dynamite Divas A Tribute to Women of Soul at BLACK ENSEMBLE THEATER

Dynamite Divas
A Tribute to Women of Soul
December 12, 2015 – January 24, 2016

Black Ensemble Theater Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor announces Dynamite Divas, A Tribute to Women of Soul, produced and written by Jackie Taylor and directed by Rueben D. Echoles, with musical direction by Robert Reddrick. Dynamite Divas will be performed at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street in Chicago, December 12, 2015 – January 24, 2016. 

What happens when you put Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson and Gladys Knight together in the same room for a day?  Well you certainly get some great nostalgic music that’s for sure.  Originally presented in 2001, Dynamite Divas also features a spiritual visit from Nina Simone and Whitney Houston, with a guest appearance from Queen Beyonce (not the real one!) who asks the Divas and “Why Not Me.”

The cast includes Shari Addison (Aretha Franklin), Rhonda Preston (Nancy Wilson), Rashada Dawan (Gladys Knight), Kylah Frye (Ensemble), Jessica Seals (Ensemble), Cherise Thomas (Ensemble), Donald Craig Manuel (Hubert), Daniel O’Brian Phillips (Donny Hathaway), Tricia Trible (Ensemble) and Demetrius Spidle (Ensemble).  Casting for Roberta Flack and Mr. Maurice are TBA.
As with all Black Ensemble production, the production features a live band, which includes Robert Reddrick (Musical Director/drums), Mark Miller (bass), Gary Baker (guitar), Justin Dillard (piano), Paul Howard (trumpet), Dudley Owens (saxophone) and Bill McFarland (trombone). 

The designers are Rueben Echoles (costumes), The A Team (set), Denise Karczewski (lighting), and Aaron Quick (sound). The production stage manager is Daryl Brooks

Dates: December 12, 2015 – January 24, 2016
Schedule: Thursday: 7:30 p.m. 
Friday: 8:00 p.m.
Saturday: 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sunday: 3:00 p.m. 

Location: Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street. 
Valet parking is available.

Ticket prices: $55 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday matinees; and $65 on Fridays, Saturday evenings, and Sunday matinees. A 10% discount is available for students, seniors, and groups. 

Box Office: Buy online at or call (773) 769-4451

The Black Ensemble Theater 
Founded in 1976, by the phenomenal producer, playwright and actress Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater is the only African American theater located in the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse north side Uptown community. Through its Five Play Season of Excellence, The Black Ensemble Theater dazzles audiences locally, nationally and internationally with outstanding original musicals that are entertaining, educational and uplifting. The Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions and employed over 5,000 artists.

On November 18, 2011, The Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center opened and is able to accommodate larger-scale productions, bigger audiences and a wider range of educational programming. The new facility includes amenities such as a 299-seat main stage theater (double the capacity of the original venue); 14 offices, classroom space, rehearsal hall, dance studio, scene shop, costume shop, and wardrobe rooms; seven dressing rooms; rehearsal room for musicians; front lobby space with concession areas; and an indoor parking garage.  The completion of a 150-seat theater, which will serve as an experimental stage for the work of the Black Playwright Initiative (BPI), with construction by General Contractor Norcon Inc., is expected in 2016/17. 

The mission of the Black Ensemble Theater Company is to eradicate racism and its devastating effects upon society through the theater arts.  For more information on the Black Ensemble Theater Company, please visit or call 773-769-4451.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Review: CLUTCH Psychic Warfare Tour and House of Blues Chicago LIVE Show Shots

“Psychic Warfare” tour. Fall 2015
10/14/15 Chicago, IL House Of Blues

The curtain rises and the crowd erupts in whistles and eager applause as Neil Fallon, the wild eyed anti-preacher, takes the stage with the band. 

The first notes of X-Ray Visions resound and the crowd goes completely wild. We're talking an actual mosh pit... at a Clutch show?! Unlike many metal bands with guttural growlers on the mic and unintelligible lyrics, Clutch lyrics are literate, literary and actually audible. Mythical, Biblical, political and original phrases bump up against each other in an utterly compelling mash up of wickedly witty wordplay. Unencumbered by a lead guitar, Fallon's free to rock his infamous gestures and work the crowd energy like a pro. And why not? Clutch has been touring under the radar for 25 years.

We had the pleasure of catching them this fall at House of Blues, Chicago, supporting their brand new release “Psychic Warfare”. The band was unbelievably "on" that night. We've seen them live for over two decades and I don't think I've ever heard them sound so good!

