Hot on the heels of the Empty Bottle’s new free-with-RSVP concerts comes the announcement, by the Logan Square bar and concert space the Whistler, of a new “50 Free Records” series, beginning February 2. As the name implies, the promotion offers a free record to the first fifty customers every Wednesday night.
Visitors might be surprised to learn that the Whistler also runs its own in-house label, which was actually opened before the tap ever opened the doors at its Milwaukee Avenue locale, debuting with a release by Karl Blau in March 2008, six months or so before the Whistler opened. Blau, a folk musician from Anacortes, Washington, is quite a catch for an upstart record label’s first release considering his longstanding relationship with legendary Olympia, Washington-based K Records.
While Blau remains the sole non-Chicagoan to release on Whistler, the label has eight other records to its name including a split White Mystery and Black Apple seven-inch, a Hood Internet and Kid Static seven-inch, and a full-length release by In Tall Buildings, the solo project of Erik Hall, who is probably better known for his work as a multi-instrumentalist playing for famed afro-beat/future funk ensemble NOMO. Whistler Records also has seven more releases slated to come out this year, according to label representative Billy Helmkamp.
“Much like the live music you can see at The Whistler, our label features many different genres of music,” Helmkamp says. The label seems to have a greater focus on representing a local community of artists rather than any specific style of music, as one can see from its early offerings, which jump from jazz to indie-rock, from hip-hop to folk.
Wednesday nights generally bring a mix of rock and pop shows to the venue’s stage, with an occasional cocktail-centric event thrown in. Now, the Whistler hopes, fans of the venue and the live music it attracts will have one more reason to make it their hump-day retreat. (David Wicik)