Chicago

OpenCalais Metadata: Latitude: 
41.85
OpenCalais Metadata: Longitude: 
-87.65

NHL Playoffs: 5 things to take away from round one

After one round of the NHL Playoffs, here are five things learned as the second round gets underway. 

1) New York needs more offense in round two 

The New York Rangers are a popular pick to be the last team standing at the end of the daunting NHL Playoffs. They did everything you’d expect from a Stanley Cup favorite in the regular season. They were third in both goals scored and goals against rankings, which ultimately led to their third Presidents’ Trophy victory in franchise history. In five playoff games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, however, the Rangers’ overall play significantly diminished in quality. New York scored only 11 goals and went a dismal 3-for-20 on the power play, all of which are serious concerns for the Rangers, who are set to take on the Washington Capitals in Round 2. The lone bright spot for the Eastern Conference’s top seed was goalie Henrik Lundqvist’s evolution into playoff form. Rightfully referred to by the New York faithful as “King Henrik”, the 2012 Vezina Trophy winner posted a 1.54 Goals Against Average and a .939 save percentage against the Pens. If the King continues to stymie opposing offenses and the Rangers’ own offense addresses their woes, then New York will pose legitimate concerns for opponents moving forward.  

2) Chicago’s depth proved to be the difference

From double overtime in Game 1 to triple overtime in Game 4, the Chicago Blackhawks seemed to outlast the Nashville Predators by using experience to their advantage. While the Predators scored more goals in the series than the Blackhawks, winning that battle 21-19, Chicago was able to score major series-altering goals including two overtime winners from two different defensemen, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews led the team with 8 points in the series, and four other ‘Hawks had 5 points or more. Offensively, depth has always been a strong suit in the playoffs for Chicago. This year, depth in the net-minding position may have tilted the series in their favor. After surrendering three goals on 12 shots in Game 1, starter Corey Crawford was pulled and relieved by Scott Darling, who stopping 42 shots and surrendered no goals in a double OT win. In Game 2, Coach Joel Quenneville went back to Crawford, and the result was a 6-2 loss. Darling then started Games 3-6, but after only stopping 33 of 40 shots in the last two games, Darling lost the job, and Crawford stopped the last 13 shots the Predators took in the series. Quenneville has stated that Crawford will get the start in Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild, but the goalie carousel will continue in Chicago unless Crawford plays the way he did in 2013 when the Blackhawks hoisted The Cup.

3) St. Louis has the playoff blues

Despite tying the Anaheim Ducks for the most points in the Western Conference, the St. Louis Blues were dispatched in the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive season. St. Louis has the talent to not only get out of the conference quarterfinals but also contend for a Stanley Cup Championship. Vladimir Tarasenko headlines the star-studded lineup, and he played rather well in the series against the Minnesota Wild, finding the back of the net six times. Goal scoring as a team, however, plagued the Blues as they totaled only 14 goals in six games. Captain David Backes and free agent pickup Paul Stasny contributed a mere one goal each. Lower than expected production was a result of both poor execution and opposing goaltending. After allowing six goals in Game 4, Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk put together back-to-back games in which he only surrendered one tally. No matter how well Dubnyk played, mustering only two total goals in the final two games of the series is unacceptable for a team of this caliber. Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock’s future with the team may be in jeopardy after another poor postseason showing.

4) Anaheim looks like a serious contender

The Anaheim Ducks managed to sweep the Winnipeg Jets by leading just 38 minutes and 26 seconds of the 245 minutes and 12 seconds that were played during the four contests. This may sound alarming for the top seed in the West, but outscoring the opposition 10-1 in the third period and overtime of this series signals that when the game is up for grabs, the Ducks are the more determined team. Corey Perry, who notched 7 points, and the offseason acquisition Ryan Kesler, who added five of his own, led the Ducks in scoring. Acquiring Kesler is proving to be a worthy move for the Ducks as he scored some of the biggest goals in the series, including an overtime-forcing tally on the road late in Game 3. Continued production from Kesler and Perry as well as increased output from Captain Ryan Getzlaf will be key in a second round showdown with the surging Calgary Flames. Both teams are top 4 in the playoffs in both goals per game and power play percentage, so expect this series to be a high scoring thriller out west. 

