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Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween cheers to bands Blind Whiskey, The Neighbors, Faux Paw and Vaudevileins!

Blind Whiskey
By Ted Slowik

Saturday night was a whirlwind. I caught parts of sets by four bands in three different venues in three towns. After all Halloween is a busy time of year for live performers, right up there with New Year's Eve and St. Patrick's Day.

First up was a stop by the Downers Grove Moose to catch Blind Whiskey. They had the joint rocking with covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival, ZZ Top and others. Guitarist/vocalist Chuck Pelkie puts on a great show backed by bassist George Lales and drummer Frank Glorioso. Though I didn't get to stick around to hear them sit in with the band, it was good seeing musician friends Ron Maruszak and "Big Eddy" George Joch.

The Neighbors
On my way home to Joliet from Downers Grove, it was a quick detour over the Ninth Street Bridge in Lockport to the William Alexander Wine Bar, where The Neighbors were playing. The slim-downed lineup included Brian Barry on acoustic guitar, Nick Domberg on acoustic guitar and bongos and Andrew Becker on drums. Pops Becker was there too but no sign of Stephen! Nick's a great singer and he and Andrew and Brian do some nice harmonies together. I like their selection of tunes, from Bob Marley to Harry Nilsson. William Alexander is a fine place to hear live acoustic music, and there was an enthusiastic full house on hand cheering them on.

My only regret in seeing The Neighbors was that I missed Matt Biskie's performance as Willie Nelson at the "Under the Covers" show at Chicago Street Pub in Joliet, my last stop of the evening (Sorry, Matt!). His costume was great, though. I did catch a fun set by the middle band, Faux Paw, a quartet from Lafayette, Indiana, home of Purdue University. They came out as Fleetwood Mac, with all four wearing black dresses and appearing as Stevie Nicks, though they shared just one blond wig among them.

Faux Paw
In addition to having a great sense of humor, they sounded great! The second half of their set they did their own music, which is a lively groove of guitar sounds layered over a comfy bed of bass and drums. Band members are bassist Stephen Freeman, drummer Tom Lageveen and guitarists Garrett Ney and Gordon Wantuch.

I picked up a copy of their self-released CD, "Too Close Is the New Too Far," which came out a year ago. I gave it a listen and like it a lot. It's got a real Wilco-like feel to it, with a nice mix and excellent recording quality. You should definitely support them by liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter and checking out their recordings and live shows. They got a nice writeup in Paste magazine as one of "10 Indiana Bands You Should Listen To Now."

Vaudevileins as Guns N' Roses
The fourth and final band I heard that evening was the beginning of Vaudevileins' set as Guns N' Roses. I love Vaudevileins and their sense of humor, and they really went all out with their commitment to capturing the look and sound of GNR. Matt Lapperre sat in on drums while regular drummer Brennan Chouinard took on Axl Rose vocal duties.

They opened with "Welcome To the Jungle" and absolutely nailed it! They posted their version of "It's So Easy," which is definitely worth checking out. They're a fantastic band who have a lot of fun, and make it fun for people who hear them. They'll reprise their show as GNR Wednesday night (Oct. 30) at Phantom Phest at Quenchers Saloon in Chicago.

My small musical contribution to Halloween this year is a cover of "Resurrection Mary," a story about a Chicago-area ghost written by the great Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople fame. His original is very powerful. It's a great song about a great story.

Happy Halloween!