When the Weekly profiled Benn Jordan (aka The Flashbulb) in July, he explained that he was always most eager to share new music that sounds nothing like his audience had heard before—and Jordan’s new album Piety of Ashes, out September 1, does not disappoint. Every track is its own musical journey, but each transitions seamlessly into the next to create a cohesive album that covers sounds from the crunching of leaves and the blowing wind to metallic, electronic beats, all contributing to a complex narrative of transitions and loss.
Three summers ago, Chicago writer Valerie Reynolds realized that she never saw smiling Black boys on television.
Right now, Benn Jordan, aka The Flashbulb, lives just outside of Atlanta. But that doesn’t stop him from repping Chicago: he continues to be influenced by his South Side upbringing in his performance style and experimental artistry. Using everything from acoustic guitar to ambient sound recordings, no track of Jordan’s is quite the same.
Like many musicians, JoVia Armstrong’s journey began early: she went from playing on pots and pans as a kid to becoming an accomplished percussionist, as member of the band JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, and an experienced teaching artist. JoVia is now onto her latest project: a music school that she runs out of her own apartment called Sounds About Write, which she started last September. Students can take lessons in a variety of instruments and sound technology, both in groups and one-on-one sessions. With different lessons taught by different teaching artists, the lessons range from guitar to songwriting to conga drums, and nearly anything in between. The school aims to make music education more accessible, and to instill a passion for the arts in every household.
As the audience first walked into Xavier Cha’s event for The Renaissance Society’s “Intermissions” series, what they saw was less important than what they didn’t see: the space was completely empty, awaiting a live performance, and invited curiosity with its high ceilings, bright white walls, and overall expansiveness. The Renaissance Society, housed on the fourth floor of Cobb Hall at the University of Chicago, is no stranger to the international art scene. It has hosted contemporary art exhibitions since 1915, but starting this year its curators decided to try something different: the “Intermissions” series, which held its inaugural performance on January 28, attempts to celebrate live performance works in a space that artist Xavier Cha and “Intermissions” curator Karsten Lund agree looks “like a sci-fi cathedral.”