Jeff Parker-Nels Cline Quartet

Jeff Parker and Nels Cline, two virtuoso guitarists who are fluent in both jazz and rock, played together Aug. 8 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Backed by drummer Frank Rosaly and bassist Nate McBride, they played their version of the 1964 avant-garde jazz album The Turning Point by pianist Continue Reading

Big Star’s Third in Concert

Back when I discovered the music of Big Star as a college student, my first impression was that the band’s first two albums, #1 Record and Radio City, were overlooked classics, while its third album, Third (Sister Lovers), was a weird mess. But then Rykodisc’s 1992 reissue of that troubled Continue Reading

eighth blackbird with special guests

The worlds of classical music and indie rock have been intersecting in some interesting and exciting ways lately. I get the sense that certain musicians and composers feel completely free to cross over the old genre boundaries — if they even recognize that such boundaries exist. Several of these category-defying Continue Reading

Record Store Day at Laurie’s

Saturday, April 20, was Record Store Day — not just a chance to buy some special-edition records released for the occasion, but also a great excuse to hang out at a record shop and see some free live musical performances. Yesterday, I shopped in at the Numero Group’s pop-up store Continue Reading

Radar Eyes and Night Beats

Radar Eyes are another one of the great Chicago bands these days making garage rock on the HoZac record label. The group celebrated the release of its self-titled debut CD on Saturday (March 24) with a show at the Empty Bottle. Radar Eyes’ music has a strong flavor of ’60s Continue Reading

Andre Williams at the Hideout

Andre Williams has not just one new album, but two — plus an EP. You wouldn’t necessarily have known that from his concert Friday night (March 23) at the Hideout, however. Backed by the Goldstars, the suave-looking and foul-mouthed Williams played a set similar to the shows he has performed Continue Reading

Mekons do Pecha Kucha at SPACE

Leave it up to the Mekons to stretch the concept of a concert into strange realms yet again. Touring to promote their excellent new record, Ancient & Modern (or is that Ancient & Modern: 1911-2011 — it’s proving hard to determine exactly what the title is), the seemingly unstoppable old Continue Reading

Tribute to Diane Izzo

Singer-songwriter Diane Izzo, a former Chicagoan, died of cancer in February at the age of 43. Many of her friends and musical collaborators gathered Sunday (Oct. 2) at the Hideout for a concert billed as “the First Annual Diane Izzo Memorial Concert.” The poster for the concert also featured a Continue Reading

Cultivate Festival

The Chipotle restaurant chain has its very own “music director”? Yes, it does. And he was DJing Saturday (Oct. 1) at the Cultivate Festival in Lincoln Park, a free event sponsored by the restaurant chain with bands, chefs and, of course, burritos. Whatever you think of Chipotle or corporate branding Continue Reading

Oval at the MCA

The German electronic music artist Oval (aka Markus Popp) makes intricate, odd little shards of sound. On his 2010 album O the noises he uses in his palette sometimes seem surprisingly similar to the acoustic pluck of real strings, with the breathy whisper of actual, physical objects moving in the Continue Reading

Pitchfork Day One Review

This year’s Pitchfork Music Festival includes some reruns from previous year’s editions — such as Friday’s headliner, Animal Collective — as well as the usual smattering of new acts that have received the Pitchfork website’s stamp of approval. It’s a reasonably diverse lineup and considerably more interesting than what’s coming Continue Reading

Bonnie “Prince” Billy at Millennium Park

Yes, it is hard to believe sometimes how unusual and wonderful the concerts promoted by the city of Chicago in the beautiful Millennium Park are. The summer season of free concerts got started Monday night (May 23) with … Bonnie “Prince” Billy? And Eleventh Dream Day as the opening act? Continue Reading

Patti Smith at the library

I count myself lucky to have seen three concerts by Patti Smith and, now, two other public appearances by this rightfully legendary singer, poet and artist. I missed her sold-out concert Saturday at Park West, but I made sure to show up for her book signing and reading Sunday afternoon Continue Reading

Joe Pug’s ‘Messenger’

The first time I saw Chicago singer-songwriter Joe Pug, I thought: Boy, this guy is really doing the traditional Bob Dylan folk singer-songwriter thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. As a style of music, it isn’t anything new or original, but it’s a format (singing + acoustic guitar Continue Reading

Ebony Bones at Green Dolphin

The British singer who calls herself Ebony Bones put on quite a show Saturday night (Feb. 6) at Green Dolphin Street … after a seemingly interminable series of DJ sets and opening bands. I’m not much into the dance club scene, so that last hour of barely distinguishable electronic beats Continue Reading

Happy Birthday, Pravda

Chicago’s Pravda Records has been in business for 25 years now, which is reason enough to celebrate. Not many independent labels stay in business that long. Pravda’s musicians and fans partied Friday night at the Abbey Pub to mark the occasion. Three of the label’s early groups got back together Continue Reading

The Sadies at the Hideout

I saw Canada’s great Sadies last night (Nov. 28) for the umpteenth time — well, maybe it was my 12th or 15th time seeing this band. Something like that. They never fail to deliver, and last night’s gig at the Hideout was yet another show filled with amazing guitar licks, Continue Reading

Fanfarlo at Schubas

I’ve been singing the praises of Fanfarlo since discovering this British band in 2008 at SXSW. Fanfarlo finally played in Chicago for the first time last night (Nov. 9). I was starting to think they were avoiding our fair city for some reason, since they made an earlier U.S. tour Continue Reading

I’ve been hacked!

In case you noticed anything weird happening at this page, it appears that a Turkish hacker was messing around with it. I hoped it’s fixed now.

Steve Reich at SXSW

One of SXSW’s stars, Sonic Youth guitarist THURSTON MOORE, interviewed another star, composer STEVE REICH, Thursday afternoon at the Austin Convention Center. It was interesting to see Moore in the role of an interviewer; he was genuinely curious, asking some probing questions while making it all seem like the friendliest Continue Reading

American Music Festival

The American Music Festival at FitzGerald’s is often the best fest going anywhere in the Chicago area over the Fourth of July week. Not as big as things such as Taste of Chicago, of course, but the musical selection tends to trump everything else. Don’t expect much that’s cutting-edge, but Continue Reading

Search me

Just what are the search phrases leading people to visit the Underground Bee and the other two Web sites I run ( and the site for my book, Most people come here looking for photos or reviews of specific bands. Brazilian Girls and Sabina Sciubba are one of the Continue Reading

Bee content

Lately, some folks have been suggesting this site should contain some actual content pertaining to bees or beekeeping… topics of which I am fairly ignorant. Bee experts, feel free to send me your ephemera. (I have a feeling I’m going to regret having said that.)