I decided to go for it.

Girl in the world…but mostly Illinois

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Summer Hotness Mix

In the car. In the kitchen. On the porch. Dancing around the house. These are the songs I’ve been listening to over and over again this summer. That is the only unifying theme of this mix. Well that, and that all these songs rock.

New Hotness Mix (click HERE to listen to it as a playlist)

1. I’m Blue– The Ikettes
2. Party– Beyonce ft. Andre 3000
3. One day/Reckoning Song (Wankelmut Remix)– Asaf Avidan
4. The Bay– Metronomy
5. High School Lover– Cayucas
6. Breezeblocks– Alt-J
7. The Doctor Will See You Now– Wax Fang
8. Genevieve– Lucius
9. Beat (Health, Life, and Fire)– Thao Nguyen
10. Fade Away– Intergalactic Lovers
11. No Diggity– Chet Faker
12. 212– Azealia Banks ft. Lazy Jay
13. 1 Train– A$AP Rocky ft. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Badass, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, Big Krit
14. Robert Raimon Roy– Robert Raimon Roy
15. Blurred Lines– Robin Thicke ft. T.I., Pharrell
16. Foolish Fool– Dee Dee Warwick
17. Bring It On Home To Me– Otis Redding and Carla Thomas


Clockwise from the top left corner: La La Land by Wax Fang, An Awesome Wave by Alt-J, Foolish Fool by Dee Dee Warwick, Le Tigre Blanc by Robert Raimon Roy


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“Be Mein”

I made you some pink candy and a little homemade card. I sent you good morning texts full of emoticon hearts. I made you a mix of my favorite love songs. It’s because I like you a lot, friend. And I’m not too cool to say I actually enjoy Valentine’s Day.

I Wuv You Mix (click HERE to listen to it as a playlist)

1. Our House– Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
2. In My Life– The Beatles
3. You’re the One– The Black Keys
4. Laundry Room– The Avett Brothers
5. We Don’t Need to Make Love to Know That We’ve Got It– Mathien
6. God Only Knows– The Beach Boys
7. Jet Ski Accidents– The Blow
8. This Modern Love– Bloc Party
9. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)– The Proclaimers
10. Whole Wide World– Wreckless Eric
11. Maps– Yeah Yeah Yeahs
12. Baby It’s You– Smith
13. At Last– Etta James
14. I Only Have Eyes For You– The Flamingos
15. Turn Me On– Norah Jones
16. Nothing Even Matters– Lauryn Hill feat. D’angelo
17. Cigarettes And Coffee– Otis Redding
18. Leather and Lace– Stevie Nicks and Don Henley
19. Wagon Wheel– Old Crow Medicine Show
20. Restless– Alison Krauss
21. Naked As We Came– Iron and Wine
22. Speak Plainly Diana– Joe Pug
23. First Day of My Life– Bright Eyes

To go with the cute mix, some punny valentines from history’s favorite communist/Marxist/dictators.

Oh Trotsky, you old flirt.

Oh Trotsky, you old flirt.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS! HAPPY HOLIDAYS! I am a holiday enthusiast. Any and all holidays. Especially ones occurring between October and February when the weather in Illinois can be particularly uninviting. The obvious gem of the holiday season is Christmas. People need something to look forward to when the weather gets cold. They need it so bad that they decorate their entire homes in tinsel, lights, and intricate mantle displays. So bad they created a genre of music and radio stations deviate from their regularly scheduled programming to play 1000 versions of the same 20 songs. And this all starts up to two months before the actual day. I’m not complaining- I cover this mess in royal icing and eat it for breakfast.Highlights from the tree

As for my personal celebration, the X-mas tunes come out in November, decorations in December, and sugar intake reaches an all time high around the December 24. This year I’ve managed to stay on schedule but I’m feeling a bit quieter about it than usual. I feel more like cuddling up with a hot drink and watching the lake freeze than I do embracing the chaos that is…anywhere that sells anything.

On the dock

Coming home is what really makes it feel like Christmas for me. I love the smell of the tree and that there’s always a neighborhood or family get together that requires making some homemade treats. I baked with my dad all morning today. He made 2 epic apple pies and I made chocolate fudge, toffee-chocolate chip shortbread, and an apple thyme cake for Christmas morning. Sugarsugarsugar. Of course, the Christmas vibe wouldn’t be complete without some holiday tunes. Here’s a mix of some of my favorites. Yes, a few songs are on their more than once but repetition is a hallmark of Christmas music.

