News
04.20.2014

Our condolences, Chicago sports fans. We realize it’s a tough time to be one.
The Bulls and Hawks are both coming off of heartbreaking, post-season losses…
And despite a few bright spots on the mound / their line-ups, the Cubs and Sox still look to be a long ways away from competing…
And although Bears season is just a few months away, they’ve got more defensive questions than they do offensive answers…
And the Chicago Fire have to play in Bridgeview…
But there is hope.

212 - 0 - 0

That’s Canasta’s lifetime concert record against opposing, evil, anti-rock forces… which is to say, we don’t lose... EVER. So anytime you come out to a Canasta show, you’re guaranteed to see a win.… more specifically, a ROUT. So if these sporting times haven’t been treating you kindly, perhaps it’s time to consider throwing your weight behind another local team. Not convinced? Come on out to the Mayne Stage on Sat. 5/3 and watch us improve our record to 213 - 0 - 0. I think you’ll see what we mean. We’ll be headlining - with the Canasty horns in tow - preceded by a pair of handpicked openers: Elle Casazza and The Flips. Come learn for yourself that which we already know: winning feels amaaaazing.

And hey, if you’re the kinda person who likes to hold on to his/her dough, take note that the fine people at Do312 are giving away some tickets here. So there’s that. But one way or another, I assume we’ll be seeing one another soon, yes?

Saturday, May 3rd
@ Mayne Stage
(Chicago, IL)

Canasta
(plus the Canasty Horns!)
with
Elle Casazza
and
The Flips

Show - 8 PM / Canasta - 10 PM
$12 / 18+ / Facebook / Tickets
Presented by CHIRP Radio

Canasta @ Mayne Stage

07.12.2013

Just a quick reminder that Canasta descends upon the “Taste of Chicago” in beautiful Grant Park tomorrow evening (Sat.)! The show is FREE and the band - along with the always-lovable Canasty Horns in tow - plays the Bud Light Stage (at Columbus and Balbo, on the south end of the fest) at 5:20pm. Immediately thereafter, local-folks-made-good Company of Thieves will close things out! This marks the “Taste’s” first booking of the city’s premiere orchestral pop sextet, but folks who haven’t visited the fest in awhile will notice a number of other changes, including the following…

- With a look towards the future, all restaurants now serve freeze-dried, astronaut food exclusively.
- Although fun has always been a reliable element of the “Taste,” for this year’s fest, the City has unveiled a “fun.,” a strictly-stylized, trademarked version of the concept.
- Select, lucky attendees will be secretly chosen to serve as “Royal Tasters” for the Mayor, unknowingly testing dishes for poisonous content before they’re served to His Highness.
- Children under five will not be admitted without a salad or dessert to share.
- Patrons are strictly prohibited from wearing aprons and big, white chef’s hats, so as not to confuse any Food network superfans who might be there star-sighting.
- Rick Bayless will launch his newest, much “buzzed”-about establishment, La Fuente del Insecto (literally, “Insect Fountain”), a taco stand next to Buckingham Fountain featuring traditionally rural Mexican fare with a modern twist that’s centered around dead bugs found in public fountains.
- In the event that the fest reaches its capacity, those turned away are encouraged to visit one of Chicago’s various other eateries, where one can relax with strangers at a long, communal table made of unfinished wood and feast on three tiny, cupcake-shaped burgers, comprised entirely from locally-sourced, grass-fed bacon and then wash them down with shots of tequila barrel-aged, craft whiskey.

Tomorrow
Saturday, July 13th
@ “Taste of Chicago”
The Bud Light Stage, Grant Park
(Chicago, IL)

Canasta
with
Company of Thieves,
Paper Thick Walls, The Steakhouse Mints,
Vintage Blue and The Bergamot

FREE! / Gates - 11 AM / Show - Noon / Canasta - 5:20 PM / All Ages
Presented by The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

Taste Gate

02.05.2013

CANASTA COUNTS DOWN THE BEST STUFF OF 2012

Part XI: Brian Palmieri’s Top Five Shows

In no particular order…

Wilco and Andrew Bird @ Fifth Third Bank Ballpark

Wilco Live

Punch Brothers and The Milk Carton Kids @ The Vic Theatre

Punch Brothers

“XRT Holiday Concert” featuring
Band of Horses, Alabama Shakes and Everest @ The Chicago Theatre

Band of Horses

M. Ward @ The Vic Theatre

M. Ward

First Aid Kit @ Metro

First Aid Kit

02.05.2013

CANASTA COUNTS DOWN THE BEST STUFF OF 2012

Part X: Jeremy Beckford’s Top Five Albums

5. Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls



4. The Sea and Cake - Runner



3. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan



2. Alt-J - An Awesome Wave



1. Calexico - Algiers



01.31.2013

CANASTA COUNTS DOWN THE BEST STUFF OF 2012

Part IX: Matt Priest’s Top Ten TV Shows

10. Treme (HBO)
Treme still values mood and music over drama, but as always, its quirky, defiant characters band together to create a setting I’m always more than happy to settle into.

Treme

9. Mad Men (AMC)
It’s official: the guilty pleasure argument is over. Five seasons in, Mad Men is just too damn consistent - from the script and performances to the editing and design - to be written off as mere soap opera. And when characters fell prey to familiar, bad habits and some of this season’s storylines sagged, the show managed to find new electricity in the changing face of the sociopolitical climate and pop culture landscape of 1966 and ’67.