Tim Sult was absolutely smokin' on guitar and Neil Fallon has found even greater reserves of power in his already impressive vocals.

Jean-Paul Gaster and Dan Maines were tight with the rhythm and bass.

You've heard of "The Hottest Band in the Land... KISS" 
and "The Only Band That Matters... The Clash." 
Now meet "The Best Metal Band With Cow Bell... CLUTCH!!"

Check out ChiIL Live Shows' full set of pit photos 
in the slideshow here:
Photo credit: Bonnie Kenaz-Mara

Psychic Warfare was newly released when they hit Chicago, and still unfamiliar to many in the crowd. Generally new material's a bit of a hard sell, as fans want to hear their old familiar favorites. This show was an exception. The new material is so stellar the crowd lapped it up and begged for more. Yet, if there's a band fame won't implode, it's Clutch. They're too down to earth and they've been touring pros too long to let a little thing like a #1 album fundamentally change who they are and what they're all about.

By the way... speaking of old favorites. It was SO great to hear Dragonfly! I generally don't wear band shirts to their concerts on principle, but I'd worn my Dragonfly Clutch tee all day before I changed for the show. And literally right before Clutch launched into Dragonfly at the show, I ran into Omar, the tattoo artist who did an awesome dragonfly on my foot, right around the same era as the first Elephant Riders album release in 1998. Kismet indeed.

Like the myth of Sisyphus, Clutch has been rolling their rock up the metal mountain for a quarter of a century with little acclaim, only to have it roll back down again every day. They refused to sell out or change for any label, even if that meant fame and fortune were elusive. Then their label went under and they began the laborious, lengthy task of slogging through the courts to regain the rights to their early releases. 

Finally Clutch's tenacity is paying off. They own all their own material again and are releasing new albums and rereleasing early works on Weathermaker Music, the band’s self owned label. They love what they do, and play what they love, whether anyone else likes it or not, and that integrity and passion shines through. Clutch's sound, sometimes called stoner metal or lumped in with prog rock, is unique and defies easy genrefication. Yet their appeal across metal, rock, funk and even jam markets is skyrocketing. 

We discovered Clutch in the early 90's and have eagerly anticipated each new album release, and frequented their live shows ever since. So their recent success is bittersweet. On one hand we're elated to see them getting the critical acclaim and larger audience they've deserved for years. Yet, the days of seeing Clutch in small venues like Chicago's Cubby Bear bar or Logan Auditorium, where we caught them with Subhumans and World Inferno Friendship Society may be a thing of the past. Sure, larger venues and arena shows have their own energy and they are a rush, but that intimate, hole in the wall vibe, and connection between band and fans is hard to beat and will be missed.

Shadows of Rail Riders/ View from the Pit 

It was amusing at the Chicago show, the fans around us were utterly convinced that Neil has true prophetic powers. 

But instead of ogling the musicians like groupies who want to sleep with the band or BE the band, the consensus seemed to be that they all wanted to have Clutch over for a cocktail party, because they thought the guys would be intriguing to talk with! 

That's the power of Clutch's riffs and tangents. They're catchy enough for crowds to belt out their lyrics, and their riffs can really get a room going. Yet they're cerebral and bizarre enough to keep people guessing. 

Check out ChiIL Live Shows' photo features for The Shrine and Corrosion of Conformity who were direct support for Clutch on the Psychic Warfare Tour.

Pepper Keenan, C of C

We'll be taking a road trip down to Cincinnati in a few weeks, where we have press credentials to shoot Led Zeppelin 2 at Bogarts December 27th, where we shot both CLUTCH and LZ2 last December. Deja Vu, all over again!

CLUTCH will be playing there four days later, so we've bought tickets for their New Year's Eve show and can't wait to catch them again. Bogarts is an intimate venue, so I guess, despite their chart topping new release, the band's not too huge yet to go small sometimes, even for New Year's Eve. Check out their winter tour details below. And catch them if you can. Clutch IS the real deal!



Clutch has announced their annual “Holiday” tour dates for December with Crobot and Valkyrie supporting the tour. Tickets on sale NOW all dates. Stay tuned to the official Clutch Facebook, for fan club pre sale and all ticket links.

Clutch Winter Tour Dates:
Sun/Dec-27 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
Mon/Dec-28 Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
Tue/Dec-29 New York, NY @ Terminal 5
Wed/Dec-30 Cleveland, OH @ Agora
Thu/Dec-31 Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s 
(*ROCK N ROLL ROAD TRIP: ChiIL Live Shows will be there... will YOU?! Can't wait to spend NYE with CLUTCH.)

