Yuri Lane brings Blues-Hop to Chicago

Blog, Coursework, JOUR 511

“Harmonica + Beatbox: Final Cut” via Yuri Lane

Chicago is home to some of the greatest blues musicians of all time: Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and Buddy Guy. Chicago’s also been the breeding ground for hip-hop legends from Kanye to Chance the Rapper.

But when it comes to blues-hop, it’s all Yuri Lane.

Lane will be performing blues-hop, his signature style of music that mixes beatboxing with harmonica with his show “Soundtrack City” Oct. 11-12 as part of Chicago Artists Month.

“It’s going to be a little concert, very multi-generational, so I’m going to teach the audience to beatbox,” Lane said. “I’m going to bring up some kids and adults to do a beatbox symphony, and then do some blues songs from Chicago with my own twist, and tell the story of hip-hop in my beatbox performance style.”

“Soundtrack City” is what Lane calls his “beatbox journey through Chicago,” telling the story of the neighborhoods of the city through different characters, ranging from an actress from Ukranian Village to a street harmonica player being driven from housing projects.

“Each character has their own soundtrack, their own song, and that’s part of the narrative,” Lane said. “I’m my own live sound designer.”

Barbara Koenen, City of Chicago director of artist resources, said Lane was selected as one of 20 featured events from more than 300 submissions for Chicago Artists Month, an ideal fit for 2014’s theme crossing borders.

“What’s interesting are the borders he’s crossing with different musical genres, and also just the borders of his own craft and art form that he’s brought to such a high level,” Koenen said.

Chicago Artists Month is a five-week event in its 19th year with art events of all styles and mediums around the city.

This isn’t the first time Lane has performed “Soundtrack City” — the show originated in Lane’s native San Francisco in 2001 and was brought to Chicago in 2005, two years after Lane moved to the city.

“I haven’t done that show in a long long time, but I always bring parts of ‘Soundtrack City’ into my other performances,” Lane said.

A trained actor, in recent years Lane has been focusing on his music career more than stage performances, working on a beatbox harmonica mixtape. He’s also found success on YouTube with his “Harmonica + Beatbox: Final Cut” video from 2007 garnering more than 9 million views.

“That’s what I’m famous for on the internet,” Lane said. “Whatever that means.”

Lane’s unique mix of beatboxing and playing harmonica came about in “Soundtrack City” in 2001, and when he moved to Chicago two years later he continued to hone is craft.

“When I moved to Chicago I said, ‘Oh I better learn how to play this instrument for real’ because there are incredible harmonica players here,” Lane said.

Lane’s free performance is 1 p.m. Oct. 11-12 at Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave. According to Koenen, Lane’s performance is a can’t-miss.

“The thought that goes into [the performance] and the expertise, the playfulness and the joy of how he communicates the history of blues, the birth of hip hop, how those genres fuse together, and how they can be interpreted with just a set of lungs.”

Glenwood Avenue mural

Rogers Park’s business climate along the Morse Red Line stop

Blog, Coursework, JOUR 503, Multimedia, Photography, Writing

By David Byrnes, Courtney Jacquin

In Chicago’s Rogers Park, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The community surrounding the Morse Red Line stop knows its small business population to be highly mercurial, with different institutions coming into and running out of money almost with the seasons.  However, other businesses in the same area, like The Heartland Cafe, Red Line Tap and Lifeline Theatre have stood for decades, with no sign of shuttered doors anytime soon.

So why have these businesses flourished for so long, while others seem to live on borrowed time?

Divvy rolls into Chicago

Blog, Coursework, JOUR 363, Writing
Full Divvy bike dock at Michigan Avenue and Pearson Street, outside of Watertower Place.

Full Divvy bike dock at Michigan Avenue and Pearson Street, outside of Water Tower Place.

Chicago’s bike sharing program Divvy has seen great success since its July launch

There’s a hot new set of wheels that’s been on the minds of Chicagoans all summer but it’s no fancy car, it’s a Divvy bike.

