Throwback Thursday: Martin Luther King Jr. Stoned During Chicago March.

On August 5th 1966 Martin Luther King Jr., during the fair housing protests in Marquette Park, is met with 700 angry white protesters and gets struck by a brick.

MLK was in Chicago that day advocating with his demonstrators that this leasing office on 63rd Street in the South Side sell properties on a non-discriminatory basis in the mostly white Chicago Lawn neighborhood. Bricks and bottles thrown, racial slurs hurled, pushing, shoving, cops in-between King, his demonstrators and the large white crowd from Chicago’s local south side. At least 30 people were injured and 40 were arrested. Apparently after this whole ordeal King was unafraid and un-shaken stating, “All in a day’s work“.

MLK Jr. ducks as he is struck by a brick as aids rush to prevent another attack.

Post 1964 America with the signing of the Civil Rights Act was hopeful for the future of its minority citizens. However the ghettoes in northern cities were still quite affected and mandated by Jim Crow laws. King even promoted this issue by moving into a Chicago apartment in 1966 infested with rats and roaches. This was ideally to expose the segregated housing and redlining issues that were designed against blacks and minorities largely prevalent in major American cities, especially Chicago.

Segregated cities are still an issue today, albeit laws and ordinances against such civil illnesses. Today let us remember that MLK Jr. was working tirelessly to improve the equity and lifestyles of black Americans and all those that shared in his vision of peace and unity.

Martin Luther King during a rally in Chicagos Soldier Field July 10, 1966, kicking off the Chicago Freedom Movement.

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Throwback Thursday: The World’s First Skyscraper

Chicago has long been well known for its stunning skylines and innovative take on architecture. However what few people know is that Chicago is actually the birthplace of the modern day skyscraper.

Designed by architect William Le Baron Jenney in 1884, The Home Insurance Building opened its doors a year later at the intersection of LaSalle and Adams. Consisting of 10 stories and standing at 138 feet in height, The Home Insurance Building has come to be known as the world’s first skyscraper. It was the first building of its kind whose frame held structural steel, though the majority of it consisted of wrought iron and cast.

Historians attribute the construction of The Home Insurance Building to the architectural boom that took place in Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871. As a result of the aforementioned fire, 3.3 square miles of the cityscape was left destroyed, and since the majority of its buildings back then were made of wood, nearly all of them burned down in the flames. With the majority of the city rotting in rubble, Chicago underwent one of the most famous architectural booms in history; one that would spur its economy as well as reshape the cities’ architectural outlook.

Replacing the wood structures that stood on Chicago’s grounds before the fire, the newer buildings were made out of stone, steel and iron. Building in this manner was considered to be ahead of its time and The Home Insurance Building served as a prime example of this new style of architecture. The Home Insurance Building became one of Jenney’s crowning architectural achievements, and it also spawned an entire generation of architects and engineers dubbed as “The Chicago School.”

This generation, which consisted of famous architects such as Daniel Burnham, continued to lay the groundwork for what the modern day skyscraper would eventually become. Though New York City eventually surpassed Chicago as the hub of architectural innovation, Chicago remains as the city that laid the groundwork for any and all innovation that followed. Chicago will forever remain the birthplace of the modern day skyscraper. Sadly, The Home Insurance Building was demolished in 1931 and the LaSalle Bank Building now stands in its place.

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Artist of the Week: Ayoo

Chicago is full of talented artist in every direction in every genre. One of Chicago’s most celebrated genres of course is house music; this city is its birthplace after all. It has come a long way since its start and today’s artist of the week Ayoo is a testament to that! Working heavily with bass house production, it is a more intense evolution from Chicago house and Detroit techno music, but the roots are all there and grounded. The two brothers popped into the scene a few years back and it has been non stop hard work, good music and memorable events; the Chicago electronic music duo plans to be on the radar for a while.

