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You Ott-a Know...

By Lizz Kannenberg in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 28, 2007 8:20PM

Chicagoist had a debate with a friend a few months back about the deficiency of really influential musicians coming out of Chicago in the past several years. We argued about the semantics of “coming out of Chicago” – does that mean born and raised here? Still living here? Commonly associated with the Second City?

careyott.jpg We never came to a clear consensus, but the conversation opened up Chicagoist’s eyes to some artists who cut their teeth in our city’s dives and clubs before going on to bigger and better things. We talked to ringer-to-the-acoustic-stars Jason Kanakis last month, and this time around we’re turning the spotlight on Ottawa bred, Chicago raised, and current Nashville resident Carey Ott.

Ott treads some of the same sweeping, cinematic songwriting tracts as fellow sort-of Chicagoans Andrew Bird and Jay Bennett. His stories are ultimately told sonically, through an intricate layering of instrumentation and a keen recognition of the impact of space within orchestration. Often times it’s the sparse moments in Ott’s extravagance that say the most, but fewer and fewer modern songsmiths have the sensibility to know when to hold back.

Even if you’re not a fan of the dude-with-an-acoustic-guitar genre, there’s no denying the ingenuity in Ott’s Randy Newman-esque pop music golden touch and impressive prolificacy. It sure wasn’t lost on the folks organizing Lollapalooza, who bestowed a coveted 2007 festival spot upon the aw-shucks songwriter. With the majority of the festival’s high profile acts barred by a no-compete clause from playing in Chicago for the three months before or after Lollapalooza, we’ve all got a chance to spend those summer concert dollars on less-publicized - yet deserving - acts coming through town.

Carey Ott plays a free show in Millenium Park this afternoon at 4 p.m., and is appearing at Martyrs later tonight at 8 p.m.