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.

Gaby Rose | Soundcloud | Facebook | Instagram

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The 411 On LWKY & Inversive Universe

It would be cool if a call to 411 would give you information on your favorite music artists. But digital media got us for now where we got our ears on LWKY & Inverse Universe with their latest release titled 411. A lot of talent involved in this collaboration with three heads in LWKY’s band adding two more artists with Inverse. Both compliment each others electro soul style of music.

We are introduced to Inverse Universe with this release, the duo seems to be influenced on hip hop and classic rock music mixing it with electronic bass and soul similarly to Manic Focus. Tyler Thompson and Adam Stephens add to the list of artists consistent with that sound coming out of Chicago. Paired together with LWKY on 411 they make a electro soul beat sounds orchestral. The track is so well put together between you can swear you have heard it before but it is an original, it is just that easy to listen to.

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‘All This Is’ Not So New To Manic Focus

Artists may tend to change up their original style and approach to their creative expression. It is how they survive, It is in an artists nature; they are not one single idea but many out of the box projections. Manic Focus, also known as Jmac, is known to change up styles constatantly. Between hip hop, bass, and some electro funk, even a mixture of all of em may occur, Jmac got plenty of room to express himself any which way he likes. His last two releases are a good example of experimentation between songs!

The older of the two, Never Grew Up, may be what you typically hear come out of Manic sets. Some live instrument samples followed by wonky bass lines, choppy synth work and a dynamic beat pattern to a slow bpm. All creating a groovy and tranquil energy as “we never grew up” echoes repeatedly reminding us, we are in this for the fun! A sound so familiar with Manic it can probably land under its own genre.

Fans of Manic might find his latest release All This Is hard to swallow, with an introduction throwing them off to more of a house bpm structure. Following the build up however Jmac brings it back with dark metallic bass lines and chops exuding a menacing energy that would throw a crowd into a frenzy. Living an industry surrounded by all types of genres it is only right for an artist like Manic Focus to experiment and inject his madness into it all.

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Artist of the Week: Mikal Bae

Mikal Bae, also known as Father Darko, is the flagship visual artist of the Chicago music collective SlumpGang777. Mikal Bae is chosen as artist of the week for a few reasons. The first is that he has been cranking out visuals like crazy for artists such as CantBuyDeem, Chore Boy, T.Z.Duhh, Sage the 64th Wonder, Orlando Coolridge, Flxtch, Unkle Slump, Vex the MC, Fxther Kari (Khalil Halim), Millie Boy, Novatore, and alexSlander. The second is that he has also put in a lot of work visually and aurally; shooting footage and djing live events such as SlumpFestIII and the Midwest Slump Tour! And lastly Mikal Bae as an audio, visual and graphic artist, lo and behold, he also releases music! Mikal Bae has dropped I Can Feel the Sadness in My Toes, The Man Who Ate God, If Home is Not Here. Where Is It?, All That Never Was and From Darko With Love.

He goes by Mikal Bae visually and Father Darko to present his records. Multi-talented to say the least; Visually I would describe his style as graffiti drip. I honestly could not even explain what I mean by that but I encourage you to go look at his IG page and take some ganders at his music videos by searching up Darko Visuals on YouTube both linked below. He also designs merchandise for the SlumpGang777 collective! There are these custom glass spoon pipes that have “SL” on the front of the bowl that catches the eye. He also has these tie dye shirts that are orange, black and white stamped with SlumpGang777 logos.

Mikal Bae has always been a freelance hustler and for as long we can tell his only job has been in the music, art, and entertainment business. He is not a tradesmen, he is an artist. You do not necessarily pay him for commissions, you commission him to bring and give something more life! You have a song? He can make an amazingly unique visual loop to it. You a need music video? He will shoot, edit, and produce it. If you need a live visual DJ to enhance the entertainment value of your show? He will use a beat pad to syncopate live visuals to your set!

Mikal Bae aka Father Darko is someone you want to pay attention to especially if you are a lover and fan of all things hip hop. From music videos, merchandise, visual loops, artwork, fliers, recorded songs, visually deejaying and producing. He can really do it all and artists like this are people we want to be highlighting every week!

