Andrew Bird, Mavis Staples, and Sam Prekop
THREE-PART HARMONY You and this weekend will make beautiful music together:
Hear Andrew Bird (above left) and Mavis Staples (center) at the Hideout Block Party,
then catch Sam Prekop (see “What I’m Doing This Weekend,” below) at The Abbey.


Don’t-miss picks for Wed 09.21.11 through Tue 09.27.11:


rock/pop Hideout Block Party
For its 15th birthday, the blue-collar tavern and grassroots community center revives its end-of-summer blowout in grand fashion. On deck: the orchestral-pop violinist Andrew Bird, the gospel-rock icon Mavis Staples, the legendary B3 noodler Booker T. Jones, the one-man juggernaut Jon Langford with a backing 30-man Welsh chorus, plus cheap beer and good tidings in a decidedly unostentatious parking lot. Pitchforkers and Lollapalosers, leave the disaffected cool at home.
GO: 9/24 from noon to 10. $25–$35. The Hideout, 1354 W Wabansia.


rock/pop Ian Hunter
From his beginnings with the British cult group Mott the Hoople through a pair of solo albums recorded in his 60s, Hunter, now 72, melds the swagger of glam rock with the sensitivity of a singer-songwriter. Two locals open: the beguiling chanteuse and Hideout habitué Sally Timms (9/24) and the soulful rocker Nick Tremulis (9/25).
GO: 9/24 at 8, 9/25 at 7. $36–$40. Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N Lincoln.


theatre The Amish Project
In what could be a breakout performance, Sadieh Rifai plays all seven characters—including the gunman and a six-year-old victim—in Jessica Dickey’s fictionalization of the 2006 execution-style shooting of a group of Amish schoolgirls. Read our Q&A with Rifai from our fall theatre preview.
GO: Previews 9/23–25; $10–$30. Run continues through 10/23; $35–$40. American Theater Company, 1909 W Byron.


theatre Becky Shaw
Just because the heroine of Gina Gionfriddo’s pitch-black comedy has multiple sclerosis, don’t expect any saintly movie-of-the-week-style-acceptance BS. Mierka Girten, a Red Orchid regular who held her own against the likes of Kirsten Fitzgerald and Natalie West in last season’s Abigail’s Party, stars.
GO: Previews 9/22–25; $15. Run continues through 11/6; $25–$30. A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N Wells.


museums Haymarket Affair
One hundred and twenty-five years before Wisconsinites swarmed that state’s capitol over workers’ benefits, tens of thousands of Chicagoans went on strike to lobby for an eight-hour workday—followed by a rash of rioting, deaths, and an infamous trial, collectively known as the Haymarket Affair. Locals can follow in the footsteps of those laborers this weekend when the history buff Paul Durica leads a bus and walking tour of related sites in the West Loop. If the gravity of that awful struggle all those years ago leaves you needing a stiff drink, stick around for the optional visit to the neighborhood’s Haymarket Pub & Brewery.
GO: 9/24 from 1 to 5. $45. Meet at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N Clark.


Sam Prekop of The Sea and Cake
Sam Prekop

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: The Sea and Cake’s Sam Prekop, who shares a bill with Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier 9/25 at The Abbey.

“Saturday morning I’m going to hit the Green City Market in Lincoln Park to get the last apples and pears. I’m not a militant when it comes to organic foods, but the stuff there can be amazingly good. I’m bringing my three-year-old twins, Helen and Francis. We go to the Lincoln Park Zoo after the market, which is right across the way. We try and get to the gorilla house, but the kids are just as fascinated by the goats and ducks at the zoo’s farm. When we went in the spring, a massive pig had just given birth to probably 20 piglets that were just scampering around. They were slipping and sliding all over with their little hooves. It was awesome to see.

“And I want to go see Cy Twombly’s exhibit at the Art Institute on Saturday afternoon. His work is expressionistic but not macho, dainty but still big. Twombly is mostly known for his paintings; his sculptures aren’t normal to see. He uses a lot of plaster and adds paint and color. Apparently they’re supposed to be like Giacometti’s: thin figurative sculptures.

“Saturday night I’m going to see a friend of mine, Daniel Higgs, perform at the Empty Bottle. With his performances, you never quite know what to expect. At his core, he’s a very experimental artist. He accompanies himself with different kinds of instruments that can range anywhere from a harmonium to a guitar. That’s what makes him so great; it’s usually almost completely unexpected. I can always bet on being blown away in some respect, but to some, it can be difficult to listen to because it’s really repetitive and minimalist. He doesn’t really sing songs; it’s more chanting. He’s from Baltimore, so I normally only see him when he comes into town.

“On Sunday—earlier, before the show—I hope to have some brunch with the family at Nightwood. It’s my favorite place. I’ve been a regular since it opened a couple years ago. The last time I was there, I got the smoked trout with eggs, which isn’t something I would normally order, but I’ve been craving it ever since. Hopefully it tastes the same, but nothing is like the first time. It could very well alter my performance, good or bad.
“When I go on tour with people like The Sea and Cake, I don’t worry too much, but [for Sunday’s show at The Abbey] I’m doing a solo synthesizer part; it’s a modular synthesizer. To prep for this kind of show, I get a patch together, which is a basic sketch of the palette of sounds I’ll be using. It’s all predetermined, but anything can change course on stage. I only played this instrument live one other time, at the Empty Bottle’s Neon Marshmallow Festival. I hope everything goes my way.” –As told to Heather Youkhana


jazz Hyde Park Jazz Festival
Why did we declare this now two-day affair the city’s best neighborhood music fest? Foremost, for staging top-notch local acts, such as the pianist Willie Pickens, the drummer Paul Wertico, the trumpeter Corey Wilkes, and dozens more in venues of all shapes and sizes (the DuSable Museum, the Midway Plaisance, a midnight jam session in Mandel Hall) all across the South Side enclave. A rent party at Wright’s Robie House? Count us in.
GO: 9/24 from 1 to 1, 9/25 from 1 to 8. Full schedule and locations:

classical Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The CSO kicks off its second season under Maestro Riccardo Muti with another free concert, this time at the gargantuan Apostolic Church of God, with performances of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth and the first-chair flautist Mathieu Dufour soloing in Ibert’s Flute Concerto. Two words: Muti. Free.
GO: 9/22 at 7:30. Apostolic Church of God, 6320 S Dorchester.

literature Colin Meloy
Meloy, a.k.a. the frontman of the monumental twee rockers the Decemberists, and Carson Ellis, a.k.a. his wife and the group’s go-to cover-art illustrator, sign copies of their new fantasy novel for tweens, Wildwood. For: fans of the band’s theatrical storytelling and their offspring. Not for: those allergic to preciousness and precocity (i.e., those who don’t need three chances to guess the heroine’s name—yep: Prue).
GO: 9/22 at 7. Anderson’s Bookshop, 123 W Jefferson, Naperville.

museums Museum Day
One movement out of DC we can all get behind: the Smithsonian’s Museum Day, when institutions nationwide offer free general admission. More than 20 area participants include the not-usually-free Adler Planetarium, Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Yes, you still have to feed the parking meters.
GO: 9/24 during individual museums’ regular hours. Get more information and sign up to receive a printable pass for two at


Photography: (BIRD) Cameron Wittig; (STAPLES) Chris Strong; (PREKOP) Erik Keldsen