Friend's show has Phair's music

June 02, 2008|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

The barbecues of Winnetka, Ill., were buzzing about Swingtown over the Memorial Day weekend.

According to Mike Kelley's longtime friend and New Trier classmate, musician Liz Phair, some Winnetka residents were comparing notes about the pockets of swingers that allegedly existed in the town decades ago.

"I don't know how organized it was, but there's this sense that there was some swapping of partners," says Phair, who, with her music partners Evan Frankfurt and Doc Dauer, created the instrumental score for Swingtown.

Though she doesn't recall any partner-swapping, Phair said every other part of Swingtown was very "evocative" for her, and she jumped at the chance to contribute to the music for the show. It's the first time she's worked as a composer, but she's enjoying it, she said.

"I never could have done it without Evan and Doc. There's a lot of technical stuff that I still don't know," Phair said. For her, the process isn't a technical one but "all tied up in the emotional changes of the characters."

The show's soundtrack is full of well-known pop and rock hits from the '70s, so Phair and her partners try not to overdo the wah-wah guitar sounds and other Me Decade musical hallmarks.

"I'm cannibalizing a lot of the songs I'm writing now, and I'll go in and rip off some three-chord thing from a song I've written before," Phair said. "It comes out sounding totally different, and it's a lot of fun."

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