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Five Great Things to Do This Week in Chicago

Bearden’s Odyssey: Poets Respond to the Art of Romare Bearden, Jorge Federico Osorio, Son Volt, Blek le Rat, and Roomful of Teeth

STREET SMART Stenciling guru Blek le Rat’s show at Vertical Gallery opens this Saturday.   Photo: Courtesy of Vertical Gallery

The Five

Don’t-miss picks for March 29 through April 4, 2017

1 Bearden’s Odyssey: Poets Respond to the Art of Romare Bearden

Poetry:A new book of poetry copublished by Northwestern University celebrates the art of Romare Bearden, whose colorful and jazzy cut-paper collages exemplified 20th-century African American life. Some of the book’s contributors, including award-winning poets Kwame Dawes, Matthew Shenoda, and Chris Abani, will give readings at the release party.
3/31 at 6 p.m. Free. Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art. blockmuseum.northwestern.edu

2 Jorge Federico Osorio

Classical:The North Shore resident assembles a recital of piano essentials. Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata, with its mournful opening movement familiar to piano students, turns the lights on. Debussy’s second book of Préludes, an impressionist touchstone, forms the second chapter. Schubert’s late piano sonata, D. 959, caps the concert.
4/1 at 7:30 p.m. $10–$30. Galvin Recital Hall at Northwestern University. events.music.northwestern.edu

3 Son Volt

Country:Uncle Tupelo split up in 1994 when the alt-country band’s core creative duo came to a fork in the road. Jeff Tweedy went on to form the indie-rock pillar Wilco; Jay Farrar steeped himself fully in country rock in a new band, Son Volt. Here, Farrar and company hit the road behind Notes of Blue, a rootsy album in line with the territory Farrar has spent his career perfecting.
4/1 at 8 p.m. $25–$37. Thalia Hall. thaliahallchicago.com

4 Blek le Rat

Art:Before Banksy, there was Blek le Rat. Now in his 60s, the French street artist has been called the father of stenciling for the images of Russian soldiers he sprayed around Paris before the Berlin Wall fell. Outside of this gallery show, keep an eye out for le Rat to bomb some West Town walls with his signature snark.
4/1–29. Free. Vertical Gallery. verticalgallery.com

5 Roomful of Teeth

New Music:This vocal octet, which crooned to stardom when one of its members, Caroline Shaw, won a Pulitzer Prize for a composition, has helped pioneer the use of advanced techniques in choral music. For singers, this means yodeling, belting, throat singing, and other laryngeal calisthenics, but Roomful of Teeth’s repertoire choices always keep one vocal cord on beauty. Here, the group gives the Midwest premiere of Ted Hearne’s Coloring Book, which reflects on the black experience.
4/2 at 3 p.m. $5–$35. Logan Center at University of Chicago. chicagopresents.uchicago.edu

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Natalie Chami
Natalie Chami Photo: Emma McAlary

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know-locals: Natalie Chami, a.k.a. TALsounds, who performs this Friday at Empty Bottle with FACS and Xiu Xiu.

“The show is at Empty Bottle on Friday. I’m playing, Xiu Xiu’s playing, and FACS is playing—they’re some of the members of the band Disappears. I used to be a mega-fan of Xiu Xiu in high school, so I’m excited to hear them play. If people are in the neighborhood for the show at the Bottle, Spinning J is my favorite place for pies, shakes, and scones.

“I’m performing all new material from an upcoming LP, plus some improvisation. I’m going to have my friend Christine Janokowicz do visuals. She’ll bring in some VHS tapes and manipulate them live. The audio will determine the visuals. The official album release announcement will be on April 5. This’ll be my last show before the album comes out.

“On Saturday, I have to take it easy during the day. I teach voice lessons from my house on Saturdays. I’m the head of the voice department at Chicago High School for the Arts. I teach music technology, vocal technique, and choir.

“Saturday night, Zack Kouns, an experimental noise artist, is coming to Chicago to play a set. Last time he was here we played a bill together. He’s pretty fantastic. The show is at No Nation in Wicker Park. Also, Jain is playing at Subterranean—she’s a young woman from France who lived in the Congo. My friend’s parents just mailed me tickets to because they’re fans and can no longer make it. So I’m going to try to go.

“Also on April 1, there’s Frontwoman Fest 2017, a day of women-fronted bands at the Burlington. I played it a few years ago and it’s super fun and supportive. It’s a benefit for Girls Rock! Chicago. Drea Smith, Impulsive Hearts, and the Cell Phones are some of the acts.” —As told to Jamison Pfeifer

Freebie of the Week

Chicago Dance Month

Dance:The dance promotion organization Audience Architects present this fifth annual month of freebies, open rehearsals, and panel discussions across the city. Some highlights: complimentary classes with Natya Dance and Perceptual Motion, in-studio sneak peeks with Cerqua Rivera and Ballet Chicago, and an artistic development workshop with DanceWorks Chicago.
4/1–30. Free. Various venues. seechicagodance.com

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