Mad Men

8. Louie (FX)
Week in and week out, Louie struggles fiercely and palpably like no other show on television to break free from the confines of the medium. And with an unprecedented amount of creative control for its creator-producer-director-writer-editor-actor, Louis CK, it’s hard to come up with another example of a program tapped so directly into its protagonist’s id. And it’s a messy - but often hilarious - joy to behold.

Louie

7. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
This program’s richly-drawn characters, attention to detail and unflinching portrayal of violence manage to make the overly-glamorized gangster era feel “lived-in,” which is an accomplishment in and of itself. But it’s Steve Buscemi’s career-defining and seemingly effortless inhabitance of political boss Nucky Thompson that makes the show stick.

Boardwalk Empire

6. Game of Thrones (HBO)
The scope of this show remains staggering, as does its ability to deftly juggle an array of exotic settings, interwoven storylines and morally complex characters simultaneously. To my knowledge, nothing else on television more accurately translates that magical feeling of going to the movies from the cinema to our living rooms.

Game of Thrones

5. Justified (FX)
Justified is downright masterful when it comes to activating our pleasure centers… Between the mysteries, gunfights, hook-ups and one-liners, the show would likely be a blast even without its three best assets: a hero with a boatload of swagger and charisma to burn (Timothy Olyphant), an intellectually worthy and inexplicably likeable foil (Walton Goggins) and above all, a script that absolutely crackles. Each and every time the Deputy U.S. Marshal uses his gift of gab to calmly dissuade an enemy from unwisely drawing on him (which happens a LOT), he is hands-down the coolest cucumber on TV.

Justified

4. Breaking Bad (AMC)
Although there’s an ever-present sense of dread as Walter White marches arrogantly and unabashedly towards his own undoing, Breaking Bad manages to keep us mesmerized with a hazy, sun-soaked look, hypnotic, off-kilter rhythms and a giddy nihilism all its own. Like Tony Soprano, Dexter and Larry David, Walter is a protagonist possessing flaws the likes of which we rarely see on television… a character that practically dares us to disassociate ourselves from his plight on a weekly basis. A descent into darkness has never been so much fun.

Breaking Bad

3. Fringe (Fox)
Though it had its up and downs in terms of story, Fringe always managed to strike an equal balance between sci-fi nerdiness and genuine, human emotion… And perhaps most impressively, right through to the very end of its highly rewarding finale, in a way that even JJ Abrams’ previous masterpiece, LOST, wasn’t entirely able to maintain. Add to that a powerfully varied performance by John Noble that served as the heart and soul of the show, along with some of the best production values on TV, and geeks finally had another program to watch with pride.

Fringe

2. Homeland (Showtime)
Despite a few plot contrivances that bordered on ridiculous, Homeland has continued to maintain a level of suspense from one episode to the next that most shows don’t manage to reach in even their best, fleeting moments. Built around two intense performances that constantly leave us second-guessing our instincts, as well as faith in our heroes, the addictive nature of Homeland can be a bit frightening.

Homeland

1. Sherlock (BBC)
In an era when the internet can turn anyone into an instant detective and threatens to take the mystery out of everything, it’s all the more impressive that Sherlock manages to resurrect and modernize its main character without sacrificing any of the romanticism that made him beloved in the first place. This beautifully shot program also benefits greatly from the 90 min. running time of its episodes, revealing enough space to explore equally the cleverly designed puzzles as well as the wonderful relationship between Watson and Holmes, one that we sense is just beginning to reveal its complexities. Sherlock is the best show on television, period.

Sherlock

01.17.2013

CANASTA COUNTS DOWN THE BEST STUFF OF 2012

Part VIII: Brian Palmieri’s Top Five Personal Music Discoveries

In no particular order…

White Denim



Kimbra



Father John Misty



Alt-J



Givers



01.17.2013

CANASTA COUNTS DOWN THE BEST STUFF OF 2012

Part VII: Ryan Tracy’s Top Five Restaurants

5. Blackbird (Chicago, IL)
How dare I give a Michelin-star rated restaurant the 5-spot, right? Well, I certainly hand it to them, they make a hell of a short rib, make it look real nice, and make it taste even better. However, for anyone that’s seen me hiding out behind the keys on stage, I’m a bigger guy and I honestly could have eaten all five courses with 8 well placed bites in about 45 seconds. So to you Blackbird, I give you a top 5 spot for your great food and skimpy portions.

Blackbird

4. Smoque (Chicago, IL)
If you hear a person from Tennessee, St. Louis, Kentucky, or any state ending in “Carolina” tell you that Chicago doesn’t know BBQ, drag them in here. This place was fantastic and really is the real deal when it comes to BBQ food including fall-off-the-bone meats, sauces you could drink by the gallon, and a delicious mesquite smell so good you’ll wish they could turn it into a new Yankee Candle scent. Having eaten “authentic BBQ” in all of those aforementioned states, trust me, it’s good. At the end of the meal if your friend is still whining about how it’s just not the same as back home, consider getting new friends that aren’t liars.

Smoque

3. Seabreeze Cafe & Bar (Picton, New Zealand)
Okay, so the restaurant itself isn’t important here, what IS important is the ingredient--green shell mussels, a local ingredient prized by the Kiwis. A simple plate of mussels with butter, garlic and a piece of bread to soak up all the juices had me taking pictures of my food and extracting every bit of mussel I could out of the shell.

