Edward Burch has been an unsung hero of Chicago’s alt-country scene for some years. Best known as one half of the duo that Jay Bennett formed just after leaving Wilco, Burch also used to have a regular gig on Monday nights at the Hideout with another then-member of Wilco, LeRoy Bach. Burch has played with a lot of other musicians over the years, and you’ll also see his byline from time to time on record reviews in publications such as Magnet. It’s clear from his choice of cover songs that he has a deep knowledge of underground rock music, power pop and folk. There’s something modest and unassuming about the guy.
Burch, who has been living in Champaign, is moving to Austin, Texas, because his wife, Rachel, just got a new job there. And so the Hideout hosted a special night of music on Monday (June 11) to bid Burch farewell. It was a sprawling, epic affair, lasting practically four hours, with many fine moments along the way. Bach came in from California to play several songs with Burch. Bennett joined him, too, as did Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen of Dolly Varden, Steve Frisbie, Andy Leach, John Peacock and a slew of string players.
The section of the concert featuring a string quartet was really special, featuring lovely chamber-music arrangements of songs by Elvis Costello (“Just Like Candy”), John Cale (“Paris 1919”), Big Star (“Stroke It Noel”) and others. Of course, we heard several of the Bennett & Burch Palace at 4 A.M. songs that Burch sang, such as “Talk to Me,” “Venus Stopped the Train” and “Little White Cottage.” My favorite covers of the night included Badfinger’s “Lonely You,” Chris Bell’s “Look Up” and the Beach Boys’ “Surf’s Up.”
All in all, it was a lovely way to send off Edward to his new home in Austin, and it was hard not to feel a little sad and wisftul to see him go.