Well folks, winter is here to stay in Chicago it seems. As the light at the end of tunnel still feels miles away, I’ve been searching for fun things to do in the city that won’t freeze my buns off. Going to shows is one of my favorite things, so I’ve compiled a list of shows taking place this month for you to think about attending! The list includes venues all over the city and suburbs, as well as old friends and new faces in the music scene. See below for a schedule with descriptions.

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Wednesday, February 11

Forest & the Evergreens @ Schubas

Winning the award for my new favorite band name, this band’s blend of “neo-soul, R&B, and ‘young funk’” is sure to be an exciting addition to your February.

Thursday, February 12

Nikki Lane @ Double Door

Up and coming Nashville singer/songwriter teamed up with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys to record her second album. Definitely one to watch.

Jason Isbell @ Symphony Center

For a little added southern warmth & Alabama Shoals flair to your February, don’t miss this singer/songwriter, Jason Isbell.

Friday, February 13

Wynton Marsalis @ Symphony Center

For your Chicago jazz fix let this incredible trumpeter whisk you away.

Saturday February 14

10,000 Maniacs @ City Winery

For a Valentine’s Day throwback hit up the City Winery for 10,000 Maniacs’ 2 shows.

Fleetwood Mac @ Allstate Arena

For an even throwier-back (as well as a pretty penny) Fleetwood Mac will be playing their second show at Allstate Arena in the past year.

Tuesday, February 17

Sleater-Kinney @ Riviera

For all the Portlandia lovers out there, head to the Riviera for the grandest reunion show of the season.

Joe Purdy @ SPACE

Another American folk singer/songwriter whose sure to entertain in the most mellowest of ways. The intimate setting of the SPACE venue in Evanston is the perfect place to experience this kind of music.

Thursday, February 19

Timber Timbre @ Lincoln Hall

Winning the award for my second-favorite new band name, Timer Timbre will be your fix for all things bluesy and all things Canadian this winter.

Friday, February 20

Brooke Fraser @ Bottom Lounge

The New Zealand pop artist will surely entertain and impress with her killer pipes at this unique Chicago venue.

Wednesday, February 25

Hozier @ Riviera

Enough said. It’ll be what you think it will be…probably awesome.

Thursday, Februray 26

Motion City Soundtrack @ House of Blues

Nothing like your emo past-self getting a little love this winter. For a night of nostalgia, nothing is better.

Saturday, February 28

Steve Aoki @ Aragon Ballroom

Japanese-American house artist brings electronic energy that will help you to celebrate the end of this wintery month, in one of Chicago oldest and most unique venues.

Punch Brothers @ Riviera Theater

On a sweeter more mellow note, the Punch Brothers will be your bluegrass fix for the month. Their harmonies are beautiful and you’ll feel refreshed after listening.

 

So there you have it—your Chicago music for the month of February. Links to tickets are on all the artists’ names. Click through and enjoy the music!

This year we had the pleasure of working with Paper Antler Photography at a wedding in Madison, WI. After getting a peek at the photos from the event, they quickly became some of our favorites of the season. The way they captured the moments of the party conveyed more than just the events that occurred, but also the emotion and energy that represented the couple and our band very well. We had a chance to correspond with Jonny, one of the photographers at Paper Antler, about how he and Michelle got started in the business and what they love about photographing weddings. Check out their answers below, and I would also recommend checking out their stellar website here.

Paper Antler How and why did you get started in the photography  business?

I (Jonny) studied philosophy and photography in college.  Right after graduating, I started creating a portfolio and shadowing photographers in Minneapolis while Michelle – with her natural eye for space and design – started assisting me on my solo assignments.  That was back in 2007.  We knew that we loved working together so we set out to find a career that a.) valued creativity and artistry, b.) would have intrinsic meaning, and c.) allow us to have some flexibility in our schedule as neither of us are 9-5 people.  Once we had enough weddings and other gigs booked, we quit our jobs and set out full steam ahead as photographers.

 What are some of the main services you offer and how do  they set you apart from other competitors?

Our wheelhouse is photographing weddings and have traveled all over the country and some of the globe to do so.  We want to be the best photographers we can be and thus we keep our focus on photography and don’t offer many services otherwise.  The fact that we are a husband + wife duo does allow us to be in two places at once at a wedding, and because we have worked together and now have been married for almost seven years, we can communicate with hand signals and facial expressions, much like the secret service but not as fancy.

What key qualities should couples look for when choosing a photographer?paper antler fun - 0018

Couples should choose a creative, artistic photographer for sure, but more importantly a photographer that makes them feel comfortable and who is also a nice person.  It doesn’t do much good to have a technically great photographer who man-handles your bridal party and is rude to your Uncle Jim.  When photographing weddings, you need to be ultra patient at times, and there’s really no room for ego.

What part of your job do you find the most satisfying and the most challenging?

One of the most satisfying parts of photographing a wedding is that as the photographer, you are giving the couple a tangible artifact and vestige of one of the most important and celebratory days of their life.  At that point, it becomes about something way bigger than photography and those photographs now serve as reminders for the rest of your lives and also for your family now and in the future.

