🎧 A music critic’s reflection of 2022.

The Daily Reader

spend a lot of time reflecting on my own work in this newsletter.

Few other formats available to me allow me to discuss the process of making the sausage quite like a newsletter, and I like to think it brings our readers a little closer to the work we do. Or at least the work I do. 

Since I am far from the only person who contributes to the Reader‘s music section, and since we’re in the publication cycle that encourages critics to reflect on the year, I’d like to use this space rounding up some of the great work we’ve run this year by other writers. I am a sucker for long-form music writing, and am particularly fond of the deep-tissue music features the Reader publishes. So, if you haven’t made the time to read these stories by my colleagues, now is a great time to jump in:

Chicago’s Black musical visionaries charted paths for their communities in the 1950s and ’60s, by Bill Meyer 
How a gospel vocal style walked into Chicago and out to the world, by Noah Berlatsky 
Chicago’s 1920s nightlife incubated world-changing musical and social experiments, by Jacob Arnold 
P.S. Studios, where a musician recorded musicians, by Ayana Contreras 
Malachi Ritscher gave Chicago’s fringe music his whole heart, by Kerry Cardoza 
Chicago’s instrument industry helps the world make music, by Jamie Ludwig 
Duranguense: made in Chicago, by Gisela Orozco 
Mandingo Griot Society: a global exchange born in Chicago,by Aaron Cohen 
Catholic school house,” by Duane Powell

An interview with Saba: ‘For me, home is the people,‘” by Janaya Greene 
A tribute to Syl and Jimmy Johnson, by Aaron Cohen 

“‘I don’t need fans, I need comrades,‘” by Annie Howard 
Rescuing the legacy of Dancin’ Man,” by Jake Austen 
A new retrospective brings Barbie Army back to the front lines, by Jen B. Larson 

Beau O’Reilly keeps the folk cabaret alive,by Mark Guarino 
Judas Christ Superstar: Easter thoughts on being just,“ by Katie Prout 

Dropping beats and seeds, by Alejandro Hernandez 
A guide to midwestern radiators and their calls, by Katie Prout 
What if hearing aids were as easy to get as reading glasses?, by Jamie Ludwig 
Ele Matelan tells stories with sound effects,by Kerry Reid 
Chrissie Dickinson died with too much writing yet to do and too much art yet to create,” by Cynthia Jenkins

Soul singer Ruby Andrews makes a career change, by Bill Dah
Pravda Records goes the distance, by Mark Guarino 
Mother Nature ascend a queenly throne, by Alejandro Hernandez 

Daniel Villarreal guides his far-out grooves with the distant star of tradition, by Sandra Treviño 
Living with Muddy,” by Deitra Farr 

From the husk of the old Morton Salt factory, a new music venue rises, by Hannah Edgar 
Claude creates dream pop for facing nightmares,by Tasha Viets-VanLear 
Charles Stepney built lasting cathedrals inside Black music, by Ayana Contreras 
Jaimie Branch has flown away too soon, by Bill Meyer 

NaomiG steps into a new world for women in hip-hop, by Kenyatta Victoria 
A performance for the people, by Kelly Garcia 

The Hyde Park Jazz Festival returns to full flower, by Michael Jackson 
Divino Niño rebuild their sound for maximum danceability, by Mary Retta 
Music Fest threw open the stages on the Logan Square strip, by Debbie-Marie Brown 
Healing, music, and love,” by Alejandro Hernandez 

Pianist Richard Gibbs pays tribute to Inez Andrews and Aretha Franklin, by Aaron Cohen 
East side flavor,” by Alejandro Hernandez 

The reinvention of indie music, chapter one,” by Philip Montoro
This doesn’t account for all the music stories the Reader published this year, or even all the features. I skipped over the few previews of free music festivals, and I missed Steve Krakow’s always excellent “
Secret History of Chicago Music” column—if you haven’t read his deep-dive on Stations yet, stop whatever you’re doing and get to it! Philip Montoro handled the lion’s share of editing these stories. Earlier this month, he celebrated his 26th Reader anniversary, and he’s consistently impressing me with his work and dedication to our staff writers and freelance contributors. I consider it an honor to be one of the people who has worked closely with him for a fraction of the time he’s been at the paper.
One of the many things I admire about Philip is his desire to bring new voices to the Reader. That’s evident to me from the list above. And if you’ve ever wanted to write for the Reader, I highly recommend pitching. I got my start here by sending Philip a freelance pitch in the spring of 2010, and I haven’t stopped contributing since.
This page has a handy rundown of how to pitch specific editors.

Regardless, I hope the rest of your 2022 treats you kindly, and may you have a lovely New Year’s Eve.


 In Loving Memory of Edwin Ortiz,” by Complex staff (Complex)
 Chicago Emo Review (2022),” by Hugo Reyes (Medium)
 Play Like a Man,” by Rose Marshack (Belt Magazine) 

 Ezy Minus, Interstellar
 The Beths, Experts in a Dying Field
 Toloro, You Are Who You Know
🎧 Leor’s “Last Reader playlist of 2022″ playlist

Chicago alternative hip-hop group Bonelang shoot for the moon with Nervous Oracle
by Leor Galil
Percussionists Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang celebrate community, farewells, and renewals at their annual solstice concerts
by Bill Meyer

Local soul sensation Jo Ann Garrett disappeared from the biz in her 20s
This flexible, distinctive singer worked with the likes of Pervis Spann, Andre Williams, and Charles Stepney—but her career lasted only a few years.

by Steve Krakow
When he’s not backing big-time rockers, Chicago guitarist Steve Gerlach surfs the stratosphere with Outronaut
by Leor Galil

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Issue of
Dec. 8 – Dec. 21, 2022
Vol. 52, No.

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