Filtering by Tag: music

Austin's Underground Music Scene

I'm thrilled to get back to my music roots.  For so long, I feel I've only been writing about, and posting about food... which of course, I love.  Yet music is my truest and oldest passion.  Time Out New York Magazine and must know this, because they wanted my Austin adventures to be centered around this fine city's musical culture.  

Since Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World, I was given some interesting challenges to fulfill.  One was to "Scare Myself Silly", and in this case, to find some live music that is very out of my comfort zone.  My comfort zone of music is basically ANYTHING 90's as well as Country, Alternative, and Classic Rock.  So when I walked past the Red Eyed Fly and heard the sweet sound of a drummer losing his mind on his kit... I knew I had to check it out.  I asked the door guy what the deal was and he said, "Well the heavy punk show on the inside is free and the "metal" show outside is a $10 cover."  I quickly responded..."I want both!!" So I paid the $10, walked in and grabbed a can of Lone Star beer. (My drink of choice the entire weekend)  Now, let me explain.  There's a lot of "metal-ish music" I don't mind.  I like Disturbed, old school Soundgarden, Filter, maybe even some Pantera.  But this was full on growling Death Metal with all the band members' long hair whipping around in circles in perfect unison.  Everyone in the small crowd was also head banging... which of course I love to do too, especially during the "rock-out" part in Bohemian Rhapsody (cue Wayne and Garth).  The music was not exactly my cup of tea (especially since the lead singer was only growling and grunting into the mic), but it was a BLAST.  Stepping out of my comfort zone is usually rewarding, and this was no exception.  

Death Metal and head banging at the Red Eyed Fly

I then was told I needed to "abandon my compass" and find a rock bar in a part of town I'm unfamiliar with.  Well that's pretty much all of Austin since this is only my second visit.  Yet I knew for this challenge, I wanted to get away from the tourist droves on 6th Street and venture off the beaten path.  I was walking up and down some darker streets and came across a little dive bar called Beer Land that was dark, old, and grimy, just how I like 'em.  I heard the familiar sounds of actual rock music... not too heavy, not too soft... it was the Goldilocks of rock.  I paid the cover to hear what the door guy called "garage rock".   After listening for a few minutes, with another Lone Star in hand of course, I would categorize it as Acid Surfer Garage Rock.  Some punk influence with heavy surfer guitar riffs.  Think The Ventures meets Green Day.  It was great, and I was in my happy place.  I think abandoning my compass will be my new thing, as that's how you discover life's most interesting finds.  

Surfer rock at Beer Land

Stay tuned for my next adventure that I'll post about tomorrow!!  

Eat Travel Rock TV is HERE!

First off, I want to start by saying how appreciative I am of all the support I've received from all my friends, family, and "supporters" since Chantel (my manager/producer) and I began this crazy project.  No one even knew what the hell Eat Travel Rock TV was, yet you all were on board.  Well now it's here and it's LIVE on my site... Just click HERE for all the available episodes... yet you still may not know what the hell it is.

Eat Travel Rock TV came about from the frustration I had while working on other TV projects, coupled with my desire to put my specific brand on camera.  I've had a vision of a show that fully integrates food, music, and travel in a unique and unexpected way.  There is nothing like it on television, nor the internet (as far as I've seen... those interwebs are a mighty huge place).  Plus I get to be ME!  There are no network constrictions, nor producers/directors who don't share my vision and let me do what I want to do and act how I want to act.  

Here are some examples of who you will meet along this journey:  I interviewed Chase Rice at the Windy City Smokeout (music and food, baby!) I interviewed Love and Theft in Key West, FL (music and travel!) I had Ryan Chiaverini give me a guitar lesson in his home (unexpected music!) and I brought Down With Webster to Fulton Market Kitchen.  We have launched 5 episodes today, and we will be releasing 1 episode each Wednesday.

