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The Left Behind: Chicago’s local musicians’ struggle

We’ve all heard the rise-to-fame stories about the bands and artists that got lucky and were able to become superstars.  What we don’t hear are the stories of the unlucky ones.

Chicago has always set a great stage for the music scene. After all, this is the city that artists such as Muddy Watters, Louis Armstrong, Wilco, and Smashing Pumpkins once called home. However, being such an artistically active place, there are thousands of band competing with each other and in the end many are left behind.

Andrew McCall, 28, and James Fronza, 27, sit on their living room in Pilsen rehearsing some of their old songs and writing new ones as well. There are wires and recording equipment scattered throughout the apartment as the music and the creativity resonate in sync through the 19th century walls as they strum their instruments and sing out loud.

However, the duo, simply known as McCall and Fronza, know that the game isn’t about fame anymore.

“We try to write music about what’s going on in our community,” McCall said. “That’s where we draw the inspiration, and that we know is our biggest audience.”

McCall and Fronza have been playing together for four years. Originally an experimental rock trio, they now mostly write and play country and folk songs.

“We’re trying to get back to the basics by using kind of interesting instruments and sounds,” Fronza said. “We’re aiming for simpler songs from simpler times, some are folky and some are country or bluegrass.”

Andrew McCall from McCall and Fronza sets up some of their recording equipment in their Pilsen apartment. (Photo by Juan Latapi,2013.)
Andrew McCall from McCall and Fronza sets up some of their recording equipment in their Pilsen apartment. (Photo by Juan Latapi,2013.)

McCall, a Michigan native, and Fronza from Chicago met while working at Whole Foods, where McCall is still employed to this day. Fronza is a meat sales representative by day and musician/music teacher at night.

Like other musicians, McCall and Fronza are forced to face the harsh reality where sometimes their dreams and aspirations are not enough to pay the rent.

Although Chicago has a good music scene with famous venues such as The Double Door and the Metro, most musicians will never get to experience what it’s like to play in such renowned places.

“We have played shows here and there,” McCall said. “At this point we do it for fun, we don’t expect any money or fame to come from this.”

On Writing Basics and Convergent Journalism Skills

by Juan Latapi

The modern journalist must possess the right skills to make it in a professional world plagued with competition and insecurity.

Not only are the right writing skills needed, such as getting the  who,what,why,where and how, but also the modern journalist must be technologically savvy, and must be a chameleon when it comes to adapting to the fast changing technology.

These technological skills, along with pristine research and critical wits, will make a journalist be able to adapt to whatever sociological and technological trends are relevant at the time. Knowing how to research, approach and interview sources is winning half the battle.

The convergent journalist should be able to pull different sources and material through different channels and be able to adapt and diffuse the message through multiple channels. Some of the available tools can be founds through social media channels such as tweeter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

Continue reading On Writing Basics and Convergent Journalism Skills

Pilsen News: La Casa Student Housing

Chicago–La Casa Student Housing is a ground breaking project funded by The Resurrection Project in Pilsen. Its main goal is to provide affordable student housing for families that otherwise would not be able to afford it.

Besides dorm rooms, the building includes recreational and educational resources as well as staff that is well trained in academic and career resources.

LaCasa Student Housing is the first of its kind, and according to Maria Burcio, head of the project, “the project has received an overwhelming response, people from different places like New York are calling us and asking us for advise.”

Since its opening in August, La Casa has received a great welcoming from the community and has set the tone for what’s to come for Pilsen.

Video and Story by Juan Latapi

Pilsen: Yesterday and Today in Black and White

Photo essay by Juan Latapi

Pilsen is one of the most colorful communities in the City of Chicago. Its diverse population make it a blend of many different colors, sounds, smells , and sounds. Formed in the 19th century by Czech immigrants and now inhabited a by a large Mexican population, Pilsen is now known as the heart of Chicago. In 2006 Pilsen became a National Historic Register District, and this essay attempts to show its vivid history from yesterday and today.