Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-09-13
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Van Hunt; The Chicago Scratch Orchestra
BENT NIGHTS Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Vern Hester

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

I have to admit that last week I did not leave the house looking for what I got. The first head-scratcher was soul/funk multi-instrumentalist Van Hunt's gig at Lincoln Hall, where I bumped into Abraham Levitan (of Baby Teeth) and his lovely wife, Lara; Daniel Bryant (the artistic director of Congo Square Theater); and Marty Casey (of the LoveHammers). It's not like you would find this four—all of them major players in Chicago's performance scene—in the same part of town, let alone the same room. But once Hunt got onstage and cooed, "I want to blow your mind..." during his first song, I knew definitely that I was onto a whole new dimension.

Haven't heard of Hunt? Well, that makes sense. He got his start writing with and for Dionne Farris, Rahsaan Patterson and Cree Summer while segueing into production on his own recordings. He was also forced to develop a DIY aesthetic while engineering his own artistic freedom. Capitol Records had the good sense to release Van Hunt (2004) and On the Jungle Floor (2006) but on switching to Blue Note Records, the label abruptly shelved his opus, Popular, regardless of the fact that LA Weekly called it a "left-field stunner." (Popular is available as a digital EP.)

Hunt's solution to that corporate blunder was to start his own label (Godless Hotspot Records) and release What Were You Hoping For? in 2011, and it was just as "different" as everything that came before it. What's amusing is that Hunt is a man who wants it both ways, as if independent homemade artistry can't embrace corporate respectability. While he was forging his own career with himself as his own CEO, he grabbed a Grammy in 2005 (with Joss Stone and John Legend for their vocal performance on "Family Affair" for the Sly Stone tribute album Different Strokes for Different Folks [Sony Records]); had American Idol's Randy Jackson as a manager early on; and covered Iggy Pop's "No Sense of Crime." His brand-new Live at the Troubadour 2011 (Godless Hotspot Records) is the perfect place to get acquainted for all us late arrivals.

For all his credibility, Hunt's sound is just as unexpected and unique as his appearance. As a "soul man" instead of dressing to kill or impress the man looks like he just came out of the tumble and twirl, and he has a cushy, rumpled amiability which gives him a vibe of luxurious comfort. His voice has a lilting featherweight smoothness punctuated by a raspy crack that brings to mind Marvin Tate and Errol Brown of Hot Chocolate, and gives him an edge of vocal unpredictability.

Better still, his production style harks back to Curtis Mayfield's '70s recordings, with dashes of Prince and Frank Zappa spicing things up. However, instead of having an army of musical instruments competing against each other, Hunt slow-stews everything down on his soundboard until it morphs into a thick brew. Listening to this music is the equivalent of a sonic tsunami of warm hollandaise sauce washing over your naked body while getting lightly juiced on wine coolers during a heat wave. It's sexy, sensuous, haunting, exotic and, coupled with Hunt's lyrics, almost unnerving in its complexity.

This explains why you may not have heard or heard of him—this music is so rich, evolved and so subtly seductive that it makes most soul/funk/rock sound positively hyper. With all that compression "Eyes of Pearl," with its stair-stepping bass line, "Dust" with it's airiness and playfulness, and "Seconds of Pleasure" with it's shapeless melody and lurching groove sound simultaneously retro, unique, modern and alien.

With all that art blowing through Lincoln Hall it still didn't stop Hunt from getting goofy or getting off. "That response was inappropriate," he cracked when a singalong failed to take flight. "I've been up here for 30 minutes and that shit was dope!" His adoring crowd did get it together for the heavy-hippy-sludgy funk epic "Hello Goodbye," while "Down Here In Hell," with its relaxed take on comfortable romantic dysfunction, came slathered in guitar shrieks and feedback. Sorry, I can't say that I've gotten over this show yet, and if I had my way I never will, either. Van Hunt is GOD...

