Live Music From:
Ryley Walker, Liam Kazar, The Hoyle Brothers, Tobacco City and Valebol
From the Empty Botlle on Cortez
Chicago IL
Sat, 10/9/21

EB Presents: Thee Best Western- A block party of a special kind, featuring eclectic and cool live music from Ryley Walker, Liam Kazar, The Hoyle Brothers, Tobacco City and Valebol.
Empty Bottle couldn’t have been more excited to share the love they have for their community along Western and Cortez, by hosting their first annual EB Presents: Thee Best Western block party!
Although because of crazy and insane traffic on a mid Saturday afternoon, having trouble finding parking, I couldn’t make it in time for opener Valebol’s complete set.
Once settled in, and soaking in the overall mellow and chill family vibe, it turned out to be a splendid and memorable late afternoon and early evening taking it all in just outside the Empty Bottle on Cortez.
Tobacco City were cool- a mellow country music vibe, with an air towards simple country music songwriting with a flair for pedal steel guitar thrown in.
The Hoyle Brothers, missing their lead singer Trevor (McSpadden) Hoyle for the first few songs because of traffic as well, filled in nicely until Trevor arrived, with some sweet Chicago honky tonk instrumentals, and then full on honky tonk when Trevor arrived front and center, with some couples line dancing making their presence known front and center throughout the remaining parts of their set.
The very infectious Liam Kazar followed next- a cool Chicago musician who just released his debut record over the past month or so: “Due North”, with a whipsmart band to back him up: Spencer Tweedy on drums, Lane Beckstrom on bass, James Elkington on all things pedal steel.
Felt bad for Lane right off the bat- he had bass amp troubles before even the first note was played, and thank god Ryley Walker and his crew were waiting in the wings, and gladly donated their bass amp to them.
Even this didn’t derail their set- sharing and fellowship were evident throughout.
Liam Kazar has a commanding presence and cool swagger about him, reflecting in his music, which mixes soulful temperament with a folk indie narration.
Clearly Liam and his band can hold their own- I can’t wait to hear more from him and Spencer and see what they can come up with.
As for Ryley Walker- he’s a cool singer- songwriter as well- a guy who can cover a wide range of music and styles.
Directly behind him was his guitar rack, with an assortment that looked like it covered the gamut of history, with stylings dating back to The Byrds, Tom Petty, and some big body guitars at his beck and call as well.
Comprised of stylings that cover indie- folk, with a smattering of Americana blues and straight up indie rock, Ryley Walker has a sound and a relaxed style that permeates throughout his set- no fuss, a little soundcheck, then plug in and play.
Ryley Walker’s set, headlining EB’s first annual Thee Best Western, was dizzyingly joyful, full of complex melody, and intelligent phrasing lyrics wise.
Everything about Ryley’s set looked and sounded so understated and matter of fact, but clearly it’s anything but.
There’s a fearlessness in the playing and the solos, and a jovial vibe with a backing band that enhances things nicely.
Have to say the overall feel and vibe of Thee Best Western was captivating, with bookings that were spot on in the family fare aesthetic- and everyone on a warm and wonderful early October having a splendid time in the late day / early evening outside of the renowned Empty Bottle as well.
Can’t wait for more versions of EB presents: Thee Best Western in the future.
Let’s hope this becomes an annual event.
Bobby Talamine – Music Photographer Chicago

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