No two episodes are alike, and I have MANY ideas for the future.  Stay tuned for many bands, musicians, famous chefs, innovative restauranteurs, Chicago athletes, notable personalities etc.  I plan to Eat a ton, Travel a bunch, and constantly rock out... so please join me on this journey.  I truly hope you enjoy this labor of love and I welcome your thoughts, feedback, and requests.  Thank you!!

Seattle Sound 2014

It's finally happening.  I am finally going to the birthplace of my favorite music...after 20 years of thinking about it.  Seattle is the Mecca and founding city of most of alternative rock... namely "Grunge".  Even though most of these artists hate the term, "grunge"  it is how it's been classified.  Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, etc.  They all began here, and these bands helped shape my life and were instrumental in the formation for my appreciation of modern rock.  It also happens to be the birthplace of my boyfriend, hence the trip.  I've come to grips with the fact that I'm sure the music scene has changed since 1992, but I would love to see some remnants of that vibe.  Even though I missed out on the early days of when Mother Love Bone still existed, Layne Stayley was just becoming known for his tortured vocals, and the movie Singles was all the rage... there must be a highway of nostalgia still in play... or the ability to witness new burgeoning bands who aim to make it big on the scene.  Any local or underground rock clubs I should visit?  Regardless, just being in the presence of where all of this went down will be excitement enough for me.

The Rolling Stones: Need I Say More?? (2013)

It has been an unacceptable amount of time since I have last shared with you. Plus, what kind of music blogger would I be if I didn't fill you in on one of my most life changing musical experiences? On May 28, 2013 I had the honor of seeing The Rolling Stones, arguably the world's greatest band, in concert. It was a total fluke. I was sitting at Dublin's Bar with my singer/songwriter friend from Nashville, Jesse Rice, when I got the call from my friend, Aggie: "Kel! I have 2 extra ($600) Stones tickets, I'm picking you up in an hour!" Jesse and I couldn't believe our luck...especially since we're both intensely devoted fans. Was this really happening? Were we really about to see Mick, Ronnie, Keith, and Charlie... live (and alive) and in concert? This was just too much. We showed up 2 songs into the 3 hour set...during my favorite Stones track, Paint it Black. My level of elation was clearly visible. I ran to my seat and my heart was pumping while I was jumping up and down like a school kid... with a mile-wide smile plastered across my face. Jesse was in utter disbelief. He never thought he'd get to the the Stones live... needless to say we were both the epitome of giddiness.

Fascination is an understatement. To see in person, a band that has accomplished so much; a band who has cultivated and forever changed the very foundation of rock and roll, gave me noticeable goosebumps. Fascination also describes my attitude toward the ability the band still has, after 50 years, to just fucking rock out. Jagger was floating and hopping around the stage as if he were a 20 year old athlete. Ronnie Wood was more cut up that guys my age who work out every day. Keith Richards, even though he looked as if he was about to decompose on stage, killed it on his guitar. No one can do with a guitar what Keith Richards can do, and so effortlessly. He makes some of the most simple riffs seem so complex and gut wrenching. As Jesse, a guitarist himself, said, "He gets so much out of so little." All four of them were hard core rock stars, through and through.

As far as vocals are concerned: I was much more impressed than I initially believed I would be. I've heard several live renditions of "Sympathy For The Devil" over the years and I've always been, not only disappointed with Jagger's vocals, but with the vocal arrangement as well. But to my pleasant surprise, his vocals on EVERY song other than "Sympathy" were incredible. Literally have not changed since the studio recordings. "Sympathy" was still an unfortunate let-down, as it's one of my favorites and I really hoped it would have been closer to the original. But hey, you can't always get what you want....

Some of the key moments from the set list included, a transcendent performance of "Wild Horses", the groovy "Miss You", and the United Center shaking, "Honky Tonk Women". My favorite performance, by far, was "Gimme Shelter"... it was just so mesmerizing....the intro guitar and the "ooh oooohhhss" were palpable through my entire body.... and don't even get me started with the endless wailing verses "War, Children... it's just a shot away;" all the screams and howls were perfectly orchestrated and executed.