Mikal Bae/Father Darko | Spotify | Youtube | Instagram

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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

Morgan Pirtle | Bandcamp | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Artist Of The Week: Musa Reems

As a part of a recent revamp here on the Ever Evolved, we will be doing an Artist Of The Week segment every Friday, shedding light on a Chicago artist doing big things on the local scene. Surely enough, being tasked with writing the first installment of this segment, the second this occurred a certain artist immediately popped into mind: Musa Reems.

A native of the Austin Neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side, Reems comes from humble beginnings. He began rapping at the ripe age of 15 as a part of the Children of I.L.L.I.O.S. artists collective. Reems is also a fan of underground and conscious hip-hop from an early age. He cites spitters such as Black Thought and MF Doom as being among his biggest influences.

Over these last few years, Musa Reems has blossomed into one of the crown jewels of Chicago’s underground hip-hop scene. With his music being featured on numerous blogs, most notably Fake Shore Drive, Lyrical Lemonade and ELEVATOR Magazine among many others. Reems has been steadily building a buzz for himself that extends well beyond the city of Chicago.

Taking directly from his influences, Reems packs his verses with razor-sharp wordplay, colorful personality and vivid imagery covering the harsh realities of Chicago’s inner city. Reems also has a wide array of flows at his disposal and frequently delivers his verses with a poignant sense of passion that makes you believe every word he is saying. Especially lately, all of the technical skill that he possesses has really started to pay off.

During the month of May Musa Reems gifted his fans with his Musa Mondays series, where he dropped a new single every Monday for the entire month. These five cuts showed a staggering amount of diversity when it came to sounds, lyricism and flows. Reems capped off the series by dropping a compilation EP, entitled Musa Mondays, which included the original five cuts plus an additional bonus track for listening pleasure. This 6-song, 14-minute offering just might be Musa Reems’ best release yet as there are some serious highlights on here.

There are some gritty street rap cuts on tracks such as Quarter Juice where Musa does nothing but drop straight bars. The way Reems portrays the bleakness of street life is second to none and he exudes a sense of easy-going confidence on the mic that is contagious. In contrast, there are more stripped back tracks on here such as Not Know, which are far more somber and self-reflective in tone. Lyrically Musa Reems shows an incredible amount of honesty and introspection showing the complexity of being human.

Having recently been published in publications such as 4th Shore Hip Hop, Insomniac Magazine and even the Chicago Reader, it is clear that the world is starting to take notice of this talented Chicago wordsmith. If he keeps grinding the sae way he has been, it should only be a matter of time before he blows up beyond measure.

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Stories You Can Tell Yourself by Chore Boy and Brad Kemp

Stories You Can Tell Yourself is a 15 song album filled with dynamic sonic texture, lyrical prowess and witty humor. Every song relates to themes and ideas of identity, power of the mind, opportunity, self examination and the idea of what we tell ourselves may not always be there to help us. This record explores what it means to be a product of our own writing and the narratives we architect for ourselves. The record features a heavy lineup of Chicago artists such as CantBuyDeem, Beloved Gang, Danny Biggins, Zombie Manana, Dustin Borlack, Dissonant Dessert, Femdot, King Rozzie, Greediphresh, Tomcat Trumpet, Wessie, Super King Reza and Eshe. The producing, recording and engineering of the project was done in house by Brad Kemp at Second Bedroom Studio.

You have to give it to Chore Boy on his hook song writing. That was the thing that stood out the most beyond the amazing production quality and solid lyrical rap verses. My favorite songs on the album due to their strong choruses were Its About Time, Clean, Hero, Get The Bag and Blind Man Laughing. All of those songs on the LP will have you singing along whilst evoking emotion, thought and possibly nostalgia.

The catchiest chorus and the most impactful song on the project to me is Get The Bag with the hook that goes, “Get the bag, I gotta get the bag, Thank god its Friday yeah, I’m blowing it, thank god its Friday, I’m gonna get it in.” The whole song questions this life cycle we find ourselves in with exchanging our time for money. Chore Boy has lyrical phrasing that hits home and is quite relatable to the human financial struggle with lines such as “I’ve had never had a dollar that was worth a dollar… Time is money, moneys phony, whats that make time” and “If I could put my fellow man down, for a handout, then we all must be outstanding, or a standout.” Listening to that song can send literal shivers down your spine having you pondering financial freedom.

