Stories by Marc Vitali

Blues Guitarist Looks Ahead with Delmark Records

Chicago musician Dave Specter speaks with WTTW News outside Delmark Records.

It makes sense that a veteran Chicago blues and jazz musician is on the city’s oldest blues and jazz record label. We visit Dave Specter and Delmark Records for a look back — and forward.

CTA Bus Driver Toronzo Cannon Sings the Blues, Literally

Toronzo Cannon (WTTW News)

Bus drivers have a tough job these days. And musicians are pretty much out of work. We spoke with one CTA driver who is also a songwriter with a new record. He drives people all over town, but right now he can’t play for the people. 

Chicago Music Scene Pivots in the Face of Enormous Change

Jack Swain (WTTW News)

Making a career in music and the arts is tricky in the best of times. These days, the struggle is surreal. Here’s our latest check-in with a few players on Chicago’s music scene where, to quote a famous Chicago soul singer, “Only the Strong Survive.”

Chicago Jazz Artists Look for Ways to Cope with COVID-19

(WTTW News)

The city named 2020 the Year of Chicago Music, and this week was supposed to be Cabaret Week. We visited a few jazz and cabaret folks and found a vast music scene that’s singing the blues.

At Awakenings Gallery in Chicago, Artwork Offers Healing

(WTTW News)

Chicago is home to an uncommon art gallery that has become an important place for exploring artistic expressions of healing. We visit Awakenings Gallery in Ravenswood.

‘Her Honor’ Tells Story of When Mayor Byrne Moved into Cabrini Green

Ensemble Member Christine Mary Dunford performs in “Her Honor Jane Byrne.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

On stage at Lookingglass Theatre, a new play looks at a Chicago moment from March 1981 when Jane Byrne, the city’s first woman mayor, moved into the Cabrini-Green housing project. 

10 Things to Know about El Greco (Including His Brazen Offer to Repaint the Sistine Chapel)

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos). “Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple,” about 1570. The Minneapolis Institute of Art, The William Hood Dunwoody Fund.

We preview the exhibition “El Greco: Ambition and Defiance” at the Art Institute of Chicago, which partnered with the Louvre and the Grand Palais for the show, and learn about the man behind the masterworks.

Homecoming Dance: Tour Brings Alvin Ailey Dancer Back to Chicago

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Solomon Dumas (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Chicago native Solomon Dumas is one of 32 dancers in the national touring company of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. This week, he performs at the Auditorium Theatre, where he first saw the company nearly 20 years ago.

Million-Dollar Comics: Collector of Rare Comic Books in Chicago for C2E2

Marvel Comics #1 CGC 9.0 Pay Copy $1,000,000.00 The Pay Copy Pedigree (Courtesy Vincent Zurzolo)

With a comic convention in town this weekend, we welcome comic book dealer Vincent Zurzolo – and his million-dollar collection.

Chinese Artworks Share Thoughtful Approach to Uncommon Materials

Installation view of “The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China” at Wrightwood 659, featuring works by Shi Hui and Zhan Wang.

Spectacular artwork from China fills not one, but two Chicago museums. We visit the Smart Museum of Art and Wrightwood 659 for a look at “The Allure of Matter.”

New Punk Rock Musical ‘Verboten’ Tells True Story of ‘80s Chicago Band

The Chicago band Verboten in the 1980s. (Courtesy of Jason Narducy)

A new rock musical from the House Theatre of Chicago tells the incredible story of a teenage punk band from Evanston. We meet the cast of “Verboten” and an original member of the band.

Young Musicians Keep Civic Orchestra Vital on its 100th Birthday

A rehearsal of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. (WTTW News)

Chicago is home to the only training orchestra in North America. And while it’s blooming with youth, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago is turning 100 this season. We sit in on a rehearsal to hear the dynamic sound that only an orchestra can make.

Humans and ‘The Sixth Extinction’: One Book, One Chicago Looks at Altered Planet

The latest selection for the citywide reading program is a Pulitzer Prize-winning book from New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert, who joins us in discussion.

