Sunday, March 1st, Corky Siegel brought his unique Chamber Blues to City Winery Chicago. Siegel is upfront with the question one first asks. “Is it blues? Is it classical?” Well, in an innovative way it is both.

Featuring four string instrumentalists, a tabla player, and Corky at the helm on harmonica, vocals and piano, this ensemble brings together chamber music with the blues.

Comprised of Jamie Gorgojo (violin), Chihsuan Yang (violin and erhu), Rose Armbrust (viola), Jocelyn (cello), and Kalyan Pathhak (tabla), this evening’s special guests were legendary saxophonist Ernie Watts and classical guitar virtuoso Goran Ivanovic. Regularly including guest artists, the set list makes for performances that never replicate, always offering fans something memorable and one-of-a-kind.

Corky Seigel is so much more than his legendary harmonica playing. Don’t miss Chamber Blues if you ever get a chance to see them live.

*All photos © Philamonjaro

Chamber Blues


Photo credit: Todd Michalek

On the heels of their NPR Tiny Desk Concert, Bob Weir and Wolf Brothers are back for a 22-date tour. They will make their return to the iconic Chicago Theatre March 11 and 12. With Weir are Don Was on double bass and Jay Lane on drums, making a big sound for this trio.

Watch their NPR Tiny Desk concert in entirety here: Bob Weir and Wolf Brothers Tiny Desk Concert

Bob Weir and Wolf Brothers Chicago Tickets

Tickets for Other Dates

Tour dates:
March 6 /// Tennessee Theatre /// Knoxville, TN
March 7 /// Ryman Auditorium /// Nashville, TN
March 8 /// Palace Theatre /// Louisville, KY
March 10 /// The Fillmore /// Minneapolis, MN
March 11 /// Chicago Theatre /// Chicago, IL
March 12 /// Chicago Theatre /// Chicago, IL
March 14 /// Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland /// Kansas City, MO
March 15 /// Orpheum Theater /// Omaha, NE
March 17 /// Hoyt Sherman Place Theater /// Des Moines, IA
March 18 /// Stifel Theatre /// St Louis, MO
March 20 /// Roxian Theatre /// Pittsburgh, PA
March 21 /// Palace Theatre /// Columbus, OH
March 23 /// Palace Theatre /// Albany, NY
March 24 /// Landmark Theatre /// Syracuse, NY
March 25 /// Flynn Theatre /// Burlington, VT


Reuben and the Dark returned to Chicago’s North Side, bringing their brand of indie folk rock one of the city’s favorite music clubs, Schubas Tavern. Fronted by Calgary’s Reuben Bullock, the band played to a small but devout room of fans.

With the recent release of UN | LOVE they played new songs including the title track and “Faultline.” The band is out playing select dates thru mid-March, so catch them if they are near you.

Reuben and the Dark Tour Info


Reuben Bollock

*All photos © Philamonjaro

Tuesday, February 11th fans went wild when Dirty Honey headlined the Bottom Lounge. This rocking quartet channeled unmatched energy that charged the audience at the outset with pure enthusiasm, raw force and charisma. A word of mouth buzz seems to be growing as many in the crowd had seen their opening set for Skillet at Chicago Theatre, or for The Who last year. This show confirmed what fans first experienced and originally fell in love with.  

Marc LaBelle of Dirty Honey

The L.A quartet conjured up everything fans love about blues-based hard rock. Where they are limited in originally recorded material, they make up in showmanship and killer talent. But this shortage won’t be for long. The repertoire is growing as they introduced two new songs in the set that were very well received. 

Dirty Honey pulled out all the stops showing their respective instrumental talents, entrancing the crowd with extended solos as they segued into the next song. John Notto is a riff master in the same sense as Keef or Slash; his riffs contribute largely to shaping their songs.

Notto seamlessly wove melodic guitar with Marc LaBelle’s vocals for a tight interplay with Justin Smolian’s abandon on bass and Corey Coverstone’s power drumming. LaBelle is a natural ringmaster reaching out with his mic stand, rallying the crowd and harnessing the fans’ enthusiasm. It was a tight, no holds barred performance. 