Sea Breeze Cafe

2. Greenhouse Tavern (Cleveland, OH)
In the flavor department, this was the best tasting food I had all year. It’s so good, I almost recommend you make a trip to Cleveland just for their chicken wings which smell almost as good as they taste. I fortuitously stopped in during Cleveland’s Restaurant Week which allowed me to try four different courses each more delicious than the last. Somewhere around the 2nd course I realized I was getting full and still had an entree and dessert coming. I stopped right there and had them wrap up the first two courses just so I could make room for the entree. Why isn’t it number 1 you ask? Well, unfortunately I had saved up just enough money over the last three years to afford…

Greenhouse Tavern

1. Charlie Trotter’s (Chicago, IL)
I admit that most of what was served to me was probably over my head from a culinary standpoint, but I walked away from this 10-course, 4 1/2 hour meal like I just got done watching a Bond movie. It was action packed full of things I didn’t even know you could do to food, and displayed on “plates” in designs I never thought possible. Oh, and everything tasted amazing too. I was sad to see this iconic Chicago restaurant close up shop forever this year, but was glad I got the chance to visit before it did. Simply amazing.

Charlie Trotter's

01.15.2013
01.09.2013

CANASTA COUNTS DOWN THE BEST STUFF OF 2012

Part V: Jeremy Beckford’s Top Five TV Shows

5. Homeland (Showtime)

Homeland

4. Fringe (Fox)

Fringe

3. The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead

2. Game of Thrones (HBO)

Game of Thrones

1. Breaking Bad (AMC)

Breaking Bad

01.07.2013

CANASTA COUNTS DOWN THE BEST STUFF OF 2012

Part IV: Jeremy Beckford’s Top Five Meals

5. Piccolo Sogno Due (Chicago, IL)

Piccolo Sogno Due

4. Mariscos El Veneno (Chicago, IL)

Mariscos El Veneno

3. Twin Dragon (Niles, IL)

Twin Dragon

2. Chilam Balam (Chicago, IL)

Chilam Bilam

1. Zed451 (Chicago, IL)

Zed 451

01.02.2013

CANASTA COUNTS DOWN THE BEST STUFF OF 2012

Part III: Ryan Tracy’s Top Ten Craigslist Purchases

10. Yamaha MO-6 - $360 (that needed repairs costing an additional $210)
9. 5x multi-head lamps w/ 24 energy efficient bulbs - $35
8. Air Hockey table w/ automatic scoring - $200
7. Rotor lawn mower - $20
6. 3’ x 2’ dry erase board - $1
5. Yamaha MO-8 - purchased for $750, sold for 800
4. 8’ Professional Pool Table - $100
(the only thing keeping this so low was that I had to pay $545
to have a company disassemble, move, and reassemble it)
3. Wii system w/ 2 controllers and 10 games - $150
2. 22x Board games - 3 different sellers, $45
1. Complete PA system
w/ 2 mains, 2 monitors, 4 mics and an 8-channel mixer - $400

12.31.2012

CANASTA COUNTS DOWN THE BEST STUFF OF 2012

Part II: Jeremy Beckford’s Top Five Shows

5. Dirty Projectors @ Pitchfork Music Festival

Dirty Projectors

4. David Byrne & St. Vincent @ The Chicago Theatre

David Byrne & St. Vincent

3. Calexico @ Lincoln Hall

Calexico

2. Wilco @ The Hideout Block Party & A.V. Fest

Wilco

1. Radiohead @ First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

Radiohead

12.29.2012

CANASTA COUNTS DOWN THE BEST STUFF OF 2012

Part I: Elizabeth Lindau’s Top Eleven Food Items

11. Tosh crackers at the Panama airport

Tosh

10. Tequila tasting at Chicago Gourmet

Tequila

9. Summertime mini burger

Burger

8. Street food in Seoul

Seoul

7. Sea buckthorn juice in Mongolia

Juice

6. Zingermans pie

Pie

5. Michigan peaches and French toast

Peaches

4. Birthday lobster with my mom

Lobster

3. Drinks at deca

Deca

2. Fifth anniversary cake, thanks to Alexis Leverenz

Cake

1. Beer brewed by Jeff Leverenz and my dear husband

Beer

06.02.2012
On the eve of the our tenth anniversary, Canasta graced the cover of the

Chicago Sun-Times’ “Weekend” magazine! Inside, was music critic Thomas Conner’s in-depth interview with Matt and Elizabeth, covering the band’s future, present and past, with a focus on our perspective-changing trip to Mongolia.

Sun-Times Canasta Article

05.15.2012

’Nuff said. Thanks to Phineas X. Jones for this phenomenal poster…

10th Anniversary Poster

04.13.2012

Since its release, The Fakeout has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving… We’re proud to present the music video for “Becoming You,” the lead-off track and fourth single from that album! It was conceived / directed by Eduardo Cintron and filmed at Kitchen Chicago and Foundation Content on 12/10/11. To stream the song, itself, visit our audio page.