Next song that stood out was Clean ft. Tomcat Trumpet. “Clean, you won’t find no trace of me, but the bible in the drawer got a page missing, I took it with me“. A solemn and melancholy ballad that seems to speak on a past relationship, love, the idea of god and leaving old things behind. This song is best while driving in a car towards the sunset! Trust me, it will put even the most masculine of men to let their guard down.

Blind man laughing when you tell him you’re free, are you free? Blind man laughing when you tell him you’re free, what does he see?“. The guitar melody coupled with the beat on this song is phenomenal, as are the lyrics to go along with it! “They call television programming… human centipede, feed itself shit are we selfish?”. This song expounds the idea of the human being that does not know they are in chains, a sonic allegory of the cave.

The song Hero ft Greedipresh stood out the most because of the fast sing rap style of the hook with lyrics. “This for every hero in their narrative, villain is irrelevant comparison, how you think a fiend will justify the use of heroin, continuing the narrative, the story they inherited“. Greediphresh adds an introspective an honest verse about his arch and the trials he has had to face and overcome.

Every song on the record has an important message to chew on, paired with a well written chorus or hook delivered charismatically by Chore Boy. Mix that with Brad Kemp’s talent for producing and a long list of Chicago staple features. The combination cements this LP as a strong foundation for Chore Boy’s catalog and career to come. Exciting to see where this album takes him and Brad Kemp! Catch Chore Boy and guests performing songs from Stories You Can Tell Yourself at Tonic Room this Thursday night in Chicago! 

Choreboy | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Throwback Thursday: Chicago’s First “L” Service

Thus begins the weekly historical section of Ever Evolved popularly titled Throwback Thursday. We will use this section every week to highlight a specific historical event pertinent to the city’s upbringing and colorful past.

On June 6th 1892 the private company Chicago and South Side Rapid Transit (later renamed South Side Elevated Railroad) conducted their first ever L ride that morning at 7AM. The trains spanned from Congress to 39th street, now the south section of the Green Line, and extended to Jackson Park shortly after. The portion of the elevated line that ran between State and Wabash became to be known as the Alley “L”.

South Side Elevated Railroad Train at Indiana Ave Station

The early train car models featured wooden varnished and cushioned seats. Rides cost a nickel, ran for 24 hours, were lit by gas lamps and the steam-powered locomotives pulled the trains. Customers would have to deal with some steam, smoke and cinders from the engine but this was normal for the time period and the technology.

In fear of people falling of the platforms and onto the tracks they installed railings. Unfortunately these were cumbersome and did not always line up with the trains sliding into the station. After a short while they were removed. The Lake Street Elevated Railroad, today as the west section of the Green Line, was completed a year after just in time for the 1893 Worlds Fair held in Chicago.

Lake Street Elevated Railroad train pulled by steam-powered locomotive

In 1895 the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad added their services to Logan Square, Humbolt Park (demolished), Garfield Park (replaced) and Douglas Park areas branching off from downtown Chicago. Parts of this line is used now as the Blue and Pink Lines. It is the first of Chicago’s transit lines to be electrically powered and the first non-exhibition rapid transit system powered by electric traction motors in the United States. This technology was demonstrated on the “intramural railway” at the World Fair in Chicago.

The Northwestern Elevated Railroad emerged in 1900 with the original deadline being 1899 but construction temporarily halted two years prior due to financial backing issues. After an inaugural run declaring it unsafe, the company defiantly ran a train to the Loop, transferring onto Lake Street Elevated to avoid police. Eventually the company and the city reached an agreement. This line ran from the Loop to Wilson with a branch extending to Ravenswood and Albany Park. The branch now operates as the Brown Line while the main line to Wilson operates as the Red and Purple.

Chicago Rapid Transit Map

The merging of the South Side Elevated, Lake Street Elevated, Metropolitan West Side and Northwestern Elevated Railroad private companies created the Chicago Elevated Railways Collateral Trust (CER). Laying down the ground work for Chicago Rapid Trasit Company (CRT) in 1924, they continued under private ownership. After the opening of the subway system in 1943, by 1947 it merged into the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) we know today following a public takeover. Since its start over, 125 years later the CTA sees more than a million riders daily and has a combined 224.1 miles of rail. The rails are now electric, cleaner, and quieter.

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