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The most challenging part of our job is keeping up with correspondence and editing photos, though it’s hard to complain.  Also, it can be a little obnoxious when dozens of people with iPads cut in front of us at weddings to take a photo that we set up.

What is the craziest event story you can share?

A wedding that we photographed last year featured none other than Ric Flair (wwf world champion) as a surprise guest for the groom.  He walked the bride down the aisle and the expression on the groom’s face was priceless.  We later got a picture with Ric Flair, with Michelle and myself flexing.  That one made the scrapbook.

Where in the world do you enjoy photographing the most?

We’ve photographed weddings from Carmel Valley, CA to the Lakes District in England, and honestly there is so much beauty every place we’ve been to photograph a wedding.  A place like California offers a few more options than the Chicago suburbs but so much about wedding photography is finding beauty regardless of the location.

 

 

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Here at Stitely Entertainment, we don’t just play music for weddings but we love to revel in the musical roots of Chicago’s blues and jazz scenes. This week’s Music Monday will be featuring 2 Chicago jazz staples: The Bobby Lewis Quintet & the Jazz Showcase venue, founded by Joe Segal.

Jeff Stitely has been playing with the Bobby Lewis Quintet for about 15 years, but Bobby Lewis’ legacy started much earlier. Moving to Chicago in 1961, Bobby quickly became the top studio call for recording on albums, commercials and films. As a studio recording musician he has logged over 7500 recording sessions and has recorded with names like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis Jr., Joe Williams, Mel Torme, Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney, Al Jarreau & Frank Sinatra, Ramsey Lewis, Natalie Cole, Jack Teagarden—the list goes on. He also accompanied Tony Bennett for 15 years in all his Chicago appearances. Lewis not only plays with the greats, but is one himself. He has recorded 11 albums and acted as executive and musical producer on all of them.

This week, his Quintet will be playing at the Jazz Showcase, Chicago’s oldest jazz club. Established in 1947 by Joe Segal, and now owned and operated by his son Wayne, the Jazz Showcase is a cultural icon in Chicago. Joe has been called the “ambassador of jazz” to Chicago and is constantly doing whatever he needs to do to keep jazz alive in the city. The Jazz Showcase features live jazz 7 nights a week and continues to be a space where jazz thrives.

With two pillars of Chicago jazz being represented this weekend, there is no excuse not to come out and take a listen! The performances will take place Feb. 5-8, at 8 PM & 10 PM, with an additional 4 PM matinee on Sunday. For more information and tickets go to jazzshowcase.com.

Stage at Jazz Showcase featuring another great group, the Roy Hargrove Quintet

Stage at Jazz Showcase featuring another great group, the Roy Hargrove Quintet

Chicago skyline

Getting married in Chicago comes with so many benefits and opportunities. One of the best is being able to incorporate the city’s architecture and rich history into your wedding day. From photo shoots to reception décor, you can Chicago-fy your wedding easily with these tips.

BeckyBrown0173Wedding Photos:

Many of our couples use Chicago landmarks and scenery as the background for their wedding party shots. Work with your photographer to find some great shots downtown or by the lake. Whether you traipse through your favorite museum or find your favorite nature spot, the city can truly be your playground as you search for great spots! [Helpful hint: Trust your photographer! They will have scouted out great spots before will not let you down.]

 Venue:

Chicago wedding rooftop Choosing a venue with a killer view of Chicago gives your Chicago-fied wedding that added edge. There’s nothing better than sipping champagne and dancing the night away—especially when you can do it all with an amazing view of the city. Whether you’re right down town surrounded by the city, or in a nearby neighborhood on-looking the Loop, there are a ton of ways to incorporate the well-planned skyline into your wedding-scape.

 

Entertainment:

312 Chicago Wedding Band

When planning your wedding in Chicago, why not choose live entertainment that shares its roots with Chicago rich history of blues and jazz. With so much live music happening throughout the city, your bound to find a band that is right for you. Pictured here is one of our best Chicago wedding bands, 312 Chicago.

 Décor:

While the invites will give guests a sneak peek into your big day, the décor for your reception is where you can really show off your Chicago-fied wedding! [Find picture/specific example] Other finishing touches allow you to add elegant Chicago aspects to your reception. Centerpieces, place cards, napkins and gift bags are just some of things you can Chicago-fy. Your guests will love it!

This week we are excited to re-launch our vendor spotlight feature! In this feature, we catch up with some of our favorite vendors to find out more about what sets them apart, while also giving current and future clients a sneak-peek into the wonderful world of wedding planning and all that it entails.

This week we had a chance to talk things over with event planner Audrey Gordon. Having been in the biz over 30 years, we though Audrey would be a perfect vendor to start our re-launch of this blog. She is very personable with her clients, striving to get to know them personally and really make their day special and unique. See our conversation below!

How and why did you get started in the wedding planning business?

My love of entertaining and “hosting” people was the organic beginnings of my business that started over thirty years ago. When a friend of mine asked me to help her with her kid’s 10th anniversary party at her home in Glencoe, someone at the party asked me for my card—at the time, my business card was my name and my phone number on a napkin! That was the birth of Audrey Gordon Parties. Ltd.

