Fans of Bill Murray (count me among them) may recall one of his most popular personas – Nick the Lounge Singer. Nick was a bit of a chameleon, customizing his last name, lyrics and between-song chatter to suit the situation he was in, whether singing on a train headed to Florida (check out the sweet Cicely Tyson cameo) or in a Nevada bar made out of cinder blocks.
I love Murray’s performance because even though it’s a parody, his total commitment to the character makes it equally an homage to musicians who perform in non-concert venues like restaurants or hotel lounges. Many are hard-working professionals who have to roll with a lot of punches, from surly, sour drunks to the clashes and clangs of a chef run amok in the kitchen.
Leroy Bach is no lounge act but he’s committed to playing in situations where his music is neither “background music nor deliberate reach out, but something in between.” Bach is a prolific performer and collaborator, most notably with Wilco from the late ’90s through 2004.
But he tends to collect diverse talents around his own person. He was a founding member of Five Style, which included members like John Herndon of Tortoise and Euphone’s Ryan Rapsys. That trend lives on with Low Tide Trio, his long-standing, righteous rhythm section ‘for hire.’ The group gathers to put on shows with a revolving line-up of Chicago singers and poets.
Lately, Bach’s been playing at local bar The Whistler, which has evolved from a regular Friday night to a more “erratic” gig. Over his two-hour performance, the space slowly fills up with bodies and banter. But Bach says even if his music doesn’t “get people through their ears [he’ll] get ‘em through their spine.”
He credits the “physicality” of his music, which doesn’t involve thrashing away on his guitar but using “repetition or harmonic sculpting.” The few times I’ve caught Bach in action I’ve found him mesmerizing – which may explain why he believes that “rather than playing a song for someone [I’m] giving them a massage or slapping them on the ass.”
See what Bach does for you this Friday, from 6-8 pm. Other picks are below – enjoy!
DJs MLE & Lady J (Our Ladies of Soul) and JJ (Windy City Soul Club) put some rhythm in the 3 R’s - and benefit the Read/Write Library.
Hear Lynette Kalsnes’ interview with the library here.
Late Bar 3534 W Belmont
Daedelus brings his early-Victorian era garb and ultra-modern visual presentation to The Mid.
306 N Halsted
Nosh your way through Chicago! For 10 days, over 200 restaurants will offer special prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner.
Friday - Sunday
A 17-year-old girl’s traumatic coming of age becomes a lens onto the broader landscape of post 9/11 Manhattan.
164 N State Street5. Charles Bradley
Charles Bradley spent much of his life dreaming for a better one. Now he’s making up for lost time with a whole lotta singing, dancing and loving!
3730 N Clark Street6. The Film That Changed My Life: Harlan County U.S.A. with Steve James and Robert K Elder
Sunday 1:30pm Music Box Theatre 3733 N Southport
Author Elder and filmmaker James discuss the 1976 documentary about striking coal miners in Kentucky, Harlan County USA.
Hear Alison Cuddy’s full interview with Robert K Elder here.7. Guns N’ Roses
See the larger-than-life, enigmatic Axl Rose up close and personal.
329 N Dearborn
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