So after this show I was rating it one of the top 5 shows I've been to in my life, maybe even top 3. But I kept saying... it just would've been even cooler if we were closer... or got to meet them. Wellllllllllllll my friends...... Here's a fun tangent. Let's just say I have 3 rock idols; Eddie Vedder, Mick Jagger, and John Fogerty. The fact that I've become friends with Eddie over the last couple years has almost been too much to comprehend. I surely didn't think I'd have encounters with my 2 other rock god idols... especially since, well, they're kinda old. So much to my surprise, while I was just sitting ON a booth at Studio Paris, May 29th, I see the unmistakable face and tiny frame of Mick Jagger walking toward me... and sits...DIRECTLY NEXT TO ME. Pardon the expression, but I pretty much shit my pants. I'm not one for EVER interrupting a celebrity and I think asking for fan pics is super gay... I am VERY "anti". But this was MICK FUCKING JAGGER. Fortunately, he saw me first and smiled. I told him I loved his show and that it was basically life-changing. He was very pleased and asked my name, shook my hand ,and gave me a hug. Then in his adorable London accent, asked if I wanted some champagne. Ummm, yes please!!! He poured me the glass himself and we "cheersed" each other. It was one hell of a moment... and the sweetest champagne I've ever tasted.

Get Your Shine On (2013)

There is no better opportunity for me to write a blog than when I'm able to combine all of my favorite things into one event.  Turns out, 2 weeks ago was the epitome of eating, traveling, and rocking out... all rolled into one incredible 4 day trip.   Actually, the traveling began when my best Nashvillian friend, Nanci, asked me to drive with her from Music City USA to Los Angeles.... of course, the spontaneous lunatic in me said..."Hell Yes!"  We made our way from Nashville, through Memphis where we got to eat some of their famous BBQ and pay an obligatory visit to Graceland.  Stayin in Dallas and Fort Worth Texas was probably some of the most fun I've had in years.  Witnessing real life cowboy honky-tonks and learning to two-step were experiences I'll take with me to the end of my days.  Yet the craziness began while we're driving through New Mexico and I get a phone call from the manager of Florida Georgia Line, "Hey Kelly... ummm can you be in Cancun the day after tomorrow? We really need you for the lead in our new music video- BK said to call you asap."  So I hauled ass to Phoenix so I could hop a plane home to Chicago, so I could fly down to Cancun.  It was a whirlwind but was the best hasty decision I've ever made.  Turns out my good friends, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley (BK) of the smash hit Country Music duo Florida Georgia Line were filming the video for their big new single, "Get Your Shine On".  I was beyond flattered they wanted me to be BK's "video girlfriend" and one hell of a trip ensued.  I arrived on Monday at the Hard Rock Hotel in Cancun to find the entire hotel flooded with pictures and posters of FGL and their upcoming mega-concert on the beach.  Turns out, the band and over 50 person crew from all over the US and Mexico dominated the entire hotel that week.

Video shoot Days 1 & 2: These were no ordinary days in paradise.  Usually waking up at 5:00 is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to me... yet when it's accompanied by a beautiful sunrise, breakfast chilaquiles, and country music blasting at the wasn't so bad ;).  My fellow video chick, Estephania (Tyler's " video girlfriend"), and I got to watch the boys finish their first shoot... where their whole band was actually performing IN the Hard Rock pool.  It was surreal to actually watch the making of a huge production music video... let alone being a part of it.  The scenes over the next couple days included... The 4 of us playing pool, flying across the ocean on waverunners, partying at a swim-up bar, frolicking on the beach with Mexican wrestling midgets (yes, I'm serious), cruising through the jungle and through town in an old army Jeep, and diving into clear pools and caves in the Cenotes.  One of my favorites was BK chasing me on the beach in Tulum and trying to take pics of me with an old fashioned camera.  There may or may not have been an on-camera smooch as well.  Let's just say trying to act "romantic" with a crew of 40 people watching you is much more glamorous than it sounds!  The down side of all of the was that craft services was the most delicious authentic buffet of regional Mexican specialties...yet whenever I was about to load up my plate I got some interesting "looks" from my stylists and the directors as my wardrobe consisted of nothing more than a bikini, and that I should probably be indulging in the veggie platter instead.  Nevertheless... I would sneak some Empanadas con jamon y queso... and proceed to "suck it in" for the rest of the shoot.

