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Gig Alert: Many Blessings at Constellation Wed 11/5! 


Coming right off the heels of a fun night of music and libations at Rogers Park's Lighthouse Tavern in October, Many Blessings will be coming to one of my favorite venues in the world, Constellation! I'm honored to be playing as part of their Sound of the City Workshop series, where a different band each week plays an opening set of original music, followed by an open free jazz jam session. I've always really enjoyed the scene and the music when I've attended the series as an audience member and jammer, so I'm beyond excited to be playing the featured set this week.

I'm so excited, in fact, that I've taken a few days off this past week to stay at home and compose some new music. If you're the kind of person who likes being present at world premieres, then you should definitely come out. The new material is quite different from the rest of the book, partly because I'll be coming out from behind the drums to play cajon and guitar for some of the tunes. It might turn out to be a train wreck, but it'll be a unique train wreck that we will all share together, and that's special.

Here's the particulars:

Where: Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago
When: 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 5th
How much: FREE!

Who: Lucas Gillan's Many Blessings:

          Quentin Coaxum: trumpet
          Jim Schram: tenor sax
          Daniel Thatcher: bass
          Lucas Gillan: drums, guitar, percussion, compositions

Check out the official event page here.

Gig Alert: Many Blessings at the Lighthouse on Thurs., Oct. 16th 


If you know anything about Lucas Gillan, the musician, you know that he gets pretty excited when given the opportunity to perform his original music with the band called Many Blessings. Well, I'm pretty excited right now because I get to do just that this coming Thursday night at one of my favorite bars in Chicago, Rogers Park's Lighthouse Tavern (7301 N. Sheridan). It's only a hop, skip and a jump down from my pad in Evanston, so I go there fairly frequently for great jazz and colorful conversation with the regulars.

We'll be playing two sets of mostly original music starting at 9 p.m. Graciously joining me for the gig are some excellent musicians: Quentin Coaxum on trumpet (whose new album is fantastic), Jim Schram on tenor sax, and Dan Thatcher on the bass. If you're anywhere near Rogers Park on Thursday night, come on out, check out the music, grab a beer, and hang with us. We just had a great 3-hour rehearsal, so the other dudes are almost as pumped for the gig as I am.

Check out audio from Many Blessings' most recent gig here.

Official gig listing here.

Post-gig: Many Blessings at the Green Mill 

As I mentioned in the last blog post, I was looking forward to, among other things, playing with Many Blessings at the Chicago Jazz Composers Collective concert at the Green Mill on Sunday, 4/27. Well, we played the gig, and we sure had fun. Marquis, Jim and Dan played amazingly, of course. I felt extremely grateful to everyone who showed up -- lots more folks than we expected.  

I play many different types of gigs as a working drummer in Chicago, but it's occasions like this that really put in to perspective why you pursue a life in music in the first place -- playing my own music with a group of great musicians for an appreciative audience in a historic jazz club. What more could a guy ask for?

The good news for you, if you weren't there, is that I have audio of the gig online for your streaming pleasure! Click here to listen. Picture yourself sipping a beer at the Mill on a Sunday afternoon, and it'll feel just like you were there.

Double-header jazz gigs 

Back at the beginning of the year, my calendar looked really full but didn't have a whole lot of jazz on it, which made me feel like :/

Well, good news: I've got some cool jazz gigs coming up. This Sunday 4/27, my quartet, Many Blessings, is coming to the Green Mill for its monthly Chicago Jazz Composers Collective series. As if that weren't exciting enough, I'm also playing drums in the other band on the bill, the Terry Bartolotta Group! Check out the Facebook invite for the event, and come out if you can make it. What else says "spring" like a Sunday afternoon jazz matinee?

On May 11th I'll be doing double-duty again, playing with the aforementioned Terry Bartolotta Group as well as the Dan Burke Quintet for a gig at Uncommon Ground in Edgewater. Both groups will be doing all [really good] original music. Check out some videos below:

TBG playing "Triste":



DBQ playing "Tune":



This one's not a double-header, but I'm also really looking forward to playing with trumpet player James Davis at the Whistler on April 30th -- we'll be playing music by the classic Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker Quintet from the '50s. I've been a fan of that group's music for years and it was the original inspiration for the instrumentation of Many Blessings, so I'm pretty excited to have a chance to play it. The Whistler's bartenders will be making drinks from the book Left Coast Libations all night to go along with the music.

Why don't you go ahead and indulge in some great tunes by the GM/CB Quartet?



As always, keep your eye on the Gigs page to see what else is happening. I'd love to see you out there in the real world soon.

Happy spring!
 

SXSW Wrap-up 

In the better-late-than-never department: hey, I went to South By Southwest [a month ago]! I play drums with Bonzie, an indie-rock/folk(?) project led by singer-songwriter Nina Ferraro. I had fun. 

Bonzie played a total of 5 shows throughout the week, and each of them couldn't have been more different. There was the ready-to-party, bursting-at-the-seams crowd at the official City of Chicago showcase (the audience's size and energy level might have had something to do with Chance the Rapper headlining…), the way-too-fashionable (but gift-bearing!) Nylon Magazine party, a polite, seated crowd in a reverberant room at the Hilton, and a couple of bars, on crazy 6th Street and out in the suburbs, respectively.

