Waco Brothers
BROTHERLY LOVE Celebrate the season, Waco Brothers–style, when the country-
punk rockers play their annual holiday shows at Schubas.


Don’t-miss picks for Wed 12.28.11 through Tue 1.3.11: Not looking to blow half of your 2012 entertainment budget before the year officially begins? Below, five things to do this week not on December 31—plus five great NYE options that won’t break the bank.


rock Waco Brothers
There’s no better way to say, “Don’t let the door hit you, 2011,” than with a roof-raising holiday concert from these local rebel rousers. The band delivers hard-core country twang mixed with melodic punk wallop, topped with a pro-underdog rallying cry. And in a year like 2011, we all had our underdog moments.
GO: 12/28–29 at 9. $14. Schubas, 3159 N Southport. schubas.com

OR, ON NEW YEAR’S EVE: Local H, the ever-chugging, never-quitting, hard-driving rock duo, returns to Bottom Lounge for a concert 12/31 at 10, with tickets a very affordable $25–$30.


jazz Roy Hargrove Quintet
New Year’s Day can be a rough hangover for music lovers, offering little more than noisemakers and day-old confetti. But jazz fans can kick off 2012 with something far better than leftovers: one more night with the luminous New York trumpeter Hargrove and his bang-up band.
GO: 1/1 at 8 and 10. $20–$25. Jazz Showcase, 806 S Plymouth. jazzshowcase.com

OR, ON NEW YEAR’S EVE: The Green Mill is the only place in town to ring in the new year with a Battle of the Saxes, featuring the Chicago native Frank Catalano trading licks with the prodigious Ed Petersen. Doors open at 7; cover is $25.


eclectic Robbie Fulks
Expect less of a traditional concert from this local alt-country hero and more of a year-end variety show: a few songs, a few gentle ribs at 2011, and most likely, some good feelings all around.
GO: Through 12/29 at 9. $15. FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn. fitzgeraldsnightclub.com

OR, ON NEW YEAR’S EVE: Chicago’s own Disappears takes noisy guitar rock and twists it in the tradition of Sonic Youth, with whom the group shares drummer Steve Shelly. Hear the band 12/31 at 10 at Empty Bottle for $20–$25.


comedy Silent Night of the Living Dead
If the spirit of Christmas can win over even old Scrooge, surely it can conquer a few flesh-eating zombies. New Millennium Theatre Company pays tribute to George Romero with this new play, with a plot that’s pretty much what the title implies. In other words: Awesome.
GO: 12/29–30 at 8. $18. Theater Wit, 1229 W Belmont. nmtchicago.org

OR, ON NEW YEAR’S EVE: Behind door number 1: a special all-ages performance of the beloved improv show now entering its 24th year, the Neo-Futurists’ Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Advance tickets, $50, required; doors open at 9:30. Door number 2: The Chuckle Bowl Spectacular, or open bowling with a side of comedy from Lincoln Lodge regulars, returns to Lincoln Square Lanes 12/31 from 9 to 1:30; tickets are $30–$35.


film The Tree of Life
One year ends, another begins: Ponder the meaning of it all with one more chance to see Terrence Malick’s origin-of-life epic (Brad Pitt! Dinosaurs!)—and dare we say Oscar shoo-in—on the big screen.
GO: 12/30, 1/3, 1/5 at 6:30; 1/2 at 2:30. $7–$11. Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N State. siskelfilmcenter.org

OR, ON NEW YEAR’S EVE: The Music Box hosts its annual showing of The Poseidon Adventure, timed to coincide with the New Year’s countdown onscreen. Tickets run $22–$27; the party starts at 11; costumes are encouraged.


Dennis Watkins, illusionist and magic consultant for The House Theatre, Steppenwolf, Court Theatre, and Lookingglass
Dennis Watkins

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: the third-generation illusionist and go-to magic consultant for The House Theatre, Steppenwolf, Court Theatre, and Lookingglass, Dennis Watkins, who plans to swallow a string of eight razor blades on New Year’s Eve.

“Friday night I’ll be doing my weekly Magic Parlour show at the Chopin Theatre. It’s a night of classic magic passed on by my grandfather, who was a pro magician. My favorite trick, the finale, is built around the ‘card stab’ premise, where an audience member chooses a card, shuffles it back into the stack, and tosses the entire deck in the air. The magician then stabs his sword into the mess of cards and sticks the chosen card. I tweaked the trick a little, to where I blow up a seven-foot balloon, climb in, and have my head poking out. The volunteer then tosses the deck into the air, and I stab the sword through the balloon and into the chosen card. It failed once, but out of the thousands of times I’ve done it, I’d say that’s pretty good.

“My big New Year’s Eve plans revolve around work, which they normally do, but I’m extremely excited for this year. I’m performing an extended New Year’s Eve magic show for the first time in a suite at the Palmer House. I love the Palmer House. It’s an amazing Chicago institution and a perfect place to hold this really intimate—36 seats—magic show. There will be more classic tricks, like sleight of hand, cups and balls, linking rinks, and Sam the Bellhop, which was my grandfather’s favorite: You tell the story of Sam, a bellhop at a hotel, with a deck of cards, which you’re shuffling constantly. The suits and numbers of each card represent the details of the story, and as you’re shuffling, the right card miraculously comes to the top for you to flip onto the table and move the story along.

“The finale is definitely going to be the balloon card stab, but I’m trying to have it so I can pop the balloon and stab the card exactly at midnight—with the audience champagne in hand. I can’t think of a better way to toast the new year.” —As told to Heather Youkhana


sports/rec Free Fitness Week
Make good on those good intentions: Work out for free in the Chicago Park District’s 71 fitness centers located in neighborhoods citywide, from South Shore to Rogers Park. The deal is only available for a week—but that’s longer than most of our resolutions have lasted.
GO: 1/3–9. Details and locations: chicagoparkdistrict.com

theatre Blue Nativity
Last chance to see this popular telling of the Christmas story—with puppets—before Quest Theatre retires the ten-year-old production.
GO: 1/1 at 5. St. Gregory the Great, 5535 N Paulina. questensemble.org


Photography: (WACO BROTHERS) Courtesy of Bloodshot Records; (WATKINS) Katherine Webster