The wrap party was bitter-sweet as we knew our time in Cancun was winding down.  Yet we still had some party left in us.  The entire crew and band bid adieu to the Hard Rock by consuming massive amounts of Tequila while head-banging to a Mexican hard rock cover band.  It was a blast and probably one of the best nights I can (somewhat)  remember.  The video will be released within the next week and I CANNOT WAIT for everyone to see it!  It will truly be an epic music video and will go down in my history books as one of my coolest life experiences and the time I got to Eat, Travel, and Rock Out Mexican/Country style!

Joe's-A-Palooza (2012)

This last weekend at Joe's Bar was like this year's second Lollapalooza.  It was an over-the-top smorgasbord of interwoven and overlapping acts and concerts.  Let's just say I am STILL worn out!  The most wonderful aspect was that even though not every show was AT Joe's Bar...Joe's was still a huge part of everything that was going on.

Here's how the craziness began: November 29th witnessed a mass immigration of country artists to our fair city of Chicago.  They were scattered everywhere... from State Street to Weed Street.  My first stop along this musical journey was the House of Blues for The Florida Georgia LineLove and Theft, and Jake Owen concerts.  Love and Theft's Eric and Stephen are good friends, along with Eric's beautiful wife, Emily, so we watched the rapid fire shows from the artist's balcony.  Unfortunately, I had missed Florida Georgia Line's energetic performance at Joe's in September, so it was amazing to finally see them live.  It's incredible to see the reaction the crowd has every time "Cruise" is performed.  I had to sneak out of this show early as I needed to rush over to Joe's to interview Jerrod Niemann as well as host the live streaming of his concert.  This was so cool, as this type of broadcast, using Laplive.TV, hadn't been done before at Joe's and it was a monstrous production. Over 3,000 fans around the country got to watch the show live at Joe's thanks to the live streaming.  Jerrod was thrilled to be able to "bring Joe's TO all of his fans."  You can catch the rest of our discussion/interview here. Jerrod's show was non-stop action with an entire horns section and back to back crowd pleasing hits.  He has such a wonderful demeanor and stage presence, he makes every audience member feel like a family member and an integral part of the show.  The highlight for me was his beautiful ballad, What Do You Want, which was also co-written by a dear friend, Rachel Bradshaw.  Jerrod's deep and powerful voice had the audience captivated for the duration of the show but that song was on a whole different level.

The next day, Friday, was truly epic.  If you were at Joe's, you witnessed the intensity first hand.  Once again, I ventured to House of Blues for the 2nd performance of Florida Georgia Line, Love and Theft, and Jake Owen.  After the show I had to round up the troops and help get all the boys over to Joe's so they could support their friend, Chase Rice, who was performing his first sold out show.  Chase is an interesting guy.  On the outside, he seems to be a tall, handsome, ummm jock?  But he's got so much more going on than that.  This guy has done it all, and all by the young age of 27.  We had a really fun interview... you can watch it here.  When Chase took the stage, he really rocked it... of course, the ladies were ecstatic, but he really was pulling the guys in too... as they could all relate to his "fun time"  music.  Chase called up buddy Stephen Barker Liles (Love and Theft) to jam with him for one song, yet the "piece de resistance" was during the encore performance.  Chase sneaked off stage and was scrambling upstairs to gather all his fellow songwriters and performers for one last colossal track.  He grabbed Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line, and Jesse Rice (co-writer).  They are the conglomeration responsible for the current number one song in country, Cruise.  No one  at Joe's had ever seen a crowd go so crazy before... especially during the last chorus of "In this brand new Chevy with a lift kit... would look a HELL OF A LOT BETTER WITH YOU UP IN IT!"

