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Chicago is a really big city.  And yet, it’s a pretty small place too.  I’m one of those people who has trouble making close friends – but I still like to go out and do things.  Sometimes I have to either just bite the bullet and go places by myself and hope to meet people, or find things to do that other people put together.  Being involved in various social networking things help.  I’m on facebook, but really what helps me find out about things is being on Twitter.  I started out by following a bunch of people in Chicago just randomly and went from there (but that’s a whole other post).

The other way that I like to find out about events is by signing up for email lists.  Nearly every show that you go to will have an email list of sorts near the merchandise table.  Those lists will lead to other lists, and pretty soon you’ll have a bevy of emails explaining just how you can spend every minute of your free time.

And if that doesn’t work – here are some of the things that I do – feel free to expand on them!


Welcome to the first installment of “Stuff I’m Planning on Doing Fridays!”

You could:

– Learn a craft!

I like to knit, but I’m not very good at it.  Right now I’m thinking of starting a knitting circle with some of the people on Twitter – but if that doesn’t pan out I’m going to find one in a knitting shop somewhere.  I’m hoping that the Twitter group works out though, because I’m still kind of intimated by official knitting circles.

– Sing Karaoke!

Not only has Edgar Garcia won the internet (http://iwintheinternet.com/) – he’s also established himself as quite the Karaoke King!  Don’t believe me?  Come join his karaoke night tweetup on December 6th at Lincoln Karaoke.  He’s got a whole post about the hows and the whys on his blog.  You can read more about it (and RSVP!) here:  http://edgargarcia.com/2008/11/happy-birthday-to-me-eight-months-later

– Go see a show!

Chicago and Piracy have one very major thing in common (aside from me, of course) – and that is their affinity for live local talent!  Okay, that may or may not be a total baldfaced lie.  But you’ve got to admit – Chicago has a lot of local talent, and those locals are often putting on some pretty fantastic shows.  (also pirates are cool)  

My first love in local bands is always going to be a ska show, and if you can get a ska band who are also pirates, well, you’ve got yourself a fantastic evening.  Thankfully we have the band Deal’s Gone Bad.  They may not be *actual* pirates, but they’re close enough to count. 

In November, you can go see the Three Floors of Ska Fest at the Bottom Lounge.  The information is below – which came from MPShows.com.  MPShows has a mailing list, btw. You should get on it!



One of the most important American ska bands, the Toasters did much to popularize the genre on the underground scene in the mid- to late ’80s, laying the groundwork for later third-wave bands like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and ska’s subsequent explosion in popularity in the mid- to late ’90s.


It’s tempting to call the Pietasters the saviors of American third-wave ska, but the fact is they may really just be its sole survivors. Blending authentic Jamaican dancehall, rock steady, punk and soul — the Pietasters change it up enough to keep rude boys true to the faith and jaded punks from pitching their beers. But most importantly, the Washington DC combo offer up enough hooks and bachelor party debauchery to win over fans who could care less about “file-under” categories and punk purism. 


Hailing from Chicago DGB blends reggae, rocksteady, and ska music with American soul in a fiery brew all their own, playing their unique brand of 50¹s and 60¹s Jamaican music for the past fourteen years.


Flatfoot 56 has been playing Celtic punk since 2000, infusing melodious bagpipe and mandolin music. Flatfoot56 is made up of three brothers (Tobin, Justin and Kyle Bawinkel) and a terrific piper friend, Josh Robieson. 


With experienced players from diverse musical backgrounds, Lord Mike and his Dirty Calypsonians branch out from the familiar Jamaican sound to make sweet Trinidadian Carnival music. Lyrics riddled with double-entendre and innuendos are sure to entertain while the ten-piece orchestra pumps out powerful rhythms which neither feet nor hips can resist.  Lord Mike, former singer of Deal’s Gone Bad, follows in the showmanship tradition of Calypso greats like Mighty Sparrow and Lord Invader and reminds of us the days when singers were also entertainers.


Chicago band mixing cha-cha-cha, metal, hardcore, punk, cumbia, disco, reggae, samba, and other latin rhythms.


A mix of American Soul and Jamaican Riddims, blending first wave ska, reggae and soul music. 


– Go see MORE shows

In addition to ska shows, the Bottom Lounge also gives good soul.  If you’re free in December, you should check out Todd Hembrook.  (also taken from MPShows.com)

Sat. Dec. 20 – 9PM – Bottom Lounge


Current and former Members of Deal’s Gone Bad, Lord Mike’s Dirty Calypsonians, Situation Normal, This is a Graveyard, and The Drama have all come together as Chicago’s top musical aces to bring live Soul music back to Chicago. Todd Hembrook and the Hemispheres were created to fill the musical void Chicago has been suffering for too long. The Hemispheres come from Chicago’s underground music scene and bring the energy, passion, and respect for Soul music which most commercialized wedding band style bands lack. They do this for the music.


– Go Swing Dancing!

Like rockabilly music? Enjoy swing dancing? Have a western cowboy shirt or red lipstick or some pedal pushers wasting away in your closet?  Just itching to put your hair up in some victory rolls?  Wanna see a guy stand on a string bass?  Well Martyr’s has exactly what you’re looking for.  The Big C Jamboree is held on the first Thursday of every month.  There’s a house band – but then there’s also an open mic for anybody else.  Various bands will sign up to play a set of three songs between house band sets.  There’s a decent size dance floor, plenty of tables and stools to sit on, and a great bar (and food!).  The crowd is always really fun and gets into dancing too – so even if you’re not into dancing yourself, there’s plenty to watch.  Starts at 9, but get there EARLY if you want a table by the dance floor, they go fast!


So there you go – some stuff to do in Chicago!  I’m always open to suggestions as well, so if there’s anything that should be on this list that I’m missing (such as a game night somewhere or clog dancing or gallery openings, etc) – let me know, I love stuff!