Chicago’s bike share program launched in July and since has captured the attention of Chicagoans and tourists alike, with more than 550,000 trips, an estimated 1.4 million mi ridden, according to Elliot Greenberger, marketing manager for Divvy.

“We’re thrilled with the way Chicago has embraced Divvy so far,” Greenberger said.

Two plus one – Division Street farmer’s market

Blog, Coursework, JOUR 363, Photography

On Saturday, Oct. 5 I visited the Division Street farmer’s market. The market is located in Chicago’s Gold Coast on Division Street between Clark and State Streets. The market operates every Saturday 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. from May 11 through Oct. 26.

Assorted apples for sale at the Division Street farmer's market Saturday, Oct. 5.

Assorted apples for sale at the Division Street farmer’s market Saturday, Oct. 5.

Flowers placed on the street for sale at the Division Street farmer's market Saturday, Oct. 5.

Flowers placed on the street for sale at the Division Street farmer’s market Saturday, Oct. 5.

Turnips and radishes set on a table for sale at the Division Street farmer's market Saturday, Oct. 5.

Turnips and radishes set on a table for sale at the Division Street farmer’s market Saturday, Oct. 5.

Suspects charged in Cornell Park shooting

Blog, Coursework, JOUR 363, Writing

A fifth suspect was charged Saturday, Sept. 28 in conjunction with the mass shootings in Cornell Park in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood Sept. 19. The shootings left 13 injured, including a 3-year-old boy, according to the Chicago Tribune.

David Logan, 22, of the 3100 block of South Green Street of Chicago was charged with unlawful use of a weapon as well as obstructing justice, according to a Chicago Tribune article.

Others charged include:

  • Bryon Champ, 21
  • Kewane Gatewood, 20
  • Tabari Young, 22
  • Brad Jett, 22

Champ, Gatewood, Young and Jett have all been charged with  attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm.

The attackers who opened fire with AK-47-style weapons that evening are alleged gang members, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

What happened the night of Sept. 19?
Though Chicagoans have become sadly accustomed to hearing and reading stories of those shot, injured or killed, this particular Thursday night was different.

In total, 23 people were shot that night, three fatally, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Three fatal victims include:

  • 29-year-old woman who was shot at 79th and Wood streets
  • 36-year-old man who was shot near 77th Street and Sangamon Avenue
  • 25-year-old man who was shot near Augusta Boulevard and Central Park Avenue

On top of these fatal shootings, another seven were shot and wounded throughout the night.

Chicago Violence
In 2012, there were 500 murders in Chicago, according to the Washington Post. In 2011 Chicago counted 431 murders, showing that 2012 was a steep increase for violence in the city. Last year Chicago surpassed New York for most murders, with the nation’s largest city dropping to 419 homicides from 515 in 2011.

Because of this violence, the Chicago Police Department has taken extra measures to try to keep innocent civilians safe from shootings, most of which are gang-related.

For 2013 thusfar, the murder rate has decreased 20 percent, according to an article in the New York Times. The article explains that Chicago has “sought to combat such violence by deploying hundreds of officers, some on overtime, to 20 zones plagued by shootings.”

Unfortunately for the 13 attacked at the Cornell Park basketball court, Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood wasn’t one of the zones CPD brought extra protection.

Gun Control
Clearly, gun use is widespread around Chicago, causing many to be victims of gun-related crimes or even suffer gun-related deaths. In the past three months, more than 2,000 crimes, excluding homicides, involved guns in Chicago. Below is a map exploring where these crimes took place around the city.

Map of crimes involving handguns (excluding homicides) July 1 – Sept. 30, 2013

Click through to explore the map and learn details of the crimes

*data via data.cityofchicago.org

Painting and process: Tom Urioste III

Blog, Coursework, JOUR 279, Writing
Urioste’s original skull ring painting. The new painting is still a work in progress.