Holiday Party Mix (click HERE to listen to it as a playlist)

  1. Christmas is All Around– Billy Mack
  2. Merry Christmas Baby– Otis Redding
  3. The Christmas Song– Nat King Cole
  4. Stay a Little Longer– Shemekia Copeland
  5. Baby It’s Cold Outside– Ray Charles
  6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas– Lou Rawls
  7. Santa Baby– Madonna
  8. Cool Yule– Louis Armstrong
  9. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve– Nancy Wilson
  10. White Christmas– The Drifters
  11. Merry Christmas, Baby– Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra
  12. I Want You for Christmas– Dick Robertson
  13. Christmas Fais Do Do– Marcia Ball
  14. Boogie Woogie Santa Claus– Patti Page
  15. Happy Christmas (War is Over)– John Lennon
  16. Baby It’s Cold Outside– Leon Redbone and Zoey Deschanel
  17. White Christmas– Otis Redding
  18. Happy New Year, Baby– Johnny Otis and His Orchestra
  19. Zat You, Santa Claus?– Louis Armstrong and The Commanders
  20. Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!– Les Brown and His Band of Renown
  21. What are You Doing New Year’s Eve– Johnny Mathis

Happy holidays, everyone! Be safe out there!


Guest Blogger: Shawn on The Blues

Welcome to the first Guest Blogger post! This series dedicated sharing the knowledge and experiences of my friends and family who know a thing or two about a thing or two. Getting it started with a BANG is a friend I call Brother, Mr. Shawn Loga. He’s crafted us a killer blues mix, complete with song-by-song descriptions and lesson in what it means to have the blues. Without further ado, I give you The Blues Mix.

Yes. He threatens jellyfish with his teeth and beer bastes salmon from the inside out. This is a person you should listen to.

The Blues is the music of America.  I got into the Blues, like most people these days, through Rock ‘n’ Roll.  Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, The Clash- these all drove me closer and closer to their shared ancestor.

You will notice that most of these songs are a cover of this or that, or originally done by some other band.  This is prevalent and common within the Blues genre, and a good cover is almost tantamount to inclusion: for example, if you never play a cover of Robert Johnson, you are NOT a bluesman.  If you cannot play John Lee Hooker on command, you are NOT a bluesman.

The Blues are about sex, booze, violence, and misery.  It is also about confidence, happiness, and love.  The Blues are the most human of music, and emotion and passion are the root of every song.  Without love and anger, without alcohol and guns and cocaine, without heartbreak and passion, there would be no Blues.

John Lee Hooker has a song titled ‘Whiskey and Wimmen.’  The opening lyrics are, “whiskey and wimmen almost wrecked my life.”  “Almost” is the operative word.  The Blues are founded on scratching the bottom of experience, taking the booze-soaked, tear-stained letters of last night and putting a good beat to it.

If you think this list is too long and you don’t have the time, you work too much.  Sit back with a nice glass of bourbon (The Official Drink of The Blues!) and just jive.  Enjoy!  Below you will hear the voice of America.

*You can listen to the songs track-by-track or click here to listen to them straight through as a playlist. Track #8 is so old school its not even on youtube so if you playlist the mix you’ll have to click on that one seperately.


1. Boogie Chillen’ – John Lee Hooker: The Blues incarnate, John Lee Hooker is raw and rough and drunk and sexual.  His basic approach is instantly recognizable: just a guitar, and a stomping foot for bass.  If I could point to any single person as the definitive bluesman, I would point squarely at Mr. Hooker.

2. Moanin’At Midnight – Howlin’ Wolf: Another giant of the Blues, Howlin’ Wolf has a very distinct style and growl.

3. Cross Road Blues – Robert Johnson: King of the Blues, Robert Johnson gave Blues the mystic is has today.  He is the apocryphal guitarist at the crossroads, ready to sell his soul to the Devil.  He disappeared for years during his youth and reappeared, playing guitar like no one had ever seen before (thus giving rise to the Devil legend).  Robert was given a poisoned bottle of whiskey by a jealous husband (it seems RJ was giving a certain young lady too much attention).  Robert died young (27), only recording a handful of songs.  Even given the scant recordings by this pioneer of Blues, he is regarded as the Father and classic originator of the Blues style.

4. Still a Fool – Muddy Waters: Along with John Lee Hooker and Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters helped shaped the Blues as it is today.  His distinct voice and guitar have inspired countless covers.  Besides Robert Johnson, probably no other bluesman has been covered so many times.  This is one of my all time favorites.

5. Numb– Gary Clark Jr.: This is the future of the Blues.  The repetition in this song is reminiscent of the Mississippi Blues as made famous by Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside.  Heavy bass, monster guitar riffs, and repetitive vocals make this a worthy successor.

