Ronald Christian’s pitch perfect high notes and Malik Cohran’s five-string bass lines draw more than mere appreciation from passersby on Michigan Avenue.
Whether they’re performing a stripped down rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or accompanying a prerecorded instrumental track of “My Girl,” the duo lays down a groove that frequently inspires people to dance on the sidewalk.
— Daniel Patton
Terry Ward, Stephen Thompson, and Eli Brown are three of the five musicians in the Legacy Drumline, a percussion group that plays corporate events and cultural functions throughout the city. Their resume includes performances at Loyola University, the Knickerbocker Hotel and the Target store on 87th and Cottage.
When they’re not booked for a show, Legacy likes to play for people on Michigan Ave, 99th and Halsted, and 79th and State. “That’s where most of our material got originated,” says Eli. “That’s when we really started learning each other’s talent.”
— Daniel Patton | Staff Writer
The Chicago Traffic Jam is a quintet of former solo street performers who discovered that they play well together. The crowds that form when they jam near the McCormick Bridgehouse or the Cultural Center seem to agree. On a recent sunny afternoon, the band was making hips shake in every direction with a tight mix of old school soul, funky jazz and a dose of rock-n-roll.
Pictured, left to right: Bill Nevin on bass, Damian Rose on saxaphone, Mark Johnson on drums, David Walker on trumpet, and Ian Walsh on guitar.
— Daniel Patton, Staff Writer
Guitarist Larry Bluesman was born in Mississippi 67 years ago and moved to Chicago with his family when he was “about ten years-old.” Inspired by the guitarists who played in church functions that his mother used to take him to, he eventually joined a travelling church choir and studied music at the Chicago Conservatory.
These days, he works as a professional touring musician.
When not on the road, Mr. Bluesman performs in the Jackson Red Line station on Friday mornings.
“I like pleasing people,” he says. “That’s why I’m a musician.”
— Daniel Patton
Singer / guitarist Vincent Johnson performs in front of the Art Institute on almost every Saturday of the year, including those occasions when Chicago gets “all four seasons in a day,” as he noted during a snow shower on a recent sunny afternoon.
The native Chicagoan is a self-taught musician inspired by the bluesmen who migrated to the city from the Mississippi Delta, and his axe of choice is a BB King style hollow body.
When not performing, Mr. Johnson operates V&J Computer Services, which he founded 20 years ago, and works as a substitute teacher.
— Daniel Patton
Vibraphonist Preyas Roy started playing piano and drums in his upstate New York hometown when he was eight years-old. A few years later, when he was “halfway into high school,” he “sorta eased into vibraphone.”
These days, the University of Chicago graduate travels most weekdays from his home in Hyde Park to the corner of Michigan and Randolph where he enjoys playing “because I can really cut loose.” To hear his music online, visit his YouTube page. — Daniel Patton.