5) Home ice is crucial in close out games

Teams playing at home with the opportunity to end the series were a combined 6-2 in the first round. The only losses were Montreal playing Ottawa at home with a 3-1 series lead and the Detroit Red Wings facing the Tampa Bay Lightning with a three games to two edge at the famous Joe Louis Arena. Home ice advantage proved to be monumental in both Game 7. The Washington Capitals were able to eliminate the New York Islanders in a close 2-1 game, and the Lightning dispatched the Red Wings by a score of 2-0 behind goalie Ben Bishop’s best night of the postseason. Both Game 7 environments were electric, and the home players of both teams certainly fed off the crowds’ energy to seal the games late in the third period. Vigorous playoff atmospheres in the NHL surely give the hometown players an extra spark on the ice, and that extra step over the opposition usually ends up being the difference in a tight series-clinching game. 

2015 already looking promising for Chicago Cubs

From the curse of the Billy Goat to Steve Bartman, the past 106 years of baseball on the north side of Chicago have been nothing, but disappointing. The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and their last World Series appearance was in 1945.

Despite these unfathomable truths the Cubs still have hope.

For one, Hollywood predicted a Cubs World Series win in the 1989 movie “Back to the Future II.” But more importantly, the Cubs are actually built to contend not only this year, but for many years to come.

Theo Epstein, President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs, has made all the right moves after leaving the Red Sox for Chicago in 2011. Despite finishing in last place in the N.L. Central the past three years under Epstein, the Cubs have the top-ranked farm system in baseball.

Led by Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Jorge Soler, the Cubs have at least one hitting prospect at every position on the diamond. If things go the way Epstein has planned, the Cubs farm system won’t be as highly glorified as they are now because Soler will be in the majors and Bryant should be up shortly after. Russell is close behind as well. And while second basemen Javier Baez and outfielder Arismendy Alcantara are no longer considered prospects, they are young guys in the Cubs’ system.

Before the offseason, the Cubs had 40-1 odds to win the World Series but after signing left handed ace Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million deal and adding Joe Maddon as the new manager, their odds increased to 12-1.

The pitching staff beyond Lester is also impressive. Kyle Hendricks led the team with a 2.46 ERA posting a 7-2 record over 13 starts. Jake Arrieta struck out 167 in only 156.2 innings last season. Newly acquired Jason Hammel posted a 2.98 ERA and despite struggling last season, Travis Wood is still a former all-star. The five starters look nothing but strong on paper.

The two cornerstones of the franchise, shortstop Starlin Castro and first basemen Anthony Rizzo, were the Cubs only All-star selections last season. Castro led the team with a .292 batting average and Rizzo was second in the National League with 32 homeruns.

"It's going to happen this year," Rizzo said. "It's what we're going to do. We're going to play and we're going to win the NL Central, you can quote me on that. We should be the team, with all due respect to every other team; we're going to do some things this year. That's what we're going to put our sights on and we're not going to accept anything else.”

A World Series win might not happen this year, but the Cubs fans have to be satisfied in the direction this team is going. In the end, all that matters is who makes the postseason. The Kansas City Royals were able to win the pennant last year in the wild card spot. If the Cubs can clinch a wild card spot, anything can happen.

The lineup is stacked from top to bottom and the starting rotation is solid. Epstein has made all of the right moves to this point and now it’s time to see if they can produce.

Standing at 3-and-a-half feet in a Chicago apartment, the UT Tower stands tall. Not far in a guest bedroom lies a 2-and-a-half foot tall Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. UT alumnus Drew Finkel created these two campus landmarks out of more than 62,000 Legos combined.

After posting pictures on Reddit of his Lego replicas of the Tower and the stadium, Drew’s hobby went viral. When the University tweeted a link to pictures of the stadium replica, Drew replied that UT was welcome to borrow it. According to Laura Finkel, Drew’s wife, the University jumped at the opportunity.

“I’m surprised at how much attention this has received,” Laura said. “We have had so many media outlets reach out to us to do interviews on it.“

Exactly when the stadium will be brought to UT and where it will be displayed has not been confirmed, but Drew believes it will be in the Student Services Building.

“I built the stadium in multiple pieces because I knew that, wherever it was built, I didn’t want it to have to live there forever,”
Drew said. 

Drew started the Tower, which took about five months to complete, in March 2013 and started the stadium this year. In the past, he had only worked on small, 4-inch tall Lego replicas of landmarks such as Big Ben, which had instructions.

“It was starting to become winter and it was a little cold outside, and I just said, ‘Hey, I think I’m going to build the UT tower out of Legos,’” Drew said. “It was said as a joke, like maybe we’ll see, and then I started doing it, and it actually happened.”