6. Can’t Be Satisfied – Scott H. Biram: A cover of the classic Muddy Waters song, this has feeling and emotion and shows what a simple backcountry blues tune can turn into over the years.  Biram is a perfect example why bluesmen cannot be pigeonholed.  A redneck who bleeds the muddy Delta blues.

7. Meet Me In The City – The Black Keys: This song is a cover of a Junior Kimbrough tune.  It has become my favorite song of all time.  It is slow and sexy, it hits hard, the passion is felt, and the listener is carried on an electric pulsing wave.  Strap on your best stereophones and turn this baby up.  Close your eyes and imagine the sexy lady of your dreams undressing slowly on a hot Mississippi night.

8. Travelin’Riverside Blues – Dion: This is a cover of the classic Robert Johnson song (maybe the most influential song in the history of the Blues).  Dion has released three very awesome blues albums, and his simple approach is perfect.  You don’t see too many old white men playing the Blues, but this guy warrants attention.  This song is on Grooveshark so just follow the link and press “play”.

9. I’d Rather Go Blind – Etta James: Why? Because there are not enough women singing the Blues.  Etta James is the most classic female Blues singer of all time (along with Koko Taylor – check out her version of Wang Dang Doodle).  This song aches with heartbreak.

10. Baby Please Don’t Leave Me – Buddy Guy: Yet another cover of Junior Kimbrough, this song just rumbles with madness and sex.  The drum-line repetition and backbone give this song its apocalyptic vibe, and then Buddy steps in to shred on the guitar.  You better have a subwoofer, because this song is best listened to at a high volume while laying on the floor playing air guitar feeling the bass shake your whole body.

11. The Hunter – Albert King: A nice upbeat Blues number, often quoted by Led Zeppelin.

12. Feels So Good #1 – Junior Kimbrough: This is included as a prime example of what the Mississippi Hills Blues are, as contrasted to the Blues of Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson, which are all the original Delta Blues.  The gritty dirty sweaty repetitive style of the Mississippi Hills is, in my mind, much better suited for dancing and fucking and drinking.

13. Yer Blues – The Beatles: I included this for a few reasons.  One, it shows how varied the Blues can be, and by a band so popular as The Beatles.  Two, it is a damn good song.  Go on, turn up the volume.  Three, I know how much Maddie likes this song, which makes me like it even more.

14. You Shook Me – Willie Dixon: Besides Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon is probably responsible for more Blues hits than any other artist.  Led Zeppelin’s first album alone had two Dixon covers on it.  Dixon will be remembered for his song-writing skills more than his bass playing or singing.

15. I Believe to My Soul – Ray Charles: Better known as a Soul and R&B singer, Ray nonetheless sang the Blues better than anyone.  His voice, the best in the business, was made for crying and shouting and telling women to fuck off.  This is a classic example of Ray singing the Blues (listen to the backup vocals closely- they too are sung by Ray).

16. I Don’t Want To Be With Nobody But You – Joss Stone: Again, not enough women singing the Blues.  This woman can sing, that’s for sure.  Another modern example (along with The Black Keys and Gary Clark Jr.) of what contemporary Blues sounds like.  Please ignore the awful video. 

17. What Kind of Woman Is This – Buddy Guy: I included this because it sounds sufficiently different from the other Buddy song on this list, and it is a great representative of the “Chicago style” of Blues.  One of my favorites.

18. Bird Without A Feather – R.L. Burnside: This is a classic song, even though it is relatively ‘new’ in the Blues genre.  It hits all of the bases.  Love, heartbreak, cheating, guns, murder-it’s all here.

19. Next Door Neighbor Blues – Gary Clark Jr.: You know when a song has the lyric ‘came home last night, with a pistol pointed at my head,’ it’s gonna be good.  Gary Clark Jr. is keeping the Blues alive in the 21st century.  Just a good foot-stomper.

20. I’m Broke – Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears: The Blues expresses whatever you’re feeling at the moment.  And at the moment, I’m broke.  At least I have this song to dance to.

21. Back Door Man – The Doors: A cover of a Willie Dixon song, I included this just to show the wide variety of Blues.

22. I’m Gonna Kill That Woman – John Lee Hooker: Open with Hooker, close with Hooker.  This is a less-known song that, again, is a great representation of the Blues.  Enjoy.


Clockwise from the top left corner: R.L. Burnside, Etta James, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters

Clockwise from the top left corner:

Clockwise from the top left corner: Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Junior Kimbrough, Ray Charles

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Music Monday

These five songs have been firmly planted in my head for weeks AND most of them have pretty sweet videos to boot. Any songs songs been stuck in your head? I’m always looking for new ones so if you have one to share, leave a link in the comments and we can all start our weeks off right with a little more music.