Not only some artists on the rise Ayoo also represent a whole bigger collective as well. Founded by Niick Niice the Be Nice Collective is a commnity of electronic house music DJ’s that has a good hold on the Chicago nightlife. Holding residencies at night clubs and bars like El Hefe, Soundbar, Tobacco Road Tap Room, Bottled Blonde and more, they present opportunities for locals to work, collaborate or just enjoy a night out. Ayoo’s ambitions alone backed with Be Nice network holds unlimited potential!

Photo credit: Izzy JPG

Aside from rockin’ Chicago’s night life dancer floors with their weekly residencies they duo have build a resume up on festivals and special guest events with popular artists. Notable shows include opening for artists like Taiki Nulight, Dogma, Dr. Fresch and Malaa; Tonight Ayoo adds Delta Heavy to the list opening at Chop Shop in Wicker Park. The duo also hit Spring Awakening Music Festival back to back the last couple years and for good reason! They guys not only have the network but they have the sound.

Coming up on more an more recognition as time goes on Ayoo hit yet another milestone this week after officially releasing their hit summer single TIMELINE, featuring RhymSter, under Artist Intelligence Agency. This again presents more opportunities for the duo as their music has the potential to reach more audiences and even more interested labels. Packing with a growing list of bass house originals the duo also make some bold remixes, improving on some timeless tracks like DOO WOP by Lauryn Hill, and LOW LIFE by Future and the Weeknd.

Debuting with their single ORIJINAL last summer they have come along way in their production, their latest release shows the most improvement in quality in their music thus far. This time picking out G4NJ4 by Groove Delight it sounds like Ayoo is really getting comfortable with where they are headed with their music. Time can only tell where these two are headed with their sound and collective. They has brought upon themselves really significant opportunities and They and hit a lot of milestones in a short period of time. I would recommend keeping an eye on this local titans!

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Throwback Thursday: Elvis Presley Revolutionizes Music Programming With His “Elvis” NBC Special

After spending the previous seven years of his life focusing on his film career Elvis Presley made a triumphant return to live musical performance. In June of 1968 he bagan the taping of his revolutionary NBC special, Elvis. What was originally branded as a Christmas special the producers decided to market the event as a re-branding of Presley’s musical career. They aimed to  gear the special towards a younger audience. However, what they did not know at the time was that it would become much more than that. The special saw Presley in a couple of different performance settings. He performed two cuts standing up, which featured an epic instrumental section and more boisterous vocal performances from the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself. Another set featured Presley in a more intimate setting, sitting down in a circle with a live band. The atmosphere was more raw and stripped back as Presley communicated directly with the audience in between songs. This notion of interactivity between the artist and their fan base was revolutionary for this time period. The intimate setting that Presley was cast in for this special laid the groundwork for future programs such as MTV’s Unplugged as well as NPR’s Tiny Desk series, both of which have become staples in the history of music programming. The special was an instant hit when it came out as well. Airing on December 3, 1968, “Elvis” topped the Nielsen Television Ratings Chart for that week, became the most watched show of that season and garnered Presley a ton of critical acclaim in the process. Not to mention it also gave Presley’s music career a second wind. The very next month, January of 1969, Presley was already back in the studio working on his next full-length album. He teamed up with a house band called The Memphis Boys to record From Elvis in Memphis, which went on to become one of the biggest albums of his career. From Elvis in Memphis peaked at number 13 on the Billboard top 200 and its lead single In The Ghetto reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles list. The album received universal acclaim from critics as well. Aside from being well-received at the time it came out From Elvis in Memphis has also stood the test of time. Numerous music writers have cited this album as being essential to Presley’s discography and Rolling Stone even rated it 190 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time back in 2003. Elvis Presley is seen as a groundbreaking figure in the history of music for many reasons. He is widely dubbed as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. He was also a pioneer for being a musician of his stature playing such a huge role in film and soundtrack recording. However there are more subtle reasons as well. Presley also ushered in a new era of music programming that thrived on an atmosphere of intimacy and a personal sense of interaction between artist and fan. He paved the way for the future of music programming, leaving a legacy that is being felt more than ever 40-plus years after his death. These are the reasons why the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is more than deserving of this week’s Throwback Thursday segment.

