Apr 17, 2023 - Things to Do

Artists honor late Chicago DJ Lin Brehmer with poetry, songs and art

Photo of two guys standing in front of a painting in a gallery.

Tony Fitzpatrick and Jon Langford in front of some of Fitzpatrick's "Cinderella Blackbird" paintings. Photo: Courtesy of Ricky Malpas

Legendary Chicago DJ Lin Brehmer died in January, but his influence endures in many ways, including shows this week by artists Tony Fitzpatrick and Jon Langford at The Hideout.

The backstory: Years ago, Fitzpatrick recalls, he quoted a line from Wallace Stevens' "13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" to Brehmer, who then recited the rest of the poem by heart.

  • Fitzpatrick confided to Brehmer that he'd long tried to write an answer to Stevens' existential verse, and in their conversation that night, "Lin gave me the key to writing that answer," he tells Axios.

What's happening: Fitzpatrick and Langford are presenting a song cycle based on that answer poem, called "Cinderella Blackbird," as a tribute to Brehmer at The Hideout this week.

  • The three shows sold out almost immediately, but for those of you who won't be attending, here's a taste.

The show: Poetry and songs based on the poem, but also stories about Brehmer, "because the poem isn't about Lin per se, it's because of Lin," Fitzpatrick says.

  • "It's kind of a meditation on the city he, Langford and I love, a city Lin's voice hovered over every single day for a very long time."

Fitzpatrick sent Axios a working copy of "Cinderella Blackbird," which we've excerpted:

Over Logan Square

night is another country

of proven poisons

and lost keys,

to be searched for

by drawn

and stumbling


What's more: The show will feature projections of artwork by both Langford and Fitzpatrick, including Fitzpatrick's "Cinderella Blackbird" collage drawings.

What they're saying: "Tony and I have been talking about doing something for years bringing our art and music and poetry together," Langford tells Axios.

  • "I think Lin's passing just kind of kicked us in the a--, really, and filled it with a sense of urgency."

What we're watching: Fitzpatrick's "Cinderella Blackbird" art will be part of a larger show and book of poetry "down the line," he says.

  • Langford, best known for his bands The Mekons and Waco Brothers, is also a talented and prolific painter. A collection of work blending themes of death and country music was unveiled last week at The Beer Temple in Avondale.

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