CREDITS

BAND: CANASTA
Vocals / Bass: Matt Priest
Violin / Vocals / Tambourine: Elizabeth Lindau
Guitar / Vocals: Jeremy Beckford
Piano / Vocals: Ryan Tracy
Drums: Brian Palmieri
Keyboard / Vocals: Sarah Kneebone

CREW
Production: Deboka Films
Director: Eduardo Cintron
Producer: Tony Grossman
Director of Photography: Jay Patton
Assistant Director of Photography: Joseph Delhommer
PA: Russell Beaver
PA: Joel Pearish
Stylist Melissa Mazenett
Color Correction: Filmworkers Club
Colorist: Paul Galati
Studio: Foundation Content
Contact / Producer: Megan Guerrant

TALENT
Man: Matt Priest
Mysterious Beings: Jeremy Beckford, Caryn Culp Anagnostopoulos,
Jocelyn Geboy, Sarah Kneebone, Jenny Lee, Elizabeth Lindau,
Elizabeth Malone, Karen Malone Gonzalez, Ryan Neuschafer, Brian Palmieri,
Jen Priest, Chrissie Reddington, John Saunders and Ryan Tracy

01.25.2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CANASTA TO TOUR MONGOLIA AS PART OF
U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT PERFORMING ARTS INITIATIVE

Canasta Mongolia Press Photo #1 Canasta Mongolia Press Photo #2

Next month, Chicago indie band Canasta heads to the hinterlands of Mongolia as part of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Arts Envoy Program.

The tour begins on February 3rd in Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar and continues on to Tsetserleg, Harhorin and Arvaikheer, finishing back in Ulaanbaatar on the 12th.

While they’ll play the same set as they would at Schubas, Metro, or any other venue in the U.S., the differences are as vast as the distance between the two countries. Rather than packing themselves and their gear into two cars, they’ll travel in a multi-truck convoy with the assistance of drivers, expeditors, and staff members from the U.S. Embassy.

“We were warned to prepare for temperatures in the negative twenties,” said Elizabeth Lindau, Canasta’s violinist and vocalist. “Figuring out the logistics for a six-person band and our gear has been no easy task. Add in mismatched electric currents, airline baggage limitations, and a twelve-hour time difference, and it becomes quite a challenge. We’re honored to receive the invitation and thrilled to bring our music to Mongolia.”

The tour is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar.

The Arts Envoy Program shares the best of the U.S. arts community with the world to foster cross-cultural understanding and collaboration and to demonstrate shared values and aspirations. American arts professionals, including performing artists, visual artists, poets, playwrights, directors, and curators, travel overseas to perform, conduct workshops, and mentor young people. Programs seek to connect with international audiences that might not otherwise have the opportunity to engage with American arts professionals. Arts Envoy exchanges last from 5 days to 6 weeks and take place worldwide.

In addition to live performances, Canasta will conduct classes and seminars for local music students, lead jam sessions, and discuss the creative process they use to bring their music to life.

“One of the more interesting things about us is our ‘craftsman-like’ approach — combining our music schooling background with our love of pop and rock, and then adding a lot of Midwestern hard work to craft our songs, rather than a virtuoso technique or inspiration from the muses,” said Lindau. “I hope we can inspire people to think about their musical heritage and perhaps new ways of combining instruments to create a sound that is unique to their country and culture.”

Canasta has toured the United States significantly, sharing the stage with Wilco, Grizzly Bear, Devotchka, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Menomena, Sloan, Kaiser Chiefs, White Rabbits, and The Delgados. They even played a set for President Obama during his campaign. This is their first tour outside the country.

Canasta is Matt Priest (lead vocals, bass, trombone); Elizabeth Lindau (violin, vocals); Jeremy Beckford (guitar, vocals); Brian Palmieri (drums); Ryan Tracy (keyboard, piano, bass, vocals); and Sarah Kneebone (piano, keyboard, vocals).

12.27.2011

Behold… The music video for The Fakeout’s second single, “Magazine (Songwriter on a Train),” created by the students of Loyola University’s music video class! The clip was conceived / directed by Gerard Jamroz and filmed throughout Chicago in November of 2011. To stream the song, itself, visit our audio page.

CREDITS

BAND: CANASTA
Vocals / Bass: Matt Priest
Violin / Vocals: Elizabeth Lindau
Guitar / Vocals: Jeremy Beckford
Piano / Vocals: Ryan Tracy
Drums: Brian Palmieri
Keyboard / Vocals: Sarah Kneebone

CREW: LOYOLA UNIVERSITY’S MUSIC VIDEO CLASS
Director: Gerard Jamroz
Director of Photography: Ania Bilinska
Producer: Aaron Greer
Assistant Director: Marisa Romo
Camera Operator: George Garbis
Stylist / Make-Up: Iris Gutierrez
Art Department: Lulu Chianello
Gaffer: Reggie Dyson
Grip: Andrew Gallivan

TALENT (IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE)
Songwriter: Matt Priest
Businessman: Mason Dowling
Mysterious Blond: Hannah Baker
Box Office Salesperson: Gerard Jamroz
The Watcher: Ryan Tracy
Candy Counter Salesperson: Lulu Chianello
Would-Be Assassin #1: Elizabeth Lindau
Waiter: Brian Palmieri
Would-Be Assassin #2: Jeremy Beckford
Package Man: Michael Alexander Sansone
Mommy Dearest: Emily Grayson
Voodoo Lady: Sarah Kneebone
Hotel Clerk: Joseph Alaimo
Extras: Jeff Dunlap, George Garbis, Iris Gutierrez,
Alison Hinderliter, Adam Kneebone, Lauren Mehok,
Megan Moldenhauer, Jen Priest, Mike Rubano,
Jay Santana, Nicole Smith & Erin Updegraff

07.11.2011

This is a music video for “Mexico City,” the first single from our latest full-length, The Fakeout, the Tease and the Breather. It was conceived / directed by Eduardo Cintron and filmed throughout Chicago in April and June of 2011. To download the song for free, visit our audio page!



