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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.