Meet 2 New Members of Teatro ZinZanni, Where Vegas Meets Vaudeville

Liv Warfield, left, and Alseny Sylla are new cast members of the Teatro ZinZanni show “Love, Chaos and Dinner.” (WTTW News)

Circus arts, comedy and cabaret come together at Teatro ZinZanni. Six months into its run, the show has completely juggled its cast. New performers include two people with Chicago ties but very different backstories.

Chicago Gospel Group Brings New Energy to Old Spirituals

Adrian Dunn (WTTW News)

They are making music with a mission. A rousing Chicago gospel group brings a modern approach to traditional spirituals as they work toward social justice. We catch up with the Adrian Dunn Singers.

New Play Tells Story of Nancy Pelosi, ‘The Adult in the Room’

An image from video of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. (WTTW NEWS via C-SPAN)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was center stage in the House impeachment hearings. Now she is on stage, in a sense: a new play about Pelosi is receiving its world premiere in Chicago. We drop by an early rehearsal.

Inside the ‘Bug’ Infestation at Steppenwolf Theatre

Carrie Coon and Tracy Letts talk “Bug” with WTTW News.

The revival of Tracy Letts’ 1996 play “Bug” stars his wife, Steppenwolf ensemble member Carrie Coon. We spoke to the creative team right before opening night.

Marin Alsop Named Chief Conductor, Curator of Ravinia

Marin Alsop (Credit: Patrick Gibson)

Ravinia Festival just announced a major new hire, and she comes with an amazing pedigree: conductor Marin Alsop was mentored by Leonard Bernstein. 

Video: Hedy Weiss Reviews 5 Plays on Chicago Stages

Karissa Murrell Myers, left, and Aurora Real de Asua in “Top Girls” at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company. (Photo by Michael Courier)

The winter theater season is upon us, with a blizzard of good shows to see. Chicago theater critic Hedy Weiss gives her take on “Roe,” “Top Girls,” “The Mousetrap,” “Juliet” and “Verboten.”

Newly Found Photos Highlight Breadth, Depth of Joseph Sterling

Photographs from the Archive of Joseph Sterling (Courtesy Stephen Daiter Gallery)

Sixty years ago, a young photography student aimed his camera at Chicago teens. His name was Joseph Sterling, and we visited an old classmate of his for a closer look at the process of capturing youth culture and Chicago in the mid-20th century.

Rocks, Minerals and Gemstones Share Spotlight at Oak Brook Museum

There is now more to explore at a local museum that really rocks. We visit the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, which recently reopened to the public.

At the Art Institute, a Panoramic View of Andy Warhol’s Artistic Output

Andy Warhol. “Self-Portrait,” 1986. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; gift, Anne and Anthony d’Offay in honor of Thomas Krens. © 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

He was called the Pope of Pop – pop art, that is. Andy Warhol predicted 15 minutes of fame for everyone. His own fame lasted decades and has endured since his untimely death in 1987. We explore “Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again.”

For 30 Years, Chris Ware Has Chronicled the Adventures of American Misfits

Artist Chris Ware (WTTW News)

For fans of comics and graphic novels, he is a superstar. But the artist Chris Ware lives a low-key life just outside Chicago. At his home studio, we meet the engaging comic book artist with an unusual eye for everyday life.

New Shedd Scientist Studies Impact of Invasive Species in Lake Michigan

The round goby. (Credit: Shedd Aquarium)

The Great Lakes are home to an estimated 180 invasive species. Freshwater biologist Scott Colburn, who recently joined a research team at the Shedd Aquarium, tells us about the latest efforts to protect Lake Michigan from invasive fish, mussels and more.

Chicago’s Bloodshot Records Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Chicago-based musician Jon Langford speaks with WTTW News about long relationship with Bloodshot Records. (WTTW News)

The independent record label sets the gold standard for roots music in Chicago and beyond. We visited the headquarters of Bloodshot Records on the eve of its silver anniversary – and got an earful.