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Published: 2010/09/17
by Rob Turner

Ali Baba’s Tahini Reunites In Chicago

Last night Ali Baba’s Tahini reunited at Chicago’s Martyrs for its first performance in seven years. The band features Umphrey’s McGee guitarist Jake Cinninger, who initially founded the band with vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Karl Engelmann and drummer Steve “Krojo” Krojniewski (each of whom performed last night). The band drew liberally from its recently released fourth studio offering The Living Room including the reggae-infused single “Unity,” as well as: “Armadillo,” “Lust,” “Ringo Likes The Velvet” and “Bike.” The group also performed the dreamy “Altitude,” one of the newer ABT songs co-written by one of the band’s newest members, Asheville-based keyboardist Justin Powell. Powell took a number of sparkling leads and co-leads with Cinninger. Bassist Jeff Hinkle also served a pivotal role providing a sturdy backbeat all night, particularly on old ABT chestnuts like “Vegetables,” “Poster Prose” and “Carnival Chronicles.”

The dynamic Engelmann presided over the evening, taking lead vocals on most of the material and filling the room with his inimitable personality. The crowd was incredibly responsive seeming to cherish every minute of this all-too-rare musical outfit – even offering resounding response to brand new Engelmann compositions such as the hard-driving “Money Pit” and “A Second.” The performance exemplified why Ali Baba’s Tahini has an enduring fan base.

There are only four more shows on the band’s itinerary including a stop at Papa Pete’s in Kalamazoo, Michigan tonight and at the Bluebird in Bloomington tomorrow night. The final day of the mini-tour will find the band double-dipping with a day set at the Wuhnurth Music Festival in Spencer, Indiana before culminating appropriately with a festive free show at the Niles Amphitheater in Cinninger’s Michigan home town. Rumors of the band opening for one of Umphrey’s McGee’s late December shows at Chicago’s Riviera Theater are as of yet unsubstantiated.

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