According to Laura, it is not unusual to want to stay inside when it is minus 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Just imagine someone who’s knitting in front of the TV  — he does the same things for Legos,” Laura said. “It didn’t interfere with anything just because the winters are so awful here, and I think it was his way of coping with the seasons here.”

Drew used images from Google Maps to build the Tower and traveled to campus during spring break to take his own pictures, filling in the holes for any views he did not have.

“For the stadium, the hardest part was doing the inside because there is not a lot on Google Maps or images that I could find of the inside,” Drew said. “Luckily, all of the sides of the stadium are on the street, so using Street View was pretty helpful for that.”

For now, when people visit his apartment, they are surprised to see Lego replicas. Drew’s friend Richard Meth, software engineer and UT alumnus living in Dallas, saw most of the process through pictures and when he visited Chicago.

“He set his mind to it and finished it,” Meth said. “I didn’t realize how much effort he put into it until I saw it and helped him finish off DKR. To fit his design, Drew had cut and pieced together thousands of little Lego pieces. It took time and patience, but, in the end, both models look outstanding.”

NFL Awards Predictions

After ten weeks of regular season play, it is time to start predicting who will win what awards in the NFL.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills

Many may argue that Carolina Panther’s wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is the clear offensive rookie of the year since he has caught seven touchdowns compared to Watkins’ five. However, Watkins provides more of an impact to his team. Anytime Watkins hauls in over 80 receiving yards in a game, the Bills are 4-0. When he records less than 80 yards in a game, the Bills are 1-4. Watkins and Benjamin have put up similar numbers but Watkins’ impact to his team is undeniable.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Kyle Fuller, Cornerback, Chicago Bears

Despite dropping off the radar the last couple of weeks due to injury, Kyle Fuller is still in contention for defensive rookie of the year. Fuller’s performance this season should have Bears fans excited about their heir to Charles Tillman. As the first player in 20 years to record three picks and two forced fumbles in his first three NFL games, Fuller’s play indicates he will easily fill in Tillman’s big shoes. Fuller currently has three forced fumbles and three interceptions on the season. Regardless of Fuller’s impressive play, if the Bear’s defense keeps giving up 50 points per game, there is no way Fuller wins this award.

Comeback Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers

After breaking his collarbone last year in a contest with the Chicago Bears, Aaron Rodgers has sought out revenge against Chicago and is playing some of the best football of his career. Rodgers has torched Chicago this season throwing for ten touchdowns against them in two games, including a six down touchdown performance in the first half alone against the Bears this past Sunday. Rodgers isn’t only performing well against Chicago, as he is third in the league with 25 touchdowns and only three interceptions. What’s amazing is that Rodgers has thrown for 25 touchdowns on only 277 passing attempts. In comparison, touchdown leaders Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck have compiled passing attempts of 353 and 393, respectively. Rodgers is officially back.

Coach of the Year: Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals

Bruce Arians is the clear-cut coach of the year. Through Week 10, the Arizona Cardinals are 8-1 and hold the best record in the league after defeating the St. Louis Rams 31-14 in Week 9. Arians’ performance this season has been especially impressive since he has lost many key players on both sides of the ball, but the Cardinals somehow continue to win games. However, it will be tough for the Cardinals to recover after losing quarterback Carson Palmer for the season due to an ACL tear, but if Arians is able to get the Cardinals to win the NFC West with Drew Stanton under center, Arians should win the award unanimously.

Offensive Player of the Year: DeMarco Murray, Running Back, Dallas Cowboys

DeMarco Murray has been everything and more that the Cowboys have asked for this season. Murray started the season rushing for 100 yards in each of his first eight games. Perhaps the reason for these amazing numbers is that his workload is insane. He has carried the ball a total of 244 times and has rushed for a league high 1,233 yards.  If Murray stays healthy, he is on pace to break the 2,000 rushing yard mark and possibly Eric Dickerson’s regular season rushing yard record of 2,105 yards. The only blemish on Murray’s resume is that he has fumbled the ball five times this season. Murray’s performance this season is one of the key reasons why the Cowboys are playing so well.

Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, Defensive end, Houston Texans

Watt’s dominant performance this season has not only put him ahead in the defensive player of the year discussion but also in the NFL MVP conversation. In addition to three touchdowns, Watt also has 39 tackles, eight and a half sacks, three fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble. Since 1957, the NFL MVP has been awarded to the best player who is thought to be the most valuable to his team. The award is almost always won by a quarterback or a running back and has only been awarded to a defensive player twice. Lawrence Taylor, linebacker of the New York Giants, last won the award back in 1986. Watt is with no doubt going to win the defensive player of the year award, the real question is, will he be the first defensive player to win the MVP award since Lawrence Taylor?

Most Valuable Player: Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts

There are many candidates for MVP in the NFL this year including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and J.J. Watt but, through Week 10, Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback Andrew Luck is the frontrunner for the award. With a league leading 3,085 passing yards through nine games, Luck is on pace to break Peyton Manning’s record of 5,477 passing yards in a season. Luck’s completion percentage (63.6%) and average yards per attempt (7.85) are significantly higher than his first two seasons in the NFL. Luck and the Colts are also on pace to win the AFC South for the third straight year and could possibly clinch a first round bye in the postseason. Even with similar numbers to Brady and Manning, Luck might be given the award simply because he has never won it before.

NFL Draft to move from New York to Chicago in 2015

Every year, NFL fans from all over the country travel to watch the NFL Draft in hopes of their team selecting the next NFL star. But, next year, instead of booking a flight to New York, NFL fans will be rerouting their travel plans.

According to multiple reports, the 2015 NFL Draft will be held in Chicago rather than New York City. The NFL Draft has been held in New York since 1965, including at Radio City Music Hall for the past nine years.

Once the NFL learned Radio City Music Hall could not be reserved for the 2015 NFL Draft, 12 cities showed interest in hosting the Draft.  The list was then narrowed to Los Angeles and Chicago before NFL officials decided the Draft will move to the Windy City.

The Chicago Bear’s twitter page posted that the Draft will be held at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, which is located on Chicago’s busiest and most popular street, Michigan Avenue. The Draft will take place on April 30-May 2.

The NFL Draft has always been popular to football fans and the three day event in 2014 was viewed by 45.7 million people surpassing the record of 45.4 million in 2010. Popularity increased last year, in part, over speculation of which team would take Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Curiosity over Manziel increased dramatically on draft day when he slipped all the way to No. 22 of the first round when he was finally selected by the Cleveland Browns.

Every year one major goal of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is to further increase fan interest in the NFL’s already incredibly popular offseason. This year Goodell believes the change in scenery might help. He is specifically hoping to strengthen interest in the rounds of the draft and keep the Draft’s TV ratings up.

"We're talking about different concepts, primarily how to strengthen the last day and whether we should maybe push that back to the clubs a little bit more and allow the clubs to have a little bit more freedom as more of a club day," Goodell said.

The last NFL Draft not to be held in New York City was coincidentally held in Chicago at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel from 1961-63.  We will find out in April if the move to Chicago is another score for the NFL.

NFL Draft to move from New York to Chicago in 2015

Every year, NFL fans from all over the country travel to watch the NFL Draft in hopes of their team selecting the next NFL star. But, next year, instead of booking a flight to New York, NFL fans will be rerouting their travel plans.

According to multiple reports, the 2015 NFL Draft will be held in Chicago rather than New York City. The NFL Draft has been held in New York since 1965, including at Radio City Music Hall for the past nine years.

Once the NFL learned Radio City Music Hall could not be reserved for the 2015 NFL Draft, 12 cities showed interest in hosting the Draft.  The list was then narrowed to Los Angeles and Chicago before NFL officials decided the Draft will move to the Windy City.

The Chicago Bear’s twitter page posted that the Draft will be held at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, which is located on Chicago’s busiest and most popular street, Michigan Avenue. The Draft will take place on April 30-May 2.

The NFL Draft has always been popular to football fans and the three day event in 2014 was viewed by 45.7 million people surpassing the record of 45.4 million in 2010. Popularity increased last year, in part, over speculation of which team would take Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Curiosity over Manziel increased dramatically on draft day when he slipped all the way to No. 22 of the first round when he was finally selected by the Cleveland Browns.

Every year one major goal of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is to further increase fan interest in the NFL’s already incredibly popular offseason. This year Goodell believes the change in scenery might help. He is specifically hoping to strengthen interest in the rounds of the draft and keep the Draft’s TV ratings up.

"We're talking about different concepts, primarily how to strengthen the last day and whether we should maybe push that back to the clubs a little bit more and allow the clubs to have a little bit more freedom as more of a club day," Goodell said.