CREDITS

BAND: CANASTA
Vocals / Bass: Matt Priest
Violin / Vocals: Elizabeth Lindau
Guitar / Vocals: Jeremy Beckford
Piano / Vocals: Ryan Tracy
Drums / Vocals: Brian Palmieri
Keyboard / Vocals: Angie Ma
Drums: Brian Palmieri

CREW
Director: Eduardo Cintron
Producer: Tony Grossman
Line Producer: Kipp Norman / Elephant Filmworks
Director of Photography: Kyle Bainter
Assistant Director: Eduardo Ortiz Romeu
Assistant Director of Photography: Joseph Delhommer
Gaffer: Spencer Rohan
Gaffer: Silas Tyler
Grip: Mike Pisani
Grip: Tom O’Neill
Production Assistant: Jon Hamblin
Production Assistant: Tyler Kaschke
Video Assistant: Melissa Mazenett
Art Director: Reynaldo Delgado
Art Director: Arlene Isenberg
Stylist: Mallory Sabian
Make-Up: Ashley Vest
Set Carpenter: Floyd A Davis IV

TALENT (IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE)
Boyfriend: Matt Priest
Girlfriend: Delia Baseman
Boyfriend 2: Kipp Norman

04.20.2011
02.04.2011

We hope your festivities for the end of the year and the ones for this nascent year were as great as can be! Our year ended real swell, landing our album The Fakeout in several Top 10 Lists, including Chicago Tunes, Too Much Rock, Left Without My Hat (english translation), CHIRP DJ Andy Weber, Northwestern Indiana Times, The Huffington Post (!!), etc. Thank you all so much; we are so proud of our album and are so appreciative of the support!

Now this recently extreme weather, however, has led to a roller coaster ride of snow drifts and emotions! Canasta has been prepping for a zealous midwest mini-tour for February starting, well, today! But due to the historical blizzard that has hit the midwest as of last Wednesday, we unfortunately had to postpone our dearly-anticipated Daytrotter session as well as our show tonight at River Music Experience in Iowa. This marks the first show cancellation in the history of the band… But Canasta ain’t backin’ down, and we still got a lot of shows for the rest of the month! Check our our Shows page for the full listing, and tell all your friends around the midwest!

We will be returning to our homeland on February 26th, headlining at the Old Town School of Folk Music! If you guys haven’t ever been, be prepared for one of the most majestic venues in the city, aesthetically and acoustically. We are playing with two good friends: REGO (who are fellow label-mates at RWIM and are releasing an EP) and Sewing Pattern (the musical project of Canasta’s keyboard player, Angie Ma, who is also releasing an LP). You can buy tickets here, and all of us band members have a few on hand as well.

Other grand news is that Canasta was nominated for a run in The Deli’s Best of Chicago Emerging Artists of 2010 Poll, and we took home 1st place with the popular vote! (Sadly we did not take home the overall vote, but are honored to land 5th and bow down to Young Man, who took the crown). It was a definitely a fun adventure, and we owe all our success to you fans who so devotedly took the time to vote! Thank you, thank you!!

Last but not least, we also do have a new batch of oh-so-stylish T-shirts coming our way, designed by our very own drummer, Brian Palmieri, along with his friend and roommate, Paul Halupka. It will definitely be available for our Old Town show, perhaps earlier…

Wish us all the best for safe travels, we absolutely cannot wait to see you at the Old Town School of Folk Music!

11.28.2010

In all its crisp and scenic splendor, Chicago autumns always seem too brief -- but this fall flew by exceptionally fast for Canasta! Our series of weekend, Midwest tours during September and October kept us on our feet, barely with time to notice the leaves changing color, and now there’s hardly any left on the trees! But don’t think for a second that the festivities of this season were lost on us! To name a few activities, we were surrounded by over 26,000 pumpkins, playing Highwood’s Great Pumpkin Fest. We played with -- and get our butts kicked in table hockey by -- the Acorn in Madison, WI. We got our socks thoroughly knocked off by Field Music at the Beat Kitchen in Chicago, raced Black Prairie to Minnesota and back to Chicago for two consecutive shows, had a blast in New York City at CMJ, and donned feather boas and the biggest glasses we could find, to play as Elton John for Halloween at the Abbey Pub. You can see it all if you check out our recent photos!

But now that we’ve had a bit of time to catch our breath, we’ve spent time strategizing for some great things ahead. What sorts of things? Without giving any secrets away, there may or may not be plans for a new T-shirt design, new music video, some seasonal surprises for our holiday show, a Spring tour, and studio time for a small release of sorts, etc…

So all in all, you’ll definitely not want to miss what’s in store for the next few months, starting with the aforementioned holiday show at Double Door on December 17th, with other RWIM artists: Elsinore, REGO and Nathan Xander + Witchouse! There will be much hand holding and ugly sweatering, if we have any say in it.

In the meantime, we’d better get back to work. We wish you all the merriest of holidays and a happy new year!

09.17.2010

This summer has been lovely to Canasta, giving us the opportunity to play great outdoor festivals such as Roscoe Village’s Burger Fest, Uptown’s Rib Fest, Highwood’s Farmer’s Market, all with a refreshing Canasta beer to wash it down with. But Fall is right around the corner, and Canasta’s ready to get this show on the road!! Starting tonight, we’re buckling in our seat belts and fighting over which Hall & Oates CD to play as we take a tour of the beautiful Midwest. We’ll be hitting several venues over the next few weeks, and we’d just love it if you were there! Check out the show listings to your left or our shows page for more details.

