Chicago Music CD
Chicago Music CD

Chicago Music CD

To further drive tourism through music the idea was brought up to create a compilation CD featuring a wide variety of Chicago artists and genres. The idea of the CD is to showcase currently active Chicago artists that visitors could potentially see live while they are in town and/or book for their corporate meeting/convention. The CD will be used for promotional purposes only, no copies will be sold. The Chicago Music Commission assisted Choose Chicago in putting the project together. We asked prominent artists/labels covering many genres of music to donate one song to this project that they feel is most representative of their work and/or the city of Chicago. Below you will get to know a little about each artist and the music they selected to be featured on the CD.


1. Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials - Old Oak Tree

From working at Chicago's Red Carpet Car Wash to appearing on national television, from gigging at the smallest ghetto blues bars to performing on the biggest international concert stages, master bluesman Lil' Ed Williams has come a long way. Mixing smoking slide guitar boogies and raw-boned Chicago shuffles with the deepest slow-burners, Lil' Ed and his blistering Blues Imperials - bassist James "Pookie" Young, guitarist Mike Garrett and drummer Kelly Littleton - deliver the blues, from gloriously riotous and rollicking to intensely emotional and moving. Not since the heyday of Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers has a blues band made such a consistently joyful noise. Currently celebrating 24 rip-roaring years together, Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials ply their musical talents with skills that have been honed to a razor's edge. As much a family as a band, Lil' Ed, Pookie, Mike and Kelly have outlasted sports stars and presidents, musical fads and fashion trends. And together, they continue to make blues history with each and every performance and new recording.

2. JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound - Everything Will Be Fine

What does post-punk soul look like? Six and a half feet of raw emotion and sweat, with one leather boot planted in gutsy R&B, the other in taut minimalist grind. Snarling at the crowd beneath an afro pompadour, while indulging in a sly wink, singing to you directly, and here to make you dance. What does post-punk soul look like? It looks like JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound.

JC Brooks was born the son of a Jersey funk diva, his voice erupts with heart and heartache over the ferocious rhythm and star-time charisma of guitarist Billy Bungeroth, drummer Kevin Marks, keyboardist Andy Rosenstein, and bassist Ben Taylor. With a take-no-prisoners live attack and lyrics speaking of the torment and triumph of these tumultuous times, it’s no wonder that the Chicago Tribune called JC Brooks "the real deal". This is a soul band rallying against our disaffected and disengaged era, connecting with people the old-fashioned way, by whipping them into a frenzy with honest appeal and unbridled enthusiasm.

The Uptown Sound has attracted a true-blue grassroots following, with MOJO Magazine identifying them as "one of the hottest US soul acts". Since unleashing their Bloodshot Records debut “Want More” (“A lively set of gritty old-school soul and funk injected with raw garage-rock aggression” - KEXP), they’ve barnstormed North America and Europe relentlessly, while burning up NPR and AAA radio with their stomping cover of Wilco’s “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” (which they performed with the song’s composer, Jeff Tweedy, at Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival).

JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound have toured, warred, scored, and they're not to be ignored. Bear witness, for these young men are on the move and they know what post-punk soul looks like. It looks like the future.

3. Chevere - El Cojo

Chévere has been a stunning act for years. As Chicago's leading Latin/Jazz/Funk/Blues Band, Chévere mix Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Jazz, Blues, and just about everything else together into an exciting and unique collage of sound. Characterized by high voltage percussion and compelling original compositions, Chévere has performed in and around Chicago and the Midwest for more than 30 years. The band has played many large outdoor festivals, including several appearances at The Chicago Jazz Festival and Summerfest. The core of the band has stayed together for over 25 years, giving the band an almost telepathic ability to interact spontaneously onstage. The band has an impressive array of virtuosic melodic soloists, and the percussion section, deeply rooted in traditional folklore and religious music from Cuba, the Caribbean, and Brazil, is heavily featured on almost every tune.