The last NFL Draft not to be held in New York City was coincidentally held in Chicago at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel from 1961-63.  We will find out in April if the move to Chicago is another score for the NFL.

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Andrew Belle returns to South By Southwest this year as part of his tour with Ten out of Tenn, a group of 10
singer-songwriters from Nashville, Tenn. Belle will perform on two separate days, beginning Mar. 14 at The Listening Room at Winflo and Rowdy’s Saloon. Belle said he hopes his presence at SXSW will allow him to reconnect with old friends, listen to some good music and have a great time.

Ever since his move to Nashville, Tenn., in 2009, Belle had secretly always wanted to be a part of Ten out of Tenn. His sister-in-law, a photographer familiar with local Nashville artists, helped him get plugged into the local music scene. He later joined the Ten out of Tenn troupe and was invited to perform with the group on its national tours.

“They really helped me launch my Nashville touring presence,” said Belle, who eventually moved back to Chicago in 2011. “All of a sudden, I went from no tour experience to performing on stage in front of hundreds of people, and playing in cities I’d never even been to before.”

With two albums behind him, The Ladder (2010) and Black Bear (2013), Belle is currently working on a stripped-down version of Black Bear.

“It’s going to have a similar feel,” Belle said. “But it’s going to be less ambitious. We will be reinterpreting the songs so that people who were fans of The Ladder and who weren’t fans of the Black Bear record will be able to listen to music that’s somewhere between the two albums.”

Belle said the Black Bear album title is derived from a personal experience he went through a couple of years ago.

“I had a very real, impactful experience with God and in my relationship with God,” Belle said. “I didn’t want to be confronted by the way I was living my life, and I felt like God was sort of pursuing me, much like an animal pursues its prey. So when I was writing lyrics for the song ‘Black Bear,’ the name just came to me.”

After discovering artists such as Radiohead and Washed Out between 2008 and 2012, Belle began dabbling in electronic musical instruments and found that alternative and electronic music presented him with more opportunities to experiment. During this time, he also continued to play in Chicago bars and restaurants, trying to make a living playing cover songs.

“I had a lot of new inspirations to draw from,” Belle said. “I discovered a singer-songwriter, Greg Laswell, who was a big influence on me and my writing at that time. I would go into work and I would be playing in bars for a couple of hours. I would use that time to work on new material and song ideas. I would strum these ideas, piece together the lyrics and would just play around.”

Belle’s interest in music developed in school when he first heard the band Counting Crows, but it wasn’t until college that he decided to do more songwriting and singing.

“One of my first stage performances was an open mic in college,” Belle said. “I didn’t perform very well because I got very nervous. I do wrestle with a mild case of nerves now and then since I’m not really a natural performer. I love songwriting, and performance is just a consequence of that.”

Most of Belle’s inspiration to write is borrowed from his personal relationships.

“Romantic relationships have been an inspiration,” Belle said. “I got married last year, and my marriage holds endless amounts of inspiration for me. My family and relationships are the most meaningful to me. Those are things that constantly appear in my music.”

Belle said he always approaches songwriting from an emotional standpoint. “That’s kind of what attracts me to music in the first place,” Belle said. “I just love having an autobiographical approach to writing lyrics. I’m a typical guy who is not super dramatic, but when I write, I feel a little more dramatic and emotional than I normally am.”

Belle’s songs have been featured in the television dramas, “One Tree Hill,” “Castle” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“I didn’t really know how to handle that success,” Belle said. “I had decided to keep living the way I was living, but then I realized with success comes responsibility. I’ve learned that I need to find my identity, which can be possible only through my faith in God. I’m learning to not put my identity into what I do for a living, because the minute it starts to go away, you don’t have a self anymore. You don’t know who you are anymore.”

David Click, Chris Goranson, Jules Esh, Matthew Judson, Lydia Palazzolo and Paul Wilson plan to recreate Earphoria, a Chicago hostel catering to musicians, here in Austin. The hostel will be a community where music lovers can stay overnight, play instruments and collaborate.

Photo Credit: Abbey Grimes | Daily Texan Guest Columnist

Hostel Earphoria is a hostel for musicians and music lovers, a place of collaboration and the manifestation of founder Jules Esh’s 8-year-old vision. And it’s coming to Austin this year.