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Gaby Rose.

Powerful: The word that comes to mind most often when thinking about Gaby Rose, her debut single OPEN LETTER and the launch of her music career. Introduced to Gaby Rose while at one of Ever Evolved Midnight Marauders Open Mics hosted at InnJoy in Wicker Park, she signed up and went on towards the latter end of the night. Her voice is soothing, sultry, low-alto with a whispered intonation. Her sense of rhythm and lyrical acumen is impeccable. Every single line flows well with the instrumentation and every lyric hits you emotionally to the core.

Her songwriting paints a story overall but you have to listen through to the end to make sense of it. Only available to hear her music outside her live performance, until now, her one song set was remarkable to say the least. Her singing had people cheering, clapping and getting up out of their seats. Upon finally hearing her debut single on record, it was just as impactful.

Gaby Rose came through to another Ever Evolved event, Delirium IX, this past Monday hosted at Subterranean in Wicker Park. Not only is she an incredible songwriter, vocalist, and performer but she is also a down to earth person that comes out to support local music! She might be newer to the scene, but her talent and character is undeniable. Highly recommend you all to go bump Gaby Rose’s debut song OPEN LETTER. Without going into detail on much of the content on her single, know it represents selflessness, maternity, womanhood and yes, even manhood.

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Throwback Thursday: the Rolling Stones Record in Chicago

Chicago is a dynamic city filled with all kinds of draw ins from its history, architecture and especially music. Birthplace of house music, countless talented artists and jive with a bustling blues culture here in particular, it welcomes quite a variety of icons and artists to the city for its inspiring quality and treasure troves of figure heads to work. This weeks Throwback Thursday for June we remember the Rolling Stones passing through Chicago to leave their mark in music history!

When Starting their first tour in the United States the Rolling Stones first arrive in New York, June 1st, 1964;just a few months after the Beatles make their US debut. Following a few radio and television appearances and live performances the Stones note the absolute highlight of their trip: Recording at Chess Records on Michigan Ave. Owned by two Polish brothers Leonard and Phil Chess, it is home to many legendary blues artists such as Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry, Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley, and most notably Muddy Waters. These Chicago Blues artists have been the driving force in the creation of the Rolling Stones. It is there they recorded some of their first hit singles to top American charts, already being popular in England.

June 10th, 1964 the Rolling Stones land in Chicago to record in the US for the first time at Chess Records Studio, the leading Blues recording label in the 50’s and 60’s. Legend has it that Muddy Waters was there himself to help the artists unpack. “2120 South Michigan Ave was hallowed ground. We got there on a last-minute arrangement by Andrew Oldham (manager)”, Keith Richards wrote in Life Magazine. “There in the perfect sound studio, in the room where everything we listened to was made, perhaps out of relief or just the fact that people like Buddy Guy, Chuck Berry and Willie Dixon were wandering in and out, we recorded 14 tracks in two days“. The studio would be later immortalized by the dedicated song 2120 South Michigan Ave.

It was in these two days their EP Five by Five and much of their second studio album 12×5, that both featured the address title track, were recorded. Keith Richards was quoted saying, “Everyone in England at the time was incapable… No one could get a really good funky American sound which is what WE were after. The best move we could possibly do was get to America as quickly as possible and record there”. Coming out of the sessions also is their hit single Its All Over Now that claimed their name to fame in the US. Other notable songs would include Time Is on My Side, Look What You Done and Down the Road Apiece. They would later return to Chess months later in November 1964, during their second US tour, where Kieth Richards lays down the riff to the legendary (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.

