Oct 24, 2022 - News

Rock critic reviews his road to sobriety

book cover

Image courtesy of Ice Cube Press.

Chicago native Don McLeese chronicled the hard-living music scene for decades, including his time as the Sun-Times rock critic.

What's happening: McLeese will chat about recovery, rock and covering the local music scene with Monica at the Hideout on Wednesday night.

  • We asked a few warm-up questions:

Q. What inspired the book?

  • "To try to make sense of how the worst day of my life became one of the best days of my life. I often understand something best through the process of writing about it."

Q. What surprised you in the process?

  • "How one thing in my life led to another, including parts of my life that I haven't thought about in decades and almost seem like they had happened to a different person."

Q. What do you want people to take from it?

  • "That you don't need to be a down-and-out drunk for sobriety to change your life in some very enriching ways. But I more generally hope they consider it a story worth telling and well written."

McLeese's greatest local rock bands of all time?

  • "The Paul Butterfield Blues Band: I could give a long explanation of their rock legacy, and crucial connection with Bob Dylan."
  • "Cheap Trick: Yeah, Rockford, but great enough to overcome that distance."
  • "The ever-expanding universe of Jon Langford bands: He came to Chicago after I left and has so deeply imprinted himself upon the city's music, art and culture."

Reader responses to the same question:

Paul T.: "Anna Fermin and Trigger Gospel. Fermin had a soaring voice that made me think she may have had some Linda Ronstadt DNA swirling around in her body. One night at Fitzgerald's album release party, her Filipino family showed up with food and fed the audience!"

Arianna V.: "What about the Fruit Bats?"

Maggie B.: "Hi Fi & The Roadburners, Rockin' Billy & the Wild Coyotes, Three Blue Teardrops, The Moondogs, Moonshine Willy, Material Issue, The Mummies, The Slugs (of Hyde Park!) anything Phil Angotti was in, Love Kit, The Elvis Brothers, Deal's Gone Bad, The Aldermen, Shellac."

Bracket beefs

Here are some folks who had issues with the matchups in our recent tournament to determine to best Chicago band:

Jen P.: "These are some unfair matchups! Urge Overkill was a fantastic band but Chicago is THE Chicago band. And Naked Raygun vs. Wilco? Wilco is the darling of the last twenty years but Naked Raygun was huge for us older readers!"

Jon C.: "Not saying that any particular band should be left off the ballot, but pitting Ides of March against Earth, Wind, and Fire in the first round did a disservice to both of these great bands. Based on the quality of other matchups, they should have each made it to at least the quarterfinals before meeting head to head."

Maggie B.: "Are you gonna do wrong by Jim DeRogatis and not give VORTIS a mention?"

  • "Oldies: If you're going to have the Ides of March, where are The Buckinghams, Cryan Shames, and Shadows of Knight? Buckinghams & Cryan Shames were always a big combo lineup for Magic 104.3 summer shows."

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