Q&A: Sweet Mary

Stationed in the Windy City by way of St.Louis, Mary Porzelt, known to fans by her stage name, Sweet Mary, is getting ready to add a new city to her list of addresses. Following in the footsteps of her close mentors and friends, The Main Squeeze, the blues singer will be moving to Los Angeles later this year in pursuit of new musical opportunities. But before leaving the home of blues, Sweet Mary spoke with Listen Live and Local about her upcoming show, her passions outside of music and even let us in on a secret about where she feels most inspired to write.

 

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Live Review: Doug Shotwell & The Right Hand Band/ Sweet Mary/ Walsher Clemons (2/12) @ Martyrs’

One of the best things about the Chicago music scene is it isn’t dominated by a single genre. On any given night one can hear the soulful groan of a blues band, the twang of an Americana banjo or the pulse of a hi-hat in a modern jazz tune. And sometimes, one can even hear all those things on the same stage. This was the case (though a different representation of genres) on Friday, February 12th at Martyrs’; a night featuring three local bands with three different sounds.

The night started with some progressive folk rock provided by Doug Shotwell & The Right Hand Band. While Shotwell is a Virginia native his “right hand” men are mainly made up of Chicago jazz, blues and rock musicians. Together the group crafted a sound rooted in soul with smooth slide guitar lines and a constant steady push from the rhythm section. On the surface, the songs felt simple, giving them a laid back, easy-to-listen-to vibe. But underneath there were layers of complexity which helped differentiate the songs from one another. It also helped keep the music from sounding too run-of-the-mill or twangy.

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Show Preview: Dunn Dunn Fest (2/18-2/20)

This week Chicago promoter Harmonica Dunn will be hosting Dunn Dunn Fest; a three night, six venue showcase featuring a number of local (and non local) bands. The fest will run from Thursday, February 18th to Saturday, February 20th with performances at Beat Kitchen, Subterranean, Tonic Room, Lincoln Hall, Schubas and The Hideout.

With so many great local bands at some of Chicago’s top venues, you really can’t go wrong with any show. Nonetheless, here’s who we’re excited to see:

 

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Q&A: Woo Park

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A little bit funk, a little bit soul, a little bit rock and roll; Woo Park embodies everything that makes Chicago’s music scene great. The talented band composed of vocalist Emily Nichols, bassist Parker Grogan, keyboardist Christian Zwit, drummer Luke Sangerman, and guitarist Brian Sanborn can be described as nothing other than a choir of rhythmic chaos.  Their sound is undeniably composed of practice, passion and true musicianship. An eccentric ascetic combined with undeniable chemistry, it’s no surprise Woo Park has become beloved to so many dedicated fans.

With their last show (for the time being) right around the corner (Feb 20th @ Subterranean) Listen Live and Local spoke with Nichols for the low down on their drive, their passion and what their futures hold.

 

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Profile: The Pact

What happens when a few metal heads, an R&B singer, an indie god and a closet Paramore fanatic join forces and start a band?

No worries, this isn’t the start to a bad hipster joke. Actually, it’s the foundation of Chicago-based band, The Pact. It may have taken nearly four years of reformations and sound searching, but the alternative pop group has finally established themselves with the perfect blend of unlike genre gurus.

With less than a year behind their current formation, The Pact has already played a number of icon Chicago venues (House of Blues, Bottom Lounge) and shared the stage with national touring acts (HalfNoise, Spirit Animal).  Combine this with the success of a recent EP release and an upcoming January 28th show with Tribe Society and The Karma Killers, and one might think The Pact has had a pretty easy ride.

But with any great story of success, there must first be failure.

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Show Preview: The Pact (1/28)

Who: The Pact

When: Thursday, January 28th @ 8:30PM

Where: Beat Kitchen

Price: $10 adv/ $12 door

Chicago-based band, The Pact, has spent the last few months crafting a sound that balances indie elements of alternative and pop.  This past November, The Pact released Reaching in the Dark, a five song EP recorded in the home studio of guitarist Caleb Harris. With less than a year behind the current lineup, the band has already played some iconic Chicago venues, such as the House of Blues, as well as shared the stage with well-known artists such as HalfNoise and Mighty Fox.

 

The night will also include performances by Tribe Society and The Karma Killers.  

Live Review: Mungion (1/16) @ Subterranean

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Let’s face it: If you could wear pajamas out on a Saturday night, you probably would. The only reason you don’t is because you don’t want to be the only person at the bar wearing flannels and a big, baggy t-shirt.

You’re not an outlier though. There’s a thriving community of pajama enthusiasts, as evident by the Subterranean‘s Pajamuary event at Saturday, January 16th, featuring local acts Bronson Rock, Mungion and EGI. It was $5 off for anyone wearing PJs. Just wearing flannels qualified for discounted admission, but a surprising number of people went above and beyond, sporting giant animal-themed onesies. It was very rock and roll.

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Live Review: Cuddlestock- Glyders, The Rubs, Clearance, Flesh Panthers (12/4) @ The Empty Bottle

For the third year running, Tall Pat Records has joined forces with the Empty Bottle to bring local Chicago acts to the stage for Cuddlestock: a showcase of Tall Pat Records’ pride and joys. Around 8 p.m. on Friday, December 4, there was a severe lack of cuddling, but after midnight, it was a body-to-body lovefest. If you were there, you saw Tall Pat, the near-seven-foot guy drunkenly declaring his love to his blushing newlywed wife from onstage before announcing each band.

Glyders took the stage to open the show and the mellow mood of the crowd blended with the warm-up act. Glyders have a lofi beach-punk sound with a slow country-rolling flare. All the vocals were double-layered through the mic, even when the band was addressing the crowd. It was a chilled-out, trippy vibe that warmed up what little crowd had gathered at the start.

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Live Review: Wild Skies, Dead Horses, Midwest (12/10) @Subterranean

Chicago is known as the home of jazz, punk and hip hop, but the Americana talent in this city is just as strong and well-developed of a genre. This notion was apparent through the performances of three semi-local bands at Subterranean on December 10th during a night of folk and Americana presented by Harmonica Dunn.

Thursday night’s show opened with Chicago folk band Midwest.  Aesthetically the band was a picture perfect model of folk, filling out the stage with orchestral strings, acoustic guitars and an occasional tambourine (not to mention the physical adorableness of each member). Their hauntingly beautiful lullabies showcased the near pitch perfect harmonies between vocalists Heather Bodie and Nicolette Fendon. Paired with the violin, upright bass and pared-down drums, the music had a rustic element, perking the ear for a backwoods sound.

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Show Preview: Wild Skies (12/10)

Who: Wild Skies

When: Thursday, December 10th @ 9PM

Where: Subterranean

Price: $10

Brought together by a Craigslist ad in April 2014, Wild Skies balances a blend of lyrical stories and harmonies for a modern pop-twist on traditional folk music. Their songs have an airiness making for an easy listen with strong vocals backed by steady instrumentals. Each piece feels different, yet their simplicity makes allows for cohesiveness when heard as a collection.

The night will also include performances by Dead Horses and Midwest.