Monthly Archives: January 2022

Excellent Reggae Rock! Kash’d Out opening for Badfish at House of Blues Chicago (January 28, 2022)

Kash’d Out opens with “Good at Gettin’ By”. “Some people they got way more that they need. I wonder why, cause’ I don’t even have to try. I’m gettin’ good at gettin’ by.” This is such a fun song about living easy with no worries. It immediately creates a chill vibe.

Later on they sing “So Blessed”. “I’m thinking we should put tomorrow on hold and just live in the moment.” Wow, such a great lyric. This song exudes coolness.

Later on they play “Way Too High for This”. “Step back, slow down. I can’t deal with that right now, I’m way too high for this. Way too high for this.” This is a fantastic party song that has everyone singing along to the incredibly catchy chorus.

They close with the fantastic “Yes I”. “ You must love your marijuana and I say: Yes I, Yes I, Yes I, Yes I, Yes I do.” It’s such a great chill reggae song that has everyone swaying along.

Every song has great lyrics and an excellent reggae beat. The future is bright for this young band out of Orlando, FL.

See their past setlists here.

Cost of a ticket: $27.50
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It +
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Quinn Delaney


Review: Compass Theatre Presents Wellesley Girl at Theatre Wit (Through February 5, 2022)

The year is 2465 and fewer than 435 Americans are alive. Everyone is a member of Congress. A group of people are camping just beyond the walls of the city and Congress must decide how to act. Should they send a diplomatic emissary or should they attack first and ask questions later? It’s a heated debate as they decide how to proceed.

Firstly, the idea that everyone would be in Congress is quite silly. The idea that the size of the cast equals the number of Congress members does make sense. The arguments in session are great as they spar over procedure and their course of action.

Todd Wojcik (Eurydice, Requiem for a Heavyweight) is excellent as the warmonger politician pushing the attack first mission with a complete disregard for the rules of Congress. Darren Jones is fantastic as his main adversary, pushing for diplomacy and following procedure. Denise Hoeflich is great as the leader of Congress, trying to maintain order in the chaotic environment. When she comes home, she is comforted by Ted James (School for Lies), who plays her robot husband. He is absolutely hilarious as he tries to figure out human politics.

Brandon Boler is solid as the reluctant congressman who abstains from voting most of the time. His wife, Allyce Torres, is superb as she expresses her outrage over her husband’s actions and then a second time against the attack first option. Deanna Reed-Foster (The First Deep Breathe, Be Here Now) is great as the only member of the Supreme Court. She exudes authority and leadership. Lastly, Noah Villarreal and Grant Lewis are solid in their supporting roles.

Cost of a ticket: $40

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

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Get tickets now for Wellesley Girl through February 5th!


Blues Rock! Ana Popović at City Winery Chicago (January 26, 2022)

Ana Popović is on tour promoting her latest album, Live for Live. It was released in 2020.

Her band tonight is excellent. Each one of them has a solo during the night and absolutely crushes it. Here is the lineup:

– Jeremy Thomas: keys

– Buthel Burns: bass + b-vocals

– Kwesi Robinson: drums + b-vocals

– Jordan Carr: trumpet

– Evan Knight: saxophone

To close her set, she plays “Lasting Kind of Love”. “It’s not a lasting kind of love, it’s temporary.” “And baby, I don’t mind”. It’s a groovy track about casual relationships. It is a fantastic blues song that really showcases her vocal talent.

She closes out the night with “Boys’ Night Out”. It’s a fun jammer about letting your man go out and release some stress. It features her virtuosic guitar playing which left the crowd dancing all the way home!

See her past setlists here.

Cost of a ticket: $28

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Impressive Singing! The Jackie Smook Program of De-Dumbification at Davenport’s Piano Bar and Cabaret (Through June 4, 2022)

Jackie tells us the story of her history in the performing arts. It starts with a very humble beginning and ends with this show. Along the way she attends Boston Conservatory and The Second City. She uses puppets and humor to tell her tale, but the real highlight is her vocals. Jackie Smook is an impressive singer. Accompanied by Joey Chimes on piano, the songs sound absolutely fantastic and Broadway worthy.