Also, please don’t fret if you haven’t been able to buy any hard copies of our first CD, We Were Set Up, at shows. We have recently sold out of our second pressing, and are hitting the end of our supplies of The Fakeout, our latest CD release. But new batches of CDs and T-shirts (ooh!) are headed our way. In the mean time, why not purchase a digital copy from our many vendors online (iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, Insound or CD Baby) or hit up our local vendors in Chicago (Reckless Records, Hard Boiled Records & Video, Laurie’s Planet of Sound, Logan Hardware, Transistor, etc)? Our retailers page has more info as well. So check in real soon with us, especially to say hi at the merch table, and to pick up a free Canasta pin!

Last but not least, we’d like to send our sincerest gratitude and dank ju wel to the Netherlands, for their incredibly gracious review of The Fakeout in Heaven, their alternative music magazine. We wish more than anything to be able to extend our tour to you! For those who prefer to read accolades in Dutch or English, check out the review and its translation here.

A lot more great Canasta news is on the rise, but for now, Jack, it’s time to hit the road. If you can’t follow us dotingly outside of Illinois, no worries, friend -- we’ll be back on October 3rd with the deliriously talented Field Music at the Beat Kitchen in Chicago! And we’ll be sure to bring souvenirs.

07.15.2010

If you feel like you’re in the middle of a Canasta assault, you’re totally on. We’ve made it our top priority to bring you pop sweetness to complement your savory summer. The last two months have been a whirlwind of activity in the orch-pop canasta camp. The Fakeout, the Tease and the Breather was released at Schubas with two jam-packed shows in May. Thanks so much for making the album’s debut a smashing success. The Fakeout has received heaps of acclaimed reviews, including the likes of Chicago Reader, Sun-Times, The Onion, Flavorpill and Adeqacy.net, and we could not be more grateful. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, feel free to order from our merch page, iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, Insound or CD Baby. If you’re out and about in Chicago, you can find it at all Reckless Records locations, Hard Boiled Records & Video, Laurie’s Planet of Sound, Logan Hardware, Transistor and many other fine independent record stores.

Being the PBS dorks we are, we were pretty stoked to make our “Chicago Tonight” debut on WTTW back in May. Phil Ponce had a nice little chat with Matt before the band ran through a drummerless performance of “Mexico City.” Check out the clip here and see if you can spot the Canasta CD we slyly planted on the wall of artifacts. Canasta’s public media jaunt also included an appearance on WBEZ’s 848, where they played the full-band version of “Mexico City”, along with “I Don’t Know Where I Was Going with This.”

It gives us all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings inside to announce the addition of three new most excellent musicians into the Canasta fold! Fellow Chicagoan Ryan Tracy is rocking piano, synth, and bass, making his debut back in May when we played with Clem Snide in Madison. Taking us to happyland on piano and synths is the lovely Angie Ma, who made her debut this past weekend at the “Great Performers of Illinois Festival” at Chicago’s Millennium Park. Bringing a whole new level of thunder on drums is Brian Palmieri, who will make his Canasta Chicago debut on August 20 at Lincoln Hall as Canasta plays with Elisonore. The newbies have definitely brought their A game and are pushing the live show to a whole new level. We’d also like to take a moment to recognize and thank our very talented buddy Jay Santana, who has been filling in on drums for the past two months while The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir take it easy and heal.

In Canasta foodie news, (yeah, we loves us some blog seeking food finds), our first sandwich is available at Catering<>Chocolate. The “Canasta” panini is an amazing combination of grilled chicken, goat cheese, portobello mushrooms and celery with a delectable truffle spread. We dare you to eat one and not hum “Appreciation.”

If you live outside the Chicago area and are feeling neglected, dry your tears. We’ll be at Champaign, IL’s Canopy Club on August 14 for the CD release of fellow RWIM labelmates Elsinore. We’re also currently putting together a tour for sometime in September and should have more details in the coming weeks. The Fakeout awaits you, America. Stay tuned!!

05.09.2010

DOWNLOAD 3 FREE TRACKS FROM THE NEW ALBUM AND STREAM THE REST!

Yep, you read that right. We’re giving away not one, but *three* tracks from Canasta’s long-awaited new album, The Fakeout, the Tease and the Breather. Visit our audio page to download those free MP3’s, then stream the rest of the album’s eleven tracks below! Enjoy…

1. Becoming You by Canasta
2. Mexico City by Canasta
3. Mountains of Molehills by Canasta
4. I Don’t Know Where I Was Going with This by Canasta
5. Magazine (Songwriter on a Train) by Canasta
6. Appreciation by Canasta
7. Shortcut by Canasta
8. Reading the Map Upside Down by Canasta
9. Choosing Sides by Canasta
10. Throwaway by Canasta
11. Plan Your Escape by Canasta

12.22.2009

In the lifecycle of the Canasta website, we feel compelled to update you on our whereabouts and goings-on whenever a Simon’s show approacheth. And approacheth it does: Sunday, January 3rd at 9pm we return to our second home in Andersonville, Simon’s, which allows our friends to see us for free, us to play lots of songs we don’t usually get to play, and everyone to drink as much Glögg as we all can without forgetting the words to “No Diggity.” If you’ve heard of this new thing called Facebook, you can tell us if you are a dweeb or a cool kid by RSVPing here.

