May 24, 2017 • Martyrs', Chicago, IL
Thirty years ago, Michael Stipe walked into a Nashville recording studio with his band mates and sang these words:
“The time to rise has been engaged.
You're better best to rearrange.”
With those ominous lyrics, R. E. M. launched into their fifth studio album, Document.
“Listen to the Congress
Where we propagate confusion.”
And though the album was inspired by the waning years of the Reagan administration when the Iran-Contra hearings dominated the headlines for months on end,…
“‘They're going wild,’ the call came in
At early morning pre-dawn, then
‘The followers of chaos out of control’”
…the songs R. E. M. chose for that album sound eerily like they could have been written today.
“There's something strange going on tonight.
There's something going on that's not quite right.”
Join Great Moments in Vinyl as we relive the rise of R. E. M., beginning with their first major commercial success in 1986, Lifes Rich Pageant, to the album that marked their need to speak out about their outrage in 1987, Document.
Tickets available through martyrslive.com.
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April 14, 2017 • Lake Forest College Chapel, Lake Forest, IL
Our FREE concert! And our first all ages show!
It’s been a long, strange trip since The Dead played Barton Hall on the Cornell University campus in May of 1977. Bootlegs of that show are highly regarded among collectors as one of the best concerts that legendary band ever recorded. And as the 40th anniversary of that event approaches, Great Moments in Vinyl relives that celebrated performance by presenting all the music from their setlist from start to finish, from the opening lines of “New Minglewood Blues” through the fan favorites “Jack Straw” and “Scarlet Begonias” past the not yet released “Estimated Prophet” to the climactic “St. Stephen” and the traditional closer “One More Saturday Night.”
March 23, 2017 • Martyrs', Chicago, IL
Nevermind paved the way for a new era of rock, the rough and ready alternative sound that journalists labeled “grunge.” At the time, the album unseated Michael Jackson’s Dangerous at the top of the Billboard album charts, and then went on to sell 10 million copies in the U. S. and 30 million copies worldwide.
According to Rolling Stone, it was the “album that guaranteed the ‘90s would not suck.”
Great Moments in Vinyl captures the vicious joy of two of Nirvana’s best-loved albums, Nevermind and MTV Unplugged in New York, by performing them in their entirety accompanied by stories about the songs and the musicians that created them.
"Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired."
“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.”
― Neil Gaiman
“'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”
― Alfred Tennyson
. . . .
No one ever said being in love would be easy. Monday, February 13th, the night before Valentine's Day, Great Moments in Vinyl feels your pain with an assortment of songs about the ups and downs of relationships...from such artists as U2, Indigo Girls, Fleetwood Mac, The Police, Regina Spektor, Dire Straits, Tori Amos, and Sinead O'Connor.
The course of true love never did run smooth. And we've got the songs to prove it! Get your tickets now and join us for our City Winery debut!
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
February 3, 2017 • Martyrs', Chicago, IL
Great Moments in Vinyl packed the house at Martyrs’ with our tribute to two classic Rolling Stones albums at the beginning of December. So we’ve decided to make a roomful of music fans very happy once again with two more Rolling Stones faves.
The Stones began their career with the intention of becoming the best blues band in Britain. But by the mid-’60s they found themselves at the top of the pop charts instead. When the fad of psychedelia swept through the music world, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and the rest of the band dutifully followed suit.
It turned out that trippy lyrics and even trippier music wasn’t a good fit, and the Stones' reign at the top appeared to be coming to an end. Instead of calling it a day, the Stones got their bearings and charted a new direction for their music marrying their roots in the blues to the driving rhythms of rock and roll and serving it up with plenty of edge and attitude. The end result? Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed, the first two in a string of albums the Stones released that are still considered the most memorable in rock.
December 2, 2016 • Martyrs', Chicago, IL
The success of Sticky Fingers made The Stones filthy rich. But when their U. K. taxes came due, they had nothing left to pay them with. So rather than be faced with legal action, the band members relocated to France and started recording their next album in the basement of Keith Richards’ rented villa.
