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By Andy Argyrakis
Mary J. Blige Weekend Report: Double shot of J, Langford's CD set to script
Friday, April 25, 2008
Unlike the strained double bill boasting Jay-Z and R. Kelly from a few years back, this year's outing between Mr. Beyonce and Mary J. Blige is drama free (at least so far). While Jay-Z may be racking up the most headlines as of late, his music takes a back seat to the tour's female counterpart, thanks in part to her latest effort Growing Pains (Geffen). Yet again the often adorned "queen of hip-hop soul" seamlessly blends both genres while interjecting rap and R&B flourishes, wrapped around her bountiful pipes and signature storytelling. Without the fury from past relationships to fuel the fire (Blige is now happily married), it's not as fierce as past projects, though singles like "Just Fine" are undeniably catchy nonetheless. (Worth a shot Saturday and Sunday at United Center- Chicago, IL: www.ticketmaster.com).

Jon Langford needs no introduction to Chicagoans, though for the uninitiated, he's the iconic founder of British punkers The Mekons, lead singer in the even more eclectic The Waco Brothers and a consistently celebrated solo artist. But curious onlookers and fans from all eras will catch a unique glimpse at his vast artistic outpouring thanks to "All the Fame of Lofty Deeds," a new musical written by respected Chicago rock critic Mark Guarino that follows a similar storyline as 2004's soloJon Langford CD of the same name. This particular performance is staged as a workshop with a five member cast and two musicians, and while Langford isn't one of them, he'll perform a mini-set during a post show reception. (Bet your life Sunday at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater- Chicago, IL: www.victorygardens.org),

For the traveling type, the first weekend of New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival opens with an appealing aroma of literally every genre imaginable. Friday night includes headliner Sheryl Crow, an afternoon set from Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (with T-Bone Burnett), along with Ozomatli, Buckwheat Zydeco, Ellis Marsalis and Tab Benoit. Saturday is stacked with Billy Joel, Dr. John, O.A.R. and Keyshia Cole to name a few, followed by Sunday's collaborative performance between Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint, along with Al Green, Tim McGraw, Cassandra Wilson and Delbert McClinton. (Bet your life Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Fair Grounds Race Course- New Orleans, LA: www.nojazzfest.com).
Elbow Street Week: Elbow bounces back from V2 fiasco, Fire-filled live set
Monday, April 21, 2008
The future for every act on V2 Records was in limbo after the label announced it was dropping its entire roster in favor of catalogue projects. Though Elbow was no exception, the Brit-rockers bounced back thanks to a deal with Geffen/Fiction (also the home to The Cure) and a stellar set on The Seldom Seen Kid that marks its fourth official outpouring. Expect the band's ethereal leanings, lush soundscapes and additional instrumental experimentation, wrapped around the Peter Gabriel-esque vocals of front man Guy Garvey. While the band might not have broken through on a major scale, its musical fans include members of U2, R.E.M. and Blur.

To coincide with Earth Day (August 22), funk rock innovators Earth, Wind & Fire re-release its classic In Concert (Eagle Vision) collection, culled from vintage 1981 tapes. The blistering set was recorded on New Year's Eve in Oakland, packed with all the robust horn grooves, soulful sounds and vibrant (not to mention colorful) Earth, Wind & Firestage presence from the expansive nine-member troupe. Many of the group's seminal songs from up until that point are included, from the smooth "Reasons" and "That's the Way of the World" to the explosive "Sing A Song" and "Let's Groove."

Other titles of potential interest include Flight of the Concords' self-titled release on Sub Pop, Billy Bragg's deluxe Mr. Love & Justice (Anti) and Tokyo Police Club's first full-length Elephant Shell (Saddle Creek). Alternative rap act Atmosphere also turn in When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold (Rhymesayers), while Carole King's calling card Tapestry (Sony Legacy) earns a double disc face lift, packed with the original album and previously unreleased live piano-voice renditions of the same tracks in sequential order.

The Dish Archives - 2008

Apr. 14 & 18
Apr. 7 & 11
Mar. 30 & Apr. 4
Mar. 24 & 28
Mar. 17 & 21
Mar. 10 & 14
Mar. 3 & 7
Feb. 25 & 29
Feb. 18 & 22
Feb. 11 & 15
Feb. 4 & 8
Jan. 28 - Feb. 1
Jan. 21 - 25
Jan. 14 - 18
Jan. 7 - 11
Jan. 1 - 4
Daily Dish Archives - 2007

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