If you are internet-stalking us -- and who isn’t, really? -- you’ve had a good couple of months. First we threw together this “Slow Down Chicago” music video for a Chicago Public Library contest. You can even see us in our PJs. (This is what we all look like for 90% of our songwriting retreats, FYI.)

We’re also all tweeting now at http://twitter.com/canastamusic, which is probably the closest you’re going to get to knowing what we’re doing every single day. I know: it’s disappointing that we don’t just have six webcams constantly filming everything we do, but we have to keep some of the mystery alive in this relationship between band and fan-stalker.

And most recently, we were a guest on a new web series, Maybe Hip, which interviews local bands. You can watch our episode here. Examples of topics of conversation that come up when the six of us are interviewed: how the band formed, how to do the Dancing Man, and the proper appellation for a twister. The peeps over at Maybe Hip also host a blog on which we’ll be popping up soon.

We are very close to being able to share lots of exciting news about the new album, but we have to wait until some of it is official. Check back here or on Facebook in January for those updates. But if you’re a talented internet-stalker, you’ll just know already. How creepy is that?

08.25.2009

Last weekend was our last with our dear friend, drummer, and curmudgeonly misanthrope Josh Lava. By the time you read this, he will be in a van the size of an elephant driving to Portland, OR. We squeezed every last bit of rock and perfect pitch out of him by playing back–to–back two hours shows. On Saturday night we took a band field trip to Benton Harbor, MI. Elizabeth has threatened to settle down there and become a real estate magnate, based solely on the friendliness of the locals –– which is so much friendliness, in fact, that they surrendered their finest microbrewery (The Livery) to us for the entire evening. Between a good–sounding, mid–sized venue, a brand new arts center (The Citadel), and the Keyclub Recording Company, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a satellite chapter of the Chicago music scene pop up there. It is also far enough from any hipster neighborhood in Chicago that it will be years and years and years before it becomes overrun with Akira clothing stores –– not to name names, Wicker Park.

We commandeered Simon’s in Andersonville on Sunday for Josh’s final show and played virtually every song he has learned during his tenure with the band. If that isn’t enough, we added a new song to our arsenal of non–traditional and heartfelt covers. To be honest, though, “No Diggity” has been one of Canasta’s go–to mic check tunes, so it was only a matter of time before the entire thing was unleashed on our unsuspecting audiences.

While we’re auditioning potential drummers, we’ll still have some shows for you, the next being on September 29th at the Clark Street Concert Series at Lincoln Park Market. And of course, work on the album continues this month with horns, vocals, and some guest artists. If you want a more detailed breakdown of all of that, you can check in on us on Facebook, now that we have a non–confusing/numerical address –– it’s www.facebook.com/canastamusic. Looks like some Italian fella got the jump on us for www.facebook.com/canasta, but since “canasta” was an Italian / Spanish word before we got our grubby little hands on it, we’re going to let that one slide.

06.01.2009

Progress on the new album is gaining momentum faster than an Illinoisian state political scandal. The band laid down the drums, bass, and keyboards during a long weekend at Wall2Wall Recording earlier in May. There are pictures up on our MySpace and Facebook pages now to prove that we’re not just sitting in front of an old Tascam recorder with pots and pans and a used Casio keyboard. We did, however, record to a reel–to–reel, which is usually described as a warmer sound (like you are listening to us in a bubble bath). The tape then gets transferred to the fancy–pants computers that can apparently do everything but write out lyrics for us, and don’t rule that one out yet, either.

This month we’re working on overdubbing the other instruments with our friend Ted Cho, who engineered We Were Set Up and plays in the local stalwart Poi Dog Pondering. We’re also returning to WBEZ, where WWSU’s piano comes from, to do some damage to our epic piano numbers with their Steinway grand.

We’ve had time to squeeze in a few shows, including a YWCA benefit at the The Space in Evanston and an opening slot for Merge Records’ The Rosebuds at a brand new downtown venue, LaSalle Power Co., which is neither a company or a type of power. (Sorry.) Keep up with us here, on Facebook, or on MySpace as we fill our dance card for the summer. Our latest addition to the calendar is for our Madison peeps: we’ll be at the High Noon Saloon on June 30th opening for White Rabbits, which will rock your socks off if you aren’t wearing sandals by that point in the summer.

04.13.2009

In less than three weeks, we’re headed to Wall2Wall Recording to start tracking the new album. It’s hard to believe, but not impossible, so start letting it sink in. Feels good, right? The band paid a visit to the studio last week to be test subjects for a sound engineering class at Columbia, so we’ve whetted our appetites for tricked out upright pianos, Leslie speakers, old–atimey organs, and a plethora of guitar amps. Elizabeth is bringing extra layers for an isolation booth that is apparently chilly and resembles a zoo habitat for urban professionals, if we could in fact keep urban professionals in the zoo.

By now you may have surmised that, since these songs are ready to record, they have pushed their way into our set rotation. If you made it out to our recent Empty Bottle or Schubas shows, you got a preview of what our post–aindustrial rehearsal space has inspired us to create. If you haven’t, you can still lay your ears on these songs this month. We’ll be playing at "Green Festival" on U of C’s campus on April 24th, and on April 26th we are playing an abundant two hours worth of music at Simon’s in Andersonville, which will also include some old favorites from the archives that the long–atime Canasta fans will recognize.

