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A Local Music Friendsgiving

Updated: Jan 9

A plate set for a local music Friendsgiving

With Friendsgiving around the corner, it is a wonderful time to recognize the comradeship in our local music community. As someone who has been involved in the scene for the last six years, I have met some of the most compassionate and benevolent humans. From attending each other’s shows to collaborating on each other’s music to sporting each other’s merch, I have seen so much encouragement shown by artists. It is really important that artists advocate for and uplift one another. Here are several of my favorite songs about friendship and community by some incredibly talented musicians based in the Chicago-land area:

One of the singles off of their highly anticipated debut album, “This One’s For You” successfully captures the grind of pursuing a career in the arts. It opens with a gritty riff on the guitar and a drum pattern that instantly brings you to your feet. Almost every artist can relate to being discouraged by an empty tip bucket or the number of streams their recent single has received. Rejection, burn-out, exhaustion, and insecurity are things that no artist is unfamiliar with. Although hardship and adversity comes with the career, a passion for the arts and recognition for the healing powers of music keeps people on this path. The message of the song serves as a reminder to keep striving and stay true to your craft. “This One’s For You” is an example of artists showing appreciation to artists. This song paints a picture of what it is like to be in this field and empowers fellow creatives to stay the course. Also, the stellar music video was filmed at one of the most nourishing spaces for local music, Black Dog Vinyl Café in Plainfield, IL. Make sure to check out the statement-making and rocking, ‘Ain't Gonna Change’ out everywhere now!

2. “Optimistic”- Jack The Acquaintance

“Optimistic” is a song with a powerful and uplifting message of hope. It is one of the fan-favorites on his debut album ‘I Killed Rock and Roll’. Lyrics like “I’m not naïve, I believe, I’m optimistic, dedicated. But I know it’s out of my hands. Yeah I know it’s out of my hands” drive the point that although we do not have control over what happens to us in life, we do have a choice in how we respond. Having ambition and a belief in something should be celebrated. Too often are artists told to dim their light. Jack shines a light on several local musicians in our community in the music video. It was a creative way to highlight members of our music community and drive the song's point home : you should believe in yourself, your art, and your artist friends. Jack also does a great service to the scene by sharing other music on Acquainted Waves. Make sure to give him a follow and keep an ear out for Jack The Acquaintance Band shows in 2024!

3. “Chicago Song”- Jason Benefield

Whenever I go to a Jason Benefield show, someone in the crowd asks for this wholesome and upbeat song full of exquisite story-telling. “Chicago Song” pays homage to our great city with rightfully mentioning The Cubs, John Prine, Muddy Waters, and more iconic figures of Illinois. Along with the extremely catchy melody, exquisite guitar work, and heartfelt performance, fans resonate with the pride for Chicago demonstrated in this tune. It is highly relatable and sparks fond memories of our city. The arts are the foundation of Chicago. Jason helps promote other music and arts events by setting up shows with his company Captain Thunderbeard. He often invites incredibly talented women-songwriters to share the stage with him at his own shows. He is one of the most respected musicians in our community. Make sure to follow him on his ride in the Chicago music scene here.

4. “Boys In The Band”- Aaron Kelly

If you like songs that are so descriptive that you feel like you are actually a part of them, then you will love this tune by Aaron Kelly. “Boys in the Band” tells the story of being on the road with your bandmates and the wild scenarios that it can put you in. There is a sense of adventure, amity, and togetherness that comes with touring the world alongside your fellow musicians. Oftentimes, your bandmates become your best friends. Throughout this song, you get to meet a few eccentric, funny, and relatable characters. What I love about this tune is how it perfectly mixes humor and fun with the tough reality of being a traveling musician. The line “Lend your hearts, ears, money and your hands to the band” is one of my favorites because it is what all of us artists are asking for. One of Aaron’s superpowers as a songwriter is immense empathy. Aaron Kelly’s music will be sure to make you feel you are in the band. Check out his colorful, heartfelt, honest and witty songs in the link here. Give Aaron Kelly Band’s ‘Song Still Sing’ a spin and get ready for new music coming soon! Aaron also supports the scene by hosting several open mics in the area as well as Songwriter Series at The Venue in Aurora!

Wilco is arguably one of the most innovative and influential bands based in Illinois. Forming in 1994, they have been performing in Chicago for over 30 years. From winning multiple Grammy awards for their album “A Ghost Is Born” to donating to several local charities, they have been a group that this community is proud to call their own. Therefore, it is ironic that they tell a story of an artist that never has had their music see the light of day in their song “The Late Greats”. This incredibly well-written tune emphasizes how some of the most beautiful, original, and praise-worthy art isn’t rightfully recognized or even accessible. The song relates to how local musicians often don’t receive the immense appreciation they deserve. The lines “The best songs will never get sung. The best life never leaves your lungs. So good, you won't ever know. You can't hear it on the radio” describe how some of the greatest music doesn’t get a chance to be heard. This song is a reminder to me that there are always artists in my community that I need to discover or continue to support. It is our responsibility as creators to make sure our fellow creators have a platform. It is important that we encourage our local musicians so they don’t produce “the greatest lost track of all time”.

The arts are the foundation of our community. In light of Thanksgiving, I encourage you to show some gratitude to a local artist. It can be as easy as liking their posts, sharing links for their music to a friend, leaving a positive review on their Facebook page, recommending them to a local venue/space for live music, etc. If you feel so inclined, buy one of their albums or a merch item from their website. All of these acts of kindness can encourage and uplift a local artist in extraordinary ways! As for my fellow creators, we are in this together. When one of us is propped up, we all get to see a little better. We all deserve a seat at the table. Happy Friendsgiving!


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