“A History of Chicago in Music and Words” is Feel-Good History at Its Finest

Lina Benich ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Section Editor

When Jon Langford and Rick Kogan took the Center Stage at the Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row Lit Fest Saturday, June 7 there was a feeling in the air, one that could only be recognized as “home.” For Residents of Chicago and its suburbs, attending Kogan and Langford’s “Historical Jam Session” gave the distinct impression of times when the fair city’s steel edges were a little more rounded and dirty, with a large helping of nostalgia mixed in.

The structure of the performance was rather simple: Kogan would tell and anecdote or explain a piece of history, and then Langford would recite a poem and perform a song. All the pieces were about Chicago, and the stories told through words and music spotlighted why exactly Chicago is such a great city. 

Kogan talked about the greatest ballroom in uptown called the Aragon Ballroom, where everyone went to dance, and the movie business, which was strong in Chicago with greats like Charlie Chaplin making movies on stages around the city. Kogan also explained the origins of the city’s moniker “The Windy City” and the strangeness of that title. Through the whole performance, the pair maintained humor with cracks at Pulitzer, Chicago’s Weather, and british guys who go to Western Bars upon arrival (of which Langford was one).

Langford’s music was a natural compliment to Kogan’s stories as he played guitar and sang old melodies from Chicago’s past. His stories were equally entertaining, as he told of his arrival in Chcago with his bandmates from Leeds, England, and their first time playing at a Western Bar immediately after coming to the States. Langford seems to have adopted Chicago and its music styles whole-heartedly, as hints of blues, country, and acoustic rock melded together in his songs.

The performance as a whole attempted to emphasize what makes Chicago great, from its history to its stories. While the bits came from all over the map of the city and its history, a running theme appeared that what makes Chicago great is the people that choose to call it home.

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