Between sessions the Rolling Stones hold a press conference June 11 on Michigan Ave in front of the Tribune building. Mick Jagger was noted stating, “We have changed a bit since we got famous. I mean, how would you like to sing the same seven numbers every night? I may not be much of a singer but there is no artistry in that. Still, we do have fun as well“. Police later arrived to break up the press conference but not before jeering, “Get outta here or I’ll lock up the whole goddamned bunch“. The Rolling Stones never returned to Chess Record but held a big roll in bringing the Chicago Blues sound to mainstream audiences.

Rolling Stones in font of Tribune Building

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Morgan Pirtle

In the vast ocean that is Chicago’s contemporary music scene, standing out is much easier said than done. However jazz vocalist Morgan Pirtle has managed to do just that, which is why she is this week’s Woman Crush Wednesday honoree.

Pirtle is a storyteller through song. Her lyrics are conceptual and introspective, with each song of hers serving as a tightly-woven meditation on a certain aspect of herself. As a vocalist she does an outstanding job of assuming the role of lead character on whatever story she is trying to communicate. Her vocal performances are believable and convincing, packed with emotion and vibrancy.

Pirtle is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC), where she graduated in 2018 with a degree in jazz studies. There she blossomed under the direction of vocal professor Cheryl Wilson, following in the footsteps of one of the best in the business. Aside from Cheryl Wilson, Pirtle has also worked with jazz legends such as bassist Rufus Reid and vocalist Dee Alexander, among other greats. Having the chance to collaborate with modern jazz giants has no doubt left a huge impact on Pirtle’s artistic maturation.

Pirtle has performed at many prominent Chicago venues over the course of her young music career. She has graced the stage at numerous local spots such as Sofar Chicago, Schubas, Emporium, The Chicago Jazz Showcase and even the Shedd Aquarium as a part of their Jazzin’ at the Shedd series. Perhaps, however, her biggest performance yet came back in 2018 when she performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival with her band, Morgan Pirtle + 5.

Pirtle has ventured her way into recording as well. She recently put out her debut EP Muse, which dropped back on April 18. Packed with soaring musicality, virtuosic live instrumentation and introspective songwriting, Muse serves as a brilliant, cohesive example of taking older elements from genres. Taking jazz, r&b and indie and fusing it all together to give it a sound that is modern and lively. Sounding more musically mature than her age would imply, Muse really is a stunning debut and has helped Pirtle stake her claim as one of the leaders of the new school when it comes to Chicago’s jazz and contemporary music scenes.

Pirtle has seen avid success as a performer as well. In 2018 Pirtle was named as a Luminarts fellow in the jazz category, also winning the people’s choice award in jazz. In the same year, she was named Outstanding Undergraduate Vocalist at the 2018 Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards. Possessing the maturity of a musician beyond her years, the conceptuality and hardware to prove it, Morgan Pirtle is a name you will definitely want to familiarize yourself with if you are involved with the local music scene. She is already making moves, but with many more years ahead of her she can only go up from here.

Click here to Listen to her new album on Bandcamp

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Roy French Finds A Hi+

Blood is pumping, you are jumpin’ around, actin crazy, dancin’ wildly. Many would consider music a drug and for Roy French, aka MfnYeah, that can be the truth! Anywhere you see him his natural character emits energy that cannot go unnoticed. Unafraid to grab a mic and take control of a crowd as if hip hop and rap is all but second nature. Calling it therapy in the introduction for his music video for his latest release named Hi+ produced by Illa The Illastrator.

Directed by Nish Odak the video brands bright neon colors and lights as Roy French observes some dissociative behavior. This is not unusual for him as creative minds tend to bend the idea of what it is to be expressive. “Can’t feel your down when Im gettin high” he repeats as a catchy hook that can loop in your head without being annoying. “Sometimes I’m fine sometimes I’m not, what do I have to be mad about?” he continues, acting as his own mentor when asking himself hard questions.

Aside from his lyricism his behavior in the video denotes a man on the edge. Seeking an adrenaline rush or simply a dope beat to keep feelin Hi+ and on top. “Fuck my life Lets do if for the thrill, I feel like my death gonna be so kill”. Creative minds tend to be disturbed as the world around them does not challenge them enough, so they adopt chaos to keep their minds stimulated, to keep going. Roy French continues growing and persevering, uncovering deeper layers of himself and his creative boundaries and it shows through work like this!

