The Bears of Blue River at Lincoln Hall

Sometimes when a bunch of crap is going on around you good live music is all you need to feel better for a bit.  So in need of a pick-me-up I decided to check out some local jams at Lincoln Hall right around the corner from my apartment.

Upon walking in a woman’s aching voice was echoing off the small venue’s walls, the reverberation entrancing. Julie Byrne occupied the stage alone with her acoustic guitar yet somehow created such a full, haunting sound that demanded silence from the few early arrivals at this show.  Her music granted my thoughts freedom to float away on her voice, releasing any previous anxiety.  Yeah, it was that good.  And she was just the opener.

The main act is a group of eight fantastic Chicago-dwellers who go by the name The Bears of Blue River.  If Julie Byrne let me dissolve into her sound these guys pulled me back to earth while giving the whole room with a type of buoyancy with their exceptional folk-type pop.  The combination of Maggie’s soulful slight twang and Gavin’s Bobby Gallivan-esque voice (but with a character distinctly his own) fit perfectly together over the jouncing piano and guitar and perfectly placed flares of the sax.  They are happy, kind, mean, funny, and sing about taking ecstasy to pay the bills and stealing whiskey.  Basically I want to be in the middle of a group hug with them all.

The Bears of Blue River doing damn fine job

These two acts are further testament to all the musical treasures hidden around Chicago and two more reasons love living in this city.  Y’all should check ’em out!

Julie Byrne:

The Bears of Blue River:


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