Daily Southtown - December 31, 2008

A conversation with the Chi-Town Kids
BY Jessi Virtusio

My Gig of the Week in Thursday's (1/01) Fifty-Two Weekends will feature my conversation with Chi-Town Kids rap vocalists Swing Master M aka Mark Wlodarski and HoneyWell R aka Ryan O'Malley. For those of you who can't wait until then, here's what Soul Daddy C aka Chris Walsh (singing vocals, music and beats) had to say about the trio that is super-rooted to the South Side and their upcoming hometown gig on Saturday at Chicago's Beverly Arts Center.

All natives of Chicago's Beverly community, the 27-year-olds met in kindergarten in 1986 but didn't start performing as the Chi-Town Kids until 2001.

"We started as a pop-punk band around 1996 or so called the Endorphins," Walsh said. "It eventually morphed into the Chi-Town Kids after we made a couple rap songs and people seemed to like them."

Many of the trio's songs are inspired by the area where the longtime friends grew up.

"We just throw in references to places or businesses that pretty much everyone from the far South Side frequented growing up, like Rainbow Cone or Snackville Junction," said Walsh, who graduated from Brother Rice High School in Chicago.

He added that Chi-Town Kids plays "catchy pop/hip-hop music about childhood memories or the weirdest things we can think of."

Speaking of the area, what could be better for a Southland native sports fan than to make an on-field appearance at U.S. Cellular Field during a Chicago White Sox game?

That's exactly what happened when Chi-Town Kids were honored as official "Sox-Cadas" and received a certificate from ball club chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. The group's song "Cicadas" also was played for all to hear.

"It was pretty surreal," Walsh said of the June 2007 appearance. "They actually hired dancers to dress up in cicada costumes to dance along. It was definitely very cool to be on the field with tens of thousands of people being exposed to our music (whether they liked it or not). Plus, not too many people can say, 'I'm a Sox-Cada.' "

Given that the trio played to a sold-out crowd at the Beverly Arts Center in August, it likely will not come as a surprise that Walsh wants fans to attend this weekend's gig.

"The night will be a blast, and you'll be supporting a great community venue," said Walsh, who attended the University of Illinois and now lives on Chicago's North Side where his Table Cat studio also is based.

When it comes to what the ideal future holds for the Chi-Town Kids, Walsh said the most important thing is having a good time with the music.

"As long as it's fun I'd like to keep writing/recording songs -- or if someone wants to give us a record deal that'd be cool too."

And music is what help Walsh to keep his cool.

"It's a great creative outlet," he said. "When you've got other stresses going on (we all have 9-to-5 jobs), sometimes you just need to relax a little and sing about a giant tornado coming after you."

You can check out more about the Chi-Town Kids beginning on Thursday (1/01) by searching for the headline "Chi-Town Kids ready to crank it up for hometown" at:


In the meantime, here's a little taste of the Chi-Town courtesy of PoochsCorner's YouTube video of "Cicadas (Live)":