Esh started Hostel Earphoria in January 2012 in Chicago’s Logan Square. On the surface, the hostel is a temporary home for musicians. Anyone is welcome, but musicians pay a reduced rate to stay overnight and access the hostel’s musician-friendly amenities, such as pianos and guitars donated by friends of the community.

But Hostel Earphoria has become more than just a place to spend the night. A constant stream of musicians who create, share and perform music move in and out of Earphoria’s open doors.

Ben Maroney, a sound engineer and current head of the hostel in Chicago, says he loves what he’s seen Earphoria become over the years.

“It’s really interesting seeing all these people from different backgrounds meet this collaborative goal and make this happen,” Maroney said. “Everyone who’s involved in the community cares.”

Over the course of two years, Earphoria created a physical location for a large portion of Chicago’s music scene. Tim John, a Chicago writer and musician, found out about Hostel Earphoria Chicago through Air BNB, an online booking agency. He intended to stay one night, but became a part of the community for months.

“The hostel itself has an extremely cool vibe,” John said. “There’s great shows on the weekends, and a string of traveling musicians and music lovers comes through during the summer. There’s a community with regular participants, and it’s all focused and centered around music.”

With the success of Hostel Earphoria in Chicago, Esh and a team of four others from the Earphoria community decided to leave the flourishing Chicago hostel and bring their idea to a new front. They knew they wanted a city where music was the focal point of the culture instead of just part of it, so they set their sights on Austin.

Esh moved to Austin three months ago with a goal: She wanted to bring the same sense of community which held Hostel Earphoria Chicago together so well, to the Austin music scene. For Esh, it’s the next of many community-centered projects.

The Earphoria idea started with a music podcast Esh started in 2006 from her home in Whitehall, Mich., after leaving her job in community development. She interviewed musicians, recorded their performances and shared the content with her followers. When Esh moved to Chicago in 2007, her Earphoria podcast attracted the attention of tech-savvy, creative-minded people she met through her day job at Apple, and they were soon ready to join Esh in taking the concept of Earphoria further.

“I realized that it was more about creating a community of people who could do this, that I wasn’t the only listener that wanted to interview their favorite musicians or the only listener that could,” Esh said. “This started a more physical community, and people started going out and doing their own interviews.”

Earphoria grew from a podcast to a music blog, with an ambitious team of audiophiles, led by Esh. She quickly realized the Earphoria engine was self-sustaining, allowing her to envision a new direction for the idea.

“Here was a big group of people who always wanted to be together, playing music and relating,” Esh said. “That’s when I had the vision of having an actual space where artists could stay when they were touring and individuals who were musicians could stay without the fear of upsetting their neighbor or their roommates.”

Five years after its inception, it was time for Earphoria to have a physical location. Esh wanted to create a location for the music community in Chicago. Esh found a home in late 2011, and, a month later in January 2012, Hostel Earphoria was fully operational.

Now, two years later, Esh and her team face a similar challenge in the real estate jungle of Austin. In a city that saw a 12-percent spike in property values last year, local musicians are finding it harder and harder to live close to downtown, the hub of the live music scene. The Earphoria crew said they know they can be a valuable resource to musicians in Austin.

“There are musicians here that can bring others together,” Earphoria co-founder Lydia Palazzolo said. “When you bring people together, things happen. Austin is full of creativity. Chicago is a big city with lots of restrictions. Here, it’s more of a DIY community. There is more openness to musicians and to the creative mind.”

David Click, an audio engineer who joined Esh and others here in Austin, is optimistic that Earphoria’s addition to Austin will prove to be beyond beneficial.

“[Earphoria] is extremely open to new things and new people,” Click said. “The community is very supportive. It’s like a family of musicians, all working for the cause.” 

Esh and her team are relentlessly searching for Hostel Earphoria’s Austin location and hope to have it up and running as soon as July 1.

“We’re not here temporarily — we want to do something fantastic,” Esh said. “Everything forms around music here. We want to bring Austin that same sense of community.”

"Chicago" comes to Austin

“Chicago” has everything: money, murder, sex, and “Razzle Dazzle.” I have inexplicitly found myself humming “Cell Block Tango” on multiple occasions. So when I heard the national tour was coming to the Bass Concert Hall, there was no doubt I would attend.

Based on real 1920s events, “Chicago” tells the story of murderer Roxie Hart, as she gains fame during her trial, and murderer Velma Kelly, a washed up star, trying to regain the same fame.