4. Illuminati Congo feat. Esq & Cosmos Ray - Here We Come

Illuminati Congo is a Chicago based hip hop group with their second full length album, “All Eye See” scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2011. Vocalist Jahn The Baptist and producer Nic The Graduate create an infectious blend of head nodding beats and unexpected subject matter that will have you begging for a rewind! Musical influences range from classic reggae to classic rock creating an equal blend of modern synth-and-sampler driven hip hop and danceable, live band instrumentation.

The sound is reminiscent of artists such as Nas and Damian Marley with a hint of Gym Class Heroes thrown in. There is much more space for the musicians to shine than is typical in hip hop. Instrument solos and “dubs” are mixed throughout, giving the lyrics time to settle in and just feel the rhythm. Breakup songs come across just as heart-felt as songs about sexy yoga chicks and the anguish of having a foot fetish- often in a not so subtle tongue in cheek manner.

5. Dave Herrero and the Hero Brothers - After the Rain

I’ve been singing and playing guitar professionally since the age of 18. Music had always been in my blood. My grandfather, with a third grade education, was arranging for 17 piece orchestras in Dominican Republic by the age of 16. His band, “Luis Herrero and the Dominican Serenaders,” played the World’s Fair in NYC in 1939, and the first color broadcast television show ever out of NYC. So, the way I see it, I’m simply carrying on a family tradition. Thus far, I have had a very blessed career, playing USO tours of Hungary, Bosnia, and Macedonia, when I was playing guitar with Archie Bell and the Drells (“Tighten Up!”), having toured Europe 13 times under my own name, and working with my current band, featuring some of the finest musicians anywhere. We currently tour Europe and throughout the U.S., and you can find us performing monthly at Buddy Guy’s Legends, here in Chicago. I am also proud to say I have just finished co-producing a new CD for soul/blues legend, Mr. Jimmy Burns, entitled “Stuck in the Middle.”

6. Deep Blue Organ Trio - Goin' to Town

Chris Foreman is a masterful musician and heir to the throne occupied by the soulful, bluesy jazz organ legends who were once his influence. Blind at birth, Foreman started playing piano at age five and began formal training at seven.

As a teenager he was attracted to the organ sounds of Jack McDuff, Groove Holmes, JimmySmith and Jimmy McGriff. This attraction led Chris to pursue playing jazz on the organ, which he undertook through intensive study of recordings. Unlike many African-American musicians whose musical knowledge begins and is established through the church, Chris didn’t start his apprenticeship as a church organist until he was almost twenty years old – well after his jazz roots were established.

He has arrived at a most exciting blend of blues-gospel and jazz and has developed a stunning command and range on the instrument. The blend of his sound is evident in his profsional experience, which has included work with Hank Crawford, Albert Collins, Bernard Purdie and The Mighty Blue Kings.

Drummer Greg Rockingham began playing when he was just three years old and debuted as a professional musician at age five in his father’s jazz ensemble. An alumnus of the famed Interlochen Arts Academy and Northeastern University, Greg has performed or recorded with a wide range of famous names, including the orchestras of Glenn Miller and Guy Lombardo, vocalists Freddie Cole, Patty Page and Jerry Vale and instrumentalists Nat Adderley, Kenny Burrell, Charles Earland and Ellis Marsalis.

Bobby Broom is an internationally acclaimed jazz guitarist. He began playing guitar and studying music at age twelve. Bobby attended New York ‘s famous High School of Music and Art and by the time he was sixteen was playing with Sonny Rollins, and Charlie Parker pianists, Al Haig and Walter Bishop, Jr. Broom holds a Masters Degree in Jazz Pedagogy from Northwestern University. Bobby Broom has played alongside some of jazz’ most dominant figures including Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Stanley Turrentine, Kenny Burrell, Charles Earland, Kenny Garrett and Marcus Miller. He has also released several recordings as a leader.

