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Homewood group featuring a visit from Susan Voelz of Poi Dog Pondering


Fans often connect with artists from afar during concerts, but the Homewood Arts Council offers a different way to get to know musicians.

The volunteer-run organization launched the Getting In Tune interview series in May, which featured Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche speaking to an audience of about 50 people at the Izaak Walton Preserve’s Senior Hall lodge in Homewood.

“It was always in the back of my mind what I wanted to try to do,” said Chris Castaneda, director of the Homewood Arts Council.

“Being fairly new to Homewood, I thought this might be a good chance to give it a go and see if there would be an audience. The feedback I got from attendees afterwards told me it was great and we’d love to see more of it. That was encouraging.”

Getting In Tune is inspired by the Beverly Area Arts Alliance’s reading series The Frunchroom, moderated by Scott Smith, and the Talking in Space interview series, created by Mark Caro and hosted by the Society for the Preservation of Art and Culture (SPACE). took. , in Evanston.

Kotche’s appearance on Getting In Tune was planned to coincide with the 20th anniversary of “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” which Wilco made available through its website in 2001 before its official release in 2002, but the series’ opening episode was set to coincide with the 2002 episode. It was postponed due to the crisis. Covid-19 pandemic.

“We developed an idea for him to do something he had never done before. He used his laptop and brought in a library of songs that influenced the drum parts on Wilco songs,” said Castaneda, a former board member and music coordinator for the Beverly Area Arts Alliance.

“It turned into a little game because he would play a song by The Who or The Band and ask the audience, ‘So which Wilco song do you think this turns into?’ he said.

“He would play with them a little bit. He then played the Wilco song, which would shed light on where he got his inspiration from. “I like that it’s not just a musical performance.”

Castaneda first interviewed Kotche 20 years ago, and the first Getting Started session dates from that date. Similarly, Susan Voelz of Poi Dog Pondering, the subject of the second episode of the series, has collaborated before; in this case, Scott McCaughey of The Young Fresh Fellows and a 2018 charity event for The Minus 5 at The Hideout in Chicago.

“I know him a little bit, but I want to investigate his background further,” Castaneda said. “I’m interested in what it means to be the head of the Chicago Chapter of the Grammys and its place in the Chicago music scene and outside of Chicago. I was doing my homework.

“It’s a great example of how anything is possible when you pick up an instrument.”

Getting In Harmony with Susan Voelz is 7 p.m., Nov. 18, at the Senior Hall cabin of the Homewood Izaak Walton Preserve, 1100 W. Ridge Road. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 the day of the event. Eventbrite.com.

Homewood Izaak Walton Preserve's Senior Hall cabin is the venue for the Homewood Arts Council's Getting In Tune series.  The opening episode featured council director Chris Castaneda interviewing Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche.

“How fun is it for everyone to get together in a booth and chat with real people?” said rock violinist Voelz, who has been with Poi Dog Pondering since 1988 and became president of The Recording Academy’s Chicago Chapter in 2023.

“I would love to hear what musicians and creative people have to say about how they create something, the path they take, what they get inspired by, where they get stuck.”

Voelz, from Chicago’s Old Irving Park neighborhood, said one thing he found amusing about the title of Getting In Tune was that tuning can be a sore point for musicians who play string instruments.

“Being in tune is something you can never say in a recording studio,” he said, recalling something Steve Albini, owner of the Electrical Audio recording complex in Chicago, told him.

“I remember in the early days when I started recording there he said: ‘If you’re a little bit downfield, you already know how to do it, so move it upfield.’

“String players can lose their minds trying to find the right pitch.”

When he was 9 years old, Voelz discovered a violin that belonged to his grandfather, whom he did not know. He eventually developed it into a five-string sound, which appeared on Poi Dog Pondering’s 1989 self-titled debut album after the then-traveling Hawaiian saw the band performing in Texas and asked him to play on their debut studio album.

“When you’re young, you’re on a path where you just follow impulse. “You’re following what’s in front of you right now,” said Voelz, who fondly remembers Merrionette Park’s performance at 115 Bourbon Street with Poi Dog Pondering, who released the album “Keep Loving Each Other” in January.

“We continued to grow and improve.”

His evolution includes playing with Alejandro Escovedo and Ronnie Lane, writing “The Musician’s Road Guide: The Survival Manual and Touring All-Access Backstage Pass” in 2007, and publishing “Trust the Waves to Catch You” in 2022. Recorded with members of Poi Dog Pondering.

The second installment of the Homewood Arts Council's Getting In Tune interview series will be held Nov. 18 at Homewood's Izaak Walton Preserve with rock violinist Susan Voelz, who is also president of the Chicago Chapter of The Recording Academy, which awards the Grammys.

Voelz’s fourth album, “Arrival of the Ancestors,” could be released in early 2024.

“It’s piano-based, but I added the violin and some spoken word as well. Very gentle,” he said of the new album, which was written on the childhood piano he inherited after his parents died.

The upcoming Getting In Tune event will likely touch on Castaneda’s history with Voelz; This included opening 2018’s Bathroom Emperor Concert for McCaughey by performing The Possibility’s “You Don’t Mean It” with Voelz and his Poi. Dog Pondering bandmate Max Crawford.

“I would like to see (the series) become a quarterly thing. It depends on what the bandwidth of our group is,” Castaneda said of the 501(c)(3) Homewood Arts Council, which includes co-founder Suzanne Moore, Dawn Leader-Peloso and Madeline Henry.

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“For over 20 years I’ve been trying to use my network and bring people to Homewood who’ve probably never been to Homewood and show people here that it’s possible to have someone from Wilco or a musician come to Homewood. It’s a big deal to have Jon Langford from the Mekons come here .”

The council sponsored Langford’s solo concert at Homewood’s Rabid Brewing in February, where South of Chi opened with improv comedy, and in May at Homewood Izaak’s Trail Mix Acoustics to present The Flat Five’s Nora O’Connor and Casey McDonough Worked with Concert Series. Walton Preserve.

The village leases the Homewood Auditorium to the city to present events and rent space to other groups, such as the Chicago Knockouts Roller Derby, which has used the venue for about a year, Castaneda said.

“My goal with (the council) was really to re-engage the community in terms of offering programming,” said Castaneda, who is originally from Chicago’s South Deering community and moved to Homewood from the city’s Morgan Park community in 2021.

“The group’s goal has always been to promote the arts in our community.”

Information about the Nov. 18 event is available at 708-798-1850 or homewoodizaakwalton.com.

Jessi Virtusio is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.


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