Fortunately, for those of you who missed any of these shows, you can be confident all of the artists will be back in 2013.  There's already an incredible line up that's in place for January and February.  Check it out here and hope to see y'all soon at a show soon!! Stay tuned... I'm going to tell you about my last crazy trip to Nashville and review Florida Georgia Line's new chart topping album, Here's to the Good Times.

My Life In Lyrics (2012)

Sometimes I feel as if song lyrics are grossly underrated.  It boggles my mind how few people pay attention to lyrics.  They’ll never know any words to any song…even the world’s most famous and recognizable songs… like Happy Birthday????  Now, I’m not one for poetry…hate it as a matter of fact… but when those words are set to music, it takes on a whole new life.  It’s incredible how you can have a page full of words and it would be next to impossible for a human to memorize them… but introduce a beat and a melody, and you can memorize those words almost immediately.

Song lyrics have been incredibly important to me, I feel like my life story can be told through songs I deem as my favorites.  I also tend to gravitate to certain songs and lyrics depending on which mood I’m in, or to illustrate something that is occurring in my life.  I almost pity people who don’t have this relationship with song lyrics because you’re missing an outlet… a friend you can go to no matter what trials and tribulations you may be encountering.  Not to mention, you are missing one of the biggest points the artist is trying to make with their music.

Here are some examples from my extensive love affair with music:

Pearl Jam- Black– “All the love gone bad turned my world to black…Tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I'll be…. “ Even though I never really had any “love gone bad” while I was in high school, this song and its lyrics made a profound impact on me.  It even inspired my (gulp) Pearl Jam stick figure tattoo I got when I was 16.  It really came full circle when, in May, Eddie Vedder asked me curiously, why did I get my tattoo.  All I said was “Black” and he knew exactly what I was talking about… he then smiled proudly and gave me a huge hug.  Quite the moment.

Alanis Morissette- Head Over Feet- “You’ve already won me over in spite of me, don’t be alarmed if I fall Head Over Feet…”  This was a big song for my friends and me.  It works perfectly for any situation where you fall for a guy you were resistant to… whether because they were the “bad boy” or too much of a “nice guy” (never happens).  This song helped justify “giving in.” Haha.

Elton John- I Want Love- I’ve always loved this slightly more obscure newer tune…and not just because Robert Downey Jr. was in the video.  But after a breakup and you’re feeling really shitty, these lyrics make you feel tough and hopeful. “So bring it on, I’ve been bruised.  Don’t give me love, that’s clean and smooth.  I’m ready for the roughest stuff.  No sweet romance… I’ve had enough.”

Fiona Apple- Criminal- “I’ve been a bad bad girl…I’ve been careless with a delicate man…” Ladies, need I say more?

Laura Pausini- Come Se Non Fosse Stato Mai Amore-  For some reason Italian pop music can make me happy no matter what mood I’m in… strange I know.  She’s my favorite Italian artist and her lyrics are intense. – Here are some helpful words… “E cancellare... tutte le pagine con la tua imagine, E vivere... COME SE NON FOSSE STATO MAI AMORE” You can’t expect me to translate too, can you??

Martina McBride- Wrong Baby Wrong- We all know country music is known for it’s descriptive and true to life stories. This song is no exception and is a go-to I play for girlfriends who just went through a break-up…ahh such a good friend ;)  “Wrong baby wrong baby wrong, it ain’t the end of the world, don’t you worry pretty girl…Now that he’s gone baby gone baby gone, you got nothing to lose…count the minutes if you want to, it won’t be long baby long baby long till you find somebody new.”

Zac Brown Band- Jolene- Even though this was written by Ray LaMontagne, Zac brings a spine chilling pain to the song.  The song actually hurts when you listen to it, yet it’s absolutely beautiful  “I found myself face down in the ditch, booze in my hair, blood on my lips…A picture of you holdin’ a picture of me, in the pocket of my blue jeans.”

