Weather Updates

Rahm Emanuel likes Wilco, Lucinda Williams and idea of music district

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

He likes the Stones, Lucinda Williams and Smashing Pumpkins. He even gets off the couch to go see the shows — and is toying with creating a district for live music in Chicago.

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel talked serious policy and personal reflections about music during an interview that aired Wednesday evening on WXRT-FM (93.1).

In the taped chat with morning hosts Lin Brehmer and Mary Dixon, Emanuel tried a few jokes that didn’t exactly fly (“This ’XRT crowd’s a little stiff,” he quipped) and waxed nostalgic about some of his favorite Chicago concerts, including Laurie Anderson at the Vic (he remembered it as 2006; her only Vic show was in 2004) and “the highlight of my life” — the Rolling Stones’ performance at the Aragon in September 2002.

He’s not mayor yet, so he’s still got time to paint the town. Emanuel claimed he saw three shows just last weekend: singer-songwriter Susan Werner on Friday at the Old Town School of Folk Music, “a wonderful play about Chicago at the Wit” on Saturday [“A Twist of Water”] and Irish balladeer David Gray on Sunday at the Chicago Theatre.

He spoke of the latter like a true fanboy: “I saw him at the Riviera in 2000 or 1999 when he had just broken off from David Matthews as his opening act. He’s bought a suit since then.”

During the interview, Emanuel gushed about his excitement for the new Lucinda Williams album, “Blessed,” released on Tuesday. The DJs also played two songs selected by Emanuel: “Tonight, Tonight” by the Smashing Pumpkins and “I’m a Wheel” by Wilco. Emanuel has stated his love of both bands repeatedly.

The one nugget he dropped about a vision for the city’s music community was his suggestion of creating a targeted music district, similar to the downtown theater district. He didn’t declare, he merely posed a question.

“You have the Riv [Riviera Theatre], you have Aragon, you have Double Door. . . . We have a downtown theater district. Should there be an Uptown music district, given our history with labels as well as the club scene, which is truly, truly unique around the country?” Emanuel said.

The downtown theater district started to come together in the early ’90s when Mayor Daley targeted tax-increment financing dollars to lure theater projects to the Loop.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.