7. Akasha - All The Same

The best of roots reggae grooves and rich vocal harmonies. Stylistically, Akasha sounds like they stepped out of a 1972 session at Studio One. Their reggae is powerfully authentic but also is accessible to the contemporary ear. Akasha’s distinct approach is refreshing and earnest. They are courageously trailblazing a path for a new generation to receive the gifts of the Jamaican musical canon. The Akasha sound gives birth to an unmistakable variety of heavy, raw grooves reminiscent of The Skatalites, The Maytals, Desmond Dekker and The Wailers.

The Mighty Akasha Crew:
Cosmos Ray :: voice, guitars
Scott Moss :: guitars, voice
Doug Bistrow :: upright bass, voice, keyboards, percussion
John Barbush :: drums
Shane Jonas :: keyboards, trumpet, voice

8. Wayne Baker Brooks - Something's Going Down

Wayne Baker Brooks serves notice of a new powerful force at play in the music world. Combining outstanding song craft, passionate vocals, and a liquid fire guitar style, this talented artist manages to honor his rich blues heritage while effortlessly expanding the boundaries of the genre.

Born and raised in Chicago, IL amongst the most prolific blues legends and blues masters in the world, Wayne Baker Brooks blues roots may run deeper and wider than the Great Lake Michigan itself, but this truly innovating artist knows no creative boundaries.

Chicago Blues laid the foundation to Wayne's innovative style. A regular visitor (as a child) at places such as Chess Studios, Checkerboard Lounge, Wisefools, and many other blues landmarks as well as witnessing many live performances by blues masters like Buddy Guy, Jr. Wells, Luther Allsion, KoKo Taylor, the great Muddy Waters, & his father. The youngest son of blues master Lonnie Brooks was born with the blues, for real! There was or is still no way getting around the fate that was appointed to him.

Failed attempts at being a sports star resulted in a broken foot, twice broken right ankle, broken finger. "Its was God telling me this is not what you're suppose to be doing, I had to figure out the hard way that I'm on this earth to make people smile, laugh, dance, and hopefully feel good through music. So never block your blessing or God will let you know how he feels about it", says Wayne.

9. Canasta - Slow Down Chicago

When Canasta throws around the term “long-awaited” to describe their upcoming album, The Fakeout, the Tease and the Breather, they aren’t just whistling Dixie. Considering the band has been a staple—perhaps even the unspoken centerpiece—of Chicago’s orchestral pop contingent this millennium, it’s hard to believe that this is just their second full‐length. But Canasta doesn’t profess to be any sort of lightning rod for the muses. As un‐sexy as it sounds, the members are probably better described as pop craftsmen/women. Their composition process may take time, but it elicits serious pride in the end result.

Boasting a six‐person line‐up, Canasta has always augmented the standard rock set-up with piano, keyboard, violin and trombone. But despite an ever‐changing roster that has included fifteen members (!), founders Matt Priest and Elizabeth Lindau continue to keep the orchestrations meticulous, the lyrics thoughtful, the melodies unforgettable and the sound uniquely “Chicagoan.” But don’t get the impression they spend all their time cooped up in the studio and rehearsal space. Since forming, they’ve managed to live out one rock n’ roll dream after another. They’ve toured the country—hitting CMJ and SXSW—and back at home, headlined the legendary Metro and held the prestigious Schubas residency. They’ve gigged with killer bands like Wilco, Grizzly Bear, Devotchka, Alabama Shakes, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Sloan, Kaiser Chiefs, Menomena, White Rabbits and The Delgados and even played a set for President Obama. Their songs have made their way into TV commercials, a movie trailer and NPR’s programming and they’ve sold out pressings of both their debut EP, Find the Time, and full-length, We Were Set Up...