Avril Lavigne- Hot- People may think Avril is a manufactured teeny bopper… untrue.  I have followed her career from the beginning, and before Taylor Swift and the likes, Avril was the artist girls listened to to hear their own lives put to music.  She’s an incredibly talented musician and writes all her own lyrics.  I picked “Hot” because even though I love her darker notes and tones the most, this is a feel good song and usually what I put on when I’m getting ready to go out at night…basically when I wanna feel like a sexy bitch… “You make me so hot, make me wanna drop, you’re so ridiculous, I can barely stop…”  Pretty profound, eh?

I can clearly go on and on forever (clearly)…but my point is; if you are a person who has never really made song lyrics a big part of your life… I emplore you to open your heart and ears, have a bit of patience, and try to hear what the artist is trying to convey.  It’s a shame to miss out on this dynamic and pure relationship with music.  What are some of YOUR favorite lyrics???

Stone Temple Pilots...Finally!!! (2012)

2012 marks the 20th year anniversary of when Stone Temple Pilots' debut album, Core, was released. This was no ordinary debut. It consisted of hit after deep and twisted hit. Anyone who is familiar with the band, knows they have had a roller coaster ride of fame, drug addiction, arrests, and depression. Usually the megalomaniacal frontman, Scott Weiland, has been at the epicenter of the drama. They have even gone their separate ways in the past, forming other bands...such as Scott forming Audioslave with Slash. Yet, they decided to put the original four (brothers Dean and Robert DeLeo, drummer Eric Kretz, and Mr. Weiland) back in the saddle for a Core revisited tour.

The show was on September 4th at the Vic Theater. The venue was awesome. It doesn't hold too many people so we were able to be quite close to the stage. The entire crowd started to get severe anxiety, however, when we had to wait an hour and a half after the opening band for STP to take the stage. Rumors of Scott being a diva were flowing and my concert companion was certain they wouldn't go on at all. Finally...they put the rumors to rest and COMMANDED the stage. The sound was incredible. Scott hasn't lost one iota of his vocal ability and was able to do complete justice to every single track they performed.

Scott rocked the stage with his beyond slender frame and Jagger/Bowie-esque presence and dance moves and kept the energy soaring throughout the entire set. This was so monumentous for me as STP, along with Pearl Jam (obvi) and Smashing Pumpkins, were one of my favorite bands of the 90's. They helped me form my love for hard alternative rock, and to now see them in concert, after 20 years of being a fan, was surreal. So surreal that I could barely control myself during some of my favorite tracks like: Plush, Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart, Vasoline, Creep, Interstate Love Song, and finally Sex Type Thing (encore). I was raging so hard I think I lost 10 lbs during the show. My friend hadn't seen this side of me before and I most certainly frightened him. But hey, it was a 20 year (god I'm old) build up that needed to be released.

The band shocked the audience when they pulled Rick Nielsen, lead guitarist of Cheap Trick, on stage. They proceeded to rock the shit out of a rendition of "Surrender". My friend and I almost lost our was such a bad ass moment and we couldn't believe what we were witnessing. In the end, waiting 20 years...and the additional hour and a half was worth it. Say what you will about Weiland's crazy antics or STP being a "poor man's Pearl Jam"- they can still put on one hell of a show after 2 decades. At the end of the night, it was definitely time to take me home because my dizzy head was conscience laden....

Hey Chicagoans! How about a Staycation? (2012)

So I have to admit, and this is no secret, but my day-to-day life can be pretty fun. This summer has really been the epitome of me enjoying La Dolce Vita…and I haven’t even left Chicago yet! I do hear from people all the time, “Hey Kelly, do you work??” The answer of course is, “Yea, kinda!” I have managed to make the most of my summer here in Chi while still attending to life’s lame responsibilities. Since I have made my last 2 months feel like freakin’ Yacht Week, I figured I’d help my fellow Chicagoans turn the next 2 months into a memorable vacay…right here at home. And I WILL NOT discuss boring tourist activities such as Navy Pier or Architecture Tours. These recs are legit and are what the real locals do.

There are a couple different themes I want to dive into (no pun intended), as my awesome activities are quite varied.