Speaking of old favorites, you can now hear them on your cell phone every time someone calls you and you’ve forgotten to set your phone to vibrate. Canasta’s free ringtones are available for download, absolutely free, at our Myxer.com page, and will make you a little less embarrassed when your phone rings loudly in public areas. Who doesn’t want to hear “Slow Down Chicago” coming out of your phone? You can also make your own custom ringtones at Myxer if you are unsatisifed with the selection of tunes we’ve put up there for you and your gadgets. But hopefully we’ve satisfied you. We try so hard.

02.10.2009

Now that President Obama has started solving every problem in our country, Canasta has been able to turn our attention back to writing kick–ass new orchestral pop to play in 2009. If you would like to hear it, we will actually be playing them in public, with our various instruments and voices amplified to a volume at which you can hear them. How crazy is that? Apparently, lots of bands are doing these “shows” now. All you have to do is show up at the right place and time and you will be able to hear these new songs. This will happen, for instance, if you show up at Darkroom on February 11th at 9pm, or at Schubas on March 29th at 9pm.

“But Canasta,” you ask, “Where did all of these songs come from?” Back in January we moved to a secret bunker in the western suburbs of Chicago for four days. What happened there is secret, but the end results were (a) a broken shower and (b) new songs, so we think you can fill the rest in with your imaginations.

Other than our progress on new material, the only news of note is that we’ve moved into a new rehearsal space, which we’re sharing with our buddies Brighton, MA (and apparently, to some degree, the insanely heavy stoner rock band next door). So that’s putting an interesting – and shall we say, louder – spin on the new tunes. It’s also in a creepy, dimly–lit warehouse district on Chicago’s west side, so don’t be surprised if these songs turn out a little darker than the last batch. All I’m saying is I’m just saying.

09.16.2008

When you last read this website, we were saying goodbye to our drummer, Colin, with nary a mention of who would fill his shoes. Well, the shoes were filled, the torch was passed, and not long after Colin’s last hurrah, we started rehearsals with the final addition to the new lineup, Josh Lava. You may recognize Josh and his surname from such bands as The Lava Brothers. Josh has divulged all of his secrets on his bio page –– go familiarize yourself with his likes and dislikes so there’s no awkward small talk at the next show.

Speaking of next shows, we’ll be at the new Bottom Lounge on Monday, October 6th, playing with The Autumn Defense (helmed by Wilco members John Stirratt and Patrick Sansone). Despite its name, the Bottom Lounge has one of the best rooftop patios in the city, has great sound, and is more the size of a North Shore mansion than a lounge. It will be just enough space for you and all of your friends and all of your friends’ friends.

We’ll also be playing at Matt’s and Elizabeth’s alma mater, Kalamazoo College, on Tuesday, September 23rd –– if you’re a student, faculty, or alumni, check out the details here. But our day trip to Michigan is only a small sample of the major highway miles we’ll be racking up in October. Canasta will be part of an all–Chicago showcase at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York, and since we’ll have all of the gear packed up anyways, we’ll be making some stops along the way. Check back here soon for more details about the tour.

In non–show–related news, we were thrilled to be asked by the Obama campaign to provide a few instrumental mixes from We Were Set Up for their YouTube operation. You can see two of the resultant videos, making use of an instrumental mix of “Firenze,” here and here. We were holding out for Obama to make a cameo appearance in an “Impostors” video, but we’re hoping he’ll be too busy for music videos come next January.

07.25.2008

It’s an age–old dilemma: during the summer, how do you find time to go to shows when you have to go to weddings every weekend? If you went to a wedding at Old St. Pat’s church last weekend, you could’ve strolled over to their World’s Largest Block Party, where we played a gigantic, outdoor–sized set with Pat Monahan of Train… yes, that Train. But if it’s your own wedding, why not rent out Schubas and bring in your favorite bands? Tomorrow, July 26th, Canasta is playing a free show at said venue with our friends Brighton, MA to celebrate two of our favorite fans exchanging vows. The show also marks the end of the long and venerable tenure of Mr. Colin Sheaff as Canasta’s drummer. Colin has been with Canasta since Day 1 and will be remembered fondly by blowing your rock–loving ears off tomorrow.

If you’ve been looking for summer reading, there’s a lot of newly available Canasta–related literature. Music critic Ned Raggett just wrote a review of We Were Set Up for All Music, the legendary guide to all things pop and rock, and in today’s papers, you’ll find a story on Canasta by the Chicago Tribune’s Andy Downing and an interview with the band by the Chicago Sun–Times’ Jim Derogatis. And, if it’s just too hot to read anything, you might catch Matt and Elizabeth on an upcoming episode of Chicago’s Expose TV, hosted by Susan Russell (when she’s not busy riding this motorcycle). Bring your laptop or TV to the beach and bone up on your Canasta trivia.

07.03.2008

Ever dreamt of seeing Matthew Broderick and Alan Alda walk in slow–motion to a Canasta song? Well, your dreams have become reality! IFC Films is just about to release their new movie, Diminished Capacity, and about halfway though the trailer, “Slow Down Chicago” comes crashing in! Most of the story takes place here in Chicago, so the song sounds more or less right at home. The picture also stars Virginia Madsen, Dylan Baker, Bobby Cannavale and Louis C.K. and opens in both Chicago and NYC on July 4th. Check it:

  Diminished Capacity poster

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