The musical production is very different from the 2002 film version. Rather than shifting from location to location, the entire live show is performed in the courtroom, with the story told through vaudevillian style musical acts. The musical a less realistic feel than the film and emphasizes the idea that Hart’s trial is a performance.

The musical’s showiness allows the cast to interact directly with the audience and the characters become caricatures at points. This over the top style of the show does make emotional connection to the characters more difficult though.

“Chicago” is known for its minimalist staging, so I was not surprised when the stage was sparse. The set, as well as costuming, was completely colorless, with the exception of a few gold accents. There were some movable chairs and a ladder on each end of the stage, but the majority of the set was composed of a black bleacher-like structure that mimicked a jury box in a courtroom. This is where the orchestra sat for the entirety of the show. The characters would playfully interact with the musicians and directors, which added a fun dynamic.

Stand out moments included “Tap Dance,” Roxie’s monologue and "Mister Cellophane." In “The Tap Dance” Billy Flynn (John O’Hurley) uses Roxie as a literal puppet to tell the media what they need to hear for her to be freed from jail. Roxie’s monologue, before the musical number “Roxie” was actress Anne Horak’s most truthful moment in the show. Todd Buonopane’s number "Mister Cellophane" left me feeling sorry for his always ignored character Amos Hart.

Terra C. MacLeod’s performance as Velma Kelly was particularly great. She played Kelly as a true show woman, constantly trying to sell herself as a star. MacLeod managed to balance Kelly’s show business persona with truth.

Overall, “Chicago” was an entertaining show, true to the musical’s original vaudevillian style. With all of the engaging numbers and characters, it is no wonder “Chicago” is the longest running Broadway show. 

A piece of vaudeville is coming to the Bass Concert Hall in the form of “Chicago.” Inspired by real events, the play-turned-motion-picture is centered around the fictional murder trials of the stardom-seeking Roxie Hart and the vaudevillian celebrity Velma Kelly in mid-1920s Chicago. 

After a short time as the Roxie Hart understudy in the Broadway production of “Chicago,” Anne Horak stepped into the leading role for the national tour of the classic production. The Daily Texan interviewed Horak about the show’s national tour and what it was like being thrown into the role of Roxie Hart. 

The Daily Texan: How did you get your start in theatre? 

Anne Horak: I first got into singing and dancing watching all the old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies. From a very young age, my dad and I would watch their old black and white movies, and I loved them. I would have friends over when I was in, probably, first grade and I would say, “Hey, want to watch ‘Flying Down to Rio’?”

DT: Why is Roxie Hart one of your dream roles? 

AH: She gets to sing and dance and act. Bob Fosse is such an iconic choreographer in musical theatre history, and “Chicago” is one of those iconic shows. Having that under your belt is kind of a footprint in theatre history. I feel like it’s one of those things where someone can look at your resume and say, “Oh wow, she played Roxie Hart in Chicago.” 

DT: What was it like playing a murderer? How do you get in that mind-set?

AH: Well, yeah, it’s funny because she is such a lovable and fun character. It’s almost hard to remember that she is murderous. You just have to remember what a crazy and traumatic event that it was but also that Roxie has these amazing dreams of being a celebrity, of being a star. In the 1920s in Chicago, all of these terrible acts were put on a pedestal like they were amazing. The people that did them were instant celebrities despite the horror of their actions. Roxie, I think, is one of those people who will sort of do whatever it takes to gain the stardom she desires. 

DT: With such an iconic role that has been played by so many stars, what did you do to try and make it your own? 

AH: I really tried to bring myself to the character. I think kind of the beauty of this show is that a lot of other shows can be kind of a cookie-cutter with your replacement, and “Chicago” really allows the freedom to make the character your own.

DT: What was it like being thrown into the tour?

AH: The show is pretty much an exact replica of the Broadway company. I literally had sound check, and I did my first show. I ran through one or two things, you know certain lifts or certain things fellow actors needed to just flush out before the show, but I hardly had any rehearsal with this cast, but it was fine. Once you get one show under your belt, it’s totally fine. It was surprisingly very, very smooth and seamless. That’s thanks to stage management and this talented cast. 

DT: Do you have a favorite song or scene of the show?

AH: I think, for me, it’s definitely the Roxie monologue going into the song “Roxie.” I think that the monologue is that time where you’re really breaking that fourth wall and getting the chance to interact with the audience. It’s a time where you can kind of play a little and really feel out the audience and their reactions and try different things based on the reactions. That’s always a fun moment because it’s just Roxie on stage.