Neil Fallon - Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult - Guitar
Dan Maines - Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster - Drums/Percussion

It was our great pleasure to catch Neil Fallon for a video interview at The Vogue in Indianapolis shortly before their acclaimed Earth Rocker release. Check it out here. We've had over 18,000 views.


Clutch scored some high chart positions with its new release "Psychic Warfare”, landing on 6 Billboard charts. Weathermaker Music, the band’s self owned label, sold over 25,000 copies of the new album in the first week of release. The album came in at #11 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, the toughest chart to crack. "Psychic Warfare” is the highest debut charting album for Clutch and Weathermaker Music to date.

The album landed at #1 on Billboard’s Rock and Hard Rock charts respectively. The full list, including International charting is below:

#11 Billboard Top 200
#7 Top New Albums
#2 Independent Label
#1 Rock
#1 Hard Music
#5 Digital

#20 Top 200
#5 Independent Albums
#23 Aria Album Charts
#46 Top 100 Album Charts
#18 Top 100
#4 Hard Rock Metal

“Psychic Warfare” was produced by longtime producer Machine (Lamb Of God, Every Time I Die) and consists of 12 new tracks. The album cover was designed by renowned photographer Dan Winters.

“Psychic Warfare” track listing:
01 The Affidavit 
02 X-Ray Visions 
03 Firebirds 
04 A Quick Death in Texas 
05 Sucker For The Witch
06 Your Love is Incarceration
07 Doom Saloon 
08 Our Lady of Electric Light 
09 Noble Savage Clutch 
10 Behold the Colossus 
11 Decapitation Blues 
12 Son Of Virginia

For more information, check out the band’s website:

More Favorite Show Shots:

Whose Shoes? 
I find it fascinating to see where musicians are grounded, connected to the stage. What type of footwear they choose and how they stand speaks volumes. Not the brands per say, but the style and personality... 

"Midnight in the GWARden of New Year's Evil" VIP Ticket Info and Details Revealed

Think beyond champagne and dropping balls this New Year's Eve. You could spend it in the GWARden of New Year's Evil! Check out loads of our original LIVE GWAR show footage HERE, then find a way to Richmond, VA. It's sure to be surreal!

GWAR's New Year's Eve Celebration "Midnight in the GWARden of New Year's Evil" is set for December 31st at the National in GWAR's home away from Antarctica; Richmond, Virginia.  As this unprecedented celebration draws near, additional details have been released. The almighty GWAR will headline the event with support from Richmond heavyweights-Kepone, metal juggernaut-Occultist, and Guns and Roses cover band-Rocket Queen.  Doors will open at 7:00 PM and the first band will hit the stage at 7:30 PM.  All Bohabs in attendance will have a chance to ring in the New Year with their Lords and Masters, GWAR. There will be a premium door prizes awarded to those in attendance, so fans are encouraged to keep their ticket stubs for a chance to WIN! Two lucky couples (4 people) will win a Private Sky Box Dressing Room overlooking the stage.

In addition to the general admission tickets that are ON SALE NOW, a limited number of VIP ticket packages for two will be made available. These VIP ticket packages go on sale Wednesday December 16th and can be purchased ONLY at the National box office window located at 708 E. Broad St Richmond VA 23219. 

THE VIP Package Includes:
  • 2 tickets to the show
  • A New Year's Eve Meet and Greet with GWAR
  • A Gift Certificate Dinner for 2 at GWARbar
  • Free Shuttle from GWARbar to the show
  • Upstairs VIP Bar Access and balcony seating
  • A New Year's Eve Gift Bag Full of Party Favors and signed GWAR Memorabilia 
  • Chance to win premium door prizes throughout the concert evening

"Midnight in the GWARden of New Year's Evil" is presented by Night Prowler Productions and XL102.

The Berserker Blothar had this to say about the event; "Another year in the can...I suppose there are worse places to spend an entire year. Anyway, this is gonna be one hell of a party. I haven't done this much coke off of this many tits in a long time. So, this Baby New he single?"

For more info visit:

ChiIL Live Shows' GWAR Shots from Riot Fest, Chicago 2012
Photo Credit: Bonnie Kenaz-Mara for ChiIL Live Shows

We've even got a memorial Brockie shot:
As if he's not an unforgettable character already...

Google Analytics