Over your years in the industry, what are some of the major changes you’ve seen in wedding planning trends?

Major changes include the TYPE of Venue being chosen to house the ceremony and reception.

What are some things couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding?

I believe what couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding is to definitely incorporate elements that reflect the essence of who they are as individuals and as a couple. They should highlight their common interests so when guests walk into their environment it makes sense and the guests know that are in the right place!

How do you go about interpreting a couple’s vision and designing a unique look or style for an event?

My most favorite thing to do is to have the first face-to-face meeting at their place. I learn A LOT about the couple just by visiting them at home. I may ask them how they met, what hobbies they have, their favorite colors or definitely show me their Pinterest board. It’s also important to ask them what they really DON’T like.

What key qualities should couples look for when choosing a planner?

I believe a couple should choose a planner they are EXTREMELY comfortable with; to be able to say anything and everything because it’s all about THEM!

What part of your job do you find the most satisfying and the most challenging?

The most satisfying thing about my job is similar to having a baby…you plan…plan…plan…and then the day comes and you watch how all the pieces fall together to create the vision that they’ve shared. The ultimate best is when couples come up to me and hug me and say that it wouldn’t have been such a pleasant experience without me to allow them to “be present”  through the entire experience.

The most challenging times come when things happen outside of one’s control, i.e. unexpected weather conditions for an outside event. The trick is to keep your calm, take a deep breath and figure out a solution because there is always a solution to EVERY situation. The old motto is: “It’s not WHAT happens; it’s HOW you handle it.”

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us Audrey! For more information about Audrey Gordon Parties Ltd, check out her website here.

Here at Stitely Entertainment we just love the music scene in Chicago. In the week’s Music Monday post we have the privilege of featuring one of our very own bandleaders, Nicholas Barron, and his solo gig coming up next month!

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Nicholas, the leader of 312 Chicago, will be playing a solo show at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday February 4th. Tickets are $10 and it will be a night of awesome R&B and Blues music. Buy tickets here.

Not only is Nicholas a great musician, but also a talented artist in other mediums! (Note the custom guitar in the picture above!) Check out his website nicholasbarron.com for more info about his music and art.

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See you at Lincoln Hall on Feb. 4th!

The holiday engagement season is winding down, and many couples are already in full planning mode. After securing their big vendors, most brides start thinking about who they want to choose to be in their bridal party. While this is such a fun job, it also holds more responsibility than you might think! If you are asked to be a part of someone’s wedding party, here is a great article from brides.com outlining mistakes that bridesmaids should avoid!

Mistakes Bridesmaids Should Avoid

[Photo by Britta Marie Photography]

One final tip from Stitely: Be able to laugh at yourself and not be a party pooper! The wedding party is there to support the couple and set the tone for the rest of the guests at the party. If this bridesmaid on crutches can have this much fun, so can you!

 

This weekend folk duo The Milk Carton Kids and singer/songwriter Sarah Jarosz teamed up in a collaboration tour and headed to Milwaukee, WI for a Halloween performance. While listening to mellow folk tunes may not be everyone’s ideal Halloween night, it was truly a show worth seeing! The musicians even got in the Halloween spirit during the encore! Check out the link to their encore performance (feat. “Joni Mitchell” and “Simon & Garfunkel”) below!

Whether we admit it or not, we all love T. Sweezy. She’s just cheesy enough to appeal to middle school girls and just hip enough to appeal to fraternity bros. With the release of her newest album, 1989, the Queen of Break-Up Tunes is pushing the boundaries of her identity as an artist, refusing to be pigeon-holed in one specific genre.

Even though Swift is trying to “shake it off,” she is still undoubtedly renowned for her many break-up songs that you just can’t help but sing along with. Gone are the days when break-up songs inspired you to sit on the couch and eat a pint of ice cream—they are now taking a turn toward the upbeat. See below for a list of break-up tunes through the ages that you just can’t help but sing along with.

Break-Up Songs List:
1958 – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – the Platters
1962 – Big Girls Don’t Cry – The Four Seasons
1972 – You’re So Vain – Carly Simon
1978 – I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
1980 – Keep On Lovin’ You – REO Speedwagon
1983 – Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler
1990 – It Must’ve Been Love – Roxette
1992 – I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
1996 – Don’t Speak – No Doubt
2006 – Irreplaceable – Beyonce
2009 – Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
2010 – Rolling in the Deep – Adele
2012 – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift
2013 – Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus

With so many danceable break-up songs out there, we in the wedding industry ask: Would you want to hear break-up songs at your wedding?

We want to hear from you! What is more important: Lyrics that match the tone of your wedding, or a beat that gets people on the dance floor regardless of the words? T. Swift seems to draw from the best of both worlds—what do you think? Comment below!

Here is a fun post I found on the Knot.  How many of these traditions/superstitions did you know?

http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-customs/articles/50-wedding-traditions-superstitions-facts-trivia.aspx?MsdVisit=1

Enjoy!