Big James and the Chicago Playboys LIVE @ 45th Anniversary of Kingston Mines 05.18.13
This time last night (it's 4am as I write this) I was enjoying live music at a place I wouldn't have thought I'd be after countless hip hop shows I've attended over the years. That place: Kingston Mines — a famous Chicago blues and juke club on the north side, celebrating its 45th anniversary after opening its doors in 1968.
Now, not that I'm not a fan of blues or anything like that, but there's been enough hip hop or R&B shows over the years to catch to keep me busy. The only other classic club in Chicago I've previously frequented was The Green Mill (and one of those two times was because Childish Gambino walked in there after his set across the street, but that's a whole 'nother story).
Anywho, I instantly warmed to the idea when one of my high school buddies who was in town (longtime GWHH readers may remember him write about sports on here as 'The Sage') suggested Kingston Mines after 3am. "Sure, why not?", I thought. There's no way I wouldn't like a blues club; after all, it's the soul of Chicago's music scene that dates back decades. And so much soulful hip hop and R&B derives from blues. And I could tell my dad about it — he's a Chicago blues expert who runs the Twitter account @ChiTownBlues49, after all. Naturally, Papa Tibs has been to Kingston Mines when he was my age.
Eddie Shaw and The Wolf Gang LIVE @ 45th Anniversary of Kingston Mines 05.18.13
As for my night, I was instantly floored at how much energy was in the Kingston Mines. It was 4am, but it felt like the night had just begun. People everywhere, shoulder to shoulder, many dancing and others at the bar. People of all kinds — college kids, 30 somethings, white-haired Uncle Drew characters, and even a brave soul with a Detroit Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom jersey (he shouldn't have even been let in).
The Mines are set up to have two stages with acts alternating between the two spaces, giving people two different environments to experience the music. The bigger room of the two allows for more dancing (which is what I walked into... aside from the old guy in the 1930s gangster suit) and that's where we saw Big James and the Chicago Playboys. This Vine won't do it justice, but they played off on a funky hip hop beat with the singer repeating "Say You Will" like he was Kanye West.
Soon after in the other room, our group grabbed a table to enjoy the more soothing sounds of Eddie Shaw and The Wolf Gang. Eddie Shaw, presumably the fella in the ole sailor suit, had a raspy voice yet soulful way about him. I couldn't understand much, even when he addressed a group of guys for not having any ladies with them in between songs (high comedy), but he and The Wolf Gang kept the good vibes comin'. When you got someone wielding a guitar with three necks, you know you're already in for a treat (see the photo above).
Simply put, last night was reinvigorating to step outside the element of a hip hop show and take it back to the roots. Experiencing live Chicago blues is a must for any Chicago music fan. Blues is once again not only a drawing point for some of today's biggest hip hop artists and producers, but also representative of the melting pot of our hometown. You can't get a blues experience like the one Chicago still has to offer, and in many cities, you can't get a blues experience at all! Whether it's Kingston Mines, the Quiet Knight, or The Green Mill (for some some comprable jazz and swing), get a group or get a date together and you'll be in for a lively, cultured experience. So how bout that to finish off a busy night early Monday morning of Old School Sundays?!
Another (belated) edition of Old School Sundays is an appropriate one with Daft Punk's Random Access Memories hitting stores in just two days. It's because up above is the duo's first U.S. show... ever... in 1996... in a small town outside Madison, Wisconsin. Yeah... not even in Madison. Needless to say, this isn't in HD, but we do have a spectacular "Daft Punk" label. More importantly, we get to see a helmetless Daft Punk get the party going with some good tunes across 30 minutes (my favorite stretch is at the 17 minute mark). Let this one play and you can get a sense of their original sound, of which you can still hear in their music today.
If you still haven't heard the full album, then what are you waiting for?! Stream Random Access Memories before it hits stores and read my in-depth review on why Daft Punk delivers an album we've never heard before.
For part one of a late night Old School Sundays special, we have something that NBA and hip hop fans will both thoroughly enjoy... and it's only 30 seconds long. That's because it's a 30 second spot from 1987 when Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Mark Aguirre, Bernard King, and MVP Larry Bird took turns for a stream of consciousness rap session. Yes, this actually happened. And the 340K views it has is nowhere near the total this video warrants.
I was inspired to watch this again, and go a step further and post it for you all, because of a Twitter question posed tonight by our friend, RedEye writer Jack Silverstein:
So... to rank the flow: King, Aguirre, McHale, Isiah, Magic, and Larry (ironically the same as Jack's, which I didn't even read til after, hah!). Bird gets bonus points though for his hilarioius smile/smirk gloating about the MVP. How do you rank the flow?
Happy Mother's Day everyone! Time with the fam is lovely today and I'll count my blessings for days like these. Days like these though don't have to be once every May. It's one of many days we could show love and special attention to our moms! I gotta send a personal shoutout to Mama Tibs (she checks GWHH daily!) — thank you for everything :)
And of course, for all us hip hop fans it's only fitting to drop a trio of mama-dedicated hip hop tracks, both old classics and new, for Old School Sundays. Up above: ...you already know. 2Pac paved ways with "Dear Mama". Down below: Kanye West's emotional performance of "Hey Mama" at the 2008 Grammys (still get chills from his delivery and the simple aesthetics of the visuals). Also, a new classic: Chance The Rapper's "Hey Ma". I have a feeling this won't be the only year we talk about Chance's ode, that he released for Mother's Day last year. We'll be talking about "Hey Ma", and for that matter, Chance for years to come.
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Kanye West "Hey Mama" @ 2008 Grammys
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Chance The Rapper "Hey Ma" f/ Lili K & Peter CottonTale (2012)
Longtime visitors, I mean longtime visitors from the Jabbify, pre-ChicagoNow GWHH days, may remember this weekly feature spotlighting an old school track, video, and/or rarity in hip hop every Sunday. This was almost always inspired by some event throughout the week, from nationally to personally, and was a fun segment that I'd like to bring back after the aforementioned MTV Jams session I had last night.
There was a Wu-Tang stretch of videos that we enjoyed with the likes of Raekwon's "Catalina" and Ghostface Killah's "Motherless Child" (had to bring that gem back below as well). Naturally, the light bulb went on. There's got to be a Wu-Tang post. But what else can I add to it? How about Bill Murray?
One of the all-time great comedians joined GZA and RZA in this clip from 2002's "Coffee & Cigarettes" as the Wu members school the "Groundhog Day, Ghostbustin' ass Bill Murray" on, well, coffee and cigarrettes. Fans of dry humor and/or all parties involved should give this a watch if you've never seen it. Very enjoyable to see Bill Murray involved with hip hop, let alone GZA & RZA.
Be on the lookout next Sunday for another installment of Old School Sundays, brought to you by our team and I. In fact, wouldn't you say it's quite old school to bring back Old School Sundays?! (I know, mind blown.)