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Re-Viewed: The Blacks at The Hideout

By Julene McCoy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 24, 2006 6:45PM

2006_07_blacks.jpgIt was just another Friday happy hour at the Hideout. Well, not including the BBQ going on and the fact that there just seemed to be more people arriving than normal for a show that wasn’t supposed to start until 10:30 pm. Sure, there was to be a 9:30 showing of George Bush being eaten by rats, but what did that really mean? After the sound check, we dutifully made our way to the back room and sat down. Then, what to our wondering eyes did appear? It was The Blacks! A surprise set before the show that was happening Saturday at the Empty Bottle.

The Blacks’ sound can be described just like any other alt-country band that’s been around the Chicago scene, but once witnessed live it’s abundantly clear that they belong in a category all their own. The band is comprised of Gina Black on stand-up bass, Danny on guitar and trumpet, Nora O’Connor also providing vocals and guitar, and James Emmenegger on drums.

Gina’s deep voice combined with Nora’s back up vocals shone on “Crazy”, while everyone had fun covering The Doors’ “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)”. Danny brought out the trumpet to add a layer to the rockabilly song “Foggy Minded Breakdown”. “Rest My Bones/Diablo” and “New New Waltzing Blues” were played before a little banter that let us in on the fact that the Hideout had been the first venue that the band had played.

Danny’s quiet voice on “Horrorshow” sounded like a ballad, although when Gina jumped in her hardcore singing style and energy entirely changed the mood. After a while Danny brought the song's mood back to the stylings of a great country love song. The Blacks also played “Goin’ Out West”, a Tom Waits cover from their Just Like Home CD.

Then it was over. The band bid us farewell and said, “See some of you tomorrow” referencing the Empty Bottle show and the crowd dissipated just as quickly as it arrived. This impromptu show by The Blacks reminded us why we love going to the Hideout, every so often we get to witness some of Chicago’s best talent on their little stage without any warning at all.