Ghost Voice reimagine classical music for pedal steel,

Three people play pedal steel guitar, electric piano, and acoustic double bass in what looks like a sunny living room
Ghost Voice: Tom McGettrick, Alison Hinderliter, and Jeff Parker Credit: Matt Espy

Gossip Wolf readers may already know Chicago steel-guitar maestro Tom McGettrick from leading instrumental band Mar Caribe, appearing on albums by guitarist Thomas Comerford, or touring with Jon Langford’s Four Lost Souls. McGettrick has been working on ingenious arrangements for a new group, Ghost Voice, that also features Jeff Parker (Chicago Cellar Boys) on double bass and Alison Hinderliter (the Handcuffs) on electric piano. He says the trio’s repertoire consists of excerpts from classical works, including the aria from Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 and Bach’s Agnus Dei from the Mass in B Minor. He began arranging these pieces after his first child was born, he explains, “as a way to make quiet music around a baby, as well as explore the pedal steel’s possibilities beyond country.” On Friday, June 23, Ghost Voice perform at the International Museum of Surgical Science (1524 N. Lake Shore Drive). 

Though Chicago bubblegum-pop savants the Lemons will always hold a special place in the produce section of Gossip Wolf’s record collection, another fruit-themed local band has recently joined the fun. Since last fall, vocalist and guitarist Erika Melon, bassist Ali Melon, and drummer Jared Melon—aka punk trio Watermelon—have been trickling out singles from a forthcoming self-titled album, and the whole thing is finally coming out on Friday, June 23, via Texas label Dirt Cult Records. On blink-and-you’ll-miss-it rippers such as “Don’t Tell Me What to Do,” “Johnny Ramone,” and “Fast Food Queen,” Watermelon tap into the buzzing energy of classic patched-up denim-jacket punk. In fact, it seems like Watermelon have already sowed the seeds for a fruitful future! On Thursday, June 29, they’ll open for Tweens and Clickbait at the Empty Bottle. 

The debut Watermelon LP is of course available on green vinyl.

YouTube video
The special effects in the “Johnny Ramone” video are by Gattis Gore, Inc.

Enigmatic DIY crooner Jimmy Whispers bid farewell to Chicago in August 2016 with a free headlining set at East Room in Logan Square, and even though he’s since called Los Angeles home, this wolf considers him a permanent Chicagoan. Earlier this month, Carpark Records released his second album, The Search for God, which arrives more than eight years after his debut, Summer in Pain. The new record polishes up his easygoing but carefully crafted bedroom pop with synth sheen. Whispers’s vocals strike a balance between guilelessness and world-weary doubt, and though he sings about colossal calamities and miseries, his music radiates hope. On Saturday, June 24, he’ll be back in town to headline the Empty Bottle; Sports Boyfriend and Warm Human open, and members of Divino Niño will DJ.

Jimmy Whispers made most of his new album with two vintage synths, a Roland CR-5000, and a karaoke machine.

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