Health | Interviews | Music

Within “Decay,” A Story of Growth

Akenya releases a single to raise awareness of Lyme Disease

Sam Fuehring

Akenya is a singer, pianist, and composer from Chicago. In honor of the end of Lyme Disease Awareness Month, this past May, Akenya released a single titled “Decay.” Her fans have waited over two years since the release of her last single, “Disappear.” “Decay” intimately describes her experiences with Lyme Disease, an illness spread by ticks that can cause fatigue and pain, among other symptoms; some 30,000 cases are reported to the Centers for Disease Control every year. A percentage of proceeds from the song go to the LymeLight Foundation, which provides grants for Lyme disease treatment. The Weekly sat down with Akenya to talk about her relationship to Lyme disease and her single. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Interview Issue 2018 | Music | Photo Essay

Bringing Jazz Back to the Alley

In South Shore, an old tradition is revived for a day

Dancers with the African Dance and Music Institute (Bridget Vaughn)

On 73rd Street and Paxton, toward Merrill, at least one hundred people marched: past cars, over puddles, into alleys and across the block. As they marched, they held bundles of herbs in the air, played percussion, danced, and waved flags. This scene was the beginning of the Back Alley Jazz Festival—and the man at the front of the crowd, who rode in a mint-green Pedicab and wore a sash that read “Grand Marshall,” was Jimmy Ellis, a saxophonist who has been playing in Chicago since 1948.

Interview Issue 2018 | Music

From Rink to Radio

Ahead of Teklife’s latest album release, the Weekly sat down with three of its long standing members to talk Chicago, history of Teklife, and what it’s meant to them

Teklife is a crew of producers and DJs known for pioneering and popularizing footwork, a genre which produces some of the most futuristic sounds and styles in electronic music even as it draws upon decades of Chicago dance history. In the late 2000s, the group emerged from the Ghettoteknitianz outfit (2004-2009), and went on to prove itself as the decisive force in footwork’s explosion onto the international scene. Between drops on experimental electronic labels Planet Mu and Hyperdub, DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn began touring abroad, bringing their frenetic beats to a growing audience. Today, Teklife is known overseas for pushing footwork forward—and known locally for maintaining the culture.

Interview Issue 2018 | Music

On the Air With K-Max

Longtime WHPK DJ K-Max breaks down hip-hop history

Kevin “K-Max” Maxey is a DJ and Far South Side native. For nineteen straight years, he’s brought his passion for music to CTA Radio, the hip-hop radio show he hosts with Pugs Atomz and Aja the Cover’It’Girl on WHPK 88.5 FM in Hyde Park. In an interview with the Weekly, K-Max broke down CTA Radio and shared where his unique passion for hip-hop comes from.

Music | Stage & Screen

Welcome to Jackie Taylor’s Place

The Black Ensemble Theater’s latest show offers familiar musical pleasures

Rick Stone (Alan Davis, Black Ensemble Theater)

If you have seen one of Jackie Taylor’s plays at the Black Ensemble Theater in Uptown, you have pretty much seen them all. The latest incarnation of her brand of concert-style musical theater peppered with somewhat preachy teachable moments, Rick Stone: The Blues Man, delivers on what enthusiasts of Taylor’s theater are there for. Everyone cast in this show is extraordinarily talented—and thankfully so, since audiences will sit well beyond two hours.

Interviews | Music | Radio

Melkbelly: Living the Yard Sale

The Pilsen-based band on the success of their 2017 release Nothing Valley, touring with The Breeders, and the origins of the name Melkbelly.

Daniel Topete

Melkbelly—comprised of Miranda Winters (guitar and vocals), Bart Winters (also guitar, and Miranda’s husband), Liam Winters (a bassist and Bart’s brother), and James Wetzel (drums)—recently sat down with SSW Radio in its cozy practice space in East Garfield Park. Amongst Christmas lights, a number of effects pedals, and jamming from adjacent practice rooms, Melkbelly’s members shared their feelings about their recent tours—headlining in Europe and supporting bigger names like Protomartyr and The Breeders—and provided a new meaning to the term yard sale. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Music

Bringing House Home

Chicago’s 2018 House Music Festival celebrated its roots in the city’s Black, brown, and LGBTQ communities

Katie Hill

For over thirty years, the style of music known as house has been thumping four-on-the-floor rhythms throughout its native Chicago. Though it has become a worldwide sound, changing with each new piece of equipment and every scene that adopts its trademarks, Chicago always seems to know how to honor house’s rich legacy—and remains ahead of the curve.

Music

A Certain Kind of Freedom

Musicians and poets come together to celebrate the work of Sun Ra

Lizzie Smith

At a celebration of Sun Ra’s 106th birthday, an audience member advised against calling it a “birthday” party. It’d be more accurate to celebrate his “arrival”—since, as Sun Ra told his followers, he had a vision that he wasn’t born on Earth, but was actually an angel from Saturn.

Interviews | Music | Radio

Singing Since She Can Remember

Jazz singer Tracye Eileen on her unusual career path

Senhyo

Tracye Eileen is living her dream. At eight years old, too shy to act in the school play, her teacher asked her to perform one of the play’s songs. From there, she caught the singing bug. Fast forward to today: Tracye has a label, Honey Crystal Records, and a residency at Buddy Guy’s Legends in the Loop, where she performs monthly jazz and blues sets. And last Sunday, she celebrated the release of her newest album, WHY DID I SAY YES. The Weekly sat down with Tracye Eileen to talk about her new music and career. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Music

Steve Coleman Takes Wing

A legendary saxophonist talks polyrhythms, mentorship, and birds

milo bosh

Steve Coleman’s music resembles flight in more ways than one. For the listener, it is a flight of the senses: nebulous and strange, challenging and innovative. For Coleman and his band, Five Elements, it’s a flight of the imagination. Brisk drumming, propulsive singing, smooth guitar, and piercing trumpet join hands with—and break away from—Coleman’s saxophone. The music is kept aloft by change, creating something new at each moment.