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Osa North Lets the Music Breath on Osa North and The Holy Spirit of God EP

Osa North is back with his new Osa North and The Holy Spirit of God EP and he is serving up a diverse array of sounds on this one. The project kicks off with the soulful trackFree You, which serves as a sensual ode to intimacy. North’s vocals on this track are layered in such a way that they carry a sense of divinity as if he is calling down from the heavens above. The instrumental here is rhythmic yet spacious and Osa North does a brilliant job of filling in that space with his vocal delivery.

The 2nd track Debbz is a logical continuation of where Free You left off. North once again is crooning about that special someone, asking the listener if they have ever been in love. The instrumental here sounds more epic with soaring string sections and a sense of rhythmic pulse that build momentum by the end of the track. Osa North is showing more and more musicality with each project he brings to the table.

There is a drastic switch up on the third track 1900. Instead of building on the soulful airiness of the first two tracks, North comes out of left field with a menacing trap banger. The instrumental here is bleak and unforgiving while North oozes with confidence on the mic. The closing track Adesuwa is a dance hall jam reminiscent of something off of his Ginjah EP. The instrumental possesses the contagious sense of rhythm that has become a hallmark of North’s music and his vocals here are vivacious and full of color.

Even though Osa North and The Holy Spirit of God clocks in at just four tracks and eight minutes in length, North is in no rush to get to the finish line. There is an endearing sense of patience on this EP. The instrumentals have an airy, almost ethereal quality to them, and North spaces out his vocals in such a way that he is content in letting the music speak for itself. The marriage between these two elements make for another fantastic project from Osa North.

“Osa North and The Holy Spirit of God” is now available on all platforms.

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Musa Reems Turns Back the Clock with Dear Winter

Musa Reems is back with his new single entitled Dear Winter and he has taken initiative in turning back the clock on this one. Putting his own spin on the Jay-Z classic Dear Summer, Musa has added his name to the list of MC’s who have spat their game over this iconic Just Blaze produced beat. A list which includes names such as Lupe Fiasco, Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy and so many more. However instead of simply going in over the original cut of the instrumental Reems decided to breathe new life into this classic song, making it sound more current while maintaining its throwback vibe.

Producer Othellobeats took a fresh approach on here. He creates a lot of tension with how he slowly brings in the vocal sample in the beginning of the track and it really sets the stage for Musa when he comes in with his verse. Equally impressive is the way Othellobeats puts his own spin on the instrumental while simultaneously respecting what made it so great in the first place. Despite the clean, thematic feel of the intro, the beat still has the same soulful piano and vocal samples carrying the track. The only difference here is that this re-imagining of it sounds more lively. Like Othellobeats, Musa Reems does his thing on here as well.

Although the song clocks in at just 2 minutes and 18 seconds in length, Musa makes every second count on this one. His bars on here are nostalgic yet hopeful as Musa shows himself to be someone who can handle anything life throws their way. He approaches his lyrics with a staggering amount of transparency, showing that he is more than happy to own up to past mistakes. Reems’ delivery is also worthy of note here. He carries a sharp grittiness in his voice that shows the authenticity of a man truly marked by past experiences. Not phased by what anyone might think Musa Reems shows on this track that he is embracing his flaws as a human, wearing his war wounds on full display.

There is an interesting duality on Dear Winter. While the tasteful re-imagining of this song makes it sound like it could be on an upcoming project. Dear Winter still possesses enough vintage aesthetic at its core that it almost sounds like it could have been on a DJ Drama mixtape in the mid 2000’s. This duality really shows who Musa Reems is as an artist; a man who has a deep appreciation for the past while simultaneously keeping a close eye towards the future. Time will tell what Musa Reems will bring us next, but Dear Winter is surely a sign of good things to come.

Now available on all platforms.

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