A night later I took my second foray into Chicago's DIY scene, something that I accidently discovered two months ago when I attended a rave/concert in a loft dubbed the Ball Hall. Where the previous gig was loaded with scruffy punk rock bands who were all polite, nice and really delightful to hang out with, this was a performance by the Chicago Scratch Orchestra, a free-flowing group of musicians who meet and perform avant-garde works. To say that the Scratch Orchestra and its music are not the kind of sounds you would expect to hear on the lawn at Ravinia while you scarf down chardonnay and brie is putting it mildly. However, it was an adventure.

Rather than rely on written music, this group "played" from an entirely different template. Julia Miller's "Oracle Bones" was based on the musicians watching members of the audience walking past a transparent drawing, playing off the movements, colors and timing. Sarah Ritch's "The Fish and the Bird" was based on a projected image of squiggles, lines and colors, divided by ascending and descending divisions.

I still don't know what to make of the reading of legendary out sonic artist Pauline Oliveros' "Teach Yourself to Fly" while Nomi Epstein's "For Cage99," a group vocal piece based on words and text and expressed through hums and voice noises, left me just as confounded. This said nothing about the music and everything about me and a couple of my friends, who left after a good 10 minutes.

The Chicago Scratch Orchestra's music was far from what I was used to listening to and it shows that there is way more creative work pushing the boundaries of what we would consider art. Sure, it was a new experience and a whole new scene and since it's unlikely that Philip Glass or Oliveros will play in Wicker Park anytime soon my amiable host, Kg Price, and the Chicago Scratch Orchestra are the key to checking out a whole new world. In short, I want to check out more of this...

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Reeling LGBTQ film festival kicks off Sept. 21 at Music Box Theatre 2017-09-18 - ( CHICAGO, IL — September 13, 2017 ) Reeling, the second-oldest LGBTQ film festival in the world, kicks off its landmark 35th anniversary ...

Gay News

Sam Smith premieres video for new single "Too Good At Goodbyes" 2017-09-18 - Sam Smith premieres the official video for his new single "Too Good At Goodbyes" today. The video was directed by Luke Monaghan, watch ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical 2017-09-17 - Playwrights: Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott At: Morton College Campus ( Building A ), 3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero. Tickets: 708-656-1800 or ...

Gay News

Mirza movie to debut Sept. 28 at Music Box 2017-09-13 - The lesbian-themed movie Signature Move—starring local Pakistani Muslim lesbian actor Fawzia Mirza—will have a special screening at Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport ...

Gay News

NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Alison Moyet and her 'Other' self 2017-09-13 - Songstress Alison Moyet has a unique voice that first caught attention with the duo Yazoo. That teamed her with Vince Clarke of Erasure ...

Gay News

Sept. 16 Guaranteed Rate Field anti-violence music fest suddenly canceled 2017-09-13 - A Sept. 16 anti-violence music festival at Guaranteed Rate Field featuring music stars Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Fifth Harmony, Prince Royce, DNCE, Fat ...

Gay News

Showbiz news: Todrick Hall, Ellen Page, Jake Gyllenhaal, immigration projects 2017-09-13 - Dancer/YouTube personality Todrick Hall—who appeared in Taylor Swift's "Look What Your Made Me Do" video—has spoken out after he was criticized for taking ...

Gay News

CGMC's 'Rock Bottom' cabaret shows in Sept. 2017-09-13 - Twenty-six members of the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus will perform in the cabaret show "Hitting Rock Bottom: kNOw Hope" on Sept. 15-16. ...

Gay News

A Chance appearance 2017-09-13 - Chancellor Bennett, otherwise known as Chance the Rapper, made a special appearance Sept. 5 at the grand opening of Nando's PERi-PERi at 117 ...

Gay News

Elton John AIDS Foundation to commemorate 25th year, honor founder 2017-09-12 - ( NEW YORK, NY, September 12, 2017 )— On Tuesday, November 7, 2017, the Elton John AIDS Foundation ( EJAF ) will host ...


Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.