Bonzie was received well at every show we played, and even got some pretty high-profile press; one of the polite, seated audience members at that Hilton show happened to be Jon Pareles of the New York Times, who wrote a very favorable review on the NYT blog. Not gonna lie, seeing a picture of me on the New York Times website was a pretty rad feeling. The Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot also had some kind words to say.

Of course, everyone's SXSW experience was affected by the tragic accident that killed 4 festival-goers and injured many more. It really made me angry to wake up to that news on Thursday morning -- to take something so full of joy and life, a music festival, and tarnish it with an act of destructive recklessness. I'm praying for the victims who are continuing to recover, and for people who might potentially be at risk for becoming drunk drivers, that they would wake up to their actions and learn to act responsibly.

Despite the tragedy, the festival hummed right along with very few cancellations or changes. I tried to muster the energy to see bands whenever my presence wasn't required somewhere, and I ended up seeing plenty of good music. On Thursday 3/13, my one whole day off, I counted up 17 bands that I saw. Among my highlights were Ava Luna (who were the favorites going in to the week), Lucius, Damon Albarn, Youth Code, Lunice, Wye Oak and Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. 

Along with the music, I was glad to take advantage of some sun and warm weather, especially on my quick trip to Barton Springs Pool. Unfortunately, I can't say I had any good BBQ while there :(

In other Bonzie news, we're playing a one-off show in NYC on May 9th at Joe's Pub. We've done a few video sessions this year, and I've been pleased to see how they turned out. Here are a couple of vids filmed by My Old Kentucky Blog in Indianapolis:





And here's an interview/performance we did for Consequence of Sound:






 

New[ish] Year Update 

Welcome!

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit. A quick update on what I've been up to so far in the first month of 2014, and what I'll be doing in the coming months:

Intervarsity
I started off the new year by drumming and music-directing in the worship band for the Intervarsity Staff Conference in St. Louis. Intervarsity is a campus ministry that has had a huge impact on the lives of countless college students over the past century, and I was honored to be a part of their triennial staff conference -- it was a fun and surprisingly relaxing week of worship and fellowship.

The team at Intervarsity Staff Conference

The Right Now
I've been playing a lot lately with excellent Chicago soul band The Right Now. We rang in the new year by opening for the legendary Bernie Worrell at a free New Years Eve show at Reggie's in Chicago. Later in January, we took a trip to Cincinnati to play a couple of gigs and record a 7-inch single at the cozy confines of Colemine Records, an awesome funk/soul label in Middletown, OH. Listen to some of Colemine's other tasty releases on their YouTube Channel. Here's some behind-the-scenes Instagram footage of the session! Coming up, I'll be doing some more recording and touring with TRN.

Tracking with The Right Now at Colemine Records

Hush Train
Most every Wednesday you can find me playing with a new soul/R&B cover band called Hush Train at the Back Room, a swanky joint in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. Hush Train is sort of a spin-off of The Right Now, sharing some of the same members and repertoire, but focusing exclusively on playing covers -- everything from Stevie, Otis and Aretha to Rick James, Mary J., Cee Lo, and even some Zeppelin. It's a super-fun band, and we're getting better every week. Come out to the Back Room any Wednesday, or check us out at our new "Sinful Sundays" series, which happens the last Sunday of each month at the Double Door and features super-funky DJ sets by DJRC.

Bonzie
I've also been staying busy with Bonzie, the project of 18-year-old singer-songwriter Nina Ferraro. I've been playing drums with Nina since she was 15 (!), and it's been amazing to see how far she's come since then. Not only did Bonzie release a full-length album in August (Rift Into the Secret of Things), but we've also been hitting the road, touring with Ivan & Alyosha back in November and making it to Indianapolis for a show and video shoot in January. In March, we're doing a run of dates opening for Cayucas right before heading down to Austin for SXSW. I'm super excited to finally experience for myself the phenomenon of South By Southwest, having spent way too many hours reading about other people's experiences there. We're already confirmed for 3 shows at the fest, including a Chicago-centric showcase headlined by Chance the Rapper. 

My stripped-down setup for Bonzie's My Old Kentucky Blog show in Indianapolis

Jazz(?)
What about jazz, you ask? Well, my group Many Blessings, hasn't played together in a while, but that's about to change! We're set to play at Jerry's Sandwiches' Ears & Eyes music series on Tuesday, March 18th. We're going to be debuting some new music, too, so don't miss it. Also, I've played a few ridiculously fun gigs in January with a new group featuring guitarist Nate Baker and bassist Charlie Kirchen; we're planning on playing together much more this year. I'm also looking forward to June, when I'll be playing in the Terry Bartolotta Group at the Elkhart Jazz Festival in Elkhart, Indiana!

Teaching
On top of all this playing, I spend most of my days teaching other folks how to make music. Last summer, I was hired to teach piano, guitar and drums for Piano Power, a great company run by pianist, songwriter, funnyman and educator Abraham Levitan. I'm also very happy to be back at Wheaton College this semester, where I'm an adjunct faculty member, teaching jazz drum set to a talented and hardworking group of students.

As always, check out the Gigs page for details about where I'll be when, and come out to a show if you're so inclined. Have a great day now!
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