Urioste’s original skull ring painting. The new painting is still a work in progress.

With fishing wire, sticky tack, construction paper and a camera in hand, Tom Urioste III is ready to start his next oil painting. The shutter clicks three times to capture the suspended silver skull ring, then Urioste puts the memory card in the MacBook sitting on the kitchen counter of his North Center garden apartment.

“I’m going back to something I did almost a year ago and trying to make myself look bad,” said Urioste, 30, senior at The American Academy of Art Chicago. “People always said [the old painting] was good, but I think I’m better now.”

The original canvas shows the same skull ring that’s suspended for Urioste’s current project. It’s very realistic; the details in the ring and the painted background are astonishing. The  chrome finish of the ring reflects the light so realistically, on first glance the oil painting might be mistaken for a photograph.

Urioste is an oil painting major at The Academy, graduating this December. He’s on a break from school for the summer, giving him a chance to work on personal projects. Recently, he’s been finding his inspiration for personal and academic projects in music, he says.

“One song has been getting me in the vibe for what I’m doing lately, it’s ‘Pyramids’ by Frank Ocean,” Urioste said. “The song got me thinking about shapes, which is really just everything all of this is. There’s something divine about the number three, but it’s our jobs to explore it, not explain it.”

The path to art school was a unique one for Urioste. He comes from a family of military legacy. The ex-Army vet found himself struggling once his time as a part-time jailer in the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s department and a recruiting assistant for the Army were coming to an end. Urioste said he was depressed, and his father made him move to Chicago to get his life back on track.

“I wanted to be a tattoo artist, so I brought my portfolio to Skin of a Different Color in Aurora, and was told I needed to go to art school. The artist went to The Academy, so I applied to The Academy,“ said Urioste.

Urioste sends a picture of his set up to two friends and waits for their response before he continues. Jeff Sant and Alex “Zespo” Velasquez are two classmates of Urioste’s, and he won’t start any of his work without getting approval from them. He consults them on everything from his original idea to overall composition.

“I don’t do a painting unless I run it through them. I’m inspired by their opinions, Jeff’s work ethic and Zespo’s hunger,” said Urioste.

Urioste waits as Sant and Velasquez send him sketches of how he should set up his scene. He has to look at something to paint it, so the scene must be perfect. He takes a piece of glass out of a picture frame and sets it on two glasses. He gets a text from Sant. He finds more sticky tack and angles the piece of glass between the two glasses to get a perfect reflected angle.

After taking more photos of his set up, he begins to loosely sketch out the scene on his canvas. He works off both the live set up and the picture that frames the scene the way he wants it to be documented.

“Starting is the hardest part. I’m very particular about what’s being put on the canvas,” said Urioste. “I need everything to be measured. I have OCD and it goes into my paintings. Everything’s measured from corner to corner.”

It will take Urioste about a month from start to finish, idea to completion for one of his works. Once the painting process begins, he starts with an underpainting of raw umber and layers colors until he arrives at his desired destination.

Painting only from sight, his works are not stylized but very realistic. While his ideas are very much always in his head, he cannot create a scene just from memory.

As Urioste’s time in formal education is coming to an end, he’s still trying to figure out what he’s going to do. He has yet to sell one of his paintings, but not because they can’t sell.

“I don’t do this for everyone else, I do it for me,” said Urioste.

After many careful measurements, the canvas is ready for paint. The line of the glass divides the middle, with the ring and its reflection flanking both sides. A pyramidal shape takes form.

“The process isn’t the same every time,” said Urioste. “I may not get the drawing right for a day or two.”

After many layers of paint, an end will be in sight. Urioste says there’s a certain feeling he gets when he knows a piece is done.

“I think, ‘I better stop now before I ruin it.’”


Blog, Photography

Oof, rough title trying to be witty. Here’s a (filtered) look at my past month.