For those of you who like a cosmopolitan type of vacation, let’s say to New York, here is a fun way to spend your day: When I’m in chic chick mode I usually begin my day with some shopping. I will ALWAYS hit up Oak Street, which is renowned for its world-class boutiques. If you really want the New York vibe, you can always pop into Barney’s New York, but I usually opt for smaller non-corporate shops. My FAVORITE boutique in all of Chicago is Sofia. They’re moving to Walton Street (1 block over) this summer, so don’t be alarmed if it looks like they’ve closed. But they have the best collection of the season’s best trends and looks. Plus you actually feel you’re in a walk up in The Village. After I’ve put my credit card into panic mode, I’ll head to Rush Street for brunch or lunch at Tavern on Rush. Now, this place is no secret…but if you haven’t had a table on the sidewalk in the summer… you do NOT know what people watching is. This is probably one of the scene-iest places in the city and I always feel like I'm on vacation when I’m relaxing and gossiping outside at this hot spot. A crisp glass of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and their Bellevue Salad with rock shrimp will definitely make you feel like you’re lunching on Madison Ave.

If that’s a bit too fancy-schmancy for you, and you’re more the active beachy type, well fear not, I’ve got you covered. If you have not yet heard of Stand Up Paddle Surfing (or Boarding) or SUP, where have you been?! This is the sport that has captivated cool people everywhere. Celebs and athletes go nuts for SUP and it’s the most popular activity on the West Coast and Hawaii. Fortunately for us, some bad-ass folks called Great Lakes Board Company, decided to bring this trend to our gorgeous lake front. It is one hell of a workout. It stabilizes your core, can burn up to 500 calories in an hour, and is somehow still relaxing. The view of the city you get while floating around on your board ain’t bad either. I paddle at least twice a week and it’s definitely become my favorite new sport. Don’t take our lake front for granted people!!! Head to North Ave. Beach, spend $25 for an hour rental (package deals are avail) and magically transport yourself to the Pacific. To finish off a good beach/paddle day, you can always head to Castaways on the Beach for a delicious frozen cocktail but I’m usually in the mood for some fresh seafood. To really feel like you are on a vacation head to El Barco Mariscos. It’s in East Ukranian Village on Ashland and it reminds me of so many places I’ve eaten at all over Mexico. You feel as if you’re in an old wooden boat- sounds strange but the seafood is awesome. They specialize in whole Huachinango (red snapper) and ginormous seafood platters that could feed a village. Everything is delicious and their margaritas are amazing. It’s super affordable too, so it’s a great way to end your beach staycation!

Finally, if you’re a fan of Jamaica and reggae music (I’m obsessed) here is an awesome way to spend a Thursday or Sunday evening. Check out Ja’Grill in Lincoln Park on Armitage. The chef hails from Ocho Rios in Jamaica, and makes a mean Red Snapper Escoveitch (sweet, spicy, and tangy, sautéed with peppers and onions) and Spicy Curried Goat. Their coconut cabbage side dish is addictive, and they have an impressive collection of Jamaican Rum cocktails to cool you down. The reggae is always booming and the huge Bob Marley mural on the wall will transport you right back to the Caribbean. After dinner and drinks head to Underground Wonder Bar in River North on Clark Street. Every Thursday and Sunday from 1am to 4 am they have live reggae. The bands are always incredible and can literally put you into a musical “One Love Mon” kind of trance. Order a Red Stripe beer from the bartender brothers, Jordan and Elliott, who have dreadlocks down to their knees, and just jam in front of the stage with the crowd. ALWAYS a blast, Wagwan!!

So that’s a typical staycation week in the life of EatTravelRockOut. Chicago has so many wonderful and exciting things to do that so many natives are even unaware of. If you can’t get away this summer you can make the very most of your time at home and still feel like you just traveled to NYC, Mexico, Jamaica, or a ton of other places. I have dozens of more fun things to do as well, so if you want some ideas, just shoot me an email or comment below. Enjoy, ChiTown!!!