Cost of a ticket: $20 + a two drink minimum

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

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Get tickets now for The Jackie Smook Program of De-Dumbification through June 4!


Hilarious! Saint Sebastian Players Present The Real Inspector Hound at St. Bonaventure (Through February 6, 2022)

Two theatre critics are attending a murder mystery play. On stage, the housekeeper turns on the radio. As a man enters the back door, a police message comes on saying they are searching for a man that exactly fits the description of the man sneaking into the house. We later learn that he is dating two women at the same time without them knowing about it. This whole time, a man is laying dead near the front of the stage, half covered by a couch, without anyone noticing.

All Photos by Robert-Eric West

To start the second half of the show, the phone starts ringing and there is nobody on stage to answer it. So, one of the theatre critics goes on stage to answer it. The other characters treat her as if she is the man dating two women. It’s a repeat of the earlier scene for everyone else as she fumbles on stage in an absolutely farcical manner. Things just get crazier and funnier from here.

The entire cast is excellent. Shelley DeHosse is hilarious as the maid, especially when she is saying lines to obviously give information about the play that a normal person wouldn’t say. Claire Rutkowski is so funny over-acting as one of the women the man is dating. Sarah Seidler is great as the other woman, still in love with her missing husband. Croix Dakota Perkins is solid as the mysterious man in the middle of all of this. Eric S. Prahl is good and silly as the wheelchair-bound friend. Valerie Gerlock and Gabrielle Arietta Cross are solid as the self-engrossed theatre critics. Lastly, Adam Hoak is spot on as the old school Inspector Hound searching for answers.

Get tickets now for The Real Inspector Hound through February 6th!

Cost of a ticket: $25

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value –

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Quinn Delaney

Grooving! Neil Francis at Thalia Hall (January 14, 2022)

Two days before the show, Thalia announces they will be covid testing on site before you are granted access. Here is the lengthy process.  Firstly, you line up outside the testing center while it is snowing. Then, they hand you a form to fill out. After filling out the form, you then have to fill out another form online and copy the code onto the hard form. At last, you go inside and get a cotton swap shoved up your nose. Then you wait inside for 10 minutes. You realize your tester has not returned and you ask another person if your results have come back. They find your card and you are given an orange wristband. You then go outside and head to the venue where they ask for your vaccination card and ID. At last you enter Thalia Hall and are immediately asked to remove all items from your pockets and are then wanded with a metal detector. You go up the stairs and then they check your ticket. Afterwards, another person checks your ID so you can get alcohol. At last, you are finished. Do you get to meet the President or the Queen of England now?!

At last, the concert begins. Neil Francis was in prime form tonight. He was very excited to play Thalia Hall, which is walking distance from where he lives. His last Chicago show was in Millennium Park on September 9th.

One of the best songs is “Can’t Stop The Rain”. It’s so catchy and so groovy. “You can’t stop the rain! It’s always coming down! It’s always gonna fall, but you’re not gonna drown!” Everyone is swaying and dancing along. His style of music is a blend of 70s southern rock, Americana, soul, and Chicago funk.

Another great groover is Changes, Pts. 1 & 2. It includes a very long jam that continually builds to a fantastic climax. The whammy bar on the keyboard is uncommon to see, and he uses it fantastically.

Cost of a ticket: $42 (including fees)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

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See the full setlist here.

Quinn Delaney

Darkly Funny! The Moors at A Red Orchid Theatre (Through February 27, 2022)

Two sisters living in the desolate moors hire a governess to come and teach their child. After the governess has been there for a few days without meeting the child or the man who wrote to her, she begins to get suspicious. Also, their dog meets a moor-hen and starts an interesting relationship with her.

The story, written by Jen Silverman (The Roommate), is darkly funny. It’s an unusual setting for a comedy and she takes advantage of that.

Audrey Billings (Avenue Q) is great as the governess, the newcomer trying to figure out what is going on in this strange place. Christina Gorman (3C) is fantastic as one of the sisters, who is very interested in the governess and her travels. Karen Aldridge is excellent as the other sister, who hides a big secret. Jennifer Engstrom (Bug) is fantastic as the maid who mysteriously takes on different roles depending on which room she is in. Guy Van Swearingen practically steals the show as the dog with a philosopher’s heart. Dado matches Swearingen’s hilarity as the Moor-Hen.

