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You Must Go To Nora O'Connor's February Hideout Residency

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 27, 2014 8:15PM

Nora O'Connor (right) performing with Kelly Hogan in the Flat Five in 2008. (Photo credit: Brandi Ediss)

Groundhogs are pulled out of boxes and holes across the country every February in some cute song and dance to determine if spring will come as expected in March or if we’ll receive six more weeks of winter. Tuesdays at Hideout in February will be the musical equivalent of Groundhog Day, featuring one of our favorite local singers and musicians.

Fans of Bloodshot Records and Hideout need no introduction to Nora O’ Connor but let us run down her resume, anyway. South side native and first-generation Irish-American O’Connor is best known for being the balance in the caustic chemistry between Danny and Gina Black in The Blacks. Her goddess-like vocals have also graced albums by the likes of Mavis Staples, Andrew Bird, Neko Case, The New Pornographers, Jeff Tweedy, Archer Prewitt, The Aluminum Group, Janet Bean, Chris Mills and soul legend Otis Clay. O’Connor also tended bar at Hideout for years, is an ordained minister and a doula. This means she can theoretically marry you, deliver your baby, hand you a congratulatory shot and sing your newborn his or her first lullaby.

O’Connor is now a mother of two and doesn’t perform as often as she used to (although she did take some time to tour with Iron & Wine last year) and the last time we saw her onstage was with Kelly Hogan at the 2012 A.V. Fest/Hideout Block Party where she provided pristine backing vocals and sass to the proceedings—the same thing Hogan does for Neko Case.

Now that we have the Cliff’s Notes out of the way you should be getting excited for the shortest month of the year, when O’Connor takes the stage in a mini-residency touching on many facets of her musical career. The residency kicks off Feb. 4 with O’Connor and former Mount Pilot guitarist and singer Matt Weber reforming Cantina, a band that started when the two would sit in on Leroy Bach and Edward Burch's Monday night residency over a decade ago. Feb. 11 sees O’Connor and a band featuring Liam Davis, Steve Frisbie, Gerald Dowd, Ryan Hembrey, Grant Ty, and Max Crawford performing the 1973 Buckingham/Nicks album in its entirety. This is the album that established Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks as musicians to watch and eventually drew them into the orbit of Fleetwood Mac to create that band’s definitive lineup.

Feb. 18 is the Return of The Flat Five featuring O’Connor, Kelly Hogan, Scott Ligon, Casey McDonough and Alex Hall. Folks who remember the quintet’s Hideout residency and recent performances at Evanston’s SPACE and the clip below remind us of the group’s wide ranging influences, such as this cover of Nat Adderley’s “Sermonette” made famous by the vocalese trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.

O'Connor's residency ends Feb 25 with Precious Blood featuring her former bandmate Danny Black and Kevin McDonough of The Drapes. This is a solid residency and we're especially looking forward to the Buckingham/Nicks and Flat Five shows but the draw here is to see a true Chicago original at home, onstage.