By Chris Cwiak

Well, looks like it’s rolling around to the end of another calendar year, and as such, that it’s time to take stock of the past year and look ahead at the new calendar as a chance to make a new beginning, or at the least, inroads to that end. To be honest, I’m actually not much for making New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe you aren’t either. But maybe we can come up with some things to keep top-of-mind as Winter rolls into January and our twelve month countdown begins anew.

Listen to more music. Yes, it might be best to begin with the obvious. There’s SO MUCH out there and more on the way. To that end, here’s something topical:

The New Year – “The End’s Not Near”
These fellas haven’t released anything new in several years, although rumors swirled a few years ago that there’d be a new record. Band of Horses are apparently fans:

Watch more television. It’s cold outside. Maybe you or your significant other is kind of a homebody. Whatever the excuse, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional couch night in this golden era of television. There’s Blackhawks hockey to enjoy, but if you’re a fan of subscription-based viewing like me, HBO’s 2017 schedule is shaping up to be one of high anticipation with new seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Girls, Veep, Silicon Valley and Game of Thrones on the slate, as well as a promising-looking new Judd Apatow show called Crashing.

When you’re done hibernating, go to more concerts. Live shows are the musician’s lifeblood. That’s where they really make their connections to fans and how the bulk of their living is made. Support live music and you truly to support the arts and the artist directly.

2/26 Wilco “Winterlude” at the Chicago Theatre:

Hard to believe this is Wilco’s first go-round at the historic Chicago Theatre, but alas! Here we are, and here they are. Their four-night residency is nearly sold out, but there are a few tickets remaining for the Sunday show of the run. You do need to witness the majesty of their musicianship first-hand, and what a gorgeous room to do it in.

Thu-Sun in January Buddy Guy at Legends:

Speaking of our bounty of local music, Buddy Guy plays his annual residency at his club in the South Loop every Thursday through Sunday in January. Tickets to these shows will sell out, so get on them asap. I’ve been to a lot of concerts and seen a lot of living legends, and no one compares with Buddy. His playing and emotion on his home turf is unparalleled. Treat yourself and a friend (and make new friends at your table!) to a hot helping of the greatest living blues artist.

1/9-1/10; 1/24-1/25 Steve Earle “Winter Residency” at City Winery:

Another residency that’s close to selling out is the XRT shows starring Steve Earle at City Winery. Steve weaves a story around intricate and earthy guitar playing that only a very few can. Lin Brehmer spoke with him earlier this year:

1/29 Margaret Glaspy at Schubas

This one is going to be a treat. Margaret Glaspy will soon be playing much larger rooms than the intimate Schuba’s Tavern. And you’ll be able to say in a couple of years that you saw her fiery show in the dead of a Chicago winter in one of the best-sounding rooms around. Miss Glaspy was one of my vote-getters for Rookie of the Year on the XRT Listener Poll:

2/1 Ryley Walker at Space

Another local treasure that’ll soon be the world’s: Rockford’s Ryley Walker. Absolutely beautiful guitar playing and arrangement at probably the perfect venue to see him, Evanston’s SPACE. Yes, he also received a vote from me for Rookie of the Year on this year’s Listener Poll.

2/17 Mavis Staples at Symphony Center

What can I possibly say about Mavis that hasn’t already been stated by others far more eloquent than I? Grammy winner. Kennedy Center honoree. Civil rights champion. Phenomenal singer of a legendary musical family. Immeasurable talent. A voice of love and light in dark times. She played our Big Holiday Concert this year and gets her own stage at the magnificent Symphony Center. Can you get to that? You’d better.

Are we only into February? My goodness, aren’t we lucky to be in Chicago to share a few hours of our lives with each other and these incredible artists? There are so many more concerts I’d like to include, but for time’s sake, I’ll leave it here. Be resolute this year in whatever you do. And thank you for allowing us to be the soundtrack to your new year.


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