It was a turbulent time. Mick Jagger was itching to explore new directions musically. Keith Richards, on the other hand, was giving himself over to his heroin addiction. And with no clear guiding hand, the other band members participated in the sessions only haphazardly. Still, Richards did manage to get a couple dozen basic tracks recorded which prompted Jagger to take the tapes to L. A. and set about polishing the performances. As he later explained, “I had to finish the whole record myself, because otherwise there were just these drunks and junkies.” The result was Exile on Main St., a double record set that in spite of its ragged beginnings has been heralded repeatedly as one of the best albums of all time.
Maybe Keith Richards’ assessment of the band at that period explains the album’s brilliance. “The point is that the Stones had reached a point where we no longer had to do what we were told to do.”
October 27, 2016 • Martyrs', Chicago, IL
Purple Rain. It was a movie. It was an album. It was a song. And together, they transformed a moderately successful R’n’B singer into an international sensation.
The man knew the power of image. As the era of MTV dawned, Prince’s video for “Little Red Corvette” helped break down racial barriers on the network as it broke his music to legions of new fans. (Who can forget his dance moves complete with those effortless splits?) Seeing the potential of creating an entire movie to go with his songs, Prince instructed his managers to find someone who would help him create a film to go with his next album…or he would find new managers who would.
It was a demand that paid off handsomely. Purple Rain earned back its $7.2 million investment its first weekend and went on to gross over $80 million worldwide. The accompanying soundtrack album Purple Rain sold 1.5 million copies its debut week and has racked up sales of over 22 million copies to date. And the song? “Purple Rain” has been heralded by Rolling Stone as one of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” championed by Q magazine as one of “The 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks,” and honored by Pitchfork Media as “The Best Song of the 1980s.”
September 22, 2016 • Martyrs', Chicago, IL
“Some may remember May 8, 1977, as a helluva party. Some may remember it as the time a riot almost broke out on Cornell University’s campus. The world will remember it as the night the Grateful Dead played one of the greatest rock shows of all time.”
So begins a 2015 article in The Ithaca Journal celebrating the legendary night that the best jam band in the world performed for an eager and passionate crowd only to have the music and the energy documented for all time by one of the earliest high-fidelity soundboard recordings made.
Typically, when Great Moments in Vinyl takes the stage, we aim to rekindle the memories of specific studio albums. But for this concert, the band will instead be playing tribute to a bootleg recording hallowed in the Dead canon as one of their best. It's the show reverently referred to by fans as simply “Cornell ’77.”
It was a memorable set, one that showcased music from throughout The Dead’s first decade, from their debut album to their as yet unreleased forthcoming record, Terrapin Station. And as always, as Great Moments in Vinyl brings back the music, the performance will be accompanied by stories about the songs and the legendary musicians who created them.
August 31, 2016 • Martyrs', Chicago, IL
Someday they’ll make a movie of Regina Spektor’s life. Born to Jewish parents in anti-Semitic Soviet Russia. Fled to the U. S. during Perestroika at age 9. Grew up in the Bronx studying music with a noted pianist who taught her for free. Enjoyed singing whimsical songs that she made up for fun until one day she started playing along with them on her piano. Brought those tunes to the New York nightclub scene and found an audience. Signed a recording contract. Then her music started getting chosen to complement all sorts of TV shows and movies, most recently the theme song for Orange Is the New Black and singing the end credits for Kubo and the Two Strings.
Regina Spektor’s life is a great rags to riches story. With challenges to be met. Adversity to be overcome. And inspiration to offer.
Great Moments in Vinyl plays tribute to this singular artist. Because we know one thing for sure: when they do make a movie of Regina Spektor’s life, it’ll have a hell of a soundtrack!
June 30, 2016 • Martyrs', Chicago, IL
Astral Weeks was Van Morrison’s first record for his new label, Warner Brothers, the company that bought him out of an onerous recording contract with his previous label and basically rescued his career. But given that Morrison had new corporate masters to please, why was Astral Weeks such an unorthodox, uncommercial album? Part of that can be chalked up to the Warner Brothers vision of building an artist’s career rather than chasing after hits.
But another part was that for freeing Morrison, his previous record company had been promised half the profits from any hit singles off his first Warner Brothers album. There wasn’t a lot of incentive to record any songs that could be Top 40 hits. And as you know, Van Morrison used the opportunity to explore his creativity a different way.
But then came time to make his second record for Warners. And all those catchy melodies and tightly crafted lyrics that were bubbling around in Morrison’s head? Well, with the album Moondance, he finally had the perfect place to set them free.