Jazz trombonist Jeb Bishop move back to Chicago after a ten-year absence. Bishop and his wife headed to North Carolina in spring 2012 (Carrboro and later Durham) and then in early 2016 to Boston.
While living in Boston, Bishop built a new creative community that included at least one old friend from the Windy City: bassist Nate McBride, his bandmate in Chicago quartet the Engines, joined him in a Boston-based quintet called Cutout with saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra, pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, and drummer Luther Gray. Other like-minded musicians Bishop found in New England include trumpeter Forbes Graham, bassist Brittany Karlson, and violinist Abigale Reisman, but he struggled with a shortage of places to play and the prohibitive cost of living. When Bishop’s wife got a new job that she could work remotely, the couple decided to relocate. “Chicago is a lot more affordable in our situation,” Bishop says. “We both have ties to Chicago, so it made sense.”
Bishop already has some Chicago gigs in the works: at the end of October, for example, his quartet with vocalist Jaap Blonk, drummer Weasel Walter, and bassist Damon Smith will convene at the Hungry Brain for their first show since the start of the pandemic. But Bishop knows he can’t simply pick up where he left off. “It’s not gonna be like I’ve never left, and I don’t want it to be,” he says. “You can’t go back like that. Chicago’s not the same. I’m not the same.” He is looking forward to revisiting some old comforts, though, such as biking along Lake Michigan. “I lived there for 20 years,” he says. “Chicago is much more a home for me than pretty much anywhere else could be.”
In the three years or so since Blake Karlson launched local label Chicago Research by releasing a barrage of standout postpunk, electronic, and industrial music, it’s established a collective of intertwined artists including members of the bands Civic Center, Bruised, and Product KF and noteworthy solo acts such as Ariel Motto (aka Club Music and Death Valley) and Dalibor Cruz.
From the beginning, Chicago Research has maintained its productivity and aesthetic integrity—and though the label is wrapping up operations later this summer, it’s upholding those standards till the end. Karlson says CR’s final release will be the debut album from local duo Conjunto Primitivo, Morir y Renacer, which he describes as a mix of “reggaeton, cumbia, and postpunk/industrial music.” The album drops on Friday, August 12, and Conjunto Primitivo headline the Empty Bottle that night. Fortunately Karlson will continue to share his expert curatorial skills by running a vinyl-focused record store, Signal Records, which he opened last week in the old Bric-a-Brac space at 3156 W. Diversey. It’s open Wednesday through Sunday from noon till 7 PM and by appointment on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Noah Leger’s warm personality and incredibly solid, snappy drumming (in the likes of Disappears, Facs, Electric Hawk, and Anatomy of Habit) have endeared him to countless local rock fans for years. On Monday, July 18, Leger crashed a motorcycle while riding on a racetrack to celebrate his birthday. He suffered severe injuries to his left leg, and friends have set up a GoFundMe to help him pay bills (medical and otherwise) throughout his rehabilitation, since he’ll be unable to work for much of it.
Blake Karlson of Chicago Research closes his label and opens a record store, and friends of drummer Noah Leger launch a GoFundMe to help him through an injury.