Sprinkle in some covers:  Aerosmith’s “Last Child” and the iconic guitar solo/closing vamp of Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” when transitioning out of Justin’s bass solo. It was a fitting nod to their influences. All four of them commanded the stage with strut, swagger, and something to prove — with no timidity about it. They are making waves in the best way, earning their place one live show and fan at a time.

*All photos © Philamonjaro

Set List:


Break You 

Fire Away

The Wire


Drum Solo

Down The Road

Tied Up

New Song

Last Child

When I’m Gone

Whole Lotta Love

Rolling 7’s

Tour Dates



Known as one of the largest music conventions worldwide, The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) held the first of their three annual expositions at The Anaheim Convention Center. The second this year is July 9th through 11th returning to Nashville, while a third international exhibit, this September is in Russia. This year’s theme was A New Decade: A Crossroads of Opportunity.

Attracting over 100,000 international attendees over the four days and taking over the center’s one million square feet of exhibit space, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer size of it.

Here, we are in the company of the vast world of suppliers who are critical in bringing music to the world. From sheet music to DJ equipment and every imaginable instrument in between is represented. And at the center of it all are the musicians, manufacturers, production professionals, educators, advocates and engineers who are keeping current with new technology, latest releases and our changing times.

All the familiar brands such as Gibson, Fender, Ibanez, Marshall, Guild, Taylor, Shure, Boss, Roland, Yamaha, Rickenbacker, Gretsch, Hiwatt, to name a few are major draws hosting stunning booths to draw you into experiencing this year’s latest in equipment.

But don’t overlook the smaller vendors who bring unique products and craftsmanship for people to demo. Discuss with reps, meet and hear performances by sponsored musicians, and hear their take on the best features and benefits of the products they endorse.

And if that is not enough, pack into the agenda workshops, meet-ups, performance showcases, product demos, and awards. As for shopping, whether you are a tech nerd, gear head or beginner, you are sizing up a wish list against your budget. “But Honey, I had to get it.” Browse and try out instruments.

If only attending workshops and presentations at The Idea Center, there are topics for everything with a full agenda each day: how to build followings on social media, Power Tips for indie musicians, strategies for selling on Amazon, improve your Google presence, podcasting or how to start a nonprofit. NAMM brings in experts in the field to get you started and unveil some “how-to’s.”

Beyond the expected, there are countless opportunities for supporting artists such as the Behind The Scenes Foundation whose mission is to provide support to self-employed tech and production professionals. Their booth featured a gallery display of famed rock concert photographer Neal Preston (Led Zeppelin, The Who, Fleetwood Mac). Preston autographed his books for fans and took his time to chat, wax stories and take pictures. The proceeds support the foundation and were worth the wait in line.

If attending for the first time, it’s best to stick close to your interest; don’t overbook your schedule. Keeping up with so many activities can get complex fast. Travel the aisles with a mission to get to your destination. Otherwise you will be engulfed in a cacophony of sounds and visual overwhelmingness. Keep to a specific objective, as it is too easy to sidetrack, and be sure to pad your time to read the daily UpBeat show publication. The downloadable phone app with customized agenda was essential for us when organizing the day.

Goran Ivanovic & Fareed Haque

Adding to the excitement is a back-to-back schedule of artists performing at booths bringing the best out of the equipment and instruments they are representing.

Michael Bruce (Facebook)

This often includes a chance to meet your musical hero, ask questions, and get an autograph or photo.

Delightfully, some of the greatest products were hidden in plain view at small, unassuming booths such as James Trussart Custom Guitars out of Los Angeles. A musician himself, Trussart has taken unmatched artistry to his custom guitars finishes. According to his website, his guitars have become the ‘must-have’ instrument in the arsenal for many influential artists including Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons, Joe Walsh, Jack White, Joe Perry, Tom Morello and many more. These four days were worth the time, membership and investment to attend. Well worth it.

So the next time you see a NAMM Membership sticker at a music retailer, know they are really committed to quality, health, and welfare of musicians and the tools of their trade. 