Get tickets now for The Moors through February 27.

Cost of a ticket: $30-$40

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

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See the program here.

Quinn Delaney

Reggae Rock – Kaleo Wassman (Of Pepper) at City Winery Chicago (January 13, 2022)

Pepper is a great live band to see live. They last appeared in Chicago opening for Iration in July 2019. See the review here. Tonight, the lead singer, Kaleo Wassman is performing an acoustic set. He has a friend accompanying him on guitar and sometimes bass. 

Kaleo mentions that he really connected with Eric one night when they both sang along to “Don’t Push” by Sublime. So, they cover the song with Eric singing. The vocals are very fast in this song and he nails it.

Later on he talks about growing up in Kona on the west coast of the Big Island in Hawaii. He wrote “Rent” about this time. “My mama working so hard just to get me by. How could I ever thank you?”

They play “Back Home”. With the full band it’s a rocking song, but on acoustic it doesn’t work quite as well.

They also play a Sabotage Soundsystem song. It’s another band that Kaleo fronts.

While it was great to see Kaleo perform, it is definitely a much fuller experience when he plays with the full band.

Cost of a ticket: $53.50 (after fees)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price

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Quinn Delaney

Funny and Dramatic! Broadway in Chicago Presents Oklahoma! at CIBC Theatre (Through January 23, 2022)

Oklahoma! first opened on Broadway in 1943. It was the first musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944. In 1955, the film version was released. In 2019, Daniel Fish’s version opened on Broadway. It won the Tony for best musical revival.

In the story, two men, a cowpoke and a famer, vie for the same woman. Also, a second love triangle involves two men, a cowboy and a peddler, involved with another woman.

This reimagination truly makes this story fresh and makes it fit into the current time period. This is accomplished without changing a single world of the text. It’s an amazing feat that you have to see to believe.

Christopher Bannow is excellent as the farmer trying his best to win the heart of the woman he loves. Sean Grandillo is great as the cocky cowpoke whom everyone loves. Sasha Hutchings is fantastic as the woman driving these two men crazy for her.

Hennessy Winkley is superb as the cowboy struggling to get together enough money to win over the father of the woman he loves. Mitch Tebo is excellent as the father exerting a lot of sway over who will marry his daughter. Benj Mirman is hilarious as the peddler getting forced into marriage at the barrel of his fiancée’s shotgun. Sis is outstandingly fierce and funny as the flirtatious fiancée.

Hannah Solow has one hell of a laugh. Gabrielle Hamilton is excellent in the modern dance piece to open the second act. Lastly, Barbara Walsh, Patrick Clanton, and Ugo Chukwu are all solid in their roles as well. All together they make a fantastic cast.

Get tickets now for Oklahoma through January 23rd!

Cost of a ticket: $90 (Orchestra seats)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price +

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Quinn Delaney

Excellent Singer-Songwriter! Marielle Kraft opening for Maddie Poppe at City Winery Chicago (January 4, 2022)

Marielle Kraft’s mother never approved of her ex. She never asked about him, for 2 years. She put this into the song “Everyone But Me”. “My mom stopped asking how we are. My friends don’t want you at the party.” Her lyrics perfectly explain the feeling of dating someone who your friends and family don’t like.

When things finally end with this ex, he asks if they can stay friends. She says no, because as her next song title clearly says, “We Were Never Friends”. It’s a great breakup song that lays it out so clearly.

Next, she sings “Toothbrush” about the next guy she dates. “I hid your toothbrush this morning… I think it’s too much too soon to be falling in love again.” She nails it again about getting into a new relationship too soon after a long one just ended.

On the day she is moving to Nashville, she runs into her ex at the coffee shop. They don’t talk, but she notices he leaves with two coffees. It’s a gut punch that she perfectly captures in “Second Coffee”.  “Who’s that second coffee for? Will you leave it at her door?”

These four songs paint such a clear picture of this time in her life. It’s such a great narrative that she could easily turn it into a musical. She is truly a great singer-songwriter.

Catch Marielle Kraft next at Schubas on February 21st!

Cost of a ticket: $30

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

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Quinn Delaney