10. Sons of the Neverwrong - Face on Mars

SONS are as good as it gets when it comes to skewing the notion of 3-part harmony within original, whimsical songs that spring from both a folk tradition and some other melodic planet you might never have visited. A trio made up of Sue Demel, Deborah Lader and Bruce Roper, these three kind of mixed-up adults of perfect parentage are just crazy enough to think life in the fast lane comes with a banjo (wait, doesn't it?). For 20 years, Sons has been wowing their fans with their music, humor, and outrageously fun live shows.

11. Shuteye - Sun Night Sky

Shuteye, the explosive musical collaboration of award-winning singer-songwriter Elysia Hang-fu and veteran DJ/Producer Alena Ratner, is living proof that the best things come in twos. The innovative Chicago duo has succeeded in creating their very own genre of music—a distinct, category-defying sound that is emotional, stirring and electrifying. Before joining forces, Elysia and Alena were accomplished musicians in their own right, but each was searching for something more—a fresh, new musical endeavor that would challenge and inspire their musical instincts. Very fortuitously, both artists had spent several years writing music and lyrics on their own, so each had amassed an impressive body of unused material by the time they met in 2010. Shortly after crossing paths, the pair realized they were each other’s missing piece. They fused their artistry, reinventing, adapting and blending their individual concepts into the unique electronic sound that would ultimately come to define Shuteye. Elysia and Alena’s inherent musical chemistry shines through on their debut EP Sun Night Sky, which is scheduled for release in December of 2011. The EP is the first release off their album Hush Hush which will be released in 2012.

Since their first release, Shuteye has shared the stage with artists such as Ladyhawke, JD Samson, Peaches, Crystal Castles, and Toro Y Moi. In May 2012 Shuteye won the Monster Diesel VEKTR Headphones Contest, for which their song "Hearts And Stones" was converted to a 3D track through GenAudio´s spatial 3D technology process. The track was then featured in displays around the world, including everywhere that headphones are sold, and on and In addition, Shuteye was recently voted Runner Up for “Best New Band” in the Chicago Reader’s "Best of Chicago 2012." Their music was also featured on Tello Films webseries The Throwaways.

12. Tangleweed - The Logjam

Tangleweed is a band of three forward-looking musical reactionaries from Chicago, Illinois. While the band’s instrumentation is standard bluegrass, their music is anything but. With a repertoire both broad and deep, one listener described them as sounding like “a band playing on a pirate ship off the coast of New Orleans in the 1920s”. Their four CDs have garned critical praise and worldwide airplay, earning the band invitations to appear at major festivals and quality venues around the country.

13. Donald Lawrence - The Best is Yet to Come

Grammy-winning producer, composer and recording artist Donald Lawrence is one of the most influential figures in modern gospel music. After a stint as music director for soul legend Stephanie Mills, Lawrence made a splash in the gospel world by reshaping the regional Tri-City Singers in the 1990s and transforming them into an internationally acclaimed choir. As a producer, Lawrence has collaborated with artists as diverse as Mary J. Blige and jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis, Hezekiah Walker and the legendary Clark Sisters. Now, Lawrence is producing himself again (along with Daniel Weatherspoon) for his sophomore solo CD The Law of Confession Part 1 (Quiet Water/ Zomba Gospel).

14. Chicago Jazz Philharmonic - Seraphim

The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic (CJP) was born out of an invitation to Artistic Director Orbert Davis from the Jazz Institute of Chicago to “think big” when planning his appearance at the 2004 Chicago Jazz Festival. This performance marked the first time for a resident Chicago Jazz artist to headline the festival, not to mention, being accompanied by a 55-piece jazz orchestra. The scope and scale of the performance was certainly unlike anything the Chicago Jazz Festival has ever witnessed. Chicago Jazz Philharmonic has impacted audiences that are as diverse as its artistry; 42,000 and growing!

"As America's definitive 'third stream' orchestra, we provide rich, multi-cultural music experiences that bridge gaps in jazz and classical genres. Our performances entertain and inspire, and our community-based education programs improve lives — from school age through adulthood."


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