1. “Crave You”- Flight Facilities ft. Giselle Never have I ever had a stronger desire to purchase a smoke machine. Maybe buy some popsicles and rock jail house inspired striped shorts.

2. “Take Care”- Drake ft. Rihanna– Something about this song is so real. The loop of the chorus makes me feel like I’m in this relationship and have crazy baggage…but kind of in a good way because Drake/Rihanna is here to make it better. The video sends the vibe from raw to primal with some beautiful shots of animals and intense scenery.

3. “Moonbeams”- Family Band– This tender song has a pretty fantastic video. Two skeletons find each other and spend a perfect day together. What’s not to love.

4. “Powa”- tUnE-yArDs– “Powa” is a strong enough song that it makes the list even without a video. This girl has a crazy voice and she’s taking it for a ride.

5. “Get Free”- Major Lazer ft. Amber Koffman– I love this song and I love it’s video. The beat puts me in a trance and it’s hard to look away from the mashup of images of the Jamaican dancehall scene. AND Amber Koffman is from the Dirty Projectors, one of my current favorite bands, who I happen to be seeing THIS WEEKEND. Can’t wait.


Sweet Sounds of the STAX Museum

This summer I checked something big off my life-list…The Dirty South Road Trip: a lazy drive from Chicago, to Memphis, to New Orleans, and back. I went with one of my best girls who happens to be an epic travel companion and I think we did it right (further research is needed, obviously). Here are some highlights:

New Orleans:

Jacques-Imo’s: Here we filled up on traditional ‘Nola cooking. Hello butter. I’m Maddie.

Jaun’s Flying Burrito: We broke our own rules and ate here more than once. We couldn’t even walk by it a second time without going in. Cucumber Margs. Fish Tacos. Money cheese sauce. Why fight it.

La Boulangerie: We may have gone here multiple times as well. But it’s a bakery, so the same rules don’t apply. Blue cheese bread. Olive bread. We were in such a frenzy eating a loaf in the car that marmalade was spilled all over my stick shift. It was so good, worth a sticky shifter.

Blueberry Tart from La Boulangerie

-Greenwood Cemetery: Not food related but such a beautiful cemetery. We could have spent much more time wandering around this place. Around every turn there was something to marvel at.

Tomb at Greenwood Cemetery

Tomb at Greenwood Cemetery


-The Cheesecake Corner: Cheesecake and coffee by candlelight at a table for two.

Drive-In Movies: I LOVE drive-in movies. LOVE THEM. I’ve never been to one like this though- open 7 days a week with three screens running simultaneously. We were so giddy even Snow White and the Huntsman was a wonderful experience.

The Stax Museum of American Soul Music: The last day of our trip was a dreary one. We were starting to look forward to being back at home, sleeping in our own beds, cooking in our own kitchens. We were a little too close to finishing on a note resembling the drizzly weather…but we decided to spend the day at the Stax Museum. Such a great decision. This museum takes you through the history of soul music from its roots in country, gospel, and blues, through the civil rights movement, and a bit beyond. Stax Records brought Memphis talent out of the woodwork and was a truly incredible place to be in the ‘60’s. I ate it up. While we were walking around I kept a list of artists I already liked/wanted to learn more about and made a mix for our listening pleasure…here you go:

  1. Get Out of My Life Woman– The Mad Lads
  2. Summertime– Sam Cooke
  3. Stand By Me– Sister Rosetta Tharpe
  4. You’ll Lose a Good Thing– Carla Thomas
  5. Who’s Lovin’ You– The Jackson 5
  6. Hold On I’m Comin’– Sam & Dave
  7. Green Onions– Booker T & the MG’s
  8. I’ll Take You There– The Staple Singers
  9. Walkin’ the Dog– Rufus Thomas
  10. Try a Little Tenderness– Otis Redding
  11. I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)– Aretha Franklin
  12. Hoodoo Lady Blues– Memphis Minnie
  13. Knock On Wood– Eddie Floyd
  14. Tell Me Something Good– Rufus ft. Chaka Khan
  15. (Night Time Is) The Right Time– Ray Charles
  16. Sex Machine– James Brown
  17. Can You Get to That– Funkadelic
  18. Shaft– Isaac Hayes
  19. Proud Mary– Ike and Tina Turner

    Getting in the mood at The Stax Museum. Photo courtesy of my friend :)

    Getting in the mood at The Stax Museum. Photo courtesy of my friend :)