Chicago singer-songwriter Sean Guinan has apparently decided our current cultural moment isn’t Weimar Republic enough. How else to explain Candy Town, the musical troupe he put together five years ago, which has been gleefully trawling Chicago’s demimonde ever since? (Though perhaps seeking to create a Chicago demimonde is more accurate.) Got up in greasepaint, a bowler hat and a backroom croupier’s shirtsleeves, Guinan fronts the band with sinuous glee, flanked by two singers—Maggie O’Keefe and Kristin Srail—who are more often than not dressed in cat suits. Actually, that’s not doing justice to the Stanislavskian way they inhabit those suits; they’ve got a wider repertoire of feline gestures at their disposal than the entire cast of a certain bloated Broadway musical. As for Candy Town’s tunes, they’re not so much a throwback to mid-thirties gypsy blues and honky tonk, as to mid-seventies nostalgia for mid-thirties gypsy blues and honky tonk. Think Tom Waits by way of Kander and Ebb. “I should’ve been a big sensation,” go the mournful lyrics to one decidedly upbeat lament, “I should’ve told a taller tale / I should’ve overthrown the nation / Instead you find me here flipping the whale.” Which is only to say that Candy Town is a fully modern ironic construct—as much commentary as homage. It’s also hella fun. The band features Max Dombrowski on guitar, Beth Earl on bass, Nick Shephard on drums, Cassandra Lynn on violin and vocals, Dana Shin on cello, and Megan Morrison on clarinet. Also on the bill: Dirty Dirty Dollars and Little Boy Jr. (Robert Rodi)
June 5 at Double Door, 1551 North Damen, (773)489-3160. $10/$20 VIP. 21+
Robert Rodi is an author, spoken-word performer and musician who has served as Newcity’s Music Editor since 2014. He’s written more than a dozen books, including the travel memoir “Seven Seasons In Siena.” His jazz quintet recently completed a two-year residency at Uncommon Ground, and he regularly hosts a jazz singers’ jam at Lizard’s Liquid Lounge. His literary and music criticism has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Salon, The Huffington Post and many other national and regional publications.