Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials

Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials

Chicago’s Alligator Records releases nine new digital-only “Best of…” collections today from some of the label's top artists over the course of its 43-year history.

Alligator Records founder and president Bruce Iglauer personally remastered the sets from blues stars Koko Taylor, Hound Dog Taylor, James Cotton, Coco Montoya, Lil’ Ed And The Blues Imperials, Tinsley Ellis, Eric Lindell, Roomful of Blues and Lonnie Mack. Each “Best of…” will contain 15 to 20 tracks with a running length of 70 to 90 minutes, and will be available for download from all major sites.

“It was a very enjoyable but tough job choosing which tracks constitute the ‘best’ of these great artists,” said Iglauer of the hours spent relistening and remastering. “We chose their biggest radio songs and most-requested fan favorites, but also included some tracks that we consider unrecognized gems among their recordings. New fans will find these a great introduction to these artists, and established fans will find tracks they may be unaware of. I think the remastering brings out more details of the music and makes the listener appreciate the quality of these performances even more.” More: alligator.com.


• After a 2-year search, Chicago-based Americana group, Cornmeal, has officially welcomed fiddler Phillip Roach into the family. Formerly with the group The Giving Tree Band from 2009-14, Roach has been a long time friend of Cornmeal and over the last year sat-in and collaborated on occasion with them. Playing violin at age 5, Roach has performed with Midwest Young Artists, the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. He honed his skills as a youth at Nashville fiddle camps with lessons from such greats as Vassar Clements, Darol Anger, and Mark O’Conner.

“I have such admiration and love for the body of work as well as the community of fans that Cornmeal has cultivated, and I am humbly motivated to honor both entities with my genuine love for this band. I always wanted to be in a band like this, and though my time here is still new, it already feels like home,” commented Roach. More: cornmealinthekitchen.com.

• Chicago’s celebrated hit-maker Jim Peterik of The Ides of March (formerly of Survivor fame) has had a tradition of opening his rolodex once or twice a year and gathering together some famous musical friends to celebrate his and their body of work. The live debut of Jim Peterik’s World Stage took place in January 2000. The latest installment of the World Stage series happens at 8 p.m. Jan. 24 in Wentz Concert Hall at North Central College (30 N. Brainard St.) in Naperville.

The evening's lineup includes Peterik of course, The Ides of March; Toby Hitchcock (lead singer of Pride Of Lions); Bobby Kimball (lead singer of Toto); bluesman Anthony Gomes; Mike Reno (lead singer of Loverboy); Rik Emmmett (lead singer/guitarist of Triumph); and Cathy Richardson (lead singer of The Jefferson Starship). More: jimpeterik.com. Tickets: $60, $50 available at (630) 637-SHOW (7469) or northcentralcollege.edu/event.

• Another of Chicago’s premiere songwriters and performers, Michael McDermott dropped an email to “The Local Scene” announcing The Westies, his new band project with his equally talented wife Heather Horton, will release its debut album on Jan. 20. Titled “West Side Stories,” McDermott explained  the songs are inspired by the real life Westies, who were a ruthless gang of Irish mob punks that ruled Hell's Kitchen in the '60s and '70s.

“All I ever wanted to do was write songs and tell stories, like my grandparents and parents did from a long Irish lineage,” added McDermott. “With that lineage came a proclivity for drink, for mayhem, and a wee bit of crime. I write what I know and what I know is, much of the time, ugly. The gangsters here serve as a metaphor for the dark side that lurks inside us all. The unexplained forces that cause internal struggles, destroy relationships and leave us clinging to love as just a memory.” More: westiesmusic.com.

• Those suffering with the sub-zero winter hum-drums might benefit from some laughter. Studies show laughing is healthy for the mind and the body. So Crown Point Community Theatre is offering local folks with a funny bone the opportunity to learn theatrical improvisational skills with CPCT’s new “Improv Fundamentals” Monday evening class at their theater (1125 Merrillville Road) in Crown Point.

The eight-week Improv Comedy class for adults begins Jan. 19 and runs through March 2 (7-9 p.m.) with instructor Nelson Velazquez, currently the Artistic Director of Salsation Theatre Company. Cost is $100. Information and class reservations: (219) 805-4255. More: cpct.biz.

• Perennial region rockers M&R RUSH will be in-studio guests on “Midwest BEAT with Tom Lounges” at 6 p.m. Jan. 20 on 89.1FM-The Lakeshore.

Looking ahead a few weeks: Chicago blues-rock group Howard & The White Boys guest in-studio Jan. 28; Peppy Castro of the ‘60s psychedelic band The Blues Magoos guests Feb. 3, and national country/blues artist Anne McCue guests Feb. 10. All shows at 6 p.m. Lakeshore Public Radio may be streamed live in real time online at: lakeshorepublicmedia.org.


Entertainment Editor/Features Reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.