From Washboards to Tape Loops

Chicago's diverse music scene


Chicago is a city known, not only for attracting top-notch performers, but also for supporting diverse styles and genres of music. "Chicago has grown into a true international hub," said Jon Leganski, drummer of Bad Bad Meow and institutional sales coordinator for a music equipment company.

"But the reason this translates to such an awesome variety of original music is the presence of small venues."
—Jon Leganski, musician
Leganski said that owners of smaller venues willingly give newer musicians a place to play, which creates outlets for all types of music. With so many venues located throughout the city, there's a little something for everyone.



Mr. Mayor and the Highballers

Utilizing the washtub bass, jug, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, harmonica, washboard and other assorted percussion, Mr. Mayor and the Highballers put a unique and fun spin on traditional jug band music. Hailing from Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music, the band recently competed in Chicago’s Fifth Annual Battle of the Jug Bands and performs every other Wednesday at The Green Lady.
Visit Mr. Mayor and the Highballers' Facebook page.

Magic Carpet

"Ethnic funk." It’s the only way to describe Magic Carpet’s sound—a little African, a little Middle Eastern, and all Chicago. The guys—Makaya McCraven, Ryan Mayer and Charlie Montana on percussion, Tim Jones on guitar, Parish Hick on bass, Tewodros Aklilu on keyboards and Fred Jackson on sax—have been bringing their unique sound to Chicago for seven years. “It kinda opened me up to different music—not just here in Chicago, but just global,” Parish says. “I thought we were doing something that was pretty cool.”
Visit Magic Carpet's website.

K. Serra

Indie, electroacoustic artist Rachel Sarah Thomas, known by her stage name, K. Serra, left the classical world of opera to explore electronic music's tape loops and beats. After spending time as a jazz singer and keyboard player for a psychedelic rock band, Thomas started her latest project, K. Serra. She uses household objects, such as ripped paper, a washboard and pocket change to create unique sounds, which she loops and sings on top of.
Visit K. Serra's website.



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From River North to the Far North Side, Mr. Mayor and the Highballers, K. Serra and Magic Carpet are taking their acts all over Chicago. Check out these venues for a chance to see these and other great bands shaking up the local music scene.






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