On a blustery autumn day in West Town, Chicago Phonic, a new educational center for electronic musicians, held its first public open house. Mixers, turntables, and computers were all neatly arranged in a room wrapped with lush, seafoam green wallpaper. Prospective students asked questions and milled around the narrow facility. Daryl Cura, one of Chicago Phonic’s founders, patiently answered questions on modern electronic productions while cracking open cold bottles of Peroni.
With the release of the self-titled album by Bottle Tree last week, the International Anthem Recording Company continues to build its reputation as one of the South Side’s most adventurous record labels. Founder Scottie McNiece, along with his partners David Allen and Joe Darling, have built a catalog of outsider music that stands up to the best that has ever come from Chicago. Although the Bridgeport-based label has developed a reputation for releasing great avant-garde jazz, their sound is less predictable, dabbling in funk, electronic, noise, and singer/songwriter music. Renowned artists on the label’s roster include post-rock, free jazz guitarist Jeff Parker (of Tortoise fame), the Nick Mazzarella Trio, and hip-hop-inspired drummer Makaya McCraven. As every example of success, such achievement first started as an idea—an idea that suddenly came to Scottie McNiece.
It was just by chance,” said Ayisha Strotter, describing the decision she made with her mother, Margo, that transformed the two into restaurateurs. Ain’t She Sweet Café opened in Bronzeville in 2006. The mother-daughter team created a community out of the restaurant with its vibrant, down-home feel, and they met a demand for quality food with service in the neighborhood. Now, they’ve used their success to open a second location in Beverly; the new restaurant opened its doors on March 6.