Chicago Music Concert Review: The Sons, Celestial Crumb, Bittersweet and The B-Sides, The Bag you Live In: The Abbey 8.6.13

The Sons (Photo: Joe Grez)

The Sons (Photo: Joe Grez)

Chicago, IL – There is a legend…check that, there are a NUMBER of legends that could be told about southwest side music scene. I could go on about the infamous fish fry show, or jamming above Baker’s garage, or the countless shows at “Off the Alley,” or the southern shores of Lake Michigan and it’s surf and seemingly mile-high dunes or, maybe that garage just off of 107th street where magic seemed to happen on a consistant basis. Someone I once knew in the physical realm and still know on the spiritual realm use to live, practice and dream there. I reckon his dreams usually involved where he was heading next in the world or, for that matter, space and time.

My return back to Chicago after three years has indeed been a homecoming of sorts. My cousin got married, it’s summer (my favorite season in Chicago by far) and the bands play on. This past Saturday, I headed to the northwest side of the city (the Addison Park neighborhood) to catch a show at The Abbey Pub. But not just any show mind you, a concert performed by longtime friends of timeless music. Organized by Anthony Barraco, guitarist and bandleader of Bittersweet & B-Sides, the show featured four southside powerhouses for a music filled night.


The leadoff act proved to be a tough act to follow as The Sons took the stage just after 9PM. Talk about setting the tone. Jay Starr and crew went straight into their deep catalogue with their hits “Burma,” “Either You’re Real” and a re-arranged version of “Bouncin’” The latest with it’s classic outra lyric: “All life is a memory…somewhere.” Then onto their most recent material including their history lesson “Vlad” with it’s Wilco-esque canon, the ultra lush Andy Summer-esque “Lone Ranger” and my personal favorite of the group “Hammersmith” in which bassist Frank Pratt lays down his best ’68 Beatles licks on guitar. Starr and do-it-all fourth man Sunil Chopra really brought the harmonies and Mike Neuhaus is the only man I know that could have replaced the legend on drums.

ALL THREE of The Sons recent releases are available for FREE here: Get The Sons Music

Bittersweet & The B-Sides (Photo: Joe Grez)

Bittersweet & The B-Sides (Photo: Joe Grez)

And if you ARE going to follow The Sons, putting three talented beautiful women upfront will do nicely. That’s exactly what Barraco’s Bittersweet and the B-Sides bring in their Chicago Blues revival. The group features Jaime McGuffage, Julie Martin and Amy Dettmann on three part vocals with each taking the spotlight lead on various cuts. The ladies sell the soulful songs of Barraco’s band. Cuts like “Jack the Bottle” and “Alfred E. Nueman” stem right from the long lineage of this Blues-haven town.

The prime slot brought the then house party favorite of the early naughts: The Bag you Live In. Led by guitarist/songwriter James Woody, the quartet has been bringing the wacky funk for over a decade and their was no reason to stop on this night. They hit plenty off their recent release “The ‘Burban” including “Check your Schedge” and “Thanks for Ya Toyme.” Always rump shakers and crowd pleasers.

Celestial Crumb (Photo: Joe Grez)

Celestial Crumb (Photo: Joe Grez)

Wrapping up the night was none other then Cap’m Jack and Celestial Crumb. The Crumb is back again after a few year hiatus with their second show of 2013. And did they smash it immediately with “Made It.” Usually their powerful opener which I liken it a tribute to actually making it to that actual moment in time. They continued on their heavy funk ride till dream-like wave “The Seagull Song.” A personal favorite with the refrain being “When I was denied by the sea, A seagull I was forced to be” sung by the Cap’m and T-Bills in a sweet two-part harmony. The trio rode off into the night with their cover of Alice Donut’s “Every Body on Sale.”

Timeless. The four groups completely etched into the south side Chicago music scene for years brought their tunes north. And it was just like it always was…yet better. Now this may be my bias speaking, but what possibly could be better then that?

I swear he was there. He’s always there when The Sons play. And now I’ve seen stickers of him throughout the city. But just who is this being we know as “Starchild?” More to come…

Joe Grez

Joe Grez

Joe Grzesik (JGrez) is still an artist developer trying to keep up with new technologies. Photography still has been one of his strongest passions. However, now his main focus has led him back to music where he teaches guitar, piano, saxophone and percussion privately. Music education can never be short changed.

8 Responses to Chicago Music Concert Review: The Sons, Celestial Crumb, Bittersweet and The B-Sides, The Bag you Live In: The Abbey 8.6.13
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  6. [...] I’ve had this conversation with a few people including our dear friend Brother Brian of Celestial ...
  7. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    Man I wish I could have been there. I miss these bands very much. And you are correct sir – Legend and Legends.

  8. Jason Starr Reply

    Wow! Thanks a million Joe, it means the world to me. It’s great to see you again

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