*All photos © Philamonjaro

Days before winning his 2020 GRAMMY award for Best Country Solo Performance for “Ride Me Back Home,” Willie Nelson played a 70-minute concert in Ontario, California for Inland Empire fans. 

Willie opened the show with “Whiskey River,” his 1973 hit single. Willie and the audience kicked off in unison, singing the lyrical plea, “Whiskey River take my mind.” From that opening verse on, the night was a huge celebration of his music and career as America’s larger-than-life, living country legend. The audience had a pure adoration for him.

Framed within the stage’s backdrop of a Lone Star flag, his eight-piece band (featuring son Lukas Nelson on guitar), breezed through a setlist of one music treasure after another as only Willie could sing them. A good vibe the whole way. Nothing awkward or political, just music that brings everyone together. 

The whimsical country shuffle “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die,” now more than ever, captures the current sentiment of our times as states legalize cannabis. 

Singing “On The Road Again” could be considered a proclamation that night, after taking time off having canceled some 2019 dates. Now back touring, he not only made good on his promise that he would get back on the road, but at 86 years of age, he is still as great as ever.

“Always On My Mind” is the best at showcasing Willie’s gentle and down-to-earth voice that is so comforting. It evoked many fond memories.

Steering the mood to serene, Wille serenaded the house to the Django Reinhardt’s instrumental “Nuages,” demonstrating his jazz guitar skills. Winding down the show, Willie delivered the old Mac Davis country waltz “Hard To Be Humble.”   

Ending the show on an even higher note, Willie closed with a sweet, inspirational medley of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and “I’ll Fly Away.” The evening’s opening act, Tennessee Jet, joining in.

Willie’s concert was a feel-good and unifying event. Everyone who ever liked his music should make it a point to see him live if they haven’t yet. 

Set list:

Whiskey River

Still Is Still Moving For Me

Beer for my Horses

Good Hearted Woman 

Texas Flood

Its All BS

Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys

It’s All Going To Pot

Smoke Me When I Die

On The Road Again

Always On My Mind

Jambalaya / Hey Good Lookin’ / Move It One Over


The Only Hell

Hard To Be Humble

Will The Circle Be Unbroken / I’ll Fly Away

This and other live recordings of the tour are available for download.

Willie Nelson

G. Love & Special Sauce kick off the new year on the road for a 40+ date Juice tour, his ninth studio recording of the same name released in January.

Chicago fans were not disappointed, having braved the first snowstorm of the year for the cozy confines of Thalia Hall in Pilsen, Chicago. Worth suffering the elements, the audience was treated to a great preview of the new material as G. Love performed half of the new songs.

Opening the show, G. Love started the set playing the first two songs solo, perched on a tall stool and armed only with an acoustic guitar, a mic, a slide, and harmonica. Starting with “Drinkin’ Wine,” where he strutted his slide-chops on this Piedmont-blues-style, open-tuning number. Next, fans were treated to the new material starting with “She’s The Rock,” an homage to his life partner.  G. Love brings confidence to the stage with a warmth in his presence, where he is singing to each member in the audience.

Three songs in, bandmates Jimi Jazz on double bass and Jeffery Clemons joined in for the catchy, funky blues rap “SoulBQue.” Another new song that paints the picture of hanging out at a mythical juke joint. “It’s a real good, feel good, hang all night, hootin’ and a-hollering in the moonlight.” Kind of sums up the night overall.

The hypnotic, down-tempo “Blues Music,” with its sparse brushes on the skins, a sliding bass line (hinting at “Walk On The Wild Side”), and plucky guitar, weaves a groove that pays tribute to past musical greats who have influenced them. Segue into Donovan’s “Season Of The Witch.”

“Milk and Cereal” is a playful song that showcased another aspect of the band with tight harmonies. A particular treat was a live debut of another new cut. This stomp proclaims with a certain rock and roll abandon: “Shake your hair just like you don’t care.” A poppy number with stream-of-conscience verse that crescendos with a catchy chorus worthy of heavy pop/rock radio rotation.

Perhaps a nod to their Philadelphia roots, they ripped through a great rendition of Hall and Oates’ “Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” featuring tour mate, New Orlean’s Shamarr Allen on the flugelhorn. He stayed on stage for the closing number of the main set “Weekend Dance #2.”

