Homegrown Residency spotlights local Chicago musicians

By Chris McConaghey
Medill Reports

Every Tuesday night, Uncommon Ground’s Live Intimate Listening Rooms spotlight artists who might otherwise be plugging up to amplifiers in their garages and basements. Here, they get their chance to perform in front of a room filled with friends, family, and other Chicago local music fans.

Artists such as Danielle “Miss Jones” Jones – who has been singing since she was 10, but never really considered herself as a performer – are provided the opportunity to debut their material live and uncut. Jones, 21, is an Indiana native who moved to Chicago right after she graduated high school. She now deems herself as an amateur pianist and a practiced vocalist.

She will be performing Tuesday night, romancing the audience with soft ballads about her life.

“I started becoming seriously involved with writing [music] about a year ago. I wasn’t really singing for a year. I was at a really, really terrible time in my life, and healed myself through my music,” said Jones, “Each one of these songs I wrote [since] helped get me through that.”

Each time a Homegrown artist performs, they get to choose the bands that accompanies them. That gives other local artists and bands such as “Lyn Rye” and “The Oh Yeahs” time to rev up the audience with tunes by singers such as Lorde, as well as the chance to mix in material from their own EP’s and albums.

As part of the residency,  each Homegrown artist of the month selects a charity to which part of the proceeds of the show go. Rebecca Baruc, 26, music program curator for Uncommon Ground, said October was the first month a sponsor reached out to her to help provide funding to record and produce the event.

“We started with Lakeview Pantry, and wanted to keep it [the nonprofit] local, and just having Uncommon Ground pick what fit,” said Baruc, “But then, we had another local band member who is volunteering with “Our Music, My Body” come to us and say, ‘Hey, we noticed you’ve been growing Homegrown, and would like to personally sponsor the next artist to help with exposure.’ So, it all kind of fell into place really nicely; it also motivates the artist more if they’re involved in the cause.”

Our Music, My Body is coordinated  by two Chicago-led domestic violence awareness groups, Between Friends and the Rape Victims Association. They work by providing assistance to victims of sexual assault at music festivals. According to a 2017 articles by The Guardian, “reports of rape and other attacks are on the rise” at festivals.

Abby Sapadin, (left, next to the open seat) came back to see Miss Jones play at Uncommon Ground after seeing an earlier performance. (Chris McConaghey/Medill)

Abby Sapadin, 28, a fourth-year medical student, is a regular at Uncommon Ground and came out after she heard about Jones’ performances on Instagram through a website account @Do312, where you can find upcoming events in-and-around the Chicago area.

“I saw Miss Jones perform recently at an open mic here [a few weeks ago], and was blown away,” said Sapadin, “But every group was awesome for different reasons. I love how much it brings together people in this community; people who tangentially know each other, and – through random degrees of separation – we all find each other here listening to amazing music.”

Uncommon Ground uses Yelp! Reservations to reserve tables for their listening rooms free of charge. Tables are booked for two-hour slots – the length of the show – and have full menu and beverage service. (Chris McConaghey/Medill)

Miss Jones is performing tonight, Oct. 22 and Oct. 29 at Uncommon Ground’s Lakeview location, 3800 N. Clark St. Doors open at 7:30 and shows starts at 8:00 p.m.. Reservations are required. For upcoming shows, how to place a reservation, and a calendar of more local artists and bands gig, visit www.uncommonground.com/live-music. A $10 cover charge is added to food and beverage charges to support the performance, and $1 of each cover charge is donated to the chosen charity.

Photo at top: Danielle Jones, under the alias ‘Miss Jones,’ is the Homegrown Residency artist for the month of October at Uncommon Ground. (Chris McConaghey/MEDILL)