Returning for a three-song encore, G. Love played solo acoustic for the title track “The Juice,” then into the funky backbeat “Go Crazy” and “I-76.” This band blends styles seamlessly and plays to the crowd with brevity and humor.

The new material is excellent and well worth getting.

Set List
  • Drinkin’ Wine
  • She’s The Rock
  • Solbague
  • Blues Music
  • Season Of The Witch
  • Around The World Thank You
  • Milk And Cereal
  • Rock And Roll (Shout Back To The Rappers)
  • Baby’s Got Sauce
  • Shake Your Hair
  • This Ain’t Living
  • Take You There
  • Cold Beverage
  • Paid In Full
  • Buggin’ Out
  • Gin and Juice
  • Rouches
  • Rodeo Clowns
  • Can’t Go For That (No CanDo)
  • Weekend dance #2
  • Encore:
  • The Juice – new – solo acoustic
  • Go Crazy
  • I-76


Thursday, November 21st The Last Waltz 2019 Tour came to the landmark
Chicago Theatre 43 years to the week of the original final
farewell concert of The Band.

The 1976 Winterland Ballroom concert and subsequent Scorsese film are
hailed as one of the most celebrated music milestones that still lives
on decades later. Forever, the soundtrack will be in the most
respected ranks of great 20th-century rock music.

The three-hour concert (plus a thirty-minute intermission) covered the
classic songs played at the original performance. Featuring a stage
backdrop and lighting loosely replicating the same 1976 stage craft
with three overhead prop chandeliers and long curtained windows
freeing our imagination to that of a deep south grand ballroom. The
proper vibe for the night’s music.

The tour featured a stellar collection of musicians coming together to
pay homage to The Band: Warren Haynes, Don Was, Jamey Johnson, John
Medeski, Terence Higgins, and Mark Mullins’  Levee Horns. Add special
guests Margo Price, Muddy Water’s son Mojo Morganfield, Bob Margolin
and Cyril Neville.

But as great as the line up was, there were missed opportunities by
not having Robbie Roberson, Mavis Staples and Levon’s daughter Amy
Helmes or other associated musicians. It was the Nashville stop two
days later that got Robertson along with a longer list of on-stage
appearances: Emmylou Harris, Lucas Nelson, Nathaniel Ratliff, Vince
Gill, and Darius Rucker. None-the-less, Chicago fans loved the show.

From the opening notes of the first song “Up on Cripple Creek,” the
band was well-rehearsed and having fun. Next, “The Shape I’m In.” The
energy momentarily leveled down for “Georgia (On my Mind).” The whole
concert hit a deep-seated comfort-spot in all of us as we darted up to
dance to a deliciously-swampy version of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You
Love” and collectively swaying to the closing first-set number “The
Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” The later causing a tear or two in
more than a few of us.

Throughout the evening there were mesmerizing music moments like
during Cyril Neville’s back and forth percussion interplay with
drummer Terence Higgins. They grooved the house into a near trance.
And John Medeski playing the Hammond B3 organ served up that
recognized Band sound. And not to miss the blended sound of Hayne’s
masterfull slide guitar solos.

Margo Price opened the second set with an angelic acapella “Tears of
Rage” as later on “Caravan” had everyone singing with the full
ensemble. Worth noting was the brilliant harmonies that enveloped the
theatre. Imagine for a moment Van Morrison himself was there. Mojo
Morganfield and Bob Margolin jammed out to  Muddy’s “Mannish Boy.”  One
direct connection to the original night was when Margolin shared his
firsthand memories of getting on stage at The Winterland with Muddy so
many years ago. Reaching further back in time we heard Louis Jordan’s
“Caldonia” and Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s “Further Up The Road.”

The most anticipated song was “The Weight.” The concert’s crescendo
It stood out as a familiar favorite while ending the evening with the
reverent Dylan composition “I Shall Be Released,” a fitting end,
evoking the same peacefulness to that of a closing hymn at church. In
total, the